Going With The Flow

Four college friends bottle calm inside a can of Just Chill.

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    Kelly Dawson

Max Baumann remembers the scene at LAX when he came up with the idea. He was about to leave on a month-long surfing trip to Australia. As a SoCal local who dreamed of riding waves as a professional, he was excited to go. But then he took a look around.

“I saw a mile-long security line, frustrated faces, the LAPD and nervous travelers,” he says. “I looked at what people were drinking, and they had these extremely large Starbucks cups and energy drinks. I thought, ‘That’s not the right drink for this occasion.’”

When Max took off for his trip, he thought about a beverage that would trigger a feeling of serenity without inducing sleepiness. It was his first big idea—he only ever dreamed of surfing—and so he kept it to himself.

Once he returned to Santa Barbara for school, Max eventually told his friends Mitchell Raisch, Caleb Davidge and Russell Fager about it. They wanted in. In 2010 the four college buddies launched a startup called Just Chill: a line of drinks that steady nerves and spark focus.

“Whenever there’s a need for people to get energy, there’s always a need for people to calm down.”

“Our whole philosophy is that you’re better when you’re calm,” says Caleb, cofounder and Manhattan Beach native who met Max through surfing.

It’s the type of thought process that lends itself well to the holidays, given that the setting of Just Chill’s inspiration is ever more common this time of year. The brand’s four flavors—Tropical, Rio Berry, Jamaican Citrus and the new zero-calorie Ginger—are made with Suntheanine, a pure form of the amino acid L-Theanine found in green tea. According to Max, Suntheanine is the ingredient that triggers alert and calm feelings without any accompanying jitters or drowsiness.

“We’re the yin to Red Bull’s yang,” Max says. “Whenever there’s a need for people to get energy, there’s always a need for people to calm down.”

Whole Foods became the company’s first supplier in Santa Barbara. When Just Chill moved to Playa Vista in 2011, other chains like Albertson’s, Bristol Farms, Ralphs and Sprouts stocked their shelves with the drinks too.

Now the four friends-turned-business partners are looking to grow. Their immediate goals include more distribution on the West Coast, especially at home in Southern California, and then hopefully on to what they refer to as “global chilling,” Caleb says.

At least, that’s the idea.

“I think exposing people to the notion that sometimes you need to slow down to speed up, and staying loose in life, is of really big value,” notes Max. “If Just Chill is one of the vehicles to help them get there, I’m happy.”