Conrad Oberbeck

Co-Founder of Hangobi

Conrad Oberbeck is the Co-Founder & CEO of Hangobi, a functional beverage brand designed for active lifestyles and dehydration recovery. Conrad is an entrepreneur driven by his proven athletic experience as a collegiate and professional competitor and his finance and analytical background working as an investment professional across corporate and real estate verticals. Prior to founding Hangobi, he was part of the institutional investment sales group at Cushman & Wakefield and served as a Senior Associate at Saratoga Investment Corp.

As a Yale University graduate and Major League Lacrosse (“MLL”) champion (now known as Premier League Lacrosse (“PLL”), Conrad was a member of the Men’s Lacrosse team at Yale and received recognition as an Academic All-Ivy, Ivy League Champion, All-American, Team MVP and Senior Class Award Finalist. He also played professionally for MLL teams including 2015 champions New York Lizards and Atlanta Blaze. Conrad is currently an active endurance athlete, having completed the Brooklyn half marathon, NYC marathon, 70.3 Ironman Kona, and full 140.6 Ironman Cozumel – with many more Ironmans to come!

With a passion for fitness, plant-based wellness and peak performance, he founded Hangobi in 2021 with the vision to create a category leader in the holistic, recovery and performance beverage space. A direct-to-consumer brand, Hangobi employs whole, plant-based ingredients to alleviate dehydration, nausea, headaches, lack of focus and anxiety.

Where did the idea for Hangobi come from?

Hangobi is an idea I have been mulling over since college. As a D1 athlete, dedicated student and history major, and victim of social FOMO, I found myself living a hectic lifestyle at undergrad – complete with early morning workouts, late-night study sessions and die hard tailgates.

Throughout this rush and noise, I found myself without the ideal beverage that could keep me going and focused in a balanced and leveled fashion. In my experiential research, I found that non-alcoholic drinks are generally split across two categories. The first being soft drinks and “less bad for you” choices that tasted sugary with little health benefit. The second being targeted beverage supplements that created unstable energy highs and lows that ultimately did more harm than good. Needless to say, I had to settle for so many options I felt were suboptimal and often required a hodgepodge blend of soft drinks, sports drinks, kombucha and coffee to alleviate the daily chaos – not ideal.

After graduation, I worked for six years in finance and small business investing, waiting for another company to build the beverage I so dearly needed. Unfortunately, that time never came, and my impatience was wearing thin. Thankfully, in my analytical role at Saratoga Investment Corp, I had the opportunity to meet the founders of the businesses we invested in and caught the proverbial “entrepreneur bug,” most particularly enthralled with corporate leadership, culture building, product creativity and consumer feedback loops.

With this experience and my dream beverage not yet produced, I finally felt fit to take on the challenge myself and launch Hangobi! With 6x the beneficial ingredients than competitors, Hangobi is supremely positioned as a daily multivitamin to help our customers stay productive and on top of their game.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I am often trying to push myself to be my best. With role models of David Goggins and Jocko Willink, I attempt to dominate the mornings. This is typically in the form of an early morning run, push up and sit up routine and some lightweight dumbbell workout (at which point it is a great time for a Hangobi).

Then the workday starts at 8:30 a.m. and I keep going until 6:00-7:00 p.m. My day is filled with Hangobi operations work, direct sales outreach, calls to negotiate Hangobi partnerships, managing our finances, and thinking about the long term value of Hangobi. I try to stay productive within these bounds by filling up my calendar with events that are “non-negotiable” to avoid any slippage of efficiency, which is typically funneled into managing our Hangobi social media pages.

Finally, I enjoy homemade meals or pick up dinner typically in the form of salads, protein and sides, Italian, sushi or Chinese, followed by personal routine practices to keep my mindset, outlook and emotional state leveled despite the events of that day. Finally, I finish off the day with some stretching and reruns of The Office, which fortunately (or not) I can quote verbatim.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I usually ponder over new ideas while I am on my daily run, letting my mind drift and evaluate nascent concepts from different perspectives and viewpoints. If a particular idea continues to rise to the surface, I’ll then block off an hour to create a detailed outline of the idea and how it will help the world, via a business venture, or simply me in the form of self-improvement.

