Kavafied: An Interview with Matt Masifilo

Kavafied stands out from many Kava vendors for their vibrant, innovative spirit and image. They are Kava giants on social media, publishing image after colorful image on Instagram several times a day. They have fresh, simple, and modern packaging and design on their Kava bags and products. They even have a line of t-shirts and hats for true Kavasseurs. In my opinion, with the release of the AluBall Kava maker Kavafied also made Kava a much more convenient and expedient option in tight spots. Why settle for extracts when you can just drink actual Kava? Better yet, why settle for extracts when you can make that Kava in less than three minutes.

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I sat down last week and talked to Matt Masifilo, the entrepreneur behind Kavafied:

KAVASSEUR: It’s great to be able to talk to you about Kavafied and all of your great Kava grinds and unique products.

What is your Kava story? How did you get interested in Kava and what were some of your first experiences with it?

MATT: Kava has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a half cast Tongan American, Kava was present at most cultural gatherings. I would try it often when my father drank it. I always thought it was used more for ritual than effects. I felt this way until sometime in high school, when I finally sat down and really drank Kava with younger guys and I experienced the sedating effects of Kava for the first time.

KAVASSEUR: When did you decide to get in the Kava selling business? What were some of the challenges and what did the market look like when you got involved?

MATT: I kind of got pulled into the Kava industry by chance. While attending Stanford University I was approached by a successful tech entrepreneur who had discovered Kava recently; He wanted to break from the Silicon Valley scene and enter the relaxation beverage one. As a regular Kava drinker by then, I jumped on board and we blindly dove into the Kava industry.

What ensued over the next 6 months were probably some of the most stressful, chaotic, and greatest learning experiences of my life. I like to refer to this period of time as my Kava MBA.

We did everything you could think of with a Kava business, and failed at it. As they say in business, fail fast and often. At the time, the Kava market was showing early signs of growth in the US with Kava bars beginning to pop up outside the state of Florida and Hawaii.

As far as challenges go, I could go on and on about how we failed at this and that. Overall there are two huge challenges when entering the Kava industry, sourcing Noble Kava and then the huge educational process you have to put potential customers through.

I can give you an example: back in 2011 when I was getting my Kava MBA at Stanford University, I was so concerned about quality, that we went down to my fathers home town in ‘Eua, Tonga, purchased an entire Kava farm, then managed the harvest, cleaning, and processing of the roots. I walked away from that venture before ever seeing a dime for my efforts but that was the only way we felt quality could be assured even with it coming from a place where my father grew up.

KAVASSEUR: You have a pretty epic social media presence. When did you decide to become so active on Instagram and other formats and how has it helped your efforts?

MATT: Thanks, we put a lot of effort into our social media presence to visually capture the Kava culture and the diverse communities of people who contribute to it. It is a great way for us to connect with the Global Kava community and encourage others to join.

KAVASSEIR: What are some of the big changes that have occurred recently in the Kava world, and how have you adjusted to them?

MATT: I think the biggest change that is occurring in the Kava industry is globalization. With affordable high-speed Internet access reaching most Kava growing nations now, local island Kava farmers and middlemen can now more than ever sell directly to the Global Kava consumer.

KAVASSEUR: One of your biggest innovations has been the AluBall. I personally use the AluBall every day. Many Kava drinkers still prefer to go through the entire kneading process, but I’ve found that using the same amount of Kava in the AluBall gives me practically the same effects. At first I was very skeptical of the AluBall, and wondered what kind of purpose it would serve or whether it would be effective, but it has become a staple in my Kava routine when I am preparing Kava for myself. I tend to only knead Kava when I am making Kava for bigger parties. Can you explain how this idea came to be, and what the general reception of the AluBall has been like?

MATT: Thank you for the kind words about the AluBall.

The idea for the AluBall transpired during my time playing in the NFL. When I got transplanted to Tampa Bay from the 49ers I would try to drink Kava with teammates around a Kava Bowl but most of them just wanted to fill their Gatorade bottles up with it and leave. This struck me funny because no one drinks Kava like that back home. When I found out one of my teammates was going through the whole traditional prep process to make just one cup a night I knew there was a need for a Kava Maker.

The reception of the AluBall has been awesome. Its initial objective was to make it easier to sell Kava to someone who has never heard of Kava before. Someone like my teammate who I felt represented the general American public. I was delighted to find out that so many existing Kava drinkers have added it to their Kava routine.

KAVASSEUR: How do you source your Kava, and what kind of relationships do you have with Kava farmers and communities?

MATT: Through family connections I have in the South Pacific.

KAVASSEUR: What are Kavafied’s plans for the future? Can you give us any hints on any upcoming projects or releases?

MATT: We have a few projects in the works that we hope will further push Kava onto a bigger stage. We’re always looking to improve upon the user experience of Kava in general.

 

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