Episode 266: Jeff Tezak

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In today’s episode, we have a special guest with us, Jeff Tezak, the founder of Tiiga, a popular drink that incorporates the superfood Baobab. Jeff is here to introduce us to this exciting new beverage and share his insights on the health benefits it offers.

Baobab, known as the “tree of life,” is a fruit native to Africa and has been revered for centuries due to its incredible nutritional properties. It is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, making it a true superfood. Jeff Tezak recognized the potential of Baobab and decided to create a unique beverage that harnesses its power.

Tiiga is Jeff’s brainchild, a delicious drink that combines the goodness of Baobab with other natural ingredients. It is carefully crafted to provide a refreshing and nourishing experience, all while supporting your overall well-being. The combination of Baobab and other ingredients in Tiiga offers a wide range of benefits, including improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and increased energy levels.

During our conversation with Jeff, we will dive deeper into the origins of Tiiga and the inspiration behind this innovative beverage. We’ll explore the science behind Baobab and its impact on our health. Jeff will share his personal journey of discovering Baobab and his mission to bring its benefits to a wider audience through Tiiga.


Lori Taylor (00:04.442)

This is the Produce Moms podcast. We’re really excited to have a whole new content series that we are focusing on right now. We are talking about superfoods. Now, superfood is one of those terms where a lot of us have heard it. You know, we associate it with, frankly, a lot of the different items in the produce department, blueberries come to mind, pomegranates come to mind, obviously kale, broccoli, all of the great leafy greens. Um, but we’re going to talk today and really throughout this entire little mini series we’re doing about superfoods that you maybe have never heard of, but superfoods that truly have the most remarkable properties, whether it’s in how we can heal and nourish our bodies or really amazing properties as it relates to regenerative agriculture. All of those things are gonna be topics that we dive into with this little pop-up series that’s focused on superfoods. So we are kicking things off in this series with a man that I met recently at the America Food Innovate Summit. So I do a lot of continuing education and business travel and slated to speak at certain things. And the America Food Innovate Summit is one of those events that I recently spoke at. Our guest today, Jeff Tizak, he also spoke at the America Food Innovate Summit. And he really impressed me because he introduced me to a plant that I had never heard of.

And folks, that’s somewhat of a feat because I feel like I have heard and seen of almost every fruit and vegetable and every plant that is marketed in the food and beverage industry. So we’re going to dive in to the superfood Baobab. And for those of you that aren’t familiar, you are going to learn all about this amazing, this amazing food item. And I don’t even know if it’s food, I’m playing. I don’t know. Jeff’s going to explain it all to us.

Jeff Tezak (01:59.647)

All day above.

Lori Taylor (02:00.354)

All right, so I’m gonna shut up. I’m gonna welcome Jeff to the show. Jeff, we are so glad you’re here. It’s great to reconnect with you.

Jeff Tezak (02:08.862)

Yes, yes. Thank you so much, Lori, for having me. I really appreciate it was great meeting you at the summit and I’m excited to be on here. So you introduced it pretty much perfect. So I won’t start with the baobab. Actually, let’s just start a little bit with it. So that crazy fruit that you’re talking about the baobab fruit is one of the most remarkable fruits that I’ve ever come across. And I’m excited to share a lot about it. So the baobab fruit actually grows wild in Africa. And so

Lori Taylor (02:15.287)

Oh my gosh.

Jeff Tezak (02:35.634)

I only found out about this in, I would actually say about 2017, 2018, from my co-founder who’s actually from Burkina Faso in West Africa. And we were in graduate school, we were talking about what we wanted to do afterward. He wanted to help out when he went back. And I didn’t have any idea how to, and at that point he didn’t either, but he knew my background, so I played college and professional baseball. And after that, I traveled extensively for about five years overseas. And so then I had come back and gone to grad school and we had become really good friends. And so he ended up introducing me to this fruit around the time that I was still coaching, kind of transitioning out of the sports world into more of like the everyday lifestyle world, but also making sure that I took care of myself. And so I was becoming really conscious of, you know, eating healthier, trying to have whole foods, things like that. And that’s really, again, Lori, what intrigued me at the beginning was the whole foods aspect produce, like using real ingredients. And so long story short, he shows us the native drink that he drinks, which is Baobab milk and honey, which is a powerhouse. And I’ll get into the ingredients of Baobab or the nutritional benefits behind it. But it made an amazing drink. He’s like, this gives you a ton of energy. And I was like, well, the problem is I’m lactose intolerant. So this is a really bad idea, but I’ll try it. And it was delicious. And it did provide a ton of energy because I was just finishing some long papers in graduate school. Fast forward a little bit.

