BI: What did you do after that and how did Coca-Cola take your resignation?
RO: “I had a party and then my boss asked where I was going. I said I was going to be a partner in Vitamin Water, which was small and made around $25 million in revenue annually in 2002, and he just laughed and said “good luck with that.” Well, it was funny because we ended up selling the company to Coca Cola for $4.2 billion in 2007. “
BI: How did you grow the company so rapidly? (Oza helped grow the company’s sales to $700 million a year by the time he left in 2004.)
RO: I believed in the brand and Vitamin Water is a breakthrough product in the food and beverage industry. I believed in order to make a product a success you need to be a brand messiah, not a marketing manager. I only hire brand messiahs — they live and breathe the product, not just sell it. They have to create a culture around the product itself. There’s a statistic out there that 1 in 10 people influence the rest of us. So you have got to find who those people are to spread the word.
University of Michigan Interview