Alex Cushman | History
From: Originally from Phoenix, AZ – now residing in Irvine, CA
Pomona Days: Class of 2007 | History Major
Current Employment: Director of Business Development, Co-Founder of Positive Energy Beverages
Past Employment: Analyst and Associate at Harvey and Company, LLC (Private Equity), Managing Director at CLM Financial
First off, I am a history major (Professor Yamashita will forever have a special place in my heart for his amazing mentorship) that once wrote a Senior Thesis on the economic future of the Amish. As I approached my senior year, I visited the CDO with no idea of my next step. I knew that wherever I went I would work hard, but, given what I had learned in my interactions with other Pomona students, also knew I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. I was great at putting my head down and grinding, but occasionally needed to be reminded to look up to see the bigger picture and the direction I was going. As I felt more and more lost with graduation approaching, I wish I knew that I just needed to breathe (life is a journey – not a destination). Live has a crazy way of marrying your passion and your work ethic. After graduation, I ventured off into the world of private equity, spending nearly 5 years merging and acquiring business. Yet, I quickly learned very little is achieved personally when chasing the proverbial ‘carrot’ – especially when it isn’t aligned with your moral compass. The financial world venture reminded me of so many lessons I had learned from fellow classmates at Pomona in, once again, the importance of making a difference. Unsatisfied with the direction my path was heading, I left the financial world and trusted in work ethic and skills I learned while at Pomona.
Fast forward to today.: In early 2012, my business partner and I started a venture we believed in, one that could make a difference. We saw an industry with a complete lack of transparency and complete lack of healthy alternative; that industry being the ‘energy drink’ market. Thus, we created a healthy alternative. Starting with a 100% pure, not-from-concentrate orange juice, we added 150mg of green coffee bean (natural) caffeine and created a proprietary, natural flavor blocker to mask the bitter taste of caffeine in orange juice. This idea and product have grown much faster than we could ever have anticipated, Positive Energy Beverages (www.drinkpositiveenergy.com). We have expanded the product offering and now use the juiced based energy drink as a vehicle by which we deliver the more important mantra: Think Positive. Be Positive. Drink Positive.
What my journey to this has taught me is that everything in this world is about the people. An idea is merely an idea. Great business ideas can fail because of bad people and mediocre business ideas can succeed because of great people. My time at Pomona as well as my soul-searching quest in the financial sector taught me the value of people and creating positivity in this world (even down to the name of a business). We hopefully have a great business, but that will only be because we hire, train, and help great people. The liberal arts education at Pomona taught me how to learn, which is far more important than being specialized and knowing how to memorize.
As far as advice to the next generation/fellow entrepreneurs, be a good person. At the end of the day, you can make money doing anything. You won’t truly make a difference or have the impact you are capable of if you don’t do business the right way. We are on this earth for such a short period of time that you might as well love what you do and, more importantly, who you do it with. We are all interconnected as people; every interaction has far-reaching consequences, both good and bad. Pay it forward and help people for the sake of helping people. Money comes and goes, but human interactions/helping one another – that’s the meaning of life. Don’t get lost in the rat race. Instead, share the cheese and redefine the game.