Former Basketball Coach & CEO Yanni Hufnagel Shakes Up The Flavored Water Market

Beverages like Pepsi, Coke, and Gatorade are loaded with sugar and empty calories, which can contribute to significant health problems like obesity and diabetes. As a result, fewer people are choosing these products at grocery stores and restaurants. But what will replace them?

Yanni Hufnagel, CEO of Lemon Perfect, aims to change the face of the sports drink and bottled water market with healthier, but just as tasty, alternatives.

The Inspiration Behind Lemon Perfect

Naturally, one of the first things Hufnagel did when developing his product was look at what he would be able to do better than his competitors. Bai water caught his interest with their use of coffee fruit extract as an antioxidant. Antioxidants work by scavenging and eliminating free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells, and they’re produced when the body metabolizes food or is exposed to environmental toxins.

Lemon is also a powerful antioxidant, and there’s a reason why it’s so common to get a lemon in your water at restaurants. Lemon simply tastes great without adding any extra calories, sugar, or preservatives to your beverage.

As a basketball coach, Yanni Hufnagel already knew how important antioxidants and immediately bioavailable vitamins and minerals were to athletes, but almost all of the available sports drinks were laden with either harmful aspartame and sucralose or tons of high fructose corn syrup. The right solution would be one that aimed for a healthy alternative without sacrificing on flavor.

Price Makes Perfect

Beyond his commitment to creating a flavorful, sugar and calorie-free sports drink alternative, Hufnagel wanted the price to be accessible to the average consumer. “The American consumer is still shopping [based on] price,” he said.

But it wasn’t just price that needed consideration to bring a new beverage to market. “The four P’s that I consider paramount to winning in the beverage business are product, price, packaging, and people,” he elaborated.“We got that right early on.”

Lemon Perfect, which now comes in a multitude of other flavors, features bright, airy, and colorful branding with modern fonts and exciting packaging. It’s immediately attractive and embodies a fresh spring or summer day. The product has had excellent success and a positive reception even in the face of stiff competition from big-brand beverages like vitaminwater and hint.

Of his products, Yanni Hufnagel said, “There’s nothing in the category with our flavor profile, the freshness of our flavor profile, our nutritional deck, and zero sugar. We’re bottled in 100% recycled plastic, and we’re organic. I think we’ve got magic inside the bottle. When people drink the brand, they come back in a big way, and the data suggests that.”

The Future Of Lemon Perfect

Lemon Perfect stands to dominate the flavored water market and is currently valued at over $100 million. The company’s massive success isn’t where Hufnagel stops, though. He aims to reach a $5 billion valuation of his business. If you’re balking at the price, don’t. The Coca-Cola Company bought the vitaminwater brand in 2007 for a staggering $4.5 billion, prior to today’s record inflation.

Hufnagel’s brand goals aren’t only motivated by money. “My heart wants this brand to be ubiquitous,” he says. “Sometimes you get one opportunity to build something that can be ubiquitous in the way that Lemon Perfect can be. We’re going to change the way people drink water.”

About Yanni Hufnagel

Yanni Hufnagel is a successful American entrepreneur and former collegiate basketball coach for the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team. Prior to founding Lemon Perfect, he grew up in a Jewish family in Scarsdale, New York and was a lacrosse team captain for Scarsdale High School.

He later attended Pennsylvania State University, where he also played lacrosse, before transferring to Cornell University where he obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Labor and Relations. He also coached for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, Harvard University’s Crimson men’s basketball team, the Vanderbilt Commodores, and the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears.

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