Vita Coco: Michael Kirban

Vita Coco: Michael Kirban
Ani Bushry for NPR
Vita Coco: Michael Kirban

Ani Bushry for NPR

So—no joke: two guys really do walk into a bar. While sharing a few drinks on a winter night in New York City, best friends Michael Kirban and Ira Liran met two young women from Brazil.

That chance encounter eventually led to a business idea: to sell Brazilian coconut water in the US, as an alternative to Gatorade. In 2004, Michael and Ira launched Vita Coco, only to discover that another startup—Zico—was selling a nearly identical product.

The two companies went to war, using the time-honored tools of corporate sabotage, but eventually Vita Coco emerged as the top selling coconut-water in the U.S.