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Breakout Talent to Watch: Paul and Madeline Voge, Aura Bora

Paul and Madeleine (Maddie) Voge, cofounders of Aura Bora, started the sparkling water business with a home carbonator and a craving for unusual flavor combinations.

Seeing a need for a product that took the category in a fun, new direction, they experimented with a variety of herbs, spices, fruits and floral ingredients, and soon built a following for their home-brewed concoctions.

“We did a lot of experimenting in our kitchen, using herbs and fruits that hadn’t been used before in sparkling water,” said Maddie Voge, cofounder and creative director.

They built a brand around their new beverages that features colorful, whimsical packaging, a commitment to using natural ingredients, and a partnership with One Percent for the Planet, the international organization whose members contribute one percent of their revenues to environmental causes.

Aura Bora has a roster of best-selling flavors, including Lavender Cucumber and Ginger Meyer Lemon, that it produces for retail, while continuing to roll out creative new flavors as direct-to-consumer offers through its website as Flavors of the Month. One recent offering was Green Bean Casserole, and others listed on its website include Honey Pumpkin, Peach Honeysuckle, and Cactus Rose.

All the company’s products have no added sugar or other sweeteners.

Soon after the couple started their business in 2019 from their home in Boulder, Colorado, they gained distribution in Whole Foods’ Rocky Mountain region. From their base in Boulder, they were able to leverage the natural-products ecosystem that existed in that area to get their product to market.

“We got into more and more stores, and it just kind of cascaded from there, and eventually we were in multipacks in big conventional grocery stores,” said Paul Voge, cofounder and CEO. “It was a constant cycle of making new product, finding new retailers, creating new flavors, raising new money, and then back to the beginning.”

They relocated early on to San Francisco, where Maddie had a full-time job opportunity with a tech firm. This allowed her to generate a steady income while Paul could focus full-time on building the business, and Maddie could work on the brand at night and on weekends.

Aura Bora got a big boost from an appearance on Shark Tank, where one of the TV show’s celebrity investors, Robert Herjavec, acquired a stake in the company for $200,000. The show, which taped in 2020 and aired in 2021, gave the company national exposure that still resonates with both retailers and consumers.

“Millions of people got to see Aura Bora who had never seen it before, and it turned out to be incredibly formative for our brand,” said Maddie Voge.

She said the company continues to hear from retailers that they saw the product on Shark Tank, which heightens their interest in carrying the products.

“It continues to be the gift that keeps on giving,” said Paul Voge.

The company has also raised money through a series of funding rounds, starting with friends and family, and eventually more traditional private equity investments. Two of its more prominent investors include Siddhi Capital and Lotus Bakeries, the parent of Biscoff and other food brands.

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