RALEIGH — Homayoon Ershadi is the founder of Jabin, a Raleigh-based beverage startup offering a family twist on an ancient Persian beverage.
Ershadi was born and raised in Tehran but moved to the Triangle in 2009. An avid runner and cyclist, he found something unique to aid in post-workout recovery: his mom’s take on a traditional Persian beverage.
The simple recipe was refreshing to Ershadi, and when he realized there wasn’t really anything else like it in the market, Jabin was born.
Jabin (pronounced “jab-in”) has seven ingredients, including Himalayan Pink salt, raw cane sugar, cucumber, mint, and apple cider vinegar. The drink also provides prebiotics and electrolytes.
“The landscape for sports and hydration drinks is bombarded with preservatives and artificial ingredients,” said Ershadi in an exclusive interview. “You don’t really need high fructose corn syrup or dyes after you finish a healthy workout.”
Woman, Life, Freedom
Ershadi, now the CEO and founder, has stayed very connected to his Middle Eastern roots and followed the protests against Iran’s repressive regime last fall. After the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police, the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom” emerged as a rallying cry and one Ershadi took to heart.
“It’s not something we can donate money to,” said Ershadi. “It’s a much larger, structural – really a revolution in the country. Having grown up there and having friends and family still in Iran for me it was important to try to shed light on what’s happening over there and also try to show that we’re standing in solidarity with the people that are protesting.”
With that goal in mind, the company modified the label of Jabin for the remainder of 2022 and early into 2023 to include a sticker proclaiming the “Women, Life, Freedom” slogan.
Logistics have precluded continuing with the label, but it’s still important to Ershadi.
“I think it’s something that we’re going to try to incorporate at a higher level into the brand,” he added.
Jabin earned an NC IDEA grant in 2021 and recently pitched with seven other companies in the Consumer Innovation track at this year’s Venture Connect. Ershadi brought Jabin in coolers and stocked the fridges at the GSK campus during the event for attendees to enjoy. His participation led to some “warm connections” with investors for their next fundraising round, he said.
Jabin can be found in local markets around the Triangle including Weaver Street Market locations, and several co-ops. A full list of locations can be found on their website.
Ershadi told me that he’s hoping to broaden that reach across the state to Charlotte, the Triad, and Asheville, where he sees a lot of potential due to the volume of outdoor activities the city is known for. (You’ll also find Jabin and Ershadi at local runs and cycling events, which he continues to participate in himself.)
Next for Jabin? According to Ershadi, that’s increasing production, working with a new distributor, and trying out new flavors.
“The reality is that not everyone loves cucumber and mint,” acknowledged Ershadi. “And there’s so many flavors that are common in the middle east and Iran that are overlooked here.”
This is a cornerstone of the company for Ershadi. “The whole brand really pivots on bringing really authentic Middle Eastern-inspired and Persian-inspired flavors and products to market,” he said. “Jabin is our starting point but there’s a much broader portfolio that we’re hoping to tackle and bring to market.”
And in terms of the new flavor of Jabin? Ershadi is staying mum – for now. ”I want to try to keep that hidden until we’re finalized. But you’ll see some stuff about it soon.”