4:32 – Red Bull being illegal did wonders for its sales
18:01 – Recovering from failure
32:24 – Building on top of an existing brand
44:39 – How important is timing?
54:40 – Turning down most investors
Leif Langenskiöld is the founder of FocusWater, a Swiss vitamin water. After obtaining his degree in International Relations from the University of St. Gallen, Leif originally planned to join the United Nations. His plans changed significantly when a summer job at Red Bull turned into an 11-year tenure with the company, eventually advancing him to Director of Business development and Motorsports marketing based in Los Angeles, CA. Having started at Red Bull as employee #16, Leif got to know what it takes to get a beverage startup off the ground — and in 2005, he decided to leave Red Bull’s increasingly corporate structures to make it on his own. His first two attempts at beverage-related ventures failed. Unfazed, he continued his hunt for the right idea and eventually found FocusWater. The brand was struggling because it had a very low repurchase rate (meaning customers bought it only once and never again). Leif, together with his co-founder, took over the brand from its original owners and completely revamped the contents of the product. The new Focus Water was a hit, growing from CHF 3 m in sales in 2018 to 10 m in 2020. In 2019, he sold the company to Rivella’s innovation team for an undisclosed amount.
“When I joined Red Bull in 1995, it was a startup. With time, as it grew bigger and became more corporate-like, it became less interesting for me.”
“I think you learn much faster by making mistakes than through a series of successes.”
If you would like to listen to more conversations about the food and beverages industry, check out our episode with Andri SIlberschmidt.