Lori Taylor (03:35.728)


Lori Taylor (03:50.627)


Jeff Tezak (04:01.75)

and we decided to try some ideas. And so we started out by doing some cold pressed juice with it as a whole foods item, as we were trying to figure out how to incorporate my background in sports and then using the fruit as well. And so eventually we led ourselves to a electrolyte drink mix. And the reason for this, that it’s a mix and that it’s in powder form is the uniqueness of the Baobab fruit. So the Baobab fruit for everyone who’s listening, this is gonna sound insane and it is, but it’s actually powder when it’s ripe.

Lori Taylor (04:14.151)


Jeff Tezak (04:31.467)

So when the Baobab fruit, yeah, so when it’s.

Lori Taylor (04:31.574)

Ooh, that is bizarre. Is there any other plant like that? I didn’t realize that.

Jeff Tezak (04:38.054)

Yeah, so I have not found one. Obviously, there probably is somewhere, you know, somebody has it in some place. But thus far, that was the craziest thing to me, also the most intriguing from a business aspect and a shelf stability aspect and those types of things as you get into thinking about launching a business. But it created a unique opportunity because there the space around electrolytes the space around

Lori Taylor (04:42.479)


Lori Taylor (04:51.866)

Sure, yeah.

Jeff Tezak (05:02.474)

Just things that are in stick pack form or in powder form were starting to grow around this time about 2018 2019 So we saw a unique opportunity to take a whole food as a real ingredient and make that the core ingredient of the product And that product could be all-natural. It could have an unprocessed fruit and that’s kind of what started launched Tiga

Lori Taylor (05:09.243)


Lori Taylor (05:22.978)

And so that’s amazing. So Tiga, I don’t even know if I said that in the opening remarks. I’ll have to emphasize that for a minute. So Tiga is the name of the brand, folks. So you can actually visit their website, drinktiga.com, and it’s spelled T-I-I-G-A. Tell us more about that. Like, how’d you even come to, how’d you land on that name? What’s the significance of that name?


Jeff Tezak (05:46.686)

Well, we wanted to confuse people to start. So that was what we realized pretty soon after coming up with that name. So a lot of people call it Tyga, it’s Tiga. It actually means the tree or the tree of life in Moray, which is Haruna’s native language in Burkina Faso. And so we thought, as we were looking through names, we wanted something that was short, something that was impactful, and something that we could eventually describe pretty succinctly.

Lori Taylor (05:57.134)


Jeff Tezak (06:12.374)

The baobab tree is actually known as a tree of life throughout Africa, throughout the world, really. Uh, it’s, and it’s not known for, uh, that reason just because of what it does from a fruit standpoint. It’s what it does from every aspect of it. So the baobab tree, we all know it from the lion King. We all know it from Rafiki spreading, uh, spreading the baobab fruit onto a Simba’s head. That’s, that’s baobab.

Lori Taylor (06:25.319)


Lori Taylor (06:31.862)

Wait, okay, stop. So that’s it, that’s it, okay. That has to be like BowBow’s big moment when it made its silver screen debut on Lion King.

Jeff Tezak (06:46.054)

Yeah, and again, it’s a bit confusing because I think it does look powdery in the video, but it also looks pasty, right? So it’s kind of this weird idea because a lot of people still think it’s like a juicy fruit that they used, but it ends up being that powder form. So yeah, that was the original. And they have it at Disney World. They have the big old baobab tree there. And so it’s more iconic for its look than it has been in the US and most of the world for its…

Lori Taylor (06:50.103)

It does.


Jeff Tezak (07:14.394)

usefulness and there are a lot of uses for it so I can kind of get into that eventually but yeah.

Lori Taylor (07:17.33)

Right. So you said it is the plant itself native to Burkina Faso, which is a country in West Africa folks. Is that where this is a native plant that grows wild? Okay.

Jeff Tezak (07:30.546)

Yeah, so it grows completely wild and then it grows in a few different regions. So mainly it’s in semi-arid regions. So you think of Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and then we actually get it right now. Our main supply comes from Zimbabwe and then South Africa.

Lori Taylor (07:46.742)

Okay, so is it pretty much all on the continent of Africa?

