The Best Way To Predict The Future Is to Create It

This can contains years of hard work (still tastes great).

On Aug. 1, a dream came true for a company that I love.

Celsius, born in Delray Beach and based in Boca Raton, announced a long-term strategic deal with Pepsico that will take the brand global, pump $550 million into the company and give Pepsi an 8.5 percent ownership stake in what is now a company valued at  nearly $8 billion.

It was an amazing moment—years and years (and tears and fears)—in the making.

And that’s how it goes.

That’s the entrepreneurial journey—if it works out.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed except…

  •  Lots of hard work.
  •  Risk, that can seem crazy at times.
  • Oh, and whole lot of twists and turns.

Celsius experienced it all and then some.

I’ve had a front row seat on the Celsius ride for more than a decade now and it has been fascinating.

I worked for the company as COO in the lean years when we dreamed big, reached for the stars, made some progress, and took some beatings. It was a thrill.

I had the experience of a lifetime working alongside a team of amazing people who believed Celsius was going to be the next big thing at a time when you couldn’t find it on a shelf if you employed a team of blood hounds.

The company grew when I was there—we landed the big accounts, rang the bell on NASDAQ, taped our first TV commercial and signed a celebrity spokesman (Mario Lopez, he was terrific and believed in the brand).

But it wasn’t our time—and so we lost some of those big accounts and got delisted from NASDAQ when our stock price failed to meet their threshold. Ups and downs. But we never stopped believing.

Not. For. One. Second.


Because we knew we had something special.

And because the man who became the company’s biggest investor (and cheerleader) and saw big things for the brand never stopped believing in Celsius’ potential. This man had boundless faith and we had faith in his talent for predicting what will work in the marketplace.

That man is Carl DeSantis. He’s a visionary.

In full disclosure, I work as an executive for Carl’s family office here in Delray Beach. Carl is a friend, a mentor, a partner and a positive force in my life and the lives of countless others. He means the world to me and my family and a whole lot of other people who have been fortunate to work with (never for) Carl or Mr. D during his long career.

Carl was the founder and chairman of Rexall Sundown, a huge vitamin manufacturer based in Boca. He sold that company in 2000 for $1.8 billion and immediately went back to work forming CDS International Holdings which has been involved in an array of businesses over the years ranging from Celsius and Tabanero hot sauce to restaurants, office buildings, hotels, a South African preserve, a men’s clothing line and real estate. Carl is an interesting man with broad interests—and a keen eye. We’ve learned to listen to what he’s seeing— if that makes sense.

He’s also generous, kind, a tad mischievous, down to earth and a little shy. If you know him, you love him.

CDS has been very supportive of Celsius through the ups and downs. We had faith because faith is contagious, and Carl spread the gospel.

What happened with Pepsi was a dream come true…or was it a prediction? All I know is that for years at every meeting—even when there was bad news— Carl would say with absolute certainty that one day “one of the big boys are going to call” to get involved with what Celsius CEO John Fieldly calls a “disruptive force in the energy drink market.”

That’s what Celsius is….disruptive and unique—and that was always the promise and the potential. Brick by brick,  year after year, you keep pushing until the market says “we see you” among the blizzard of brands vying for their attention and loyalty.

Our friend Carl saw the potential right away…and the lesson here is “ya gotta believe!”

Mets fans will get that reference.

But whether it’s baseball or beverages, a local shop or a vision for your town you have to believe. Especially when the going gets rough and the going always gets rough.

When the dark days came to Celsius, Carl used to say “dig in, we’re going win.”

The team learned a lot, tried a lot of different things and kept plugging away. Celsius never gave up.

Victory, while never guaranteed, is sweeter when you’ve overcome adversity.

Celsius overcame a slew of adversity. That little company, that started in a warehouse like office on 4th Avenue, saw it all—and made it through the maze—for now.

Because that is the other lesson. Success, much like failure, is hardly ever final.

Yes, the company is flying and now they have the global might of Pepsi behind them. But they have to transition successfully to the new partnership, they have to execute and they have to stand up to the competition which never lays down.

Cities are the same way…once you succeed, you can’t get complacent. You must wake up a little bit scared and stay focused. Success is never final. You are never done.

That’s not a bad thing or a curse, it’s a blessing that enables you to grow and innovate.

We, as fans, investors, friends, and supporters of Celsius, can’t wait to see what’s next.

Knowing the team as well as we do, we’re bullish that the best is yet to come.

We lost a local icon last week when former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel passed away.

My friend Blake who knew her well said it best: “An amazing woman and true public servant. It was a privilege to stand with her through thick and thin.

Loyal yet tough, Mayor Susan Whelchel brought out the best in us, and in return gave us her all. She was my friend. I am heartbroken, and will miss her.”

We all will. She was special. We need more people like Susan Whelchel in the public arena. It was a privilege to know her.



  1. What a story the brand Celsius is!
    Carl DeSantis is one of the great men of Delray Beach. A little mischievous is an understatement.
    The main thing is he has a heart of gold to go with it.
    I think of him every day.
    I looked forward to your Tuesday visits to Ceviche when he would get his special Ceviche and a bottle of the Numanthia.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Great memories!
      Carl is so fond of you. He has an eye for talent and used to say “that guy John is something special.” He was right.

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