Interview with Hoby Buppert Founder of Bawls Guarana 05/20/08
Question 1. Who are you and what is the name of your company.
Hoby Buppert, Founder and CEO of BAWLS Guarana
Question 2. How many people work for your company?
We currently have 35 employees, including our national sales team who
live in different metro areas across the US.
Question 3. How long has your company been in the energy drink market?
We sold our first bottle of BAWLS on November 14, 1996. Back then only
Jolt Cola was around.
Question 4. How did you originally come up with the idea for Bawls.
Elaborate a bit more than you would in a press release. The people
reading this are real energy drink fans.
The taste and smell of coffee has always made me nauseous, but I've
always loved caffeine. While in college, I would constantly look for
other sources of caffeine to keep me going, which is how I first learned
about guarana, which is a very popular ingredient in sodas in Latin
As part of a class project, I came up with the idea for BAWLS - a
beverage that was light, refreshing and caffeinated by using guarana for
its taste, as well as for its caffeine. A lot of people get the wrong
idea about why I called it "BAWLS" but the truth is I decided to name it
BAWLS because the caffeine kick it packs reminded me of a bouncing ball
going all over the place! After graduation, I came up with a business
plan, made the drink's formulation, and secured manufacturers for our
glass, cases, etc.
I also designed the BAWLS glass bottle, which is bumped to resemble a
bouncy ball ricocheting around inside.
Question 5. Some people say to me that Bawls is not really an energy
drink because it only has Guarana (I disagree). What do you have to say
Technically, they're right. BAWLS is not an energy drink - we are ahigh-caffeine soda. An energy drink contains vitamins and minerals like
tuarine and B12, which help to provide an energy boost (and a medicinal
taste). BAWLS doesn't energize you, it refreshes you and keeps you
BAWLS was lumped into the energy drink bracket several years ago, which
is a good and a bad thing. The bad news is that unless they try our
drink, potential customers may assume that our flavor is similar to that
of our competitors and that our drinks are filled with (sometimes)
mysterious ingredients. The good news? We always win highest marks in
taste, as well as in packaging among energy drinks!
Question 6. Why Only Guarana? Have you considered adding other energy
As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! BAWLS is the only drink in
North America to use guarana for its caffeinated kick - nearly 3 times
stronger than the traditional caffeine found in sodas - as well as for
its flavor. It tastes and works great for us, so no, I don't plan on
Question 7. It seems that your company has been expanding its product
line up a lot lately with the 16oz cans, cherry bawls, G33K B33R. What
brought this about and will it continue?
We've expanded our product line to bring more offerings to our current
customers, as well as to caffeine lovers out there who prefer different
flavored sodas, like cherry or root beer. BAWLS EXXTRA also has a strong
following, since it's sugar-free. We also always make sure that these
new flavors blend in well with the flavor of guarana to keep our lineup
Question 8. Considering that there seems to be an explosion of new
Energy shots coming into the market have you though of releasing a Bawls
An energy shot is not in our brand strategy. BAWLS Guarana beverages
aren't just for providing a boost, but also for providing refreshment,
and that gets lost with an energy shot.
Question 9. Ok G33K B33R. I have to say that just about a month ago I
had asked the founder of Jolt about releasing a Root beer based drink
since I really like root beer. I was thrilled to hear you were releasing
one. Why and how did you decide to come out with this flavor? How has
the response been?
Root beer is a flavor I've always loved, and it's always been a bummer
that it's not caffeinated. Guarana blends in nicely with root beer, so
we came up with G33K 3B3R, which is named in honor of our fans - gamers,
techies and students.
Question 10. Who is your products main competition? Energy drinks,
Energyshots, energy pills, Coffee?
Anything with caffeine is a competitor of ours, really.
Question 11. Some companies target extreme sports, party goers, office
worker, or Truck drivers. What is the target market for Bawls?