Jeff Tezak (07:51.266)

It’s more in those semi-arid places. So from what I’ve gathered from talking to people from Kenya, like we’ll have different people come up, whether we’re doing a show or a booth or whatever it is and chat or even just customers. And like, I know the South Africans knew about it whenever we would meet a South African, but like Kenyans were sometimes it was iffy on if they had heard of it. So it’s actually, it’s very regional in the sense of people growing up with it and using it for a lot of things. We had one person come up, I think they were from Burkina or they might’ve been from Mali and they were like,

Lori Taylor (07:53.52)


Lori Taylor (07:59.253)


Lori Taylor (08:05.521)


Jeff Tezak (08:19.99)

We use this for everything. He’s like, he actually couldn’t drink it or eat it anymore because anytime he got sick, they do a lot with medicinal purposes for the fruit itself and they use it as a gut health or just like if you’re sick from a vitamin C standpoint, from an energy standpoint.

Lori Taylor (08:27.93)

Sure, yeah. You’ll love this, Jeff. I don’t know if you were able to listen in on the previous month’s episodes, but we just closed down an entire little pop-up series focused on food as medicine. So we’ve been talking about this topic like the healing power of plants and the healing power of what we put into our body that’s food versus medicine. So. dedicated, gosh, six weeks to the movement of food as medicine here. That’s got a lot of momentum in the states. I have to imagine that the movement of food as medicine and people wanting to live more holistic, homeopathic style choices in their life, that has to be a catalyst for your product line.

Jeff Tezak (09:24.006)

Yeah, 100% is and that’s why it’s the main ingredient. It’s the best part of our product, right? So we do use over 50% of the fruit in our product. And we use effort like I always say efficacy is the key for us. So we want to use an amount that’s going to have some sort of actual impact. And so for us that came around seven grams of the baobab fruit per serving, which gives you a little bit over three, almost four grams of fiber per serving. And as we all know,

Lori Taylor (09:24.783)


Lori Taylor (09:39.334)


Lori Taylor (09:46.2)

Uh huh.

Lori Taylor (09:51.537)


Jeff Tezak (09:53.11)

Food as medicine, we don’t get enough fiber in our diets. Fiber can be utilized for a lot of different reasons. It’s kind of gotten a bad rap over the last, I would say 80 years as being this thing that just makes you go to the bathroom, but fiber helps with blood sugar regulation, helps with actual hydration because it can store more water. There’s just a lot of amazing uses going to the bathroom, the way that it works through your system. So I’ve always been a big proponent of the food is gonna be the first way to get you to not be sick. And so, like I said, the reason…that we continue to try to, as we’ll continue to launch different products, is we take the baobab fruit, its core benefits, and then combine that with other ingredients. But at the end of the day, the food is the medicine, right? Like real food is the key differentiation.

Lori Taylor (10:33.698)

Yeah, I agree. Obviously I agree. Now let’s talk about Tiiga as a product line and the baobab fruit and the role it has. So Tiga is promoted on drinktiga.com as gut-friendly hydration. I have to imagine with your background as a collegiate and professional baseball player that hydration…

it’s been part of your life for many years. Like how do you stay hydrated, avoid cramping, you know, your performance nutrition, all of that is so critical to be able to perform at the collegiate and most definitely at the pro level. So talk a little bit about how your background led you to this innovation.

Jeff Tezak (11:18.698)

Yeah, I think prior to this, I would say my education around it was always staying hydrated, hoping not to cramp. But I think what I realized in a lot of our space is that a lot of us are pretty naive to what actually is in the product, we just hear about it and somebody else tells us. But what was starting to happen was, I was going out of playing and I was into coaching. And at that point, I was using and I’d always probably use Gatorade and you kind of would try to like dilute Gatorade with something you would

Lori Taylor (11:23.719)


Lori Taylor (11:37.465)


Jeff Tezak (11:45.398)

you do anything possible really not to drink it. And so I was moving out of the sugary sports drink to like a zero calorie almost like pre-workout, which was just as bad, but it was the idea to try to maintain some sort of energy, drink a bunch of water, but you didn’t really understand how you’re balancing your electrolytes and how that was affecting you. You’re always fatiguing, but you didn’t really understand it. And so that really made me dive into the benefits and how we could start utilizing a fruit to make a change. And so what happened was,

Lori Taylor (11:50.182)


Jeff Tezak (12:13.494)

We saw that the Baobab fruit is really high in potassium and then natural fiber. And there’s nothing else in the electrolyte space that is gonna have fiber in their product. One, because then they would just be adding some sort of fiber to it. And two, none of them are using a real fruit because no other real fruit is actually naturally powdered. And so what happened was we started to think about, okay, what else would you want in these types of products? Because most people were having problems with their gut. So a lot of the electrolyte products, I don’t know if you’re familiar with like, if you’re.

