Interviews

Published on March 6th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Chris Kanik On Smart Cups, The Brilliant & Innovative Alternative To The Sugary Energy Drink

Even if you are a “morning person,” odds are that you will need a proper boost to really get your day started. For some people that push comes from coffee, and for others the source is a standard sugary energy drink. But of course those two everyday options are likely to give them the jitters.

I had the pleasure of discovering a new alternative to what has been on the market, the revolutionary Smart Cups. The first-ever 3D-polycapsule printed line of energy drinks, Smart Cups are simultaneously calorie-free, sugar-free, carb-free, and eco-friendly. They do not require stirring, and all one has to do as prep work is add water to the cup. The product is also cheaper than your average energy drink, currently priced at $16.99 for a 5-pack and $25.99 for a 10-pack. Its current flavor offerings include Tropical Recess, Nerdy Lemon-T, Pucker Up Brain Boost, and Magna Cum Latte.

As the story goes, Smart Cups co-founder and CEO Chris Kanik thought of the drink while experiencing a long wait at a restaurant. Prior to his success as an entrepreneur, Kanik had been a stand-up comedian. Kanik spoke to me about Smart Cups for The Hype Magazine, explaining the science behind the brand in a palatable way. More on Smart Cups can be found online at www.smartcups.com.

Prior to launching Smart Cups, how were you getting your energy? Are or were you a big coffee person?

Chris Kanik: I am a very big coffee drinker. I’ve been drinking Cuban and Turkish coffee since as far back as I can remember. Before Smart Cups, I averaged about three and a half pots of coffee per day. I drink coffee dark and bitter.

What was the most difficult part of coming up with Smart Cups? Was it the packaging?

Chris Kanik: The hardest part about launching Smart Cups was and still is — this has never been done before, so there is no blueprint from which I can create a plan or strategy from. This is all uncharted territory with an amazing potential to change the way people consume their beverages and impact the way we ship vitamins and nutrients globally. Every day, a new difficulty pops up, and my team and I just figure out how to solve the problem.

Was the 3D part of the initial product concept?

Chris Kanik: Yes. The three-dimensional appearance has always been part of the delivery system technology. I brought Smart Cups to fruition in partnership with Sal Celeste, CEO of The Additive Advantage and the leading voice for microencapsulation research and technology since 1992. Together, we combined our out-of-the-box thinking to invent and commercialize a complete, precisely measured delivery system where the printed microcapsules containing the active and flavor materials are activated by adding water. Not only does the proprietary technology print actives and flavors but also creates a protective barrier from environmental conditions for those ingredients.

What are some of the advantages of Smart Cups versus other energy drinks?

Chris Kanik: Smart Cups are eco-friendly and entirely free of BPA. Additionally, our stackable design takes up way less storage space in your home than traditional beverages and reduces the costs of shipping and translates into reduced costs for everyone! Smart Cups can deliver more than 10 times the quantity of product than the equal amount of traditional bottles or cans. This reduces our carbon footprint. Additionally, Smart Cups Energy Drinks contain zero calories and no sugar.

Do you have a favorite of the Smart Cups flavors?

Chris Kanik: I don’t like the taste of some of the more popular energy drink brands. I don’t know many people who do like their taste. And that is one of the reasons I chose to launch with an energy drink. I thought, “we could do better.” The technology has a wide array of applications and can be used to create any beverage. But Smart Cups launched with an energy drink line. I made the decision to launch with energy drinks because I wanted to showcase the functionality of the technology. Each nine-ounce Smart Cups has 125mg of caffeine, L-arginine, B vitamins and have good flavors. Right now, I really like the Nerdy Lemon Tea and the Magna Cum Latte flavors. They’re smooth and taste sweet.

Before starting up Smart Cups, you were a stand-up comic. When did you last get on-stage?

Chris Kanik: The last time I performed was in 2012. My wife had never seen me do stand-up when I was really working and being a stand-up comic was my life. She saw me perform. And that was it. No more. Aside from being too busy to perform, my wife won’t let me.

Is there anything you miss about the stand-up world?

Chris Kanik: There are a lot of things I miss about it. I miss the independence and freedom of relying solely on myself. It was the most stimulating experience for me to get on-stage and entertain people. No two shows or audiences were ever the same. I loved losing a crowd and then bringing them back. Sometimes, I would lose a crowd on purpose — which is unheard of really — just so I could see if I could bring them back. I would create little challenges like that for myself.

When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?

Chris Kanik: I spend my time with my two boys and my wife, who is expecting in April. My nine-year-old plays basketball and baseball, so we spend quite a bit of downtime at his games.

Finally, Chris, any last words for the kids?

Chris Kanik: Yeah, life is really hard, so don’t be lazy. Always be imaginative and hard working. Be willing to do the things no one else is willing to do. No one owes you anything so you always have to be working hard, but there is no problem that can’t be solved and no goal that cannot be achieved. Anything is possible. I know that sounds cliché, but I know that from experience. I grew up a poor kid in New Jersey with two immigrant parents. It’s not enough to be smart. I had to be driven and never settle for “no.” I tell my kids that almost on a daily basis. There is nothing more amazing than the blank look on a three-year-old’s face when they are told to be driven.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."


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