What’s the origin story behind Sanzo’s launch?
The idea for Sanzo was born when I was walking through a popular Asian supermarket in Manhattan’s Koreatown in 2018. I noticed that the legacy Asian beverage brands were filled with sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavors, which stood in stark contrast to the “clean” American sparkling water brands available in other retailers.
My goal from the very beginning with Sanzo has been to celebrate high-quality Asian flavors without the bad-for-you ingredients. I also view it as an opportunity to bridge the cultural gap between the East and the West through authentic flavors (mango, lychee, and calamansi) that represent over 60% of the world’s population.
How have you leaned on your background to scale the brand?
Since the first can of Sanzo rolled off the production line, I've been focused on growing the business in the most sustainable way possible.
I began my career working as a nuclear power plant engineer and then moved to work on the trading floor of J.P. Morgan before landing as the head of growth for a men’s styling tech startup. All of these experiences taught me how to work in a fast-paced environment and helped me to understand what scaling a business healthily actually looks like, all of which I applied to launching Sanzo.
I actually hand-delivered every single one of the initial three-thousand Sanzo cans myself to retailers because I felt it was incredibly important to intimately understand every foundational element of what it takes to run a business – from marketing to sales to operations – before I dove into fundraising and scaling in earnest.
What health benefits should folks know about Sanzo?
All of Sanzo’s sparkling water has no added sugar, all ingredients are non-GMO, and we make an effort to source organically whenever possible. All of our purees are made using only real fruit with no additives or preservatives.
It is actually pretty rare for sparkling water brands to use real fruit, and we are only one of two on the market that do so.
How do you integrate Sanzo into your own routine?
Honestly, drinking Sanzo has become about as routine as drinking water.
I feel great knowing I can grab a can out of the fridge, drink it and feel really good about myself. I also really enjoy the exercise of figuring out which flavor best pairs with meals throughout the day.
What factors have led to Sanzo’s success so far?
The reception to Sanzo since launch has been really humbling and exciting.
I think customers are more ready than ever to buy from brands that represent culture in a real and authentic way. Sanzo not only resonates with the incredible buying power of Asian Americans, but it is also a really approachable step into flavors that some people might be less familiar with.
The sparkling water category has grown by double digit percentages every year for the last decade and it still remains the fastest growing beverage category.
What makes Sanzo a great gift?
Well, who doesn’t love sparkling water?? Sanzo is the perfect gift for someone who appreciates refreshing beverages and nuanced (but pleasant!) flavor profiles.
It works for anyone in your life who is trying to cut back on alcohol or sugar intake (or is on the hunt for the perfect cocktail mixer). It is also the perfect companion for any backyard BBQs, birthday parties, picnics in the park – really wherever you go, Sanzo can go with you. Ultimately, Sanzo celebrates Asian flavors that are known and loved by so much of the world’s population—60% to be exact.
We are excited to also share it with people in and outside of that community.