Vitamin Water Brands
Reflecting on the company's early history, Bikoff notes that it was "very tough" as he struggled with founding the company having no actual experience in beverage manufacturing, beyond working in an aluminum fabrication factory. While launching his company, he was also having to deal with personal struggles including a divorce and having to file for bankruptcy. He started by personally introducing Smartwater to smaller independent natural food stores around New York, moving to a statewide launch when the product became successful. He used this same basic method, adding in "mom-and-pop stores", for the launches of Fruitwater and VitaminWater in 1998 and 2000, respectively. By 2001, the company's drinks were sold in over 4,000 retail stores in the New York area. According to Bikoff, this enabled his products to go unnoticed by the large beverage makers until the product was firmly established when he could then cultivate relationships with various independent distributors opening the way for nationwide distribution.