Grabbing the attention of consumers was a big part of the game. Vita Coco bought a van, painted it ocean blue and loaded it with free samples and with women who would jump out and Hula-Hoop on the streets. Zico hired college students to roll coolers around the city.

Bodega owners were often the toughest audience. To make inroads faster, Vita Coco hired a ringer, a former Vitaminwater salesman named Michael Goldstein, identified on his business card and known to almost everyone as Goldy. One name. Like Prince.

“You’ve got to be a little bit of a psychopath,” says Goldy of life as a beverage salesman in Manhattan. “You’ve got to love pain, love being yelled at.”

He and his team memorized phrases in Spanish, Arabic, Korean and Hebrew and quickly learned to tailor their pitches to different ethnicities. Owners from the Middle East wanted to haggle. Dominicans wanted to know why they needed anything other than Goya. When all else failed, $20 was slapped on the counter, though that didn’t always work.

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Photo: Benben, Flickr