The Plug Drink’s origin is a tale of entrepreneurial spirit, birthed from a family with a strong business background. Founders Ray & Justin Kim, inspired by their father’s confectionery jelly cup business, embarked on a journey that began with an eye-opening trip to South Korea. Here, they noticed the saturation of hangover and liver-focused herbal recovery drinks, a stark contrast to the American market. Motivated by their late grandfather’s advice – “To make an impact in our world, you need to put in the time, effort, and never give up” – they saw an opportunity to introduce a food-as-medicine alternative to U.S. consumers, thus filling a significant market gap.
Crafting The Plug Drink
The journey with The Plug started in August 2018, with the founders interviewing and selecting a South Korean manufacturer for their venture. Over the next eight months, they developed and tested over 50 iterations of The Plug Drink. Despite facing minimal challenges during this phase, their primary focus remained on selecting the perfect blend of ingredients that aligned with their vision.
Nature’s Bounty in a Bottle
Central to The Plug Drink is its emphasis on natural ingredients. The founders finalized a product containing 13 ingredients (15 in The Plug Pills), all chosen for their health benefits, including rapidly hydrating electrolytes. Key components such as Pueraria lobata Ohwi, Oriental Raisin Tree, Chrysanthemum, Dandelion, and Schisandra chinensis were selected for their antioxidant properties and their efficacy in supporting liver health, regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, repairing liver damage, aiding gut health, and boosting immunity.
The brand’s philosophy is dedicated to educating Americans about liver health and the power of plants. With a significant portion of the population affected by fatty liver disease, The Plug Drink aims to initiate important conversations about liver health. The brand combines traditional herbal medicine with modern science, offering an easy way to support overall health.
Beyond Hangover Relief
Contrary to popular belief, The Plug Drink’s target audience extends beyond college students. The brand primarily caters to individuals in their late 20s and 30s who are keen on maintaining their liver health. The marketing strategy focuses on wellness, recovery, and proactive health care, highlighting the liver’s crucial role in overall health.
Standing Out in the Beverage Market
In the highly competitive beverage industry, The Plug Drink stands out as an all-natural, plant-based recovery drink. It is distinguished by its absence of cholesterol, fat, caffeine, and added sugar. With the upcoming 5.0 Formula, the drink will feature low calories and carbohydrates, alongside the highest herbal concentration in the market. It also boasts certifications like Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, Plant-Based, and NSF Gluten-Free, catering to a wide range of dietary and lifestyle preferences.
Evolving with Consumer Feedback
Consumer feedback has played a crucial role in the evolution of The Plug Drink. In response to comments on taste and smell, the upcoming 5.0 Formula will introduce flavors like natural lemon, ginger, and apple, enhancing the product’s appeal.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
Sustainability is a key focus for the brand. In 2022, the founders collaborated with Neutrl to offset carbon emissions and are exploring a shift towards aluminum packaging to further reduce environmental impact.
Adapting Through a Pandemic
Launching during a pandemic, the founders focused on a direct-to-consumer model and prioritized customer retention. This strategic approach helped them optimize their business for profitability. Emphasizing quality over quantity and being budget-conscious, they managed to grow and scale the business successfully despite challenging circumstances.
Innovating for Liver Health
Looking ahead, The Plug Drink is set to introduce new forms of ingestion and will launch 30- and 60-day supplies of The Plug Pills in innovative packaging, alongside a powder form of the drink. These expansions reflect the brand’s commitment to offering diverse ways to support liver health.
Lessons in Persistence
Throughout their entrepreneurial journey, the founders have learned the importance of persistence and adaptability. Facing various challenges, they’ve learned to pivot and push forward, turning their ideas into a product available across the country.
Expanding Reach through Partnerships
Significant partnerships have been pivotal for The Plug Drink’s growth. Collaborations with KeHE and other distributors have expanded their market presence. An exclusive deal with Gopuff and BevMo! in 2021 was particularly noteworthy, extending The Plug Drink’s reach nationwide.
Aligning with Health and Wellness Trends
The Plug Drink aligns with the growing trend of seeking simple and effective health solutions. It emphasizes the importance of liver health as a key component of overall wellness, offering an easy way to maintain strong liver and gut health.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
The founders advise aspiring entrepreneurs in the beverage industry to be flexible and responsive to market changes. Success in this field requires dedication, hard work, and occasionally a bit of luck.
Enjoying The Plug Drink
The founders themselves adhere to a “work hard, play hard” mentality, enjoying The Plug Drink as a way to balance a vibrant social life with professional responsibilities, ensuring readiness for the next day’s challenges.
The Plug Drink’s story, from its conceptualization to becoming a market leader, is a testament to the founders’ commitment to health, innovation, and entrepreneurial resilience.