Interview by Jason Hibbets, Red Hat, CityCamp NC Co-chair
Do more, be better. Those are the inspiring four words crafted by Mati Energy, a Triangle startup and the most popular energy drink in the southeastern United States. Rumor is, you can hear that phrase echoed every time a Mati Energy [http://www.matienergy.com] drink is opened. And while when you think of Mati, you might just think of an all-natural energy boost in a cleverly decorated and convenient can, there’s more to Mati.
Tatiana Birgisson is the founder & CEO of Mati Energy and the force behind this startup’s growth in the Triangle. She's passionate and determined. Humble and inspiring. In this interview with Tatiana, I dug a little deeper to learn more. Why the Triangle? What does the future hold? And what does it mean to be a part of this amazing ecosystem and community of innovation in North Carolina?
The vision for Innovate Raleigh is to make the Triangle one of the top five centers for innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. What do you think still needs to happen to accomplish this?
I actively strive to help develop our entrepreneurial and innovative environment to become one of the top 3 centers for innovation & entrepreneurship in America. We're on the right track but need to continue:
- Leveraging our universities to develop their own ecosystems (and support infrastructure)
- Having success stories--successful exits come with talent moving to new startups and accelerating their growth and founders/early employees having the capital to invest in other startups
- Building the physical spaces needed (and keeping costs down)
- The success stories need to result in reinvestment in the startup/innovation community
- More investors visiting and investing in the area
- Local angel investors becoming less risk averse
Why the Triangle? What inspires you about living here? Why did you choose to start your business here?
I love the Triangle because it's a great place to work and live. It's affordable (both for my company and myself), nature's just 15 minutes away, the airport allows for quick trips to almost anywhere, the people are happy and kind here, and the food is phenomenal.
I'm inspired by the opportunity to "have it all." I believe the Triangle makes it most possible to achieve all my career, personal, and relationship/family aspirations.
I started MATI out of my Duke dorm room and built a customer base here. But I've stayed because I'm able to attract the best talent; I've relocated every leadership team member from out of state-and multiple states away. It's easy to attract talent here because it's such a great place to live and work.
We've also stayed because the Triangle is centrally located along the East Coast (with freight benefits being close to I-95), has great downtown office/work environments, yet affordable rural properties for manufacturing, and because this is where our story began. We're committed to our community, to helping the Triangle succeed.
What's your vision for Mati Energy for the next 5 years?
I'd love to see MATI become a national brand and in-so-doing, help build the recognition that the Triangle is a great place for "better brands."
What are you reading (or what do you recommend)? Listening to? Watching?
For leisure, Game of Thrones. It's a must and you're living a deprived life if you haven't seen every episode of the best TV show ever made.
For business, I love "The Hard Thing about Hard Things." It's a perfect Audible book on drives. "High Output Management" is next but you should read a physical/Kindle edition...there's just too much to absorb and apply to your business/career for it to be a feasible audible listen.
If you want more recommendations, come see our little library at MATI HQ.
How has being featured as one of Inc's 30 under 30 in 2016 impacted Mati Energy?
We're honored and humbled.
We're inspired to keep pushing to win everyday.
It's afforded us national media attention that's hard to get, and thus, increased online exposure and sales.
It's a badge of recognition that we're able to leverage in other sales/investor conversations. Always helpful but not critical.
It makes us all smile and proud of the work we've done and then look ahead and drive towards helping our customers "do more, be better" (our tagline).
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