THE ORIGIN STORY O2 has come a long way, both as a beverage and as a company. It seems like just yesterday that I was driving my Prius across Ohio, making all of our deliveries personally, just trying to stay afloat. We’re now in gyms and retail outlets across the country, and we’ve just launched our own fancy newsletter. Getting to where we are now took equal parts hustle and personal growth, and while it’s been painful at times, it’s also allowed us to partner with some of the best small businesses on the planet. The O2 concept was born out of the active but unsustainable lifestyle of my late 20s. Back then, I ate clean but drank gallons of Gatorade and Red Bull to keep moving, all while trying to juggle long hours at my marketing job with working out and having an active social life. You don’t have to be a doctor to know how unhealthy it is to subsist on neon-colored sugar water and artificial caffeine. I was zombified during the day and too jittery to go to sleep at night. Finally, I decided enough was enough; there had to be a better way to fuel my otherwise healthy lifestyle.
As it turns out, making a unique drink that tastes great and actually works isn’t easy. We spent a long time prototyping, using a contraption built out of garden hoses and a fish tank to get the oxygen levels correct. Next, we had to play with the electrolyte and caffeine levels for the results we wanted. Dan and I started tossing around ideas in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2011 that we had a tangible product. We spent so much time and effort on the functional aspect of the drink that we forgot one little detail: the taste! When we bottled the first batch ourselves, the reviews we got back were all the same: “Tastes awful; works great!” We had lightning in a bottle. We just had to find the right way to flavor it. This was easier said than done. Improving flavor without adding artificial sugars or reducing function was a tall order, but I was determined not to sacrifice the nutritional elements of the drink. I’d started coaching CrossFit and Krav Maga after quitting my job at Nationwide Insurance to focus on O2, and I was a lot more mindful about health and wellness. Once I knew we’d nailed the function, I used the last of my savings to hire a team of food scientists to nail the taste. Through a long, expensive process, we finally zeroed in on a flavor profile that was crisp, light, unique, and uncompromising. It took nine months, and I’m certain we were the scientists’ least-favorite customer, but we’d made the best product we possibly could. Was this risky? Absolutely. But in making O 2 a reality, I evolved along with the beverage. My personal growth as a coach and athlete underscored the importance of what I’d set out to do and gave me our core values of honesty, humility, and hustle. That’s the ethos of our company. We’re not perfect, but we’ll continue to learn, grow, and strive for our full potential to serve you best every day.
I brought my beverage woes to a medical doctor: my friend, Dan. I knew he led a
pretty active lifestyle in spite of the stress of completing his residency, and I wanted to know how he did it. “A lot of Gatorade and Red Bull, same as you,” he told me with a sigh. I was shocked.
Was there really no alternative?
We hit the books, delving into the latest studies to find the answers we were looking for. We kept coming across references to oxygenated
–Dave Colina Founder, O2
water and its ability to help the liver process toxins faster. This was it! But why wasn’t anyone else making an oxygenated recovery drink?
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