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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Kim brothers create hangover cure beverage market in U.S.

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Brothers Ray Kim, CEO, and Justin Kim, COO of the hangover cure drink company, The Plug Drink. [Courtesy of The Plug Drink]
[NEX-GEN LEADER: Ray & Justin Kim]

A hangover cure beverage company, The Plug Drink, founded by two second-generation Korean American brothers, is gaining popularity by drawing inspiration from both Korean and American drinking cultures.

Ray Kim, 31, CEO, and Justin Kim, 30, COO, are the focal point of attention. They are also the sons of Bong Hyun Kim, the 47th President of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

In an interview with the Korea Daily, the brothers shared insights about their business and their aspirations as industry leaders. The following is an edited excerpt from the interview with the Kim brothers:

-Could you provide some information about your company?
“We established ‘The Plug Drink’ in 2019 with $1 million in seed money from family and friends. After witnessing the popularity of hangover cure drinks among young men in Korea, we decided to create our own version in the United States. We anticipated a similar demand in the U.S. market. After thorough research and development, The Plug Drink was launched in October 2020. Our drink contains 13 natural ingredients, achieved through an advanced distillation and fermentation process. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we achieved $1 million in sales in 2021, thanks to social media endorsements from well-known Hollywood actors. For the second consecutive year, we experienced over 500% growth, attracting investments from rapper Jack Harlow, NBA and NFL players, and more. Our company primarily generates sales through our website (theplugdrink.com) and Amazon, where we hold the #1 customer satisfaction rating in the electrolyte drink category. Currently, we have 8 employees and 30 interns working with us.”

-How does it feel to introduce hangover cure drinks to people in the U.S.?
“We take pride in creating a new category of liver detox and hangover cure beverages that Americans were previously unfamiliar with. We have been recognized as the first natural functional beverage and became the first startup to be named an official partner of the UFC, a mixed martial arts organization. We are proud to be named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Food and Beverage in 2023. Our products are available in over 2,000 stores nationwide, including 7-Eleven, BevMo, and the Liquorbarn chain.”

-What sparked your interest in health, and what do you consider the key to your success?
“After my grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer, I delved deep into researching the effects of liver health on the body. Given the increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic, I felt our mission was more important than ever. The love, work ethic, and accomplishments of my immigrant parents and life mentors fueled my latent desire to succeed.”

-Do you have any future plans or aspirations?
“We aim to achieve $20 million in sales this year, following the launch of our liver detox supplement, The Plug Pill, in October 2022. While sales are important, we also strive to raise awareness about liver health by promoting the benefits of herbal medicine to consumers. Liver disease is on the rise, with more than one-third of Americans experiencing fatty liver. With The Plug Drink, we want to continue helping more people stay healthy. Above all, the most rewarding and meaningful aspect of our business is the practical difference we can make in people’s lives. We eagerly anticipate the interest and support of the Korean community.”

BY NAKI PARK    [park.naki@koreadaily.com]