Less than one year ago, Mike McGinn was standing behind a table at the City Market downtown on a hot August day, signing up interested buyers for Edmonton’s latest product: cold-pressed, raw, organic juice.
RevoJuiceinary isn’t the first raw juice company in Edmonton, but it’s the first one that boasts the benefits of cold-pressed juicing, a technique that preserves the integrity of the nutrients in raw juice while maintaining a longer shelf life. McGinn, the founder and current owner of the company, wanted to experiment with the idea of a socially-conscious business that would push the boundaries of the traditional business model.
“I’ve always been interested in business and entrepreneurship, but on a social level. How much impact can a business make socially but still be successful?” McGinn says.
With names like “Third Wave” and “Electrolyte Elixir,” the company is selling refreshing juices in which more unusual ingredients (including kale, Swiss chard, dandelion leaf, and mesquite) are paired with raw coconut water, spring water, mint, and common fruits and vegetables. With the help of Kristin Fraser, a holistic nutritionist, RevoJuiceinary offers a wide range of products for both everyday consumption and juice cleanses. The average consumer currently orders a three-day cleanse, which includes 18 jars of juice, with deliveries going out across the Southside and as far as Sherwood Park.
So what is RevoJuiceinary offering when they sell raw, cold-pressed, organic juice? Well, in the juicing world there are two types of juicers. Centrifugal juicers use fast-spinning metal blades and mesh nets to separate juice from pulp. However, this process is quite extreme, and the heat generated from the blades can kill enzymes and nutrients in the process. A lot of oxidization also gets into the juice, which means that the juice doesn’t last as long and isn’t as vibrant. Cold-pressed juicers negate both of those issues, McGinn says, as cold-pressing is a gentler process. The machine crushes and then presses the vegetables and fruits with less heat, which means more of the natural enzymes and nutrients remain intact (you can read a more complete comparison of the juicers here). RevoJuiceinary uses the pricey Norwalk 280, a personal juicer, to cold-press their juice before packaging in reusable mason jars and delivering to your doorstep.
From writing the business plan in one night to making their first sale a month later, RevoJuiceinary has expanded rapidly, and continues to push its message. The company tries to minimize their impact on the environment in their processing and use of materials, choosing to use recyclable bottling and paper, local produce whenever possible, organic produce and fair-trade ingredients. The business itself also doesn’t push weight loss or fitness, instead positioning itself as a tool to help people achieve what they want to do. They are a politically engaged business, too, acknowledging on each bottle that the company is operating on Treaty 6 territory.
The Organic Box supplies all the produce, a partnership that’s based on RevoJuiceinary’s environmentally conscious values. This has been a good relationship for the company, as The Organic Box has begun to tap into ‘dead food zones’—places where there aren’t many organic, homegrown and local options for produce. RevoJuiceinary has been able to piggyback on the growth of The Organic Box and now sees some of their juice reaching Fort McMurray and Peace River. They’re hoping this is a good sign that these markets could one day accommodate more raw, cold-pressed juice.
The business is delivering 800 bottles of juice a month after sales peaked in September. Since then, they’ve seen steadily growth each month. They’ve followed the same model as The Organic Box: to deliver directly to stores and consumers. Much like there used to be a milkman who brought milk to your doorstep, RevoJuiceinary is hoping to bring you juice, and with more health benefits, too. Starting out with very limited capital meant that McGinn had to brainstorm a way to get their products out with low overhead costs, which meant that maintaining a storefront was not possible. He was also hesitant to have a storefront that could thrive in a market that wasn’t downtown and already focused on local, organic businesses like his own. Currently, McGinn juices at a small commercial kitchen behind Oliver Square, which allows them to make their deliveries efficiently.
McGinn doesn’t have an academic background in business—he actually left business school for the humanities—but he’s been a diligent student of experience. Starting a social enterprise and working his way to creating a viable business has been “the most intense business course” he’s ever taken.
“I hope not to fail it,” he adds, stating that the last ten months have taught him most of the business skills he knows.
Learning how to run a small business definitely took a great deal of trial and error. It seemed simple to make and deliver juice, but the first challenge he faced was underestimating time. In the beginning, he says, they had no system of time-management; McGinn would stay up until three or four in the morning juicing, and head out for deliveries only a few hours later. They would drive around town picking up their glass mason jars and then head to the Organic Box to pick up their produce without much thought to creating an efficient system. When he began, he says, he relied heavily on help from family and friends. Now, McGinn spends half the week juicing with help from his partner, and the second half delivering juice.
“If I had to make that much juice now, it would be no problem,” McGinn adds. “But at that time it was no sleep.”
As the business grows, McGinn hopes that RevoJuiceinary can look into options to scale up their production. They also want to see if they can offer performance-based products as holistic alternative to caffeine, for instance. For now, he’s happy with the growth they’re experiencing month-to-month.
“We’re trying to connect with a consumer who is wanting the most pristine juice they can get,” McGinn finishes.
Photography courtesy of The Wanderer Online Photography Editor Antony Ta