Yanni Hufnagel’s Journey to Building a Beverage Company
Few people would have predicted Yanni Hufnagel’s career path. He started as a basketball coach but ended up as a businessman. During his decade-long coaching career, he worked with teams such as Harvard Crimson, Vanderbilt Commodores, and the California Golden Bears.
Part of Hufnagel’s morning routine was taking lemon-infused water. He wanted to create something that could capture part of a person’s daily routine. In 2017, he launched a beverage called Lemon Perfect. The enhanced lemon water brand is currently valued at more than $100 million and is packaged in recycled plastic bottles.
When creating Lemon Perfect, he wanted the drink to be ubiquitous. Although he was inexperienced, he had to make tough choices during the infant stages of the company. One was to redesign and rebrand the packaging bottle. The process would take at least six months. Initially, Lemon Perfect drinks required refrigeration to maintain their freshness and quality. However, Hufgnagel realized that if he was to make a profit, the drink needed to be shelf-stable. He, therefore, had to reformulate it. Although the decisions delayed the drink’s launch, they were necessary, and in the end, Hufnagel and his investors were glad he had made them.
Lemon Perfect comes in various flavors such as Dragon Fruit Mango, Blueberry Açai, Just Lemon, Kiwi Star Fruit, Dragon Fruit Mango, and Strawberry Passion Fruit. The drinks have no sugar or artificial sweeteners. They are made using organic lemons and have vitamin C and electrolytes.
Yanni Hufnagel is a hardworking and visionary entrepreneur. However, he admits that to succeed, he needed a bit of luck. He was lucky when one of the managers at Publix took one of the Lemon Perfect drinks home, and his family loved it. Lemon Perfect was found in all the Publix supermarket stores one week later.
Lemon Perfect’s drinks retail at only $1.99. This has been critical to the success of the beverage, and Hufnagel strives to maintain this low price. Music fans were surprised to learn that American singer Beyoncé Knowles drinks Lemon Perfect. Even Hufnagel himself was amazed when he found out. Later, the music superstar invested in the brand. Other investors were from the sports industry and included Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Channing Frye, Nick Young, and Spencer Dinwiddie.