Interview with Stathis Touloumis: Detach
From Hipster Santa to First World Problems, the entire internet has jumped on the coconut water meme train. While both sides of the fence have their say about whether or not coconut water is a good thing, we can all agree not all coconut water is created equal. I think we can safely say that we’ve all had coconut water that tasted like it was squeezed through someone’s feet.
The flavor profile, especially in a drink like a coconut water, is super important and can definitely make or break your interest in finishing the glass. Stathis Touloumis, a founder of Detach, spent 3 years carefully developing and refining the flavor, as well as the nutrient balance, and came up with pure magic. Thanks for Meeting With Us Today, Stathis!
Can You Kick Us Off With a Telling Us About How Detach Got Started as a Company?
Thanks, Jonathan and thanks for inviting me today. It was an unlikely path and the concept started without me seriously thinking or realizing I would get into space.
The concept was born while having a conversation with my wife. It was after she had done back to back Yoga sessions after work. She was pretty wiped out and did not feel she had an ideal practice.
Normally she would try to have a beverage before but was tired of the limited choices. She liked the idea of coconut water but hated the taste of all brands and anything close to tasting good was Vitamin Water which was still lacking in its overall health and functional benefits.
Having been a successful athlete for many years I’ve often developed my own pre, during and post beverages while trying to balance practical nutrition with functional benefits to my practice. During our conversation, she asked if I could make something for her and the rest is history!
How Did You Get Introduced to the Paleo Community? What Were Some of Your First Impressions?
I have to admit I wasn’t immersed in the current trends a few years back. I was fairly heading down focusing on my career in high tech and was starting to get the itch to get back to my original passions in life.
Part of this process was to bond to communities that had similar beliefs to me It was coincidental that I had also started to get back into strength training from purely a cycling background which then led me to Crossfit.
Obviously, the exposure to Paleo was then magnified and I found many of the core principles aligned with how I lived so it was a natural fit. It only became more compelling after reading about the tremendous amount of success (sustainable) people have had after switching to Paleo diets.
Word on the Street Is That It Took 3 Years to Get the Magic Right in Detach. Can You Tell Us About This Process? Any Fun Stories to Share About Getting It Right (Because 3 Years Is Plenty of Time for the Hilarity of Trial and Error)?
Yea, well much of the time was spent just on concept and market research. My initial product idea was a Kombucha based beverage! I committed in early 2016 to have a consistent focus and follow through to launch a proof of concept.
There are a ton of decisions to make though especially as a scrappy startup, not just what would make the best product. I spent a fair amount of time just asking myself, “Do I really want to bring my own beverage to the broader market? I barely have a f**** clue what I am doing!”
But it really started to evolve beyond just the product. The more I did the more I realized just how much I missed having a big part of my life around health and fitness which was inclusive of also being challenged and happy.
What’s Is Your Mission for Detach?
The mission goes beyond our first product. The Detach mission is to inspire a healthier and happier lifestyle. Healthy in your heart, mind, body, and soul with no compromises to achieving it. There are way too many products out there touting natural and healthy that are still just full of artificial ingredients and unproven processing methods, I believe we can do better.
The statement is simple but embodies many of the initiatives that over time Detach will get involved in. At the end of the day having a healthy balance across all factors in your heart, mind, body, and soul is crucial overall sustainable health.
There is no point in finding a way to improve one’s practice if it’s just of the short term value. Sustainable outcomes is definitely a core value for us they we strive to achieve.
Tell Us About Yourself! Do You Play Any Sports or Are You More Workout-oriented? Was There Life Before Detach? Tell Us a Story About the Life of Stathis Touloumis!
I hate talking about myself actually. My good friend leans on me all the time to do this more when talking to folks about Detach 🙂 Speaking of friends, I’d like to start by thanking my phenomenal support system of family and friends. I’ve had my share of hard knocks in life but always had a degree of support I am ever grateful for.
Yes and yes, I have been in and out of sports my whole life experiencing both major failures and successes. I’ve been through lots and lots of injuries both chronic and acute, falling down and getting sad while all the while doing my best to work through them. I was first involved and committed seriously to a sport wrestling in high school.
This exposed me to various aspects of strength training and physiology which I found I had a natural interest and passion for. As far as wrestling goes I found dropping weight was not my thing – wrestled at 105 lbs at 5’9″ … no Bueno!. From there I got into cycling even though life in the city was not conducive to cycling training.
