John Pinelli is the Founder and CEO of Punch'd Energy.
Punch'd Energy offers green coffee caffeine gummies. Their products are made with ready-for-anything convenience in mind. They work faster than drinks because you chew your energy and they dissolve into the linings of your cheeks. This is the fastest and most optimal way to get caffeine into your system. It’s the first all natural and organic personal energy gummie on the market. It’s the first viable alternative to all those other artificial and junky energy products. Punch’d Energy is faster than coffee, stronger than soda, sportier than sports drinks and healthier than energy drinks.
Learn more about how Punch'd Energy can help help your energy levels by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.
So right now we're with John Pinelli. John you're the Founder of Punch'd Energy and Punch'd Energy is healthier caffeine guys. Is would that be the right way to kind of describe what Punch'd is?
Absolutely in fact if you know what a caffeine GM is then you're ahead of the game because not a lot of people even know caffeine gummy exists, but that's us. Yep.
It's So I am familiar with the product category. And having run a couple of marathons. So you'll those are pretty. So they have like goo packs and other things that you'll see as a runner. But, you know, normally, again, not easy, it's runners are familiar with our lot, you know, endurance athletes are familiar with that. But I don't know that the general population understands why caffeine gummies would be a much better alternative than chugging energy drinks or soda or some of the other alternatives. So before we get ahead of ourselves, because I am really kind of it before this interview, I really kind of geeking out on what you've created here. Can you kind of just tell me the punch story? Like how did you come about you? Your background was not in designing gummies like you didn't go to college for designing consumer products. Right?
Right. No, I That's right. Um, my background is electrical engineering. I'm a design engineer for consumer electronics products. But we stay up very late doing those projects, right? So we're always scrambling for some kind of energy product, whether it's an energy drink, or a soda, or giant cup of coffee. And this project actually was started because we were doing as a family, we're teaching our kids how to be more entrepreneurial. And so in doing that, we created this caffeine gummy company, it's a company, all the kids love it, that it's a replacement item for them for their caffeinated needs. And it's just one of those things that took off and something now that we need in our lives, and are growing the company with it.
And, and so it kind of break that down for me a little bit like, what was the inception? Like, where did all of this? I mean, how did you gain the audacity to think that you could create this product and market this product? And then of course, you know, I'd love to learn like what you learned just in terms of like, Well, what does it take to create a product like this and get it to market?
Sure, sir. So the younger generations, as you know, are way better at reading a product label than us these days. There's nothing on the market today that's like punch the energy and the fact that if you read our label, it's all natural and organic ingredients. And so that was the first step we said look, we want to get rid of all these artificial sweeteners, the artificial ingredients, the high sugar, high sodium, you know, weird definitely can products that are out there today. And this is a different category, mind you caffeine gummies. But it is a great alternative and a great replacement for the drink side of the business. So the energy drinks, the energy shots, the high sugar sodas, the artificial sweeteners that are going into these these drinks that are on the shelves today. And and the reason that we were looking this this way was because I have three kids and actually we have a five, five member family me four kids, and we were all doing things differently on how we caffeinated. I try to keep my sugars down every day. Is it bad I like drinking espresso but I don't add sugar but but Even that sometimes gets to be a pain in the butt to try to find that or to create or make that coffee. My son was drinking energy drinks like it was going out of style. My daughters were drinking Starbucks unicorn lattes or Carmel lattes, like crazy. And so not only was that expensive, it was just a silly amount of sugar in those coffees. And then my even my wife became sensitive to the acids and coffee. So the acidic reaction in her stomach from coffee was causing her discomfort. So this gummy the way you consume it as you chew it and it dissolves in your mouth, the caffeine reaction happens even faster than a coffee or drink. And it never gets to your stomach because it dissolves in your mouth. And so it's a way to caffeinate fast. It's a way to take out some of those elements of stomach aches and tummy problems. And it's a way to do it with sugar, a low sugar and actually very low glycemic product that doesn't spike your insulin levels or cause you to create those problems that other people have with with the drinks.
So how do you create Coming like where do you go? How did you you're like, Okay, this needs to happen, then what would you do?
