Element Kombucha Innovates to Break Away From the Competition

Updated: 5 days ago

The San Antonio-based kombucha brewery is the only tea and herb-focused kombucha on the market and can be found in HEB retailers across Texas.

Kombucha; Fermented tea; San Antonio
Element Kombucha Co-Founders Kevin Rayhons (left) & Timofey "Tima" Trofimenkov (right).

As the Texas summer comes into focus and temperatures rise, Texans are naturally inclined to have a cold beverage ready. For some, it's a chilled soft drink. For others, simply water.

Then there are those looking for flavor and fizz with an added wellness boost from a centuries-old elixir that in recent years has gained popularity for its health benefits, such as its probiotic and antioxidant properties.

Kombucha — a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink made with sugar, bacteria, and yeast, with some varieties including juice, spices, fruit, or other added flavors — has taken the health and beverage industries by storm.

While most people at least know about kombucha and have spotted these beverages at their favorite retailer or health food store, knowing which brand to trust can be a tough decision.

Serious kombucha connoisseurs looking beyond kitschy marketing should consider trying Element Kombucha, a San Antonio kombucha brewery co-founded by Kevin Rayhons and Timofey "Tima" Trofimenkov with headquarters tucked away in the heart of the city's westside.

San Antonio residents have likely seen their brand with a wide selection of fermented drinks stocked at HEB Grocery stores throughout the city and across Texas. As consumers look to more health-conscious products, it's a safe bet you'll likely see even more of their products stocked on more shelves across more markets.

TXi caught up with Element Kombucha Co-Founder Kevin Rayhons to discuss its inception and the innovation surrounding its brand.

Brewing Ideas and Launching a Successful Product

Having met several years ago through a mutual acquaintance, Rayhons and Trofimenkov bonded over their shared fascination with kombucha.

"I had been brewing kombucha at home for several years, and I enjoyed the flavors I'd created much more than the flavors I'd seen available commercially. I had seen kombucha grown nationally and even seen Austin brands appear and move into San Antonio. I felt the time was right for San Antonio to have its own brand."

After the interest in starting this particular venture emerged, Element Kombucha was born.

"When bringing forth the idea of a kombucha company, he revealed to me that he had grown up drinking the beverage and was also brewing some at home. We realized it was a great match and partnered to launch the brand."

A Formula for Success

As the duo enjoys success and looks for even more growth, Rayhons acknowledges the challenges they met along the way, like so many other companies and small businesses.

"We were lucky in that we launched fairly strong. I'd say our biggest challenges early on were mainly focused on efficient production, which we were able to easily solve as we grew. Today our biggest challenges tend to be in effective marketing and in growing our sales."

San Antonio has been instrumental in the brand's success. Rayhons shares how local resources played a role in getting Element off the ground.

"I have tried to use as many resources as possible in San Antonio, including LaunchSA, SCORE, Prosper West, and others. But I will say the best resource that I continue to utilize, even today, is the UTSA Small Business Development Center (SBDC). I have an incredible advisor there that I meet with regularly or whenever I have an extended need for assistance."

Rayhons offers advice to emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for insight into the necessary steps toward success.

"Understand that you can't do it alone. You truly need a team to succeed. Whether that is a business partner, investors, employees, or advisor, they will all help you understand what you don't know and grow your knowledge and your ability to succeed."

Recognize and Capitalize on Strengths

In a highly competitive industry, separating a brand from the competition takes ingenuity and innovation. The U.S. Beverage Industry is estimated to be valued at $146 billion, with non-alcoholic drink sales in the U.S. accounting for $414.8 million in 2021 alone.

By 2027, industry experts predict the kombucha market worth will exceed $7.9 billion, with consumers showing increased enthusiasm for the beverage year after year. For Element Kombucha, these emerging trends led to a focus on innovation in its business strategy.

"We are the only tea and herb-focused kombucha on the market. We've found our niche within the kombucha category and our customers love us for it. We've innovated by pairing beneficial herbs and teas in our kombucha for a more compelling product. We've also begun to diversify our business by providing co-packing services and by expanding on our local distribution portfolio."

As the company grows to reach broader markets, innovating to enhance its products, processes, and consumer base will continue to factor into Element Kombucha's trajectory of success.

"We are working on a new herbal beverage —I can't say much more than that right now, but we hope to have it hit the shelves later this year!"


Looking for more information?

Visit elementkombucha.com or check them out on Instagram @elementkombucha for updates and announcements.

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