Lori Taylor (12:16.998)


Lori Taylor (12:25.019)


Jeff Tezak (12:41.002)

if you’re gonna do like a bike ride or things like that, they’re super high in sugar and it’s really hard for your stomach to digest. And so a lot of people call it, I think it’s a gut bomb or they have a term that they use. We were going to a bunch of events and they kept on talking about how stuff would hurt their stomach. And we were just like, hey, the baobab fruit’s been used for thousands of years to help your stomach. Like if you had some sort of sickness, they would literally just make a big porridge and eat a bunch of it. If you had something kind of ailing you in your stomach, they would utilize it. Now we didn’t use enough to where it’s like.

Lori Taylor (12:41.072)


Lori Taylor (12:58.384)


Jeff Tezak (13:08.054)

it’s used just for that medicinal purpose, but we figured let’s use a large quantity that can then help from your cramping, from your blood sugar regulation, from your sustainable energy perspective. And that’s what we were able to do. And so then when we’re looking at naming it, we originally actually started with nature’s hydration, but we found out pretty quickly that no one understood what that meant. And so gut friendly kind of lend itself to the idea that most of these products in our space aren’t that gut friendly, because they’re either, you know, the first ingredient, citric acid or it’s sugar.

And so we provide this opportunity to get hydrated and then also have this gut benefit. Now we don’t really lead with the fruit because as we’re talking about right now, most people don’t know what the fruit is. So that’s what we’re doing now is try to describe the fruit we’re packaging. We prefer to kind of talk about what it’s gonna potentially do for you.

Lori Taylor (13:45.104)


Lori Taylor (13:53.17)

So let’s talk about what’s inside the drink tikka packets. I’ve had them folks, Jeff hooked me up with a couple samples at the Food Innovate Summit and wow, it’s delicious. Like I was not expecting to like it so much because I think to what you’re saying, like most of these packets, especially the rapid hydration or electrolyte type drinks, I…

I’m really adverse to most of them, and I think it’s because of the added sugars or sweeteners to it. Like I just, I’m not used to that. So let’s talk a little bit about what’s inside Tiga gut-friendly hydration packets.

Jeff Tezak (14:31.294)

Yeah, so I think where we’ve seen what you’re talking about is a lot of times it’s just really hard to create a natural taste when you’re pretty much putting electrolytes. Even if you don’t use sugar, if you’re gonna use stevia, monk fruit, whatever you’re gonna use, you lose that ability to create a natural taste. And that’s where I’ll start. So from our taste, I call it almost like a natural juice taste, just not as sweet. So it’s not gonna be as sweet as your orange juices, things like that, but it’s gonna have a nice.

Lori Taylor (14:37.25)


Lori Taylor (14:54.509)


Jeff Tezak (14:58.898)

flavor or taste to it. And I think the reason it can stay balanced is because the fruit is the core ingredient and that kind of coats it in the sense of when you get that mouth feel and taste. But what’s actually in the product is pretty basic. What we wanted to try to do is make the hero of the product, the Baobab fruit. So over half of that is the core ingredient. And then what we wanted to do is make a nice electrolyte blend. So we have about 280 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium with about 130 to 150 coming from the Baobab fruit itself. About

20 something milligrams of magnesium. And so that’s the kind of basic blend that you need to have. And we also actually added ribose, which most people aren’t familiar with ribose, but it’s a really interesting ingredient that’s coming along. And so what happens is sugar turns into ribose that then turns into ATP, which is natural energy, or how your body produces energy. For the scientists, they’re gonna blow me up on this, but the idea is there. And so they’ve created a process where they can actually move it along from sugar to ribose directly. And so…

Lori Taylor (15:43.74)


Jeff Tezak (15:54.774)

We added that in there as well from a non-caffeinated perspective to kind of add a little bit to it. And it has a lot of good health properties that have been researched and they now have claims for it as well. And so that was the basics was really around that. And so that final formula comes out to where it’s five grams of total sugar, three grams of added and you need the sugar for the electrolyte absorption. So we wanted to keep that there. We’ll eventually in line item extensions kind of move towards a more like a no added sugar type product. But for this one. for our original formula, that’s kind of what we wanted to create. And then the big differentiation for us is the fiber. So we actually have three grams, it’s probably almost four grams of fiber per serving, which, as you know, does not exist in, you know, it doesn’t even exist. Yeah, it doesn’t exist in beverage. Not even not even close. And it doesn’t. I’m trying to describe it doesn’t come from a natural source usually either. So I think the way that it gets digested is different, too, right? I won’t say the brands, but the ones that people drink when they go to the doctor, and they tell them they got to have fiber.

Lori Taylor (16:32.134)

That’s amazing. No, in beverage. It doesn’t, I mean, it’s, yeah.

Lori Taylor (16:46.55)

Okay, yep, yeah.