So we actually, we proved out the concept in our kitchen. So we were in Northern California at the time and we just started making dummies in the kitchen and mind you it's not that hard to make a dumb it's, you know, it's basically a tougher gelatin or tougher jello mold. And so you could put all kinds of things in gummies you know, we do it at parties, we put booze and gummies we put our kids grew up on gummy vitamins, right and so there's things you can do but putting natural caffeine and Gummy Gummy is is actually a challenge because natural caffeine and again, natural caffeine is way better than other the other synthetic or artificial man made lab made caffeine in the market, but it is one of the most bitter things on the planet. And some to make the gummy taste good is really the trick. So that was where we spent a lot of time in research and development actually worked with National Food laboratories, the US Army, Stanford food scientists, even LSU for a period of time to work on the bitterness quotient of this caffeine dummy. And just to tell you a quick aside, which is pretty funny. So, two of my kids are teenage girls. And so teenage girls have the most sensitive pallets to bitter. And so they became a testbed. So once we could get them on board, and once once we got their approval from a bitterness standpoint, we knew we had a good product for market.
So I can imagine all of that taste testing here, family must have been wired.
So funny enough, we actually in this little town of Livermore, our base of operations was a Mexican restaurant in town and so we had to spread that caffeine out through a lot of people in town so we didn't get over caffeinated.
Right? So okay, so you create a formula, you finally have a winner. Then what like how do you how do you mass produced and get packaging, that sort of thing.
So we just kept reiterating the product along the way we had to find a big co Packer a big dummy guy in the country and but by the way we also source and make everything here in the USA and that was important to us because we wanted to control the ingredients, make sure they were the highest quality. Not only are they clean and natural organic but they're the highest quality everything was his taste tested and proved tested in and done here in the USA. So we were working with a the number one nutraceutical gummy manufacturer out there in Santa Cruz, California. And then some things happened along the way and I won't get into it too much other than they were so impressed. They were going to steal our formula. And so working with them and then that caused the go down the path of getting this patented so we're patented formula now so nobody can steal the caffeine gummy space from us. And then we went to the number two gummy nutraceutical company in the country. and are now co packing with them so we can make up the 4 million gummies an hour now I'm a scale guy, we have the scale we're ready to go you know, just growing the business to take advantage of that scale.
So where did you start selling them? Like how reselling might at the back of your car and maybe how did you get them in the hands of consumers and obviously visibility we could have the best companies in the world but again, you just eat awareness.
That's right. It's I mean, it's so noisy in the marketplace as you know. And so we started out locally just you know, in our little town there in Northern California again and by the way, I'm down here in Florida now and we're doing the same thing in the Orlando area so I could use your help. But But, but Northern California we started in gyms, we started in natural health food stores, we started in vitamin shops, things like that. And little by little and and we used a lot of that feedback to to iterate the product and improve upon upon the product. You know, it's easy to put a website up, we put Web set up, we started garnering some sales through that. Yeah, it's all word of mouth. And what's interesting is, is we didn't release the product until we liked it until we felt it was product worthy. You know, a lot of people put out a minimal viable product. We didn't even do that we put it out after we were super happy with it. And just just because we wanted to make sure that the word of mouth was big for us, because this is that type of product, where if you remember the old Vidal Sassoon commercials where it's, she told two friends and she told two friends and he told two friends and so on and so on. We wanted to take advantage of that, because if, you know you only get a first chance to make a first impression. And so we just kept going down that path of making sure that it was a good product. And then we qualified for Amazon. They you know, Amazon does a good job of pre qualifying vendors like us or suppliers like us, making sure it's a good product and a lot of background checks. We qualified for that. And as soon as we hit Amazon, we became Amazon. choice. And when that happened, it sort of skyrocketed for us that hockey stick, all of a sudden, we just it opened up floodgates for us. And that was really the key was getting Amazon to help legitimize the business.
What so how did you is there when when you have a product and again tonight, just because I haven't done this, so you have a product you want Amazon to listed? Not anybody can just post post a product like that on Amazon and Amazon's going to accept it. Like what goes into that decision making process for Amazon?
