Luma Soda is a sugar free beverage created by Jim Otteson. He will be appearing on Shark Tank to pitch his business, in the hopes that he can get an investor to help him connect with brand name grocery stores.
Luma Soda was founded in January 2017, and offers four different flavors; including cola, cherry, lemon lime and blood orange. Read on to learn about Otteson’s creation, and how he plans to expand the business moving forward.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Luma Is an All-Natural, Sugar Free Alternative to Brand Soda
Luma offers a healthy alternative to brand name soda. It has zero calories for people who want to lose weight; zero carbohydrates for people on keto diets; zero sugar to affect blood sugar levels; zero chemical additives; zero preservatives; and zero artificial colors. It derives all of its sweetness from a combination of monk fruit and honey.
A single can of Luma has 25 calories and 2 grams of sugar. It’s sold in 12-packs for only $1.67 per can and $19.99 for a pack. The Luma website says that they ship to anywhere in the United States for a $5 flat rate per 12-pack. When you order four or more 12-packs, shipping is free.
According to the All Shark Tank Products, Otteson named the soda for its simplicity and its connotation of light. It is currently being produced in Sonoma County, and Otteson has said that he’s working on adding new flavors to the roster.
2. Otteson Was a Trial Lawyer for 26 Years Before He Started Luma Soda
Otteson was formerly a trial lawyer who specialized in patent infringement. He told Palo Alto Online that he regularly drank soda as a way to stay caffeinated. “It would be nothing to drink upwards of 12 cans of Diet Coke per day,” he said. Eventually, Otteson’s wife urged him to quit drinking soda. He sought out alternatives as a result, and discovered that aspartame, a sweetener commonly used in diet soda, has negative side effects.
“One morning, I went out to the garage and went to grab a Diet Coke first thing in the morning to drink on my way to work, and I looked at it, and I said, ‘Why isn’t there a healthy, all-natural, very low-sugar soda?’ And so I started looking around for one,” Otteson recalled. He decided to create a natural soda that didn’t have any aspartame or artificial sweeteners, and thus, Luma was born.
Otteson began experimenting with different flavors in his kitchen. He told Palo Alto online that he contacted food companies for natural flavor samples, and eventually discovered the right mixture of ingredients. He partnered with Sampson Hsia, a food scientist in Fremont, and together they developed the formula.
3. Otteson Says That Monk Fruit Is the Key to Luma Soda’s Flavor
The key ingredient to Luma is monk fruit. In a blog post, Otteson discussed the benefits of the fruit, and how it helped him unlock the formula for a flavorful natural soda. “Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a small melon native to parts of Thailand and China,” he writes. “It has been used as a sweetener and herbal remedy in traditional Eastern medicine for centuries, and has become more widely available in the United States in powdered and dried forms.”
“People find Monk fruit extract appealing because It’s very sweet, won’t raise your blood sugar levels, and has little to no calories in its pure powdered form,” he continued. “Plus, there are no known negative side effects. So you get the sweetness you desire without the nasty side effects associated with high sugar consumption.”
In addition to his post on Monk fruit, Otteson has written blog posts on the pronunciation of certain ingredients and why drinking brand name soda isn’t the key to working long hours.
4. Luma Is Aiming to ‘Transform’ the Soda Industry
Luma’s Instagram page regularly posts messages about the negative effects of brand name soda. “As a startup company, we need your support if we are going to transform the soda industry from harmful chemicals,” states one post. “Our goal is to reverse the negative effects giant soda corporations have had on this world, to reverse the oversaturation of sugar and processed beverages that lead to unhealthiness and disease.”
Otteson adds that support from everyday soda drinkers are crucial to helping Luma grow. “Your support of Luma allows us to grow and with growth comes the ability to scale our production in order to better compete with ‘Big Soda.’ Yes, drinking water is the healthiest option, but let’s face it. Soda is delicious and sometimes we don’t just want to quench our thirst, we want to drink something delicious… Discover Luma Soda.”
5. Otteson Wants a Shark Tank Investor to Take the Business Nationwide
Luma’s distribution has largely been within Palo Alto. The places that carry the soda include Sancho’s Taqueria, Terun, Country Sun Natural Foods, Piazza’s Fine Foods, and the gym Form Fitness. Otteson is hoping that a Shark Tank investor will him take the business nationwide.
Otteson also talked about the worries his family had when he quit his other job to focus on Luma. “It’s scary, no doubt about that. My family and my parents were a little worried in the beginning,” he humorously admitted. “But we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback. People are really excited about it. I think it’s a great product.”