Max Baumann, 22
Just Chill, Culver City, a beverage company
Employees: 15 (5 full time and about 10 contract)
Financials: 2010 revenue of $300,000.
What led you to start your own company?
A few years ago, I was traveling through an airport on a surf trip, following a series of flight cancellations. The stress all around was palpable. I realized people needed to find a healthy way to fight stress instead of letting it consume them. I decided to create an all-natural functional beverage to help people take the edge off while keeping them attentive and focused. I did some research and discovered L-theanine, the main active ingredient in Just Chill.
Where did you get the startup money?
The team and I pooled together our resources and found a couple of good angel investors. Now, we have a few different VC’s on the line for the big capital raise planned for 2012.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me has been lack of formal business experience. That’s why I need to constantly educate myself, read books, attend forums and network to stay sharp.
Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers?
Definitely. Working with people who are older and have more business experience keeps me on my toes. If I push back and take a divergent stance on an issue, I better be able to back it up.
Will you start another company?
I’ve got a full plate right now. It’s hard to look ahead to anything else. The next project would have to be something I’m passionate about. Starting a company is a big mission. You need something you feel good about to wake you up early and keep you going.
Could you ever work for someone else?
Yes, if I truly loved what I was doing and believed in the company.
What do you do to relax?
I go surfing and crack jokes with friends. The beach and warm weather always put a smile on my face. It’s part of who I am.
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