Jeff Tezak (16:53.738)

are not fun to drink, they’re rough to consume, people don’t enjoy them, and they’re just trying to get enough fiber, whereas with this, it’s just you have an enjoyable drink, you get a couple of grams of fiber, and then you don’t feel it from a fiber perspective, you feel it from a sustainable energy perspective, to be honest, and a blood sugar. I take it whenever those moments are happening, where I’m debatably going down, going up, and it kind of just helps regulate.

Lori Taylor (16:57.157)


Lori Taylor (17:07.407)

Uh huh.

Lori Taylor (17:15.954)

Got it. Yeah. And when you visit drinktiga.com and click on the nutrition tab folks, a lot of what Jeff is saying kind of comes alive on their website. There’s a really good informational video, but I do think it’s also worth calling out the minimal processing, which is something you call out on your nutrition, you know, messaging online. And that just comes back to how the baobab fruit is naturally.

you know, and it’s, when it’s ready for harvest, it’s because the pulp of the fruit has turned into that powder form because it’s harvested during the dry season. Yeah.

Jeff Tezak (17:54.762)

Yeah, yeah. So what we mean by minimal processing and, and if you think about this, and we kind of talked about this way, say we’re, you know, talking to a customer at a farmer’s market or whatever. Everything that you drink has been pasteurized because it needs a secondary kill step, which is fine. That’s how we stay, you know, from getting sick in a lot of cases. But the baobab fruit is literally dry powder, they crack it open, they see that into a little finer powder, and then they ship it.

Lori Taylor (18:13.03)


Lori Taylor (18:22.475)


Jeff Tezak (18:22.858)

and then we put it into the product and blend it. So that means you’re getting all these micronutrients from the fruit without it having changed or been treated in any way. And so from a processing standpoint, I equate it to thinking about taking a bite of an apple or literally juicing that juice right in front of you and consuming it. And there’s just, that to me is the most amazing part of the Baobab fruit. It’s not us. We’re not the ones making this amazing thing. It’s just, we just gonna take it in its natural form. And that’s why.

Lori Taylor (18:44.004)


Jeff Tezak (18:49.058)

You know, Lori, that’s why I was so interested in what you’re doing and what you do is because I’m all about any way that we can consume whole ingredients whenever possible. Because when you get that nutrient at its full value, it’s just completely different than any time that it gets processed.

Lori Taylor (18:55.823)


Lori Taylor (19:02.454)

Yeah, I obviously agree with you, Jeff. So let’s talk a little bit about the sourcing here. Bobob fruit, we’ve already covered the fact this is a tree, correct? It’s a plant that grows on a tree. It’s a fruit that grows on a tree. Oh, you said succulent, okay, so.

Jeff Tezak (19:15.362)

Succulent, yeah.

Well, it’s a tree, but it’s a succulent as well. It’s crazy. It’s just the biggest tree you’ll ever see. So it’s pretty amazing.

Lori Taylor (19:20.706)

Yeah. Again, on the website, there’s some really good photos of the fruit and whatnot, folks. But okay, so we’ve established where the baobab fruit comes from, or what it looks like on the plant. Now, let’s talk about the geographical location where this fruit is naturally sourced from and naturally thrives as a wild food item and food item.

That in and of itself is highly sustainable. Now I always have to ask people, I mean we are a certified bee corporation at the Produce Moms. You are sourcing a product from East Africa, a native plant to East Africa, which is undoubtedly one of the poorest regions of the world. And you are introducing it in a mainstream, you know in a very mainstream way to the United States. And it’s not just mainstream, but it’s a.

You know, this is kind of a luxury type item. You know, these hydration sticks aren’t necessarily things that, you know, there’s a targeted shopper here for this type of product line. So what are you doing to connect the goodwill between where you’re sourcing this product, how you’re, and how you’re commercializing it and have created and co-founded this company here in the States?

Jeff Tezak (20:43.522)

Great question. So I’ll start with the environmental side of it first, because that’s just as important to me. And then we’ll get into what we’re doing or what we’re doing right now, and then what we’ll eventually do. Yeah, so if you think at most crops that are monocrops, you’d find a piece of land that is potentially good to grow it, or the weather or the climate that’s potentially good to grow that product. You plant that product, and then you’re gonna invariably change that landscape. And so,

Lori Taylor (20:46.243)


Lori Taylor (20:51.298)

Yeah, environmental and social responsibility is exactly what I’m getting at here.

