Meet The Maker: Phocus
You may have gotten used to seeing those cans of Phocus in our store, but did you know that Phocus got it start right here in Louisville? John Mittel was born and raised in Louisville and was on his way to getting a medical degree from the University of Louisville. He had been working jobs here and there for his mentor Tom O’Grady, when they became really close. One day Tom showed John an article that had just come out about a popular energy drink that was particularly high in sugar. The drink had done extremely well on the market despite its unsavory ingredient list. This really resonated with John since he had been trapped each semester in UofL’s library studying for exams. Day after day John would have to choose from a dismal selection and reluctantly push those vending machine buttons for a drink he knew could do better.
From this Phocus was born! John and Tom knew they could offer that same energy benefit, but in a healthier form. What better way than using sparkling water, something that is known and loved by many consumers. Phocus has been able to marry caffeine and sparkling water exceptionally by using caffeine from green tea. They were able to do this in the most environmentally friendly way by obtaining tea from companies that are trying to avoid caffeine in the production of decaf tea. On top of this the green tea is infused with L-Theanine, green tea’s amino acid. This is what provides that two to three hours of potent energy without the crash.
In October 2017 Phocus was launched. One of their first locations was at our Vint Coffee shop! The product was selling at a rate that John had not expected and Phocus was doing so well that John had to rethink continuing his career in the medical field. That Christmas, John officially decided to put his medical career on hold and see where the possibilities of Phocus could take him.
I asked John why it was important to start Phocus here within the community.
He replied, “You always want it to be from where you are from”.
Louisville allowed John to reach so many demographics and local resources.
“If you can make it in Louisville, you can make it anywhere.”
John expressed how much Heine Brothers’ had helped him, in being able to observe trends, reach different markets, and grow Phocus as a brand.
Phocus has since moved to New York where they are seeing great success. They currently have reached 1,800-2,000 stores.
I ended the interview by asking John what is his favorite thing that has come out of this adventure. He said that having the opportunity to build something you love is like no other. He has loved building a team of people just as passionate about his dream.
“Everyone has such a different skill set. They are all able to go the extra mile and bring something different to the table”.
Make sure to grab a Phocus the next time you are in our stores! They are still working on expanding their selection of flavors, but Blood Orange and Peach have consistently been a customer favorite. We are so thankful to be working with such a cool company that holds many of the same values!