Yeah, it's pretty complicated process. I mean, it's, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's almost like, it's like applying for a loan for a house or it's like doing your taxes. I mean, there's so many different intricacies and so many details that you have to get done, to prove out that you have a product that's worthy of being on Amazon, to prove that it's safe to prove that, you know, when people consume it, they're not going to die. There, they're going to be happy about it. They're gonna see Amazon in a positive light because this is all about them too, right. They want to make sure that This is a product that represents them in a good way as well. And so yeah, it was it was pretty interesting. It took us about six months to get it right with them and to do all the things that they want us to do lots of lots of hurdles. And and then it's, then it's getting approved for the good stuff, like making sure that you can present the product in a good way making sure you're approved to do videos on their site to get the good content to show them great pictures. And because not a lot of vendors either like us also get to present in a positive way. So that was also important to us and the patent helped. We're qualified for military Be Fit program, those things helped the ingredient panel the way it's listed, all natural helps. So there's a lot of little things that are built into the product that actually helped or helped us get qualified on Amazon as well.
So it's one thing to be listed on Amazon, but then it's another thing to be listed as an Amazon choice, and you'd mentioned that that made a huge difference and in sales volume. So how do you get a product to be listed in as as an Amazon choice.
So it takes reviews, it takes people complimenting the product, it takes people buying the product, they can see a certain velocity in the product sales. So they know it's a popular item. You know, they compare it to other products in the category. And again, there's nothing exactly like this out there. But there's similar products, right? Like you mentioned, the goos and the gels and even there's, you know, Cliff has those little gel blocks and things like that. There's other things out there. But what's again, what's cool about us is that you don't have to get ready to bike 80 miles or to run a marathon or right you know, swim 1000 laps to consumer product. It's not all glucose. It's not just sugar. It's this is Yeah, lean caffeine, right. And that's really what a lot of people want. They want a product that's not going to sit on them for the rest for the whole day or for you know, a couple of days afterwards like it does not Yeah, older, but but they just want Clean caffeine and so that really set us apart. The category of caffeine gummies is a new category, we're sort of trying to create something that's a little bit different. And so that's that's what we've claimed is our category. And again, it's it's, it is similar to other products, but it is something that's new.
And and what do you do it? Like, where do you go now for the next six to 12 months,
we're looking to grow the business, we have a few products, new products that we'd like to launch. And obviously reach right reaching awareness. And, and actually, the other thing that we we talked about before this interview is caffeine education, right? A lot of people don't know what caffeine is, or are scared of caffeine still, or know that caffeine can actually, you know, hurt them in certain ways. Because there are two types of people. There are the fast metabolizers of caffeine and they're the slow metabolizers of caffeine. And both of those types of people can use caffeine to their advantage if it's the product
now. And then one last question. So how are you using social media to grow your brand
For us social media is all about people using our product and yelling other people how to use the product. And so we have this hashtag that we use called hashtag people will. We're on Instagram, we're on Facebook. We're on Twitter. We're all over the social media. We're actually we have a tick tock account now too, which is pretty fun. For the younger audience, but it's um, it really is about the people the first Trier's, we love watching people try punch for the first time, they immediately see the benefits, the convenience, the portability, how fast that works, because when you chew your energy, it's getting into your system faster because it's it's dissolving in your mouth. And so people immediately noticed that it's funny, we have a few reviews and a few customers where they say they can't get out of bed in the morning and some of them staple, pack a punch to their headboard. So I don't recommend doing that because it wrecks the furniture. We do have a pretty rabid following now and so they recommend punched in when they take pictures of themselves and Instagram, obviously It's for their benefit, but it's also for our benefit because it shows other people using the product. Yeah,
well, I listen, I think it's brilliant that you're using the people wall. So, you know, and to other people that have especially consumer facing products and services, you know, to show that that social media, that social proof block on the front page of your website, like you have at Punch'd, and by the way, your website is just PUNCHDenergy.com. So it's punch d energy.com. And you can actually see exactly what what john and everybody are doing at Punch'd, it's brilliant, you've got a great product. I think it's exciting because you're, you know, it's kind of new in a category and that's always a great place to be. So it'll be fun to watch. It's fun to watch the riser punch to congratulations for getting the Amazon choice. And congratulations for all this really great social proof you seem to be getting on an Instagram as well, I would imagine, again, sounds like that's fairly intentional, asking people to post on social.
It is it is. It's all about the people. This product and you know that with most, most most businesses now.
That's great. Well, John Pinelli, you're the Founder of Punch'd Energy on the web again at punchdenergy.com. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much. life's hard, keep punching.
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