An eLab Spotlight on Kefi Lifestyle Co.

When Trisha Grullon and Eric Espinel began their journey with Kefi (keh-fee) Lifestyle Co., they sought to change the world. Today, Kefi produces refreshing fermented drinks in a range of flavors (fuji apple rose, pear ginger, and pomegranate blueberry mint to name a few) that aim to diversify the gut's microbiome. In the future, Kefi's bold and bright-eyed founders hope to grow their brand and promote a holistic approach to leading a healthy lifestyle.

So, what sets Kefi apart in the highly saturated beverage market? The unique vision of the founders and their authentic, value-driven mission. With two diverse backgrounds, founders Trisha Grullon and Eric Espinel have combined their experiences to form a clear vision of the brand's future. Having worked in multiple top California hospitals as a registered nurse for eight years, Trisha Grullon pivoted to business two years ago. When asked what drove that decision, Trisha recalled the "pain and suffering" she witnessed in hospitals and the systemic lack of "preventative health." Trisha knew that if she wanted to touch more lives, business was her best option. Eric is currently a second year Johnson MBA student. Previously, Eric worked at Google with their digital advertising suite of products. While landing a job at Google may be the ultimate goal for many, Eric felt there was something missing during his time spent there. He wanted to create a product that would not only generate revenue, but would also help people around the world. In this shared desire to improve the lives of many, Trisha and Eric found their mission: "to empower individuals to be their gutsiest self."

While Kefi is still in the minimum viable product stage, Trisha and Eric are working hard to tweak their product and ensure the best possible experience for the consumer when Kefi launches. Though the brand was set to launch in the summertime, COVID-19 significantly delayed this timeline. In typical entrepreneurial fashion, Eric and Trisha sought creative solutions to their business problems. Seeking a location for production, they called commerical kitchens, local churches, and even the food court at the mall to no avail. From there, Eric reached out to the Johnson community and offered homemade samples to anyone who was interested. They went door-to-door delivering plastic cups filled with their probiotic drinks, collecting as much feedback as possible. Though the timing of COVID-19 was unfortunate, this experience was key for Kefi. Having compiled so much data on their product, Eric and Trisha feel that they now have truly created a product optimized for the consumer and have even generated new ideas for future products.

As members of the eLab cohort, Trisha and Eric are beyond grateful for the opportunities they have been provided. Most invaluable to the founders have been the networking and advising components of eLab. Conversations with other entrepreneurs and their diverse team of advisors have given the pair insight into a wide array of perspectives. The lessons shared by their peers of their collective failures and successes have been immensely insightful. With the help of eLab, Eric and Trisha hope to grow Kefi beyond the scope of a beverage company. Currently Kefi produces probiotic drinks, however, at its core, Kefi seeks to change the world as it promotes the need for an inside-out approach to health.

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