Jeff Tezak (21:13.194)

The reason that we started this at all was that the baobab fruit grows wild, so we don’t change the landscape. So that was the first thing, that it’s already growing wild, there’s excess of it at the moment for a long time, and we can continue to plant more, but we’ll start with that. So there’s excess of it. It was gonna fall to the ground, now wild animals could eat it, the locals could use it, but there’s a lot of excess. So it created this already unique opportunity. Something that was gonna go to waste or potentially go to waste.

Lori Taylor (21:19.915)


Lori Taylor (21:28.379)


Lori Taylor (21:39.718)


Jeff Tezak (21:40.95)

that could help people in specific regions that at the end of the day, they have to make a choice. So their choice is a lot of times, do I cut down this tree or move this tree or remove this tree to then plant some sort of low yielding crop for a few years on land that’s not really designed to grow some sort of commercial crop? Or do we try to create a demand for the fruit from this tree to the point where planting more of these trees in a place that can grow them easily or more sustainably?

Lori Taylor (21:55.222)

Yeah, something that they could sell at a pro like use the acreage for a crop that has higher profit. Yeah

Jeff Tezak (22:10.794)

becomes the norm. And so our first and foremost goal was to like, one, we needed to know that we’re getting it fair wild or from the wild. We’re in the process of that certification. Our supplier is fair wild. And so we have to do that as well, meaning that it’s fair trade and wild harvested, which surprisingly there are more things than you think that are actually wild harvested. So that was the first part. The second part was that we were going to be making sure that it was going back to the communities. And so that was through our suppliers. And so the suppliers, with it being fair trade, are purchasing it directly from those communities. And so nobody actually owns the baobab tree. It’s the communities, they’re community owned. And so they’re able to make that income, yeah. And so it creates a unique opportunity in the sense that they can now make money as a community. And then it’s about 80% female that is harvesting the fruits. And so…

Lori Taylor (22:51.606)


Lori Taylor (23:03.382)

That’s amazing. And.

Jeff Tezak (23:06.15)

And that was what Haruna presented originally. So Haruna’s whole point was, hey, women are harvesting this fruit, it grows wild and there’s a ton of it, we should do something with this. And I was like, okay, let’s just start there and then we’ll get to these next stages. So women are harvesting it. Just in Zimbabwe, I think in 2021, they did over 2000 harvesters that were harvesting it. It’s up to 4,000 that are capable of purchasing from. And think about a family of about five, potentially that they’re gonna.

Lori Taylor (23:15.438)

Yeah, right.

Jeff Tezak (23:33.058)

they’re gonna feed or utilize this income from. So as you were talking about not being, I would say not having very much income in those areas because most of it’s subsistence, they make about $100 a year as kind of the study that they looked at. And the baobab fruit provides an extra $40 of income for that family a year. And so most of that’s going to.

Lori Taylor (23:49.754)


That’s fantastic and an opportunity for women in a part of the world where there’s not necessarily the opportunities for women to earn professional wages. So this is creating a huge opportunity for women specifically, which is amazing. So wow, that’s almost 50% increase in annual income.

Jeff Tezak (24:17.642)

Yeah, and it’s like I said, and it’s right next to you. And it’s like, to me, this is the part that I’m ecstatic about that we can provide jobs just by purchasing a product. And people, we always talk about giving back. To me, it’s this idea that buying product from you, yes, empowering you to make money, because I don’t have to be the only one that buys it eventually, right? There’s gonna be other people that will buy it.

Lori Taylor (24:25.666)


Lori Taylor (24:31.162)

That’s the best way, yeah, empower.

Lori Taylor (24:41.34)


Jeff Tezak (24:42.202)

And so they can sell it to different people. They can expand the production of it. They can plant more trees that then invariably gives them more opportunities to make more income. So things like that. So that was, those are the main reasons we started it outside of, because at the end of the day, getting in the consumer packaged goods space is probably not an ideal idea for most people. It’s a bit of a slog.

Lori Taylor (25:01.29)

It is tough. People have no idea how hard it is to get a product on grocery retail shelves. Amazing, amazing story. So tell us a little bit more about how you went from the timeline. Like when did you and your co-founder actually conceptualize and bring Tiga to market to where you are today?

