Rodrigo Veloso founded Los Angeles-based O.N.E. Drinks, the maker of O.N.E. Coconut Water, as a means of spreading his love for the health-conscious beverage. Coconut water, the juice from young green coconuts, was once considered a waste product, but in recent years, its all-natural health benefits have been promoted, so much so that coconut water is now the fastest-growing nonalcoholic beverage in the U.S.
Veloso, who was raised on a coffee farm in Brazil, was always fascinated that the coffee fruit — also rich in health benefits — is completely discarded in favor of the coffee bean. It was this fascination with food and agricultural waste that fueled his passion for coconut water.
“We harvest the coconut at a point where every part is utilized,” Veloso explains. [O.N.E. Coconut Water] is minimally processed, and packaged in one of the most sustainable beverage containers in the world.”
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to the beverage edition of Green is Good, and we’re so honored to have on the second half of Green is Good Rodrigo Veloso, who is the founder and CEO of O.N.E., an all-natural company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Welcome to Green is Good.
RODRIGO VELOSO: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here with you.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Rodrigo, your number one brand, as far as I know, is your O.N.E. coconut water. By the way, I ran five miles today. I’ve drank your coconut water since Whole Foods has sold it. I’m a huge fan, so I am truly honored to have you on today because to have an eco-preneur like you on, who’s rocking the free world with coconut water and changing how we all drink beverage and see coconut water, this is just truly an honor. You are truly a visionary.
RODRIGO VELOSO: Thank you so much. Once again, pleasure to be here with you.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: What is coconut water, though? For our listeners out there that haven’t had the pleasure of tasting your wonderful drink yet or trying it at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, what is coconut water?
RODRIGO VELOSO: Absolutely. Coconut water is just the clear liquid inside the young green coconut. It is an amazing beverage that has been consumed not only for dozens of years or actually hundreds of years, but seriously for thousands and thousands of years. It is extremely rich in electrolytes. It has five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana, making it an extremely hydrating beverage. It’s more hydrating than any sports drink, but 100% natural. Coconut water is actually fascinating to think about. It’s an amazing nutritional beverage. It used to be considered the waste, and the value was only on coconut meat, and the water was many times discarded. So, one of the things that makes us so proud of our business model is the operating with the stakeholder model in mind, meaning everybody throughout our supply chain benefits. The farmers make more money by selling the coconut in its entirety, including the water. The company has access to an abundance of raw material, as well as our investors, the whole supply chain, and consumers benefit since we’re selling a very healthy, nutritional, and extremely hydrating product.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: What I’ve read about your great brand is that coconut water is the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverage category in the U.S.
RODRIGO VELOSO: That’s correct. For the last three years, coconut water has been the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverage category in the U.S. We truly believe that this is just the beginning. In Brazil, the country that I am recently from, coconut water today outsells the total sales of orange juice. It’s fascinating to think about it, that you can walk inside McDonald’s in Brazil and have something called a McLite menu, that has salad as well as McDonald’s private label of coconut water. We fundamentally believe that it’s just a matter of time that this enormous success will be replicated here in the U.S.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Is that your coconut water sold at McDonald’s in Brazil?
RODRIGO VELOSO: That’s correct.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. Congratulations. This is the fun part of what we do, Rodrigo. The first half of the show, as we explained when we were off the air, was from Puerto Rico talking about DonQ Rum. The second is about this unbelievable new brand that you’ve created. You’ve actually taken a waste product and made it into one of the fastest growing drinks in the world. Tell us about the origins, though, the fascination. You’re Brazilian. You’re from Brazil. You’re probably going to become, before this whole journey is over, one of the national eco-preneur heroes of the whole country. What are the origins of the company, though? How did you even stumble upon this amazing opportunity? How did you vision this out?
