Avitae: A New Columbus Product Hitting Stores Soon
Over the next few months you’re probably going to notice a new type of bottled water on the shelf in stores around Central Ohio. What you might not realize at first glance is that the product was created right here in Columbus. Brian Pitzer is an OSU graduate who recently launched his new energy-water product called Avitae. Avitae is designed for people who want the caffienated kick of a soft drink without the sugar or chemicals.
We sat down with Brian for a quick chat about his experience with being an entrepreneur in Columbus, what it’s like to launch during an economic recession, and what the future may hold for his new Columbus company.
Walker Evans: Hi Brian! First can you tell us a little bit about the story behind Avitae?
Brian Pitzer: Avitae’s creation has been an ongoing process for the past two years. While attending OSU I used to put caffeine tablets in Gatorade, but after graduating I decided that I didn’t need the sugar and all the extra ingredients. I began adding caffeine pills to water and one day the thought occurred to me that there could conceivably be a great number of people out there who wanted their caffeine but in a healthier way.
WE: So then Avitae was born. How have things been going so far as an entrepreneur in Columbus?
BP: Being an entrepreneur is great! No day is the same and there’s always something new to learn. The downside is that it can be extremely difficult. You always must keep a short memory because things change so quickly. One day you can be on top of the world and the next you can be the goat. Oh, and your families’ longevity depends upon what you’re doing. I love the saying “if it were easy, everyone would do it”. That pretty much epitomizes what entrepreneurs go though – we’re all VERY lonely!
WE: Well, there are some great support networks out there though, right? Have you had support from the community, business organizations, or other groups in particular?
BP: I always surround myself with do’ers. We’re creating something revolutionary and there are plenty of people who will tell you why it can’t be done. I love it when you can get someone’s heart and soul into the idea and there’s no mountain we can’t climb. Really though, very few people will jump on your bandwagon day one. It takes a long time of showing what you can do and what you’re capable of. Eventually though, people start coming around. We’ve been blessed to have most of the Columbus community backing us when we needed it. The City of Dublin is great, The SBDC, TechColumbus, BioOhio, CIFT. They are all big friends of Avitae.
WE: I’ve heard many people, including a few from those groups, say that economic recessions are a prime time to be launching new businesses. Do you feel that’s the case, or has that not played so much into your business plans?
BP: You know, this is a question I get asked quite a bit. My mother always told me that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to those things. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist, but I honestly feel that if the product and the passion are right, it can survive anything. Perhaps the economy is not great, but we’re creating a way for people to feel healthier. If we can help make everyone feel a little better in tough times… great!
WE: So how have people been feeling so far with Avitae? Are they liking it?
BP: Everyone has absolutely LOVED it! I always push for the negative reactions and thoughts because if we know objections or concerns we can plan accordingly. The problem is, almost everyone who we’ve introduced it to absolutely loves it! Obviously the product is great, but I really enjoy hearing how much people like the bottle. It’s a great looking piece and tends to make you feel extraordinary when you hold it. Complimenting the bottle is something that just makes me smile, because if someone likes the way it looks, then that’s half the battle.
WE: So what’s the next step then? Can we expect to see Avitae lining the shelves soon?
BP: We’ve got some great partnerships going right now. We’ve been blessed that our partners really enjoy the product and what we’re doing. I can’t tell you too much on the distribution because we’re finishing up some great things as we speak, but I would expect to see it through Central Ohio in the next few weeks and the plan is for most of the rest of the country by the end of the year. It’s very exciting and the momentum grows daily. I should also mention that Avitae will be in all of PromoWest’s facilities starting with the All-American Rejects concert on April 29th at the LC.
WE: Nice! We’re looking forward to seeing another home-grown Columbus product on the store shelf! One last question… do you have any advice for other local entreprenuers looking to start a business right now?
BP: The biggest thing I can say is to believe in yourself. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll hear a very large number of NOs and reasons why you can’t do something. If you believe in what you’re doing, be willing to sacrifice it all. It’s really a wonderful thing and having a chance to live a dream is the best feeling imaginable. It takes everything you’ve got, but at the end of the day, I would rather have said I swung for the fences and missed than stood and watched the pitches pass me by!
More information about Avitae can be found online at www.Avitae45.com.