5Qs: Founder of Crude Cold-Pressed Juices on Running a Company at 19

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Brett Robinson, the 19-year-old CEO of Robinson Beverages in Bloomfield Hills, has developed a line of cold-pressed, high-pressure pasteurized juices called Crude. Founded in 2013, the company has seen steady growth. The product is distributed in 23 stores across southeastern Michigan, including Plum Market, Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market and Catering, Market Square, Vince and Joe’s Gourmet Markets, and The Produce Station in Ann Arbor. DBusiness Daily News talked with Robinson about how he got his start and his experience being a teenage executive.

1. DDN: What inspired you to create your cold-pressed juice business?

It bothered me how so many places used bad products. A lot of the juice brands that claimed to be healthy were very watered down, and most of those brands charged a lot of money.

2. DDN: What places your juice brand apart from the competition?

We don’t have a storefront — we wholesale our juices to retailers —so our business model differs slightly from other local brands. We make sure our juices have a ton of nutrients. Our Green Number 1 has 240 percent Vitamin A per serving, 100 percent Vitamin C, and six grams of protein per bottle. Our Orange Number 1, which is coming out right now, has more than 800 percent Vitamin A in the bottle, and more than 200 percent Vitamin C. We really try to focus on the nutritional benefits, while (also) focusing on taste. A lot of brands out there either focus on one or the other. Also, we’re priced pretty competitively, at $7.99 (for 16 ounces), while most other cold-pressed juices in grocery stores average between $9 and $13.

3. DDN: What challenges did you face when starting your company?

A lot of times because of my age, people didn’t know how to take me seriously. Suppliers didn’t want to take my call or take a risk with me. Also, just learning the day-to-day (operations of a business) and the logistics. (The company) was started from scratch so I didn’t really have any background going into this. Aside from normal start-up pains and struggles, there have been a lot of mistakes made that probably built up my passion for it more.

4. DDN: Why do you think it is important for to have access to juice-brands?

There have been so many other (juice) brands out there that aren’t really as healthy as they claim to be, and people still pay a premium for it. So I think it’s great now that there are products out there that are actually honest or as pure as can be — so they’re not made with concentrates or purees. You’re getting more bang for your buck.

5. DDN: What advice would you give other younger individuals who aspire to become entrepreneurs?

I’d say to always be patient, because I’ve had a lot of people tell me, “No.” Be tenacious, but also open-minded and flexible. Ask tons of questions since you’re really never done learning. Even if you think you know how a certain industry works, you really have no idea until you get yourself into it, and it becomes your life. Once you start a business you have to be readily prepared for it to become your life. 

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