Revenue growth FY 2019 to 2021: 866%
2021 revenue: $24.4 million
Brewing an idea: Charles Livingston started Lifeboost Coffee as a side project in 2015. He was running a nutrition-supplement business at the time, and a small farm in Nicaragua approached him about putting his products in their coffee. Livingston said the herbs would make the coffee too bitter, but he tried the farm’s coffee, which was “the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.” He started researching coffee—specifically, healthy coffee—and felt it was an untapped market. Over the next four years, the CEO took on a partner, President Matt Clark, and they focused on the coffee business. “That’s why it exploded,” he said.
Selling: Lifeboost started with direct-to-consumer sales of its signature blend before starting to sell on Amazon. The company now sells light, medium and dark roasts and decaf and has roasters in New York, Virginia, Texas and California to make distribution easier and faster. Each roaster also has its own specialty.
Lesson learned: Livingston, who started his career as a chiropractor before venturing into online marketing, said he learned from previous businesses he’d run (and from a Navy SEAL friend) that “slow is smooth and smooth is fast,” meaning “be slow and thorough, and you eventually become fast and efficient.”
Going forward: Lifeboost will likely begin to push into retail stores in the next year or so, Livingston said. The company also will get into the cold-brew market. He said about 50% of what Starbucks sells now is cold drinks, so Lifeboost plans to introduce RTDs—ready-to-drink cans of cold brew—and cold brew coffee in a box. It also has plans for a healthy coffee creamer.
Goals: Livingston said Lifeboost wants health to be part of all aspects of its business. That means making sure the beans are farmed sustainably, being a corporate partner of the Rainforest Trust, building schools in the regions of its coffee farms and donating thousands of bags of coffee each year to first responders. “Our goal,” he said, “is to be the healthiest coffee company on the planet.”•
Check out more of IBJ’s ranking of Indy’s fastest-growing companies.