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You may opt-out by, The Business of What We Eat and How It's Made, EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation BrandVoice, has a new nut-milk startup, Califia Farms, which paid $260 million for GT’s biggest rival, Kevita, three years ago. His stake in … As for Health-Ade, Dave is stewing about the price war it has ignited with him. It will be a $2 billion category by 2020,” says John Hackett of Coca-Cola, who’s here hawking something called Smoobucha from Odwalla, which Coke now owns. But we’re fine with that. A few bottles of kombuchas were found bubbling and leaking at a Whole Foods in Portland, Maine. All Rights Reserved. And Dave removed Laraine’s cancer story from labels. “CBD is very controversial right now,” Dave says. The topline of today’s news: Forbes opens its archives as President Donald Trump faces renewed scrutiny over his 1990s business troubles; George Thomas Dave built a fortune by teaching Americans to love kombucha; How hackers looted $40 million from cryptocurrency exchange Binance. How did this ancient Chinese drink that is brewed with an unappetizing yeast disc become an artisanal product and an influential part of PepsiCo's brand portfolio in 2016? He spent months perfecting the four flavors: cucumber-basil, ginger-lemongrass, orange-­elderflower and blood rose. The other called out GT’s for “deceptive, misleading, unfair and unlawful labeling” for marketing its products as “wonder drinks that possess amazing health benefits.” A third filed in November combined both allegations, accusing GT’s of making unsubstantiated health claims such as “weight control,” “anti-aging” and “healthy skin.” He denied the allegations but settled all three for $40,000 combined and paid lawyers’ fees of $350,000. I'm going to fight it, but I may find myself outnumbered. I certainly did, until I caught myself.” He passed his GED and left school early, thinking he would start fresh at a city college. Send tips to csorvino@forbes.com. Then it dawned on him to make kombucha instead. GT Dave, founder of GT's Living Foods, evaluates his role in the rise of the Kombucha industry and what that means for the future of the beverage. It uses lab-created probiotic strains, adds a tea flavoring and pumps it full of artificial carbonation. It caught on, becoming a cult-favorite wellness drink in health-conscious southern California and then across America. Dave reaches the end of the 200-foot bottling line, where four robotic arms fill, stack and move cases of kombucha. He’s a floor above the zoo­ish fray, holding court in his private room, surrounded by a small group of his sales team and executives from retailers like H-E-B grocery and Sprouts Farmers Market. “We took a smoothie, put it together with pasteurized kombucha and blended it in a way that we think makes kombucha more drinkable, because 68% of the people who try kombucha don’t like it,” he says, citing an industry survey. . © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. “I say that with almost tears in my eyes. In 2016, he made his first acquisition, buying a family-owned Minnesota business called Tula’s CocoKefir, a maker of fermented coconut water. “Our kefir and yo is where kombucha was for me 22 years ago. GT Dave was born George Thomas Dave as the youngest of three boys born to Michael and Laraine Dave. [They] make it basic, make it mainstream.” Health-Ade sells its drink in medicinal-looking, “A lot of companies our size shy away from risk. A less sure-minded person in Dave’s position might be waffling on his convictions right now, for his kingdom is increasingly under siege. I'm fearful that one day I wake up and kombucha doesn't mean anything. No, she said. The so-called Superbowl of the natural products industry was supposed to kick off Tuesday. He spent months tinkering with his recipe and came up with a new line called Enlightened. The interior is all steel and ­fluorescence, light glinting off Dave’s diamond-sheathed Rolex, the metallic studs on his dress shoes and the platinum rings on his forefinger, ring finger and little finger. He long ago left Odwalla and has a new nut-milk startup, Califia Farms. “I do think [Dave] may have some challenges in the future if he wants to continue to grow and maintain relevance,” says Rampolla, now a cofounder of Powerplant Ventures, a Los Angeles venture capital firm. Overnight, Whole Foods removed kombucha from its stores. I thought it looked weird,” Dave recalls. “A lot of companies our size shy away from risk. But I was persistent. But she had drunk homemade kombucha every day for the past two years. People come up to see him. Melinda Williamson, a proud member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, started Morning Light Kombucha in Hoyt, Kansas, in 2016. In a decade, GT’s reached about $35 million in sales, while competitors like Coke-backed Honest Tea followed behind with their own kombuchas. His perspective changed the next year when his mother, ­Laraine, received a sudden cancer diagnosis. “I didn’t start making kombucha,” a drink with humble origins in the Far East, likely among pilgrims and travelers on the Silk Road, “because I wanted to be rich.”), “He has been able to scale his company while retaining his craft ethos and independent spirit,” says Greg Steltenpohl, an admirer of Dave’s and a founder of the Odwalla juice company. It requires careful logistics to keep the kombucha fresh as it winds through multiple facilities and ­warehouses in southern California before getting to stores. “I’m fearful that one day I wake up and kombucha doesn’t mean anything. He passed. “We’re doing absurd things”—like manually processing coconuts—“that from a financial and business standpoint, you look at and think is never gonna work. Around this time, he decided to entertain acquisition offers from “two big food companies”—he won’t say which ones, but Coke, Nestlé and Unilever are reasonable guesses—even though he had steadfastly rejected any overtures in the past. Dave is adamant that he won't pasteurize his tea, believing it would zap away some of the alleged health benefits. He also owns more than 40% of the United States kombucha market, which adds much to his wealth. Many more of GT’s competitors began pasteurizing to control alcohol levels and quickly won back spots at Whole Foods. Two came in September 2010, one alleging GT’s falsely claimed alcohol levels were below 0.5%. Dave is quick to complain that Kevita shouldn’t be allowed to call its popular Master Brew line kombucha, saying it doesn’t follow an appropriate recipe. “Kombucha is growing at 40% a year. . “I thought it smelled weird. Dave doesn’t walk the show floor anymore. 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