A Humble Beginning
Mike Repole was born in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Middle Village in the Queens district, New York City. His father served as a waiter, and his mother earned her living by sewing. Repole had his primary education at St. Margaret's Elementary and attended Holy Cross High School. He set a new record in his family, being the first person to attend college.
Repole studied sports administration at St. John’s University. This lit his path to building ground-breaking sports products.
Venturing into the Corporate World
Repole stepped into the labour market with a 2.2 GPA, and it’s not the nerdy result expected of business enthusiasts. He waited about 18 months before securing an entry-level role at Mistic beverages. He climbed up the ladder to become the Sales Vice President of Crystal Geyser. Repole stepped out of the safe, corporate white, collar job to do something daring – building his own company.
Building a Startup: Combining Passion and Business Acumen
Repole had gained valuable business knowledge and skills as salaried staff. Developing a successful company from scratch would be a new and challenging experience. Yet, he powered through.
Repole and J. Darius Bikoff founded Glaceau in 1999. Glaceau, an energy brand, gave the beverage market something new: Vitamin water and Smart water. Though, the company’s first product was not welcomed by customers. Repole improved upon it, delivering better products like the Power-C Dragon Fruit. He says, “fail forward and learn from your mistakes.”
Repole’s Glaceau is a pioneer of the enhanced water beverage category. The company gained almost $1 million in revenue in its first launch year. Also, it netted $1 billion in sales revenue in 2007.
Repole has an unquenchable thirst for building energy drink brands loved by athletes, fans, and the sports community. He co-founded the BodyArmor energy drink in a market dominated by the Powerade and Gatorade sports beverages. But he had a plan to drive awareness about BodyArmor to boost sales.
Partnership with Sport Icons
Repole focused on creating organic connections and partnerships instead of doling out stacks of cash for athlete endorsement. For instance, when coaches introduced BodyArmor to their team, some players naturally loved it. This was a lift to developing lasting bonds with them.
In fact, some top athletes went all the way to put their money where their love is. Kobe Bryant and Naomi Osaka invested in BodyArmor.
Doing Business with Coca-Cola
Repole and Coca-Cola have a thing in common: they do business together. The entrepreneur sold Glaceau to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion. Coca-Cola was BodyArmor’s second-biggest stakeholder in 2018. Three years later, it took over the company for $5.6 billion.
Going Beyond Business: A Die-Hard Fan of Horse Racing
Repole has been a big horse racing fan since his teenage days. He became more involved in the sport at Glaceau and opened the Repole Stable after selling the company. Repole’s favourite horses are Vino Rosso and Coach Inge.