RODRIGO VELOSO: I had the privilege to grow up in a coffee farm in Brazil. I was always fascinated to see that the value of coffee is only on the coffee bean. The coffee fruit, which is extremely nutritional, rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and so on and so forth, is completely discarded. The value is only on the bean, which is the seed of the coffee fruit. I have always been obsessed with waste. In the coconut industry, the same has been true. As I said, the water was being completely discarded and thrown away, many times creating an environmental problem, as you have millions of liters of organic matter going down the river stream. By selling our coconut water, the whole company feels so good, as I said, as the whole supply chain links, as we operate with the stakeholder model in mind, so the environment benefits, the farmers, obviously the company, and the consumers. This is something that we are very proud of our business model.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: I have to say this to you, and I want to thank you for this. I have a problem with keeping enough potassium in my system. It’s a genetic issue, and I can’t just drink water. Your coconut water has now, since it’s been sold at Whole Foods and I’ve been consuming it without ever seeing a commercial or reading any articles on it, has helped me with my potassium problem. For our listeners out there, if you haven’t tried Rodrigo’s amazing O.N.E. coconut water, try just one of them. You’ll never be sorry, and you’ll never go back to the sports drinks that are out there with all the sugar and unnatural circumstances that they have in them. Go to onedrinks.com. It’s a beautiful website. Mike and I are on that website right now. If you have your iPad or your laptop or your desktop open now, go check out his beautiful website, onedrinks.com. Check out his great coconut water drink. The whole story is there. Tell us a little bit, Rodrigo, about the production process. You grew up in the production process in the coffee fields of Brazil, watching that whole production process. Walk our listeners through the production process of coconut water.
RODRIGO VELOSO: Sure. We have developed very modern state-of-the-art technology that allows us to extract the water from the coconut without ever touching air or light in filtering, in packaging inside the Tetra Pak, which is one of the most environmentally friendly containers in the world. Therefore, we are able to keep this amazing beverage, the coconut water, shelf stable without any kind of preservatives, colors, or sugars, with a shelf life of one year. We have our packaging facilities literally within the coconut farms. I like to say that similar to premium bottled water, our product is literally packaged at the source. We extract the water from the coconuts, and then it goes direct to the Tetra Pak.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, it’s a seamless process.
RODRIGO VELOSO: Correct. It’s minimally processed and packaged in one of the most sustainable environmental beverage containers in the world.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: I know what our listeners are thinking, though, because Mike and I are thinking this right now. I love coconut. I’m a huge fan of everything coconut, whether it’s coconut cream pie or an Almond Joy bar or anything like that. What happens to the other parts of the coconut, since we’re all now enjoying the O.N.E. coconut water, what happens to the other parts of the coconut?
RODRIGO VELOSO: Basically, our company operates with sustainability in mind and, obviously, with the stakeholder model in mind. We harvest the coconut on the point that everything is utilized. The meat is utilized for coconut cream, coconut oil, and so on and so forth. The shell is used for activated carbon. The husk is used for ropes or for water retention and fertilizers. The water is used for our beverage. Coconut water is such a phenomenal beverage. It’s so natural that during World War II, American soldiers were in need of blood transfusion and did not have access to the proper blood. American Army doctors would inject pure coconut water IV while waiting for the proper blood. This is how natural and how incredible this product is.
MIKE BRADY: So, Rodrigo, while they’re waiting for whole blood, normally you put plasma in and there’s no plasma, so they’re doing coconut water instead.
RODRIGO VELOSO: That’s correct. Coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage with very similar composition as human blood, so doctors would inject pure coconut water IV while waiting for the proper blood, gaining several hours of life for the wounded soldiers.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Rodrigo, what resonates with our listeners and what resonates with Mike and I are great stories like that. Your story has 50 great stories, and that’s just another great one of them. Also share what I’ve come to learn, but I want you to share this with our listeners, explain why coconut water, as opposed to the other manufactured beverages out there, we don’t have to name them, but we know they’re full of all other types of colors and sugars, why coconut water versus those other manufactured beverages?
