Austin, Texas-based Me & the Bees Lemonade has been in business 10 years, delivering all-natural, purpose-driven lemonade across America. The family-owned and -operated company has grown by more than 500 percent from its beginnings and now ranks as the number one ready-to-drink lemonade growth brand.
Fourteen-year-old founder and CEO Mikaila Ulmer is marking the company’s 10th anniversary by calling consumers to make a tax-deductible donation to the Healthy Hive Foundation. Ulmer and Me & the Bees will match all donations made through the end of the year—up to $10,000—to her nonprofit that helps save the bee population. She brought up the challenge while speaking at MogulX, the modern growth experience conference for entrepreneurs in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 21.
“The support we have received from our fans and bee-lievers is more than I could have dreamed of, and I dream big,” says Ulmer. “Thanks to all of our customers, partners and retailers, we are set up to continue to scale to make an even greater impact.”
Me & the Bees is further scaling its business while also paying tribute to its home state. Texas-based H-E-B has started offering Me & the Bees’ new Classic flavor lemonade in its more than 3,500 checkout area grab-and-go coolers, for a special introductory price of $1.99.
“I knew Mikaila was smart from the start. The continuous growth of her company has been so impressive and has become an inspiration to other budding entrepreneurs out there,” says brand consultant and “The People’s Shark,” Daymond John. “Me & The Bees continues to outperform in the beverage category while meeting the needs of today’s health-conscious consumer. Cheers to another 10 years and beyond!”
Me and the Bees’ four signature lemonade flavors of Ginger, Iced Tea, Mint and Prickly Pear have been recently reformulated, resulting in up to 25 percent less sugar and 33 percent fewer calories without compromising the original family recipe’s flavor. Mikaila will also launch her new beeswax lip balm product in five flavors at select retailers, with 10 percent of net proceeds supporting the Healthy Hive Foundation. It is currently available at meandthebees.com.
Deepening her relationship with Microsoft, Ulmer will begin using cloud technology to monitor bees’ health and movement and will work with schools on STEM projects. She is working with San Francisco State University on a research project to better understand the impact of recent wildfires on honeybees.
“Microsoft is passionate about encouraging Generation Z to embrace the power of technology to improve our planet and quality of life on it,” says Asta Roseway, principal research designer at Microsoft Research. “By using technology, dedication, and the kind of dream-big ideas only kids could have, Mikaila is proof that—just like the bees—you’re never too small to make a difference.”
From 2009 starting with two bee stings to 2019, Mikaila Ulmer:
- Got stung by two bees in one week, which caused her to do some research to learn that bees are dying and there was a need help to save their populations.
- Created a honey-sweetened lemonade using her Great Granny Helen’s recipe and started selling it on her front lawn and by participating in Acton Children’s Business Fair and Lemonade Day Austin, both of which spark entrepreneurship in children.
- Got her product picked up by a local pizza parlor and then by Whole Foods Market, which awarded her a local producer loan to further grow her business.
- Spoke at hundreds of events, from small beekeeping classes in Austin, to introducing President Obama at the United State of Women Summit.
- Appeared on Shark Tank, where Daymond John committed to serve as a mentor and invest $60,000.
- Received angel funding from 10 current and retired NFL football players resulting in more than $1 million in investments.
- Was named one of TIME Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teenagers in 2017.
- Reformulated her lemonades to meet demand for healthier beverages, resulting in up to 25 percent less sugar and 33 percent less calories.
- Advocated for Texas HB 234, which made it legal in 2019 to have a lemonade stand in front of homes.
- Formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft to embrace technology to help save the bees.
- Created the Healthy Hive Foundation dedicating 10 percent of the company’s profits to the nonprofit.
- Progressed to 10th grade at St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin.
“The Small Business Administration cites that about two-thirds of companies survive two years in business, half of all businesses will survive five years, and only one-third will survive 10 years,” says Ulmer. “Me & the Bees Lemonade did more than survive—it is buzzing along, and we are well poised for continued tremendous growth for the next decade to come.”