Mike Repole is one of the more prominent food and beverage entrepreneurs, and while you may not know his name, you have certainly heard of at least one of his companies. He co-founded glacau vitaminwater, was chairman of the board at Pirate's Booty, co-founded BODYARMOR and is a real player in the business of thoroughbred racing.
In fact, Repole takes a lot of pride in what he has been able to accomplish in the world of horse racing. In the 2016 Kentucky Derby, Repole will run an owned horse named Outwork--the son of Uncle Mo (also owned by Repole), who was the early favorite in the 2011 Derby, but was scratched the morning of the race. This is a special horse for Repole and his shot at achieving a Triple Crown win, which some may describe as Repole's record in business with vitaminwater, Pirate's Booty and BODYARMOR.
Inventing a new beverage with vitaminwater.
Repole co-founded vitaminwater in 1999, which led to a reinvention of the beverage industry. He built the company from scratch and eventually secured it a position as top water brand in the U.S., with nearly $1 billion in sales.
Eight years later, Coca-Cola snatched vitaminwater from Repole for a price of $4.1 billion.
Finding a treasure with Pirate's Booty.
Two years after selling vitaminwater, Repole joined Pirate's Booty as chairman of the board and largest individual shareholder. He helped grow Pirate's Booty 400% in less than five years.
In 2013, Pirate's Booty was acquired by B&G Foods for $200 million.
Success with another beverage brand in BODYARMOR.
Repole's BODYARMOR recently received an investment from Dr Pepper Snapple Group. The company is the third largest selling sports drink brand in the U.S., taking on Gatorade and Powerade with a differentiated product offering.
According to Repole, BODYARMOR is on target to do $150 million in sales in 2016.
But it is horse racing that currently has Repole's attention.
"I started in thoroughbred racing before I was an entrepreneur," explained Repole. "I would go to the track when I was 13 years old and I fell in love with handicapping."
Repole became involved in the world of horse racing when he was at vitaminwater. He describes the experience as getting involved with training wheels on.
"I knew the game as a fan and bettor, but I didn't really know the ownership side," said Repole. "Like any entrepreneur, before you get into business you better know everything about that business. Many entrepreneurs get into horse racing and think it's going to come easy to them or they forget to apply everything that made them successful in business, spend millions of dollars and two years down the road have nothing to show for it."
Repole says he now has a top ten stable every year and that having a horse racing stable has helped his many other businesses.
"In business, it's 80% business plan and 20% luck. In horse racing, it's 20% business plan and 80% luck," added Repole. "I have pressure with BODYARMOR; I have a lot more stress with horse racing. There's 30,000 horses born every year and only 20 get to run the Kentucky Derby. Winning it would be amazing, but getting to it is like making the Final Four."
Repole is off to the Kentucky Derby to see if his horse Outwork can out work the competition. He says it was named as such based on his approach to conducting business.