As a point guard for the men’s basketball team at Philadelphia University, Jordan DeCicco was the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference’s Player of the Week two weeks in a row this season.
It’s no wonder the sophomore who averages 28 points per game, makes 5 a.m. practices and keeps up his grades needs an energy drink. Unable to find a drink that met his standards — not filled with sugar and artificial ingredients — DeCicco, 21, made one in his dorm room during his freshman year in 2014.
“I decided to make a very healthy coffee,” he said. “I started blending organic coffee with protein and coconut oil, sweetened with organic maple syrup.”
He liked the taste, and he got the boost he was seeking, DeCicco said. Plus other students liked it. So in January 2015, DeCicco called his brother Jake, a business major at Georgetown University, and told him that he thought he had something.
“He loved the idea of starting a company that revolved around getting healthy products out there that tasted good,” DeCicco said.
Their Sunniva Super Coffee drinks now sell for about $3.50 each in more than 100 retail locations, including Whole Foods stores from Princeton, N.J., to Richmond, Va.
The company — which now also includes DeCicco’s other brother, Jim, 24, who left a job on Wall Street as a real estate analyst for the Blackstone Group to help with the coffee venture — ended 2016 reporting $300,000 in sales and projecting $2.5 million in 2017.
“Then we want to take this thing nationally,” DeCicco said.
Whether their projections are realistic is among the things Stephen Spinelli, president of Philadelphia University and an accomplished entrepreneur as co-founder of Jiffy Lube International, is planning to pursue with DeCicco during an independent study course in entrepreneurship this semester.
“I’m going to press him hard,” Spinelli said. “There’s a whole history of iced tea drinks and power drinks that were start-ups. If he can show that this product has that level of market demand that it appears that it has … then he’s going to have the ability to raise the money to bring this to scale pretty quickly.”