There were too many distractions like traffic, house parties and being a DJ 🙂 My stubbornness and passion for the sport got the best of me even though I constantly would get my butt kicked in at every race. I ended up trying to commit a season to doing well when I was 19 moving to Florida in the Winter.
All that did was give me a major herniated disk in my lumbar region from which local doctors told me I’d probably never walk normally without pain let alone sports again. I was about 20 years old, majorly bummed and depressed for nearly a year.
I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and find other ways to try and enjoy life including finding competent doctors. I got involved with Yoga even though it was a time when people thought you were a complete weirdo for doing so. I also got into various aspects of strength training.
Over time with doctors help and guidance I actually ended up recovering nearly 90%. During this time I also found out I had a bad knee with limited mobility that most likely sourced the back injury and other pain. That led to arthroscopic surgery which went phenomenal and with therapy got me to nearly 100%. I could actually run with a normal gait that I could not do before.
From there I continued to do Triathlons making the national team one year. I kinda snuck in though and the reality was long distance sports was not my wheelhouse. Although I managed some competent times cycling was by far my strongest event. At this time it felt like I goofed around enough with my life and had to buckle down with a career.
I spent the next 5 years focusing exclusively on a career until I reached a point where I got the itch to get back into competitive sports again. I moved out of the city, closer to an area that had both a positive healthy lifestyle community and that was conducive to supporting more outdoor endeavors. I then decided to give pure cycling a shot again in part I liked the “mano y mano” aspects of direct competition.
I had some money, had some free time and was doing well so I decided to also get a coach to help round out the gaps in my knowledge. It worked out better than I thought.
I spent nearly the next 15 years racing competitively at the amateur and master level racking up a national title, several state titles, and many top finishes across the road, track and even mountain biking.
My wheelhouse was definitely more explosive events but not pure power events like sprinting though I was a good sprinter. During this time I took on several roles which required a pretty hefty national and sometimes international travel schedule. What probably would surprise most people is that I actually liked it.
At the time I did not know if I’d ever race competitively again. This situation forced me to really not focus on what I did not have but rather what I did have and how to capitalize the most on it. I really had to dial-in my training and focus highly on quality VS volume which most people tend to default to.
This experience has stuck with me and now that I am delving into other activities I am testing the model on the new activities as well.
Can You Tell a Bit About What’s in Detach? Do You Have Any Other Flavors Coming Out? Drink Recipes?
Absolutely, our goal was to evolve plain coconut water to a new category of hydration beverages we call coconut+. We start with an organic coconut water base, add just the right combination of organic and non-GMO ingredients to give improved electrolyte balance, a low glycemic energy boost and functional benefits to improve a wide variety of activities. The formula is specially tuned for high-intensity activities like Crossfit, cycling, rowing, running, etc.
The results have been amazing with consistent feedback on the positive feeling as well as positive results during practice. This is not unexpected though given some of the individual ingredients like Beta-Alanine have scientific results to back the functional benefits. All this in a great tasting drink that is great for you!
The decision on the initial launch was tough. We realized that the most important thing was to stay focused and dialed in. I think every product person ideally wants a broad swath of flavors and even categories they can fill but this really complicates the launch of the business. I definitely have planned flavors on the horizon as well as other product ideas which will follow the same philosophy as our mission.
For the time being, we decided on a fairly neutral flavor with broad appeal and until we reach our customers’ satisfaction and adoption we’ll keep the product line focused and lean.
You’ve Told Us That You’re Just About Ready for Purchase and Distribution. Where Can We Expect to Find Detach?
Right now the easiest place is through amazon Customers can sign-up on our website for promos and special offers. We are planning directly to select fitness clubs and retail outlets in the near future as well. Our goal to start is to keep the footprint focused and controlled and ensure what we are delivering to our customers and community is dialed in and then based on their feedback can expand the product line.
Are You Aware That There Are Hundreds of Coconut Water Memes? Do You Have a Favorite?
Hahaha, only until recently. I think Willie Wonka is hilarious:
But I think the hipster has to be my mascot! It kinda speaks to the evolution of coconut water 😉
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with our community?
Absolutely, don’t be afraid to learn new things and remember even the smartest of us do not stop learning. So take some risks yet don’t be reckless, be balanced and of course, I gotta say @drinkdetach!!!