Jeff Tezak (25:08.587)


Jeff Tezak (25:26.102)

Yeah, so about 2018, I think we had the idea. 2019 was when we kind of started to play with how we would do it and what we would do. And we’re in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska actually has a really good food innovation campus. And so we started to look at designing drinks there. And then we have some really great markets or farmers markets. So we ended up, that’s how we launched the cold press juice in about 2019. And we just did that at a farmer’s market, kind of understand if people had ever heard about it, they hadn’t, and then we…

Lori Taylor (25:33.936)


Jeff Tezak (25:53.718)

We’re in the process of trying to create our electrolyte style drink. And then we eventually were able to formulate that, which took some time finding co-packers, getting a commercial process set up to start a business. And then we launched a Kickstarter in 2020. Good timing. We were gonna do our first run. And you know, we really love our co-packer. And like, I called him in March, I was like, what do we do? Should we still try this or do we not? Like…

Lori Taylor (26:01.318)


Jeff Tezak (26:20.406)

He’s like, let’s do it. Let’s, you know, I’m ready to go if you’re ready. And so we, we launched a Kickstarter in June of 2020 and sold a little bit online in 2020. But in 2021 is where we really started, I would say more all in, in the sense that Haruna had to go back in 2020. So he’s actually back in Burkina Faso. And my wife and I are the other co-founders and we actually took a, we rented a small or bought a small trailer and literally just traveled the Southeast United States, doing Ironman events, running events.

Lori Taylor (26:32.496)


Lori Taylor (26:37.603)


Jeff Tezak (26:50.086)

cycle bars, whatever we could find any sort of fare, just to like talk to customers and sell product and learn as much as we could about the space and what potentially people use already what they want to use, and really just understand our customers and then by 2021 in the middle of 2021, we started going into retail and so we continue to expand in retail since then. And then now we’re in the process of really focusing as well online and really making a push to the online side.

Lori Taylor (27:09.464)


Lori Taylor (27:15.054)

Yeah, your e-commerce, like direct to consumer sale is just a flawless process and pretty good, a pretty, I can’t remember exactly, but it’s like just under 50 bucks and it’s free shipping. And that’s all, I think you’re really on your way, Jeff. I really do. So let’s talk about, and then after we talk about this, we’ll transition to our closing remarks, but let’s talk about…

Jeff Tezak (27:36.32)

Yes, thank you.

Lori Taylor (27:43.694)

your ideal consumer. Like are you just trying to connect with people doing Ironmans, or are you trying to connect with anyone who might need a boost in their hydration?

Jeff Tezak (27:55.222)

Yeah, so it’s funny because I do want to finish that last part where you talked about what type of consumer can purchase this product. And the good part about powder, I think where we can differentiate ourselves, it’s a little over a dollar serving. So in the long run, eventually you hope to be under $1. And that ends up increasing the amount of people that can potentially use the product. And so that was a big part for me, I didn’t want to take a product that we were sourcing from Africa, and then sell to people that have no chance of ever purchasing it. And so it was a big point.

Lori Taylor (28:07.9)


Lori Taylor (28:13.895)


Jeff Tezak (28:23.85)

part for us to make sure that we could create an affordable product and I think this fruit, even though it is the biggest cost in our product, which we want it to be, like we tell the supplier, we tell everybody, like we’re buying this full price, we’re buying it at this, but we wanted to create a product that all consumers, excuse me, all consumers could consume. And so I would say our perfect demographic is, it’s this combination. So we have the older demographic, which are people that usually have gone to the doctor.

Lori Taylor (28:32.206)

Sure, yeah.

Jeff Tezak (28:51.934)

So anything I’m in it right over 35 is kind of I lumped this in there. So anybody over 35 that’s gone to the doctor knows that they’re lacking in hydration, they’re looking for more natural ingredients, or they potentially need fiber in their diet. And so I had a friend call me the other day and goes, Hey, why didn’t you say this is good for your gut? And I said, it says gut friendly on there. Like, I don’t know. He’s like, No, but it literally heals my gut. And I was like, Okay, that’s one customer. But we got to figure out how to talk to them. Obviously, packaging was not going to do that.

Lori Taylor (29:18.138)


Jeff Tezak (29:20.162)

But then there’s just a lot of people that look to try to make one better decision per day. So they’re not athletic, potentially. They’re everyday office workers, whatever it would be, where they got a debate between having a Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or maybe throwing in a Tiga in between. And it’s like in the afternoon, especially, like, do I want that more caffeine or do I want to have a diet drink, or should I potentially try to put this in my body? And so we try to not make the electrolytes so high that it’s something that you really have to think about in that sense.

Lori Taylor (29:34.83)

Yeah, definitely.

Jeff Tezak (29:47.822)

because a lot of them are really high in sodium where you’re like, oh, if I have high blood pressure, this is not a good idea. And so we wanted to make it a really balanced drink. Yeah.

Lori Taylor (29:53.586)

Well, and they taste salty. I mean, they don’t even, the sodium, it just, it makes a very like salty, almost chalky type taste to it.

