Behind the Brand
Hiyo started when three changemakers from SoCal – Evan Quinn, George Youmans, and Cygne Cooper – had one disruptive idea: rethink the way the world drinks.
In April of 2019, Evan and George had family members hospitalized with alcohol-related issues–an event which caused both to cut back on their drinking in solidarity with their families. In their late 20’s and social to-boot, Evan and George soon discovered the massive need for an alternative to alcohol that actually deserved its place at the table. To them, the existing choices available all felt like sacrifices: boring soda with lime, sugary, caloric mocktails, and ultra-caffeinated energy drinks…each one of them missing the main reason they wanted to drink: the feeling.
At the time, George was working in entertainment and music marketing for Red Bull while Evan was beginning his MBA journey at UCLA Anderson after half a decade with the financial services firm, Guggenheim Partners. Intrigued by their newfound sobriety and the lack of options in the non-alcoholic beverage space, they began brainstorming ideas alongside their close friend from USC undergrad, Cygne Cooper, who was working at the time as a creative and brand marketing lead for the global media conglomerate Endeavor. This marked the genesis of Hiyo, a non-alcoholic social tonic which produces the same feeling that people usually seek from alcohol, but from healthy, functional ingredients instead.
Working alongside a medicinal herbalist and team of beverage formulators, the three co-founders spent over a year perfecting their proprietary blend of adaptogens, nootropics, and botanicals to achieve the maximum feel-good ‘float’ effect. During the end of his tenure at UCLA in late 2020, Evan entered Hiyo’s business concept into UCLA Anderon’s Knapp Venture Competition, eventually securing the $40,000 grand prize (and the confidence to launch the company to the public).
Hiyo sold its first can in June of 2021 and has since sold out four times online and expanded into retail across the country. The beverage has been a hit with early adopters, garnering more than 1,600 5-star reviews within its first 18 months as a brand, as well as winning first place at the BevNET New Beverage Showdown ‘22 and being named a finalist in four categories of Beverage Digest’s 2023 Beverage Awards. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to make it a little bit easier for people to drink a little bit less,” Quinn notes. “Whatever that means to them.”