They were the hangover concoctions of choice for Linda and Ted Reese, both 30, who in college developed an affinity for the vitamin-replenishing fruit smoothies they consumed after every weekend bacchanal. Even post-graduation, the two still craved the blended fruit beverages.
Forced into a smoothie-void hell when visiting family in North Carolina, the couple (below) were determined to enlighten the deprived. So they sold their Houston home, rented an apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, and started experimenting with recipes. With Ted handling finances and Linda in charge of marketing and training, they launched Carolina Smoothies in 1996, using $120,000 in savings. Five stores later, the Reeses have projected sales of $1.6 million this year and plan continued expansion.
With industry revenues of $866 million in 1999 and a growth rate of 30 percent, according to Juice Gallery, the smoothie remains the coolest libation to ever blend into the entrepreneurial cup, far surpassing the trend stage. And while big guns like Jamba Juice dominate, start-ups can still stir up success by carving out untapped markets; co-branding with related concepts, like a vitamin store/juice bar; or targeting broader markets, not just gym-going hardbodies.