53 Launching a Dream in Blawenburg

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Not all of Blawenburg’s history is old, as this Tale of Blawenburg will show.

Ben Weiss is a man who dreams big and has a passion for creating unique beverages. A Princeton resident, he spent 15 years in his early career creating coffee and beverage products, but his success was modest. He wanted to take on Big Sugar, as the beverage conglomerates are sometimes called, but he knew that this would be a David and Goliath story. Nevertheless, he worked in the basement of his Princeton townhouse to create his concoctions, persisting against all odds.

Bai beverages

Then in 2009, he developed a beverage that would be a market changer. It is made from coffee fruit, the red outer pulp of the coffee bean that is usually discarded. His drink brand, which he called Bai, is an antioxidant infused, low calorie, low sugar, caffeinated beverage. He named the brand Bai, a Mandarin word that means pure.

Cover of Basementality by Weiss and Quinones

In October 2020, Weiss and his co-author, Eric Quinones, published a book that tells the Bai story: Basementality: How This Entrepreneur Drove His Fight Against Big Sugar and Rose from the Basement to a $1.7 Billion Brand. The book title was aptly chosen to match Weiss’s drive. The Amazon site for his book says: “Basementality [beys-men-tal-i-tee] / noun: A mindset that blends foresight, scrappiness, flexibility, and passion, empowering you to turn vision into reality and achieve success.”

His Bai success story is amazing. He went from no customers and a marketing team of two, himself and this step-father, Ray Schaefer, to 400 employees in just seven years. In 2016, he negotiated a deal to sell the company, known as Bai Brands, to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group for 1.7 billion dollars. The understanding was that Weiss would stay on to make sure the Bai products were successfully transitioned to the new mega-company. He was given the title of Chief Disruption Officer, an acknowledgement that his ideas and actions often bucked the mainstream industry. But Dr Pepper Snapple Group CEO fired Weiss after just eight months, and it wasn’t long before the entire Dr. Pepper group was sold to Keurig Green Mountain for 19 billion dollars. The new company, known as Keurig Dr. Pepper, includes many brands that you would recognize—7Up, Mott, A&W Root Beer, Schweppes, Yahoo, and many more.

You may wonder what this has to do with the Village of Blawenburg. When they first started m