Jeff Tezak (30:02.974)

It’s definitely acquired. It’s definitely an acquired taste. And so yeah, and so we that was that was another area. And then for like the I would say the other one was the fitness, but for the short shorter term fitness. So like you work out for an hour, you don’t need a bunch of calories, you don’t need a extreme hydration drink, but you probably don’t just want to drink water. And you’re also looking not to fatigue during that because a lot of times if you do just have water in an hour workout, you start to fatigue, you’re not going to like dehydrate or cramp, but you’re going to fatigue. So we kind of created as well for from a

Lori Taylor (30:05.09)

Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

Jeff Tezak (30:32.074)

from a workout standpoint. And that’s kind of where I drink it. I drink it for workouts and I drink it, you know, right now I had just had a coffee, my blood sugar might be starting to wane and then I drink it as kind of a way to stabilize my energy level as an everyday drink.

Lori Taylor (30:35.32)


Lori Taylor (30:43.622)

So I know you’ve done a lot of coaching also. So what would you, how do you feel about your product being consumed by middle school and high school young athletes?

Jeff Tezak (30:58.018)

I would, I actually, we talked to from two year olds at a, you know, at a tasting to up to whatever age and I would tell my kids will be drinking this as soon as he hits two years old. Like if you can get a real ingredient in your product right away or as you’re a consumer and consume it, real fruit, like there’s nothing better when you’re trying to do a sporting event. So personally, I believe and we’ve seen it with people, this is all still anecdotal, like we haven’t gotten to the point where we can go do.

Jeff Tezak (31:26.286)

hardcore testing on this. But like we have people that cramp normally at beach volleyball, things like this, that literally never cramp when they use Tiga, which is pretty crazy to me. But we’ve had multiple, multiple people reach out to us and be like, hey, I use this from a cramping standpoint. I use this for my hydration and sports, which originally, like I said, wasn’t overly the design. And so yeah, I would love to see less gatorades in people’s places or.

Lori Taylor (31:43.622)


Lori Taylor (31:47.598)

less Gatorades, less kids shooting mustard into their mouth, you know, and having the trainer. It’s, yeah, it’s always something. Like, yeah, they’re having the trainer, you know, stretch out their leg while dads shooting mustard in their mouth. But yeah, I’m putting, I couldn’t either, no. But no, I’m getting, I’m getting Joe and Mac on a Tiga routine, I think, because after even hearing this conversation, which is, you know,

Jeff Tezak (31:53.095)

Is that a new one? I didn’t know about the mustard thing.

Jeff Tezak (32:04.302)

That’s just, I would throw up. I don’t think I’d keep it down. Oh.

Lori Taylor (32:17.73)

Now my third time to speak with you, Jeff, about your product and obviously our initial interaction at the summit and then you and I had a pre-recording conversation and meeting and now today’s conversation, I’m really proud of what you’ve created. I’m so thankful that you’ve educated me on the baobab fruit. I had no idea the medicinal baobab, I mispronounced it, the baobab fruit.

But I was really naive in my understanding of this product and the healing properties within this plant. So I give it an A plus in terms of superfoods, and it’s the perfect fruit and food and product line to kick off this new little mini series. So with that, you get closing remarks. I’m really thankful that you’re here. I’m glad our paths crossed. I believe in what you’re doing so much. And I…wholeheartedly feel like best days are ahead for Tiga.

Jeff Tezak (33:19.286)

No, I mean, again, thank you for having me. What you’re doing is exactly why I wanted to come on here and chat about what we’re doing, because I think this is the biggest area in the US, especially US, but in the world, that we need to figure out how to get people to consume more of, right, fruits and vegetables. This isn’t just a problem in the US, it’s a problem all over the world. And so what you’re trying and doing is amazing. And so, like I said, if I can just be a little part of this, it’s another alternative for people to think about.

Lori Taylor (33:24.658)

Thank you.

Jeff Tezak (33:49.11)

in that process of going through the grocery store and staying on the outside of the grocery store. You know, we’re just excited. Like I said, I just appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.

Lori Taylor (33:57.234)

Well, thank you. All right, folks. So as a reminder, you can visit drinktiga.com. That’s D-R-I-N-K-T-I-I-G-A.com to learn more about Jeff and this amazing product line of Tiga and the Baobab fruit superfood that you maybe have never heard of, but everyone needs. Naturally high in fiber, great for rehydration and or just hydration. It doesn’t even have to be rehydration like Jeff said. And truly one of the most gut healthy foods that we could be putting into our bodies. And what a wonderful social and environmental responsibility story behind this superfood. So thank you so much for being back with us everyone. Thank you to Jeff for being our guest today. Don’t forget to write, review, subscribe, all those amazing wonderful things that keep this show going. We’ll be back next week with a new episode.

Until then you can find us at theproducemoms.com. 

About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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