All kinds of people drink BAWLS - professionals, students, athletes, and
others. The bulk of our marketing, however, is dedicated to video
gamers, techies and proud geeks! We're the nation's largest supporter of
video gaming - 1000+ lans each year are sponsored by BAWLS. We're also a
partner with Sweet on Geeks - an online dating site for geeks - where we
host nationwide Geek Singles Nights to help our fans find love. BAWLS is
also an active supporter of other activities our fans like including mod
building, robotics, comics and anime.
Our video gamer and geek base recently led us to look into our other two
niches - paintball and BMX racing. Our customers wrote us daily to get
involved in paintball and BMX, and we want to support them in everything
Question 12. Do you think a strong web presence is important to an
Energy drink company?
Absolutely, which is why we host WWW.BAWLS.com
and WWW.BAWLStyle.com - an online community
where our gamers, paintballers and BMXers can log in to get their next
event sponsored, to view pics from BAWLS events in our gallery and to
read up on BAWLS news and events.
In the energy drink business, it's also crucial to have a strong event
and sampling program. 75% of our marketing budget is dedicated to
events. We sponsor over 1000 of them each year, and our marketing team
travels across the country to sample to hundreds of thousands of
potential customers each year. Our market is packed with hundreds of
different brands, and you won't stand out if people aren't able to see,
to touch and to try your drink.
Question 13. There is a lot in the news about alcohol and energy drinks
being consumed together. Some companies say they are against it but then
sell and promote their products heavily in bars and clubs. Other
companies promote it openly and even make energy drink mixers. A lot are
just indifferent to it. Where do you stand on this issue?
Distribution in bars is a tricky thing - the distributors we work with
focus more on convenience and grocery stores, which is where the
majority of energy drink sales come from anyway. We're also not
comfortable with promoting the mixing of an "upper" with a "downer." I'm
happy with our current distribution strategy and I'd rather focus more
on getting into more stores than compete for attention at bars.
Question 14. A lot of energy drinks have come and gone while Bawls has
grown and stayed strong. How has Bawls managed to rise to the top and
last so long?
BAWLS been around for over 11 years, but we continue to grow at a rapid
pace every year. I think our longevity is the result of doing whatever
we can to stick with what makes us different - our taste, our packaging
and our marketing tactics.
Our use of guarana for flavor and for caffeine has worked perfectly with
a number of different flavors and products, including cherry, root beer,
frozen beverages and our BAWLS BUZZ candies. Our glass packaging is
truly unique in the market - thousands of BAWLS drinkers have sent us
photos of their BAWLS bottle collections! We also stayed true to our
commitment to creative packaging when we launched our cans, which change
color as the drink reaches its perfect temperature. Finally, rather than
change up our marketing formula each year, we stick with what has made
us successful, and that is by being a part of the video gaming and geek
community. BAWLS has been their drink of choice for over a decade, and
we will continue to support them in everything they do.
Question 15. I have to ask this. Do you consider yourself to be a Geek?
It seems to be more of a badge of honor now than it was in the past.
Not really, but a good number of our employees are proud geeks! Our
Director of Marketing recently won her first Guitar Hero tournament last
month, our office's gaming room is packed during lunch time, and we have
a lot of Star Wars fans in the office.
Question 16.Tell all the Energy drink junkies out there why they should
Use and support Bawls. Give us your best sales pitch. Also feel free to tell
us anything else you would like to get out there.
While there are hundreds of energy drinks out there that provide a
boost, BAWLS Guarana is a premium beverage that puts flavor first! It's
refreshing, light, sweet and perfect to drink at any time of day without
a medicinal taste. Our caffeine content is strong - equal to a cup of
coffee. Our packaging is creative and different from anything else out
there, and we've found that once most people try it for the first time,
they get hooked. Our products are also becoming easier to find every day
- you can now find BAWLS Guarana drinks in all 50 states at national
chains including 7-Eleven, Target, Sheetz, Plaid Pantry, Microcenter,
CompUSA and more.
Also, THANK YOU to the loyal BAWLS fans out there who have supported us
over the years!
Read my review of Bawls G33K B33R root beer mmm
Back to the front Page