New company sparkles city’s business horizon
Scott Lerner is CEO and president of a line of drinks, including an energy drink now being sold at Whole Foods, and other places. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:06AM
EVANSTON — City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz tendered a little bet with Scott Lerner, the founder and CEO of Solixir, with offices at 940 Pitner Ave.
Lerner could come to the City Council and plug his company’s product of healthy drinks once the word Evanston appeared on the cans.
“Now I’m happy to report that it now says Evanston on his cans, which are sold throughout America in Whole Foods and other places,’’ Bobkiewicz said when introducing Lerner at the council’s Nov. 26 meeting.
Lerner, 40, had a personal interest in founding the company about three years ago.
A workout enthusiast and former U.S. Marine Corps officer, Lerner said he was “relegated to drinking energy drinks I didn’t think were healthy for me.’’
Most options, he said, had too many artificial ingredients or too much sugar. Lerner, who had formerly worked at Pepsi, consulted with an herbalist and registered dietician drawing up the Solixir (a play on ‘soul’ and ‘elixir) line of sparkling beverages.
Currently the company has a product line of four drinks: “Awaken,” “Restore,” and “Relax’’ and “Think,” which are made with different botanical formulas to fit certain needs, Lerner said.
For instance, Awaken, is a gentle energy drink, he said, low in caffeine so consumers don’t experience the “spikes,’’ they might with other energy drinks on the market.
“Think,” is for improving mental clarity.
“The products have no sugar added to them, so they’re extremely healthy. The sweetness is derived from fruit juice,’’ he said. “And they’re under 60 calories.”
They’re also being picked up nationally. The Evanston-based company now has its product line in Whole Foods, Treasure Island and Sunset Foods, and is looking to branch out, said Lerner.
“It’s huge to be associated with a company like Whole Foods because it gives us credibility when we go to other retailers as well,’’ he said.
He said he purposefully chose Evanston, even though opportunities arose to base the company in Chicago. “I thought if I went to Chicago I’d be a small fish in a big pond, I wanted to go some place where I could interact with the community. All the services we need, whether creative or (legal) are kind of self-contained in Evanston. It fits us very well.”
Although the product is manufactured in Minnesota, that may change too, he said.
City economic development officials have been very helpful to the startup, said Lerner, who handed samples to council members.
Judging by the smiles, city officials seem more than pleased to land an emerging new business in line with the city’s economic development thrust.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, a high energy type, told Lerner she had tried one of his drinks (perhaps Relax?) at Whole Foods.
“It was very good,’’ she said.