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CEO & Innovator Yanni Hufnagel Revamps The Bottled Water & Sports Drink Industry

Lemon Perfect CEO and former basketball coach Yanni Hufnagel wants to change how people look at single-serve beverages.

Today’s consumers are less swayed than ever by the marketing efforts of big soda companies. The writing is already on the wall when it comes to how much sugar, artificial coloring, and other harmful ingredients are in sodas like Coke and Pepsi. Even sports drinks like Gatorade are incredibly high in sugar, which contributes heavily to heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions.

Enter Yanni Hufnagel’s Lemon Perfect, a deliciously healthy alternative.

How Lemon Perfect Was Inspired

Hufnagel immediately looked to the big-name, performance-enhancing or vitamin-enhanced waters to see what was already on the market and what needed to be improved. Primarily, he liked what Bai did with coffee fruit as an antioxidant, a naturally-occurring compound that helps to stabilize free radicals and prevent them from causing cell damage.

Pomegranate, acai, and lemon are also antioxidants, and Hufnagel already recognized how well lemon pairs with water. When combined with natural plant sweeteners, he believed that lemon water could be as delicious as a fruit juice or soda without the harmful ingredients.

His days as a basketball coach already gave him a good idea of what athletes look for in hydration solutions. Yanni Hufnagel committed himself to creating a refreshing, low-calorie and sugar-free drink that offered quick-absorbing vitamins and minerals without sucralose, aspartame, or a funny aftertaste.

Low Cost Is Key

Hufnagel also wanted to make sure his company’s beverages were priced so they would be accessible to everyone. That started with keeping his ingredients simple and straightforward. “What’s hard to cure is if you have an expensive ingredient deck,” he said. “The American consumer is still shopping price.”

Price was just the beginning of his approach with Lemon Perfect. Hufnagel noted that successful companies have a multi-tiered approach to cater to customer experience. “The four P’s that I consider paramount to winning in the beverage business are product, price, packaging, and people,” he explained. “We got that right early on.” That much is clear with Lemon Perfect’s vibrant, colorful packaging and modern look. Flavors include classics like Just Lemon and Pineapple Coconut and exotic ones like Strawberry Passion Fruit, Dragon Fruit Mango, Peach Raspberry, Blueberry Acai, and Kiwi Star Fruit.

Hufnagel keeps his competitors on their toes by producing a superior product. “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,” he said.

What’s Next For Lemon Perfect

The future of Lemon Perfect is bright thanks to Yanni Hufnagel’s unique perspective and dedication to quality. The product is currently available in a wide variety of retail establishments including Whole Foods, Publix, and Dollar General. The Lemon Perfect brand is currently valued at more than $100 million, and Hufnagel has his sights set on obtaining a $5 billion valuation.

This figure may seem impossible to attain, but a look at the sale of vitaminwater to The Coca-Cola Company in 2007 for $4.5 billion suggests the number is actually quite reasonable, especially when taking inflation into account. And the way Hufnagel plans to achieve these goals is already set in motion. “We’re going to change the way people drink water,” he said. “My heart wants this brand to be ubiquitous. Sometimes you get one opportunity to build something that can be ubiquitous in the way that Lemon Perfect can be.”

About Yanni Hufnagel

Before starting Lemon Perfect, Yanni Hufnagel was a successful high school lacrosse captain and men’s collegiate basketball coach. He coached multiple notable teams including the Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley, the Commodores at Vanderbilt University, the Wolf Pack at the University of Nevada, Reno, the Harvard University Crimsons, and the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Yanni obtained a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Labor and Relations, where he learned many skills that would come to benefit him later as a successful entrepreneur. As a boy, he grew up in Scarsdale, New York in a Jewish family and has enjoyed sports and athletics throughout his life.

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