Los Angeles, CA –
Simmons is an investor in Celsius, an energy drink that reportedly delivers remarkable results.
“If you drink a Celsius,” Russell Simmons says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, “you lose 100 calories without working out.”
Celsius drinks contain no sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup, no aspartame, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors or colors. The are gluten-free, are vegan and are low in sodium.
The Def Jam Recordings co-founder discovered Celsius about two years ago when he moved to Los Angeles. He was working out at the Earthbar in Los Angeles, read the drink’s ingredients and thought that it was healthier than other energy drinks he often consumed. Simmons started drinking it. That turned to having cases of it delivered to his home.
When photographer Johnny Nunez noticed the drink at Simmons’ house, Nunez told Simmons he knew the company’s owners. Once Simmons met them and began a dialog with them, he assembled a team of investors he thought would add value, not only money, to the company. Joining Simmons as investors are ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons and her husband, Tim Leissner, among others. In 2015, the group made a total investment of $15.95 million into Celsius via the private investment company Horizons Ventures, according to a press release.
Given that he’s a yogi and a vegan, Simmons tries to live a healthy lifestyle, something the New York native says Celsius, which was founded in 2004, can be a part of.
“I’m only going to give people what I use myself,” he says. “I liked it so much that I went and invested in it. I thought, ‘There’s nothing like it on the market. It’s totally unique in terms of its qualities and its attributes. It’s also something that was my guilty pleasure.”
Celsius Is Simmons’ “Guilty Pleasure”
Simmons calls Celsius a “guilty pleasure” because it contains 200 mg of caffeine per 12 ounce serving. By comparison, a 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine, which is approximately the amount in a cup of coffee.
Because of its high caffeine content, Simmons says he doesn’t drink Celsius – or consume anything else with caffeine – after 9 am. The entrepreneur also says that despite its high caffeine content, Celsius does not contain the harmful chemicals that are commonplace in other energy drinks. That’s why he says he wanted to be involved in Celsius.
“I believe a lot of people eat and drink things that they know are not healthy for them,” Simmons says. “If they can find an alternative that was stronger, that would taste better [I believe they would use it]. This is stronger than the ones that are unhealthy. It’s healthier and it tastes better. The point is I invest in things I’m passionate about. Sometimes those things are not big commercial success. The only commercial successes I’ve had, though, are things I loved doing.”
The early results appear promising. Simmons, who inspired the company’s Sparkling Watermelon and Sparkling Grape Rush flavors, says Celsius is the #1 drink in its category in Sweden and that 8,000 7-Elevens have agreed to carry the drink.
During a speech in front of 7-Eleven executives earlier this year, Simmons says he issued a public health proclamation of sorts given the high rates of obesity and diabetes in the United States in general and in urban communities specifically.
“You guys are going to have to embrace not only our drink, but even beyond that you have to change because we have to change,” Simmons says he told the 7-Eleven brass. “This country and the world has to change, especially 7-Eleven. There’s not a lot of healthy stuff in there. It’s a healthier alternative. I’m not knocking them. They’re going to look for more products.”
As someone who has been involved in several businesses throughout his career, including Def Jam, apparel line Phat Farm and prepaid debit card RushCard, among others, Simmons knows that Celsius may not be an overnight success.
“It takes time for people to believe you,” Simmons says. “People see it and they say, ‘Yeah. Well, you know, is he serious?’ Everything I’ve ever done has taken me five times longer than people [think it would]. That’s why everybody quits in every business they start because it always takes for you to reaffirm your commitment over and over and over again. It takes faith in your idea that a lot of people don’t have. They lack the resilience and the faith and the dedication to take a company from all of the different challenges that you never expected to come up, all of the different failures that you never expected to have. I always say, ‘You can’t fail ’til you quit.’
“I have a purpose in everything I do,” he adds. “I like to believe and love what I do because I’ve never had success when I didn’t. Never.”
One of his next ventures is already in progress. He’s building a yoga studio, which, of course, will sell Celsius.
“I think the Celsius drink, in a country that’s drinking Coca-Cola, in a country that drinks Monster, in a country that drinks Red Bull, is a really good bridge,” he says. “People feel good about themselves when they drink a healthier, a much healthier, alternative.”