Student Spotlight: After two years of prep, Junior Conner Correll launches sports drink business

After learning of negative traits in popular drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, Conner Correll sought out to find a healthier alternative. Photo courtesy of ZIOS

Matti Pennington | Writer

After over two years of preparation, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., junior Conner Correll launched his own self-funded hydration business, ZIOS Health, on March 1.

Correll said he used to drink Gatorade and Emergen-C all the time but always felt sick after. When he started doing research, he was disappointed with the ingredients.

“When I looked at the ingredients I felt like I was being lied to about how healthy it was,” Correll said. “They are filled with artificial sweeteners and unhealthy ingredients to give it the taste.”

The discovery sparked Correll’s idea and business model for ZIOS Health.

“ZIOS is an all-natural, hydration, immunity, energy drink focused on helping you live better every day,” Correll said. “We have spent over two years perfecting the formula to make sure it tastes great and gives you everything you need to live better every day.”

Once Correll had his idea for ZIOS, and idea of what ingredients he would include, he started to reach out to food microbiologists for possibilities.

“Conner is constantly coming up with new business ideas,” Wilmington, Del., junior Jack Prosceno said. “He is an entrepreneur, so when I heard how passionate he was about ZIOS, I was really hopeful that everything would come together.”

Correll said he reached out to multiple microbiologists before finding a good fit for his company. When he came across scientist Dr. Phillip Button, Correll said he knew he would be the best for the job. Button is one of the top food microbiologists in the world and works at the Food Microbiology Academy in Melbourne, Australia.

After reaching out to Button over email two times and getting no response, Correll said he had to get creative in order for Button to see the email.

“I ended up thinking about when everyone checks their emails and it is every Monday morning, right when they get to work,” Correll said. “I found Phillip’s schedule and found out that he started work at nine, so I calculated the time change and sent him an email right as he got to work. It worked and he responded.”

To keep ZIOS the healthiest it could be, Correll said it couldn’t include traditional caffeine. In order to have a healthier source of natural energy, ZIOS uses the northern Brazil guarana plant.

Yorba Linda, Calif., junior Luke Liefeld has watched Correll create ZIOS from the ground up. As Correll’s roommate, Liefeld was hopeful Correll could make a drink with all the health benefits he was passionate about but still tasted good.

“If you can’t enjoy it, then it is not going to sell, and that would be the tipping point for if ZIOS would succeed or not,” Liefeld said. “After trying it, I am so confident in it because it has the health benefits and it has the taste to keep people buying it. It is significantly better than a lot of other products out there.”

ZIOS has Vitamins A, B3, B6, C, D3, E, iron and zinc. It is all natural and no sugar added.

“We use this thing called freeze dried fruit powder which is very different than everything you drink right now,” Correll said. “Everything you drink right now uses spray dried, where they shoot sugar at the fruit to dissolve it, which gives everything its sweet taste. It is cheaper to do spray dried, but it adds so much sugar. We used freeze-dried because it preserves the natural qualities of the fruit and doesn’t add any additional sugar.”

ZIOS has 1g of sugar content per serving while Gatorade has 32g, Liquid IV has 11g and Hydrant has 3g.

ZIOS is a non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free product.

“Any new thing that is gluten free gets me excited,” Powell, Ohio junior Andrew Bendick said. “I was happy that it was and that I could have it.”

Currently, ZIOS has its first flavor packet, orange boost, out now. They are working on two more flavors, which will come out later this year.

“I am really excited about all the possible new flavors,” San Ramon, Calif. junior Kaitlin Lord said. “Conner texted me after I tried ZIOS and was like what is your actual review and I gave him a 9 out of 10 because I feel like if he had a berry or something else it would be so good.”

ZIOS sold out on opening day but taking preorders now for restock on March 15.

“The first day it came out I bought a package and then later that night another package,” San Antonio junior Blake Olmsted said. “I drink two a day, so I needed to stock up. Usually, I drink ZIOS in the morning and then another before my daily run at 4 o’clock.”

ZIOS retails for $34.99, which includes 30 individual stick packs. The Baylor community can use code Baylor20 for 20% off. Correll said he was excited to offer this discount for students and get the company name out there.

“We wanted the product to be the best thing for you without the guilt,” Correll said. “I named the company ZIOS because it’s a name once you hear, you will never forget. Right now, we are starting with this and we will one day expand into other health products.”