[Photo of Allen & Kentucky]
After starting their careers in corporate America, Allen Wang and Kentucky Morrow have teamed up to bring health to the alcohol industry. In founding Ralli, Allen and Kentucky bring the science of health and wellness to drinking. They share their journey from elementary school friends to Founders.
Waking up with a hangover is a painful moment of vulnerability. Between the nauseating headache, anxiety, and general uneasiness even the most energetic feel down. Ralli, a new brand designed to bring health and wellness to the alcohol industry, is helping eliminate those moments. Ralli currently offers a hangover prevention beverage that comes in both a powder and sleek 12oz can. A serving is a bargain at less than the cost of a glass of wine.
What sets Ralli apart from some of the typical hangover remedies you may have tried is their scientific approach in formulation. While Pedialyte or Liquid IV may help your body rehydrate after a night out, they were not designed for alcohol; they likely do very little to actually help your hangover. In fact, dehydration has very little do with feeling like a zombie after a night of drinks.
The claim that drinking water doesn’t help your hangover may be shocking at first, but it is backed up by extensive scientific evidence. Understanding why isn’t actually too difficult. Think back to the last time you were dehydrated, perhaps after a taxing workout. Drinking water alleviated your symptoms quickly. When hungover however, the amount of water you drink does almost nothing to help you feel better. Rehydration alone still leaves you waking up and feeling like a monkey banged your head with crash cymbals.
This simple fact is shocking to most and it is what led Allen Wang and Kentucky Morrow to founding Ralli. “It is quite interesting,” Said Kentucky, “when you dig into the science almost everything we are told about healthy drinking is at best a myth.” That discovery was a boiling point for Allen and Kentucky, both former high school debaters that have an eye for truth.
Besides both being on their high school debate team, Allen and Kentucky have long been family friends. Their friendship goes back to elementary school when Allen was friends with Kentucky’s younger brother. “Allen was around our house regularly when I was a kid, but he was visiting my brother, not me,” said Kentucky. That family connection though proved beneficial as both Allen and Kentucky transferred high schools and Allen’s family reached out to Kentucky to help Allen during his transition.
That move in high schools transformed their connection from family friends to friends directly with each other. “Meeting Kentucky not only helped me change schools, but it also led me to joining the debate team,” commented Allen. The friendship formed over changing schools was strengthened during Allen and Kentucky’s time on the debate team. Together both Allen and Kentucky thrived on policy debate’s pursuit of truth through careful evaluation of all possible arguments. During their time as high school debaters, Allen and Kentucky both demonstrated remarkable competitive success. Allen won multiple nationwide competitions and was ranked as the top team in the country. Kentucky won multiple state tournaments and also performed well in national tournament, ranking in the top 10 nationally.
Given their friendship and competitive nature to find the truth, making an evidence-based health product in an industry known for snake oil cures was a logical result of their friendship. “After a fun night with friends and plenty of hydration I still felt like crap the next day, even after just a couple of drinks,” said Allen. Eventually Allen and Kentucky asked the question we all have, “why do most of the tips we’ve been told about drinking not work.”
That simultaneous interest spurred them to use the research skills they honed during their time in debate to better understand the science of hangovers. After spending a month of digging into the science the most common advice one thing was clear, like much advice in life, it wasn’t grounded in science. In reading multiple books and journal publications as well as speaking with researchers on the topic they said one thing was clear; “we still don’t actually know that much about how alcohol impacts the body. Maybe that is why some months you’re told drinking wine is good for you and others you’re told even a small amount of alcohol consumption is bad for you.”
Despite not knowing exactly how alcohol impacts the body, Allen and Kentucky corralled the existing research and are confident their product will help anyone that struggles with hangovers. In their research, they identified liver function, brain function, sleep quality, (along with dehydration) as areas of body’s health most negatively impacted by alcohol. These areas are not only closer to the long-sought causes of morning-after suffering but also fixable.
That moment of realization, that scientific remedies that support alcohol health do in fact exist, precipitated their decision to launch Ralli. “We decided then that this was something we needed to pursue. If most common advice was well meaning but ineffective at best, this was an opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of people’s lives,” said Kentucky.
Their decision to Launch Ralli was finalized in March, when they both quit their stable corporate jobs to launch Ralli. Despite their products innovation and success among their customer’s everything has not been a perfect accord.
“It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem,” said Allen. “Customers know that drinking a bunch of water or products for babies doesn’t allow them feel good in the morning but they don’t know what the alternative is.” That lack of knowledge of an alternative that led Allen and Kentucky to launch Ralli has actually proven to be one of the biggest challenges of their business.
“Customers, customers, customers,” said Kentucky when asked what the biggest hurdle was to their business’ success. Simply put, people aren’t aware of the product and many that are aware of the product are skeptical of another ‘hangover cure’ that proves to be nothing more than snake oil. The skepticism of potentially customers has led Ralli to leaning in on demonstrating its efficacy.
In speaking on efficacy, Allen and Kentucky said their existing customers are their best sales advocates. “As soon as someone tries it and sees just how much better they feel, that’s when it starts to click and they start telling all of their friends,” said Allen. That skepticism turning into word-of-mouth organic marketing is something they have hoped to tap into more.
Through partnerships with local venues, Ralli has demonstrated first hand around Boston the efficacy of their product. In getting out into the crowd and getting their product in people’s hands, Allen and Kentucky believe they have started to turn their challenge into an opportunity. They have come to believe that by speaking directly with customers and educating them about the actual causes of hangovers and how their product works they are generating an important base of loyal customers.
This belief is founded on the basis of a trend of consumers becoming increasingly health conscious. Consumption of seltzer, low-carb and non-alcoholic beer has grown rapidly. Rehydration during and after drinking has also received increasing consumer focus. Those trends, especially the ever-growing fascination with better ways to rehydrate, are what Allen and Kentucky stand behind when saying why their product will eventually get wider adoption.
“People aren’t looking for another light beet or hard seltzer, they are looking for ways to relax and not feel like crap the next day,” said Kentucky. “The problem they are facing is they don’t know how to do that. Once people understand the science and try our product they don’t go back to those terrible mornings.”
Reflecting on the potential for Ralli, Allen and Kentucky agree a great product is the foundation for the opportunity before them. Their firm conviction, that with sufficient awareness and customer education there is not a better product on the market, is what they advise all other business owners to have when launching their business. In fact, lack of an incredible product that is far better than the competition is one of the biggest mistakes they see others making.
The reason for a great product all comes back to the customer. “If customers don’t love your product they won’t come back. It’s hard to get customers to trust your brand so if you do anything to undermine that trust you’re not just losing that customer, you’re losing control of your brand,” Allen said. When asked to give one piece of advice Kentucky simply said “build a great product and the customers will come.”