By Sagan Schultz, Co-Founder and CEO
At the end of last summer, WellWell founder Sagan Schultz was well into a joint MD/MBA program at NYU, and also working out like crazy, a schedule that would stretch anyone thin. He was rolling out his muscles every day to avoid being sore, and realized, there had to be additional ways to proactively support recovery — WellWell recovery drink was born. Then came the dream team: Michael Chernow from The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s fame; visionary lifestyle photographer Collin Hughes; and CEO of Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, Larry Praeger. WellWell launched last week in all 33 Whole Foods in the Northeast, and we caught up with Sagan for a few questions about how this all came to fruition (pun intended!).
What inspired the idea for WellWell?
Living an utterly busy New York lifestyle topped with an intense workout schedule, WellWell was born out of my personal need for a functional, transparently clean, and convenient means to support everyday hydration and recovery. With so many unregulated supplements in the market and so many unsupported juice claims, I tapped into my clinical background and sommelier taste buds to create something not only super delicious, but actually functional. After I started shopping it to a few fitness friends, I realized I wasn’t the only one that needed it.
How did you come up with your dream team WellWell guy squad?
It really is a dream team. I began working with Collin, an amazing photographer I knew from when we both lived in Minneapolis, to start building the brand’s visual identity. At the same time, I was introduced to Michael by a mutual friend from Lululemon. I had always been a huge fan of his hospitality-focused restaurants, and the positive energy he adds to the universe is palpable, so it didn’t take long for us to hit it off. Michael had previously worked with Larry (who is also the CEO of Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods) on launching The Meatball Shop, and when I met him I knew things were about to get real and needed him to be on the team. So in hindsight, everything basically just fell into place. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with such a great group of guys every day.
Why exactly is WellWell effective for your body?
I could get super nerdy here and talk about this all day, but I’ll spare you. Each of our ingredients serve a unique purpose. We use a very concentrated form of tart cherry, which has an antioxidant capacity that is off the chart and has also been studied to reduce muscle soreness due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also enhances sleep by increasing natural levels of melatonin, even if you don’t have issues sleeping. Watermelon is one of the richest sources of L-citrulline, an amino acid that has been studied clinically and shown to be an excellent candidate to reduce muscle soreness. And lastly, the biodynamic lemon is packed with flavonoids and vitamin C and balances out the other ingredients taste-wise. With twice the potassium of a banana and more lycopene than tomatoes, WellWell really is a killer form of nutritional hydration.
How do you go about starting a beverage company, or really any company, from scratch?
It’s all about the founding team. It really is the most important part in starting any venture. Having people that are the best at what they do and add serious value to the team is essential, but it’s also creating a team you want to spend your time with day-to-day. We call it the airport test — if you can tolerate getting stuck in an airport with them. If you do this part right, you’ll be much better set up to be successful in whatever it is you’re trying to do. Plus it’s way more fun.
If not your current WellWell flavor, what else would the drink possibly have tasted like? Do you have an alternative flavor?
Even though WellWell is absolutely delicious, the goal wasn’t to create a specific flavor. It was about creating a solution to a problem. By using premium, responsibly farmed ingredients, I knew the flavor would be on point, but the functional component was what we were really after. This is what makes it useful for me in my everyday life, and it turns out other people really share that need.
Best WellWell moment to date?
We’ve come a long way in only 6 months. Launching last week in Whole Foods was a huge one for us, and the outpouring of support from the NYC health and wellness community has been unreal. We couldn’t be more grateful. That being said, we have a lot of things up our sleeves that are sure to be memorable and well worth your time, so head over to our newly launched website www.drinkwellwell.com to get updates!
Sagan Schultz is the CEO and co-founder of WellWell, a clinically grounded, cold-pressed recovery juice for athletes and people with active lifestyles. He holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from NYU and is currently there as an MD/MBA candidate. Prior to starting WellWell, Sagan spent the last five years as a sommelier at Terroir Wine Bar in NYC learning from wine legend Paul Grieco. Fueled by ambition, good coffee, and fish tacos, you can find him buzzing around the streets of lower Manhattan on fixed gear.