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Founder Spotlight: Neel Premkumar (Happy Viking)




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Meet Neel Premkumar


Happy Viking

Happy Viking was created with the mindset that “the better fuel we drink and eat, the better we perform and feel.” Co-founded by tennis champion and entrepreneur Venus Williams in partnership with leading multi-brand beverage innovator Dyla Brands, makers of Stur Drink Mixes & FORTO Coffee, Happy Viking began in Williams’ kitchen after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Sjögren’s Syndrome.


Startup Stage:

Growth stage, with an established track record of building better-for-you beverages.


New York NY

When did you launch the business? 


What led you to where you are today?

I founded Dyla Brands in 2012 to positively change the world with better-for-you beverages. Our first brand was Stur natural water enhancers, which I actually created for my wife who was looking to drink more water naturally while pregnant with our twin girls. Since then we’ve launched FORTO, the world’s first ready-to-drink coffee shot in partnership with Shaquille O’Neal, and Happy Viking superfood plant shakes in partnership with Venus Williams. Today, Dyla Brands is a leading beverage innovator with products sold in over 50,000 retail stores and generating over $100 million in annual revenue. This last year, our products helped customers drink over 500 million glasses of water and replace over 40 million pounds of sugar.

What do you wish you knew before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey? 

The list is long! I’ve learned so many lessons, but I think one that comes to mind foremost is how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. The culture of your startup is determined by the people you bring on board and who you trust. I always encourage other entrepreneurs to spend the time and define their desired culture from the outset, and then don’t settle for hiring people that are not exactly what you are looking for.

What is the most difficult decision you've had to make regarding your business so far? 

A couple of years ago, we had to close down a division of the company due to lack of profitability, the economics just didn’t make sense, despite the products being wonderful. It was a very difficult decision, and we consulted numerous people internally and externally, to look at all sides of the issue.

What can you help the VEGPRENEUR community with?

I hope to continue to educate and inspire people to make decisions with products they can feel good about. It can be expensive and time-consuming to eat healthily, so we want to educate the community on how to get all the nutrition you need in a quick and efficient way. One serving of Happy Viking Superfoods is just under $3.00 per meal when you are on our company’s subscription plan. With Happy Viking, you can get the complete plant-based nutrition that you need.

How can the VEGPRENEUR community help you? 

Continuing to educate people on the benefits of plant-based options. Like my co-founder, Venus Williams, going plant-based not only helped her recover and return to playing tennis after being diagnosed with Sjögren's Syndrome, but it has continued to help her perform at her best. We hope that as a community, there continues to be education around the impact plant-based options can have in improving both how you feel and how you perform.

Fun fact about you: 

My wife grew up vegetarian, and her family has traced and confirmed that they have been vegetarian for at least 10 generations back!

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