Episode 131
November 8, 2022

High Stakes Game

with Yanni Hufnagel, Founder and CEO of Lemon Perfect

About this episode

Yanni Hufnagel joins the show today to chat about his journey to becoming the Founder and CEO of Lemon Perfect, a great tasting flavored lemon water. Yanni shares his story from being a college basketball coach, to launching his first startup Lemon Perfect. We talk about how the name Lemon Perfect came to him, why he almost hired a CEO, and how he keeps the energy in his organization higher than ever and his team either sprinting or resting, but nothing in between.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • (1:30) More about Lemon Perfect, lemon-flavored water with zero sugar and no artificial flavors or sweeteners powered by organic lemons, containing electrolytes from potassium, and packed with Vitamin C, making healthy hydration more refreshing than ever. 
  • (4:00) Why he believes entrepreneurship is a lot like coaching a team, and why you have to constantly be looking at the scoreboard 
  • why he almost hired a CEO, but then decided against it in the last moments before signing the contract 
  • (7:50) What his life was like growing up, how he always had the inclination of being a coach
  • (12:40) How he ended up being a student manager of the basketball team at Cornell, and how that kick-started his career in coaching college basketball
  • (19:10) The a-ha moment for Lemon Perfect, how the name came to him, and why it was important to him to buy the domain name
  • (25:30) The launch strategy for launching Lemon Perfect, knowing that flavor was the most important, and how to make it great flavor and good for you 
  • (30:51) The story of how they got Beyonce as a celebrity investor
  • (36:00) What fundraising has been like, what the process has been, and the advice he has for other aspiring entrepreneurs 
  • (45:00) How to persevere through the everyday rollercoasters 
  • (50:00) What he’s taken from being a coach that makes a great CEO
  • (54:00) How he maintains the excitement across the company, and having the leadership team invest time in their people
  • (57:00) Why he decided to pull back in hiring a CEO, and build Lemon Perfect himself based on gut instinct
  • (1:06:00) The final advice he has for entrepreneurs tuning in

To Find Out More:



“We tried to create packaging that was a fashion show on the shelf, in a cooler, or on display.”

“There is no scoreboard when you're first starting.”

“It was really this intersection of flavor that's also good for you, and how do we get there, and the idea just stuck with me.”

“We have to create a product that's delicious and refreshing that hits on relevant consumer treads.”

“We are delivering real innovation to a stale, enhanced water category.”

“Have the perseverance to keep going.”

“I don't have a choice but to be the last team standing.”

“I have the burden of delivering something to the market  that can truly make America and eventually the world a healthier place.”

“Entrepreneurship is a high-stakes game.”

“We don't allow people to walk or run here. We only sprint or rest.”

“I've always been about compressing our gross margin story today to build a big share story for tomorrow.”

“Run the race until you have nothing left.”

“Focus on product. I've talked a lot about recruiting and retention, but you do have to focus on product, because product market fit is ultimately really the most important.”

Read the transcript

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