Once refined, I’ll bring the concept to friends and family to draw out general feedback and reveal both the positives and negatives to what I am noodling over.

If the idea still has legs, I’ll work it into my daily routine and review the effects. I’m trying to always be focused on the process, so baby steps and consistency are the key.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m really excited about the movement into product nutrition and effectiveness. I feel like for so long, we as consumers just plucked items off the shelf and judged product quality on taste alone. With consumers ever more studying the nutrition and ingredient labels, we are entering a new era focused on product transparency and verifiable benefits.

This is a cornerstone of Hangobi’s mission as a productivity-focused brand – with 6x the beneficial ingredients and the “net positive” (increased consumption only makes you better) nature of our beverages, consumers are appreciating our clear and concise approach to delivering stability and balance throughout their daily routines.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The most essential habit of mine is starting my day with a workout before opening any notifications on my phone (set to silent). This principle, stated constantly by Goggins and Willink, allows you to build your mental toughness before the day begins, such that when inevitable difficulties come your way, you are strong and prepared to face them.

As an entrepreneur, I am constantly putting out fires and facing uphill negotiating challenges – preparing my body physically for this aligns my mind’s fortitude.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Study the environment and all those around you, with as much humility as you can. In my young journey founding Hangobi, I have found emulating previous business leaders and peers to be incredibly valuable. There is just so much you don’t know, and if you have the humility and interest in looking, it’s all there for you to discover.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Tricky question! Perhaps naive of me at this stage, but I’d say that I believe any individual can take on any job, as long as they are supported and challenged in the proper ways. Now knee-deep as a leader and founder, I’m constantly evaluating how I can get the most out of my team, and how they can get the most out of Hangobi and me. I may be proven wrong, but I’m deeply focused on building a team of great attitudes, rather than backgrounds.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Alongside a workout routine which I mentioned earlier, I think it’s so important to keep a list of affirming statements that clearly outline who you are and what you would like to be. When things are tough, almost daily, this list is a strong reminder of your character, goals and drive to make them happen.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My primary strategy is to treat everyone I work with as if they are a friend and deserve my utmost respect. So much of business and progress comes from recommendations and the pulsating network effect of your supporters creating connections for you. With an emphasis on respect and dignity for whoever is across the proverbial table from you, you are sure to discover many unknown and unexpected benefits.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Shortly after leaving my previous role at Saratoga Investment Corp, I was eager to bring Hangobi to market as soon as humanly possible. In my haste and expediency, I did not have the patience to “test” out various parts of our product, which led to eventual shortcomings in our first production runs. I learned the lesson that while the drive to “get things done” is critical, have the patience and wherewithal to slow yourself down and take the necessary precautionary measures to avoid needless mistakes.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I am constantly interested in the mentor/mentee relationship and feel that this type of powerful dynamic falls on too little of our collective population. Finding and following a gleaming industry veteran can be a north star to a young professional and finding a way to facilitate a commercial, 1:1 service that can make this connection possible is something that I see as very valuable.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Running sneakers… every day I log an hour in those puppies and without them, I’d be a blistering and complaining mess!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Unfortunately, I am a relative luddite when it comes to productivity software. I use lists, Excel, Word and my calendar to set and bind my productivity, including a daily tracker on my success relative to what was scheduled. That being said, I did create Hangobi (shameless plug) to help mediate my body levels throughout my productivity journey…

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – this book sets its roots in thoughtful introspection, visualization and the approach to seemingly mundane tasks. The author takes you on a journey and searches for “quality,” which is simply a corollary to seeing the “value” in the little things. While so hard to implement, it makes you realize that every task you undertake, big or small, is really just a matter of perspective.

What is your favorite quote?

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” (Confucius)

Key Learnings:

  • – Implementing a steadfast focus on customer experience and feedback, coupled with humility and a dedication to solving problems, are the first steps to sustained business growth.
    – You don’t know what you don’t know. Keep a wary eye on the horizon and constantly be in pursuit of new information.
    – Simplify your message to build brand equity, don’t confuse your audience.
    – Build a brand centered on transparency and authenticity.
    – You will never know until you try, but really really try.