RODRIGO VELOSO: We believe that we’re literally going through a food and liquid revolution in this country. People are actively seeking natural, better for you beverages as an alternative to highly artificial sports drinks that, as you mentioned, are completely filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, many derived from petroleum, artificial sweeteners, and so on and so forth. Our coconut water has only one ingredient. It’s fascinating. If you look at the ingredient list, you’re only going to find coconut water. It is more hydrating than any sports drink or isotonic beverage, but 100% natural. As I said, it has five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana. So, for athletes like yourself or for people that just enjoy going for a hike or just want to be hydrated, coconut water makes an incredible, exceptional beverage. In our company, we have a very complete strategy for coconut water. We have recently launched a kids’ beverage that is coconut water-based. After doing a lot of research and asking mothers why they buy a juice box for their children, the number one answer is hydration. However, apple juice does not hydrate you, and many of the juices out there do not hydrate you either. So, we launched a kids’ drink that is 50% coconut water-based that gives you the hydration that mothers are seeking for their children and with the right flavor profile. This product is called O.N.E. Kids, and it’s now available in natural foods stores throughout the country.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s just be really clear with our listeners, Rodrigo. O.N.E., your wonderful coconut drink, is good and great for pregnant and nursing mothers.
RODRIGO VELOSO: That’s correct. We are working very closely with PAM, the Pregnancy Awareness Month, and coconut water is this incredible beverage for nursing mothers, pregnant women, and for children. We’re working very closely with PAM in an awareness campaign to show how important during this beautiful and important period of life, hydration is important. So, we’re working very closely with PAM, letting them know the health benefits of coconut water and the importance of being hydrated during this period.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners who just tuned in, we’re so honored today to have Rodrigo Veloso, who’s the founder and CEO of O.N.E. beverages. O.N.E.’s lead brand is their O.N.E. coconut water. If you have your iPad or your laptop or your desktop in front of you, go right now to his website, onedrinks.com. It’s a beautiful website. It tells the story of coconut water and also where you can buy it. That’s very important because if you haven’t tried it yet, you’ve got to try their coconut water. I actually use their coconut water. I’m a fan, so I’m only telling you from experience. Rodrigo, I don’t want to give it away; I want you to share the story. I never knew this until this morning when I was preparing for this show. What is O.N.E. an acronym for? I want our listeners to hear it from you what your brand is an acronym for and what it stands for.
RODRIGO VELOSO: Sure. On the beverage side, O.N.E. stands for One Natural Experience, since we really feel that we are offering our consumers one natural experience. However, the philosophy behind the brand that the O.N.E. meaning has is Opportunity Never Ends. We really feel that opportunity is all around us, and it’s endless. It’s just a matter of having your eyes open and paying attention to it.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is just wonderful. Our listeners have to really take that to heart. If that’s all you’re learning today, that opportunity never ends, and you’re listening to a man who actually took a waste product and made it into one of the greatest new brands in the entire world, that opportunity never ends and there’s always new ideas out there. Talk to us a little bit about your amazing philosophy when it comes to capitalism and conscious capitalism.
RODRIGO VELOSO: We believe that right now, we, as a society, we are at the tipping point of consumers are starting to demand not only the best products, but they’re starting to demand the best companies as well. Information is everywhere. Incredible radio shows such as yours, the internet, you can find information about companies, so therefore, we operate with a crucial stakeholder model in mind, making sure that everybody throughout our supply chain are benefiting. Once again, in the case of the coconut water, the farmers, the producers, the distributors, the investors, and obviously the consumers. We really believe that by having the stakeholder model in mind is a win-win situation, and as consumers are demanding the best company for their best products, this is a really good proposition for everybody. We are thrilled and very proud to be launching the first mainstream coconut water brand in the country that is 100% organic. It’s going to be hitting the stores in the next 30 days. It’s 100% organic with the USDA seal on it, and this is something that we’ve been working for over three years, so we’re very proud and excited to be launching this amazing product, now organic, in the next 30 days.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: In the same stores that we can buy it now, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and more?
RODRIGO VELOSO: It’s going to be available everywhere, Whole Foods, Ralph’s, Albertson’s, and the premium retailers nationwide.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is amazing. I’m not an expert at this, so I want you to explain what is the fair trade also mean to your coconut water, and what does it mean to your brand specifically? How is that working with your brand?
RODRIGO VELOSO: Certainly. This is something that’s been very close to our hearts and to the DNA of the company. At the moment, we are working in order to achieve the fair trade certification, something that we should be able to achieve very soon, and hopefully within the next 60 days, we should be announcing the fair trade partnership.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Rodrigo, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to get that done. Again, having you on the show is like having the originator of any great brand. It’s like having Ted Turner on the first month or year that he started CNN. There’s so much blue sky and opportunity in front of you with regards to your amazing brand of coconut water. Tell us a little bit about your vision, though, for the next five years. Where can it go? You’re already a rock star in the business world and in the environmental world. Where can this really grow to, though?
