For many people becoming an entrepreneur is just a fantasy, but when you start your own company and Coca-Cola signs a partnership deal with your brand- that’s the American dream! Dino Sarti is the CEO and Co-Founder of Aloe Gloe, an organic-certified aloe water.
However, starting your own beverage brand is not something you do just like that. It all started when Dino worked as an intern coming straight from college for a local Coca-Cola distributor. He came in at 5am every morning to make sure everything was set up just right and made sure the shelves were fully stocked with Coke for the consumers who’d be coming in throughout the day. Dino’s responsibilities grew to a point where he was put in charge of building Cokes sales and establishing Cokes dominance with the local consumers.
While working in a local grocery may not seem like starting your own business, this is how Dino looked at it: “The cool part was that it’s extremely entrepreneurial because you’re the front line guy. Instead of waiting months to see how many sales you’ve made and how much inventory needs to be restocked, running the Coca-Cola section of the store enabled you to see immediately how well your strategies were working. I learned how to be competitive by making sure we sold more than the Pepsi guy who was also selling in the store. I learned to brand myself by making sure that outside every store I worked in there was a huge and well-displayed Coke sign making sure everyone knew where to go for a fresh cold drink of the best brand in the beverage market.”
It wasn’t long before the executives at Coca-Cola were impressed with Dino’s attitude and vision for maximizing sales.
In 2007, Dino joined longtime friends and colleagues, Danny and Pat Bolden to lead US domestic sales for for large customers for Icelandic Glacial Water. Anheuser-Busch was an early investor in the brand and in 2008, the trio had established the Icelandic Glacial water brand as the fast growing premium import in the U.S. However, the world economic melted down at the end of 2008 changed things at Icelandic Glacial and Dino decided it was the right moment to start his own beverage business..
With years of experience and critical contacts in the beverage landscape, Dino and his partners reached out to their alma mater, The Coca-Cola Company, with a plan to help the soft drink giant incubate new beverage ideas in a very small entrepreneurial way in Los Angeles.. “The deal we signed with Coke was not great and we knew we weren’t going to make a lot of money, but we knew that if we proved to them that they could count on us, it would be worthwhile in the future,” Dino explained.
It wasn’t long before their time and efforts paid off in an incredible way. Dino knew that with the experience they had and with their rolodex of contacts growing rapidly they could come out with their own product, but with no portfolio of their own that was a daunting and perhaps unrealistic task.
Sometimes opportunities present themselves in the most surprising ways and in Dino’s case that was certainly true.
“While surfing in Manhattan Beach my co-founder Danny Stepper had an accident that gashed his forehead open. After getting stitches, the doctor told Danny to not only apply Aloe Vera cream to the scar but to drink it as well.”
Dino explained that it was nearly impossible to find Aloe Vera beverages that weren’t loaded with sugar. He thought there had to be an Aloe Vera beverage that tasted good without so much sugar. But to Dino and Danny’s surprise, they could not find a single one. That’s when they knew there had to be a way to make Aloe Vera taste good and at the same time keep it healthy so consumers could benefit from the amazing health and healing aspects.
To create their own beverage would be a huge risk but with all the contacts they had they decided to go for it. In 2012 after a year of research and hard work, Dino, Pat and Danny launched Aloe Gloe, an organic aloe vera water, which they produced locally in California. The water is certified organic, low in calories, gluten-free, vegan and free of preservatives.
“We knew we were on our way,” said Dino, “but in order to get the big companies to invest with us we had to prove our concept. We spent four years working with retail customers and local distributors proving our consumer proposition and building traction that would demonstrate that our brand worked.”
In early 2016 Coca-Cola made a partnership investment in Aloe Gloe through their VEB Venturing and Emerging Brands division led by Scott Uzzell. The brand is now on Coca-Cola trucks in multiple markets on both coasts.
“We went from work for hire employees selling drinks off of a Coke truck to now having come full circle to partner with The Coca-Cola Company on our brand,” said Dino. “It’s an amazing feeling and we’re excited to continue growing the company and provide consumers with drinks that are both healthy and delicious!”
Aloe Gloe is part of L.A. Libations, an emerging beverage incubator that was founded by Danny Stepper, Pat Bolden and Dino Sarti. The three first met while working as merchandisers for Coca-Cola Enterprises and after many successful years in the beverage industry they reunited to create L.A. Libations and in turn their own passion project, Aloe Gloe.