Branding mastermind Rohan Oza joined ABC’s reality TV show “Shark Tank” as a guest shark late 2017 and continues as a guest in episodes this year as well. “Shark Tank” is the reality show that helps hopeful entrepreneurs pitch business plans to business juggernauts/investors or “Sharks” and request and negotiate investments for their business or products. Oza’s career includes his elevating products to mutli-kabazillion dollar brands and is what makes his investment and mentorship extremely valuable to people in the food and beverage niche.
As a food and beverage expert, he brought something new to the show but did you know how powerful this Shark, the first desi Shark of the tank, really is? His work has catapulted small companies to being full-fledged brands. Ever hear of Vitamin Water? Yup, you can thank Oza for that. Now, we don’t mean to get all desi Aunty on you and extol the virtues of yet another desi making bank but, well, a little we do. Oza is impressive - check it!
Oza was born and raised in Zambia and is of Indian descent. He went to the Harrow School and Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. He started his career working in an M&M manufacturing factory in Slough, an industrial town in England, but Oza wanted more. He then moved to the United States for an MBA at the University of Michigan. He’s developed quite a career since his MBA.
Let’s start with The Coca-Cola Company. Oza was the man behind growing Sprite and Powerade by connecting it to hip-hop artists and NBA players. He made such an impact sales improved by 30%!
“… it is very hard to make the same massive impact at other brands — these companies are too big and there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Oza told Business Insider in an interview. “I wasn’t very corporate either so I thought I would jump ship before Coca-Cola fired me.”
After a successful six years, he left for a position as partner and chief marketing officer for the beverage company Glacéau. Working at Glacéau he made companies like Vitamin Water and Smart water household names. Ironically, Oza said his Coca-Cola bosses laughed at him for joining Vitamin Water which only made a revenue of $25 million in 2002, but with Oza’s help the company did so well, Glacéau was sold to Coca-Cola for $4.2 billion.
Guess Glaceau laughed too, all the way to the bank! Boom!
Oza made some pretty dope friends while working in branding. Today he counts 50 Cent and Rihanna as good friends. He’s also worked with the likes of Tom Brady, Jennifer Aniston, and LeBron James.
After selling the Vitamin Water company, Oza became a venture capitalist. He co-founded CAVU Venture Partners in 2016. The company raised $156 million in four months for their first funds, their success was rapidly moving forward.
Oza then went on to work with products like Chef’s Cut Real Jerky, Sir Kensington’s, Vita Coco, Popchips, Flywheel Spinning Studios, Bai Brands and more.
He’s always had a keen eye for matching just the right stars to products. Oza is the man behind Beyonce’s work with WTRMLN WTR and connecting Justin Timberlake and Bai. He also linked Madonna with Vita Coco, Bruno Mars and Popchips, and Olivia Munn and Chef’s Cut: Real Jerky.
However, he insists that not every brand needs a famous face to endorse it.
“It has to be a good organic fit where the brand is a fan of a celebrity and the celebrity is a fan of the product,” Oza tells Business Insider. “People are smart and need a natural fit otherwise it will be too forced. If a celebrity endorsement is clearly forced and the people will reject it and people will tell you about it. People’s antennas for bullshit is a lot sharper these days.”
These “Shark Tank” contestants are getting a powerful shark to back them if chosen. He’s literally launched companies that started at the bottom straight to multi-million dollar empires. He uses creative branding strategies to spread the product to consumers through influencers of all types.
This guy is a hustler. Before there was a limit to how much liquid you could carry on flights, Oza used to hand out Vitamin Water to flight attendants. Why? Because they deal with thousands of people a day and seeing the drink in their hand or hearing their recommendations of the drink meant they could spread the news to more people. Essentially he used flight attendants as influencers. How brilliant is that?
We can’t forget his philanthropic work. Oza is passionate about the Child Matter NGO, which is a partnership between The Starkey Hearing Foundation and Matter Organization. This NGO provides hearing implants, food, and medical equipment to underprivileged children in Africa. He’s even co-hosted an annual gala at his home which has raised $1 million in just two years.
Not only is this guy a marketing guru and bursting with creativity, he’s also a kind humanitarian. Fun fact, Oza also loves to throw parties, even Bollywood parties, and he makes sure all his friends hit the dance floor. How do I send him my biodata? #RishtaMePlease
Today this branding genius has been nicknamed, “Hollywood’s Brandfather” by the Hollywood Reporter. Oza is a pioneer in celebrity equity deals and transforming products to become household names. His awards list is endless, he’s been named on lists like Brandweek’s Top Ten Marketers, Ad Age’s “Marketing 50” and many more. He’s even been profiled by renown publications from The New York Times, and Forbes to Huffington Post, and The Hollywood Reporter.
Aside from being Guest Shark, Ozo will also be on Squawk Box, Closing Bell with Liz Clayman, and Power Pitch.