RODRIGO VELOSO: We believe this is just the beginning. Consumers are voting with their wallets, choosing their companies, and we’re doing our very best in order to make sure that not only we have the most hydrating, natural, sustainable beverage, but also to be the most conscious in good company. We feel we know that we’re resonating with consumers in North America. We know that we’re resonating, that the brand is resonating, to people’s hearts. Our goal is to have the O.N.E. coconut water brand available worldwide and we’re working very closely with our partners in order to make this happen.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: How many countries is it right now sold in?
RODRIGO VELOSO: Right now, our headquarters are right here in Los Angeles. Our main focus is North America. Our main focus is the U.S., and we’re just starting our global expansion.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. When we talk about being 100% pure and like you gave the great story of helping our soldiers in the U.S. military during World War II, it’s really a perfect hydrator. Besides being great for children and for pregnant and also nursing moms, this is also really great for, as you said earlier, athletes, also for seniors, and also for children who are sick. Is this not true?
RODRIGO VELOSO: It is absolutely correct. It is a product that is good for everybody, for children, as you mentioned for nursing mothers, for seniors, for athletes, or for everybody that just needs hydration. We all do. Unfortunately, we are living in a time here in the U.S. that an incredibly large percentage of the population is dehydrated at all times. We’re drinking too much soft drinks, too much coffee, and beverage that actually dehydrates you. So, drinking coconut water as part of your lifestyle is extremely beneficial, as it’s the most hydrating beverage in the world.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Even our friends out there that responsibly enjoy their liquor libations sometimes and have a hangover the next morning, this is even good for our friends who need a hangover helper.
RODRIGO VELOSO: I would even go a little further. You can have a coconut water as hangover prevention. While you’re having your favorite drink, have a coconut water in between, because obviously dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover. If you’re drinking your coconut water in between your drinks, there’s no hangover, as you’re keeping yourself hydrated.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Also, as we live in a very, unfortunately but fortunately also, a vain society and people want to take care of themselves more and look better, not only feel better but also look better, I’ve been to Brazil many times. I love your homeland, and I love your country. I have to tell you, the women in Brazil are just absolutely spectacular and beautiful. Does coconut water have anything to do with the natural beauty of the folks down in Brazil?
RODRIGO VELOSO: It’s certainly part of a natural lifestyle and keeping yourself hydrated is incredibly important. As I said, it’s fascinating times that we’re living in. I feel that we’re going for the second generation of functional products. We’re no longer looking for a beverage with enhanced vitamins or gimmicks and nutriceuticals. People are looking to get their nutrition out of real fruit, out of real products. Coconut water is a natural alternative to all these artificially enhanced beverages. It’s extremely nutritious, good for you, extremely hydrating, and once again, more potassium than a banana.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Rodrigo, we’re down to the last minute or so. I just want to turn this over to you. We have listeners, literally, around the world, in the United States and around the world. We get so many e-mails, Mike and I, from our listeners asking us, “How can we become the next Rodrigo Veloso?” or “What’s the secret?” They always want to hear from you just some last pearls of wisdom on how to become the next Rodrigo Veloso or what your journey means to you. Share with our listeners, as we say goodbye, some pearls of wisdom direct from the visionary’s mouth.
RODRIGO VELOSO: What I’d like to say is really believe in your dreams, live your dream, and never give up. That’s the most important thing. Believe in what you’re doing, believe in what you’re selling or creating, and live it. Live the dream. That’s the only way that I believe it’s possible to succeed.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Rodrigo, Mike and I, again, are going to ask you to come back again as your brand grows, not only here in the United States, but around the world, and you live your dream. For our listeners out there, please go to his great website, www.onedrinks.com. Learn more about coconut water. Buy his coconut water, and try it. Once you try it, you’ll never go back to whatever you’re drinking right now. Rodrigo Veloso, you’re not only a visionary and an eco-preneur, you’re a beverage mogul in the making, and truly living proof that green is good.