October 15, 2021
 Contact:, 202-224-4343

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, recognized Phocus, LLC of Louisville, Kentucky, as the U.S. Senate Small Business of the Week.

Dr. Paul entered the following into the Congressional Record:

Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, each week I recognize an outstanding Kentucky small business that exemplifies the American entrepreneurial spirit. This week, it is my privilege to recognize Clear Cut Phocus, LLC of Louisville, Kentucky, as the Senate Small Business of the Week. 

Growing up in Louisville, John Mittel dreamed of being a doctor. As a competitive swimmer, he developed an interest in health and fitness. John’s passion for innovation and engineering led him to the University of Louisville, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. John then enrolled at the University of Louisville School Of Medicine to pursue his childhood dream. Like many students, John relied on coffee, energy drinks, and soda for a caffeine boost. One night, during a late-night study session, John thought, why not just put caffeine in water? Over the next two years, he worked with his mentor, Tom O’Grady, to turn that idea into a business. They spent most of 2016 developing their brand and fine-tuning the Phocus formula, launching their product in 2017. After graduating from medical school in 2018, John deferred his residency in ophthalmology to continue building his company.

Today, Phocus is a thriving small business providing consumers nationwide a healthy alternative to the traditional energy drink. Headquartered in Louisville, Phocus recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. To date, Phocus has developed 11 flavors of sparkling and regular water infused with caffeine extracted from green tea, electrolytes and the amino acid L-theanine. Unlike traditional energy drinks, Phocus beverages have zero calories and are free of sweeteners, sodium, and additives. Phocus beverages are available at several regional and national retailers and are featured in over 200 corporate offices across America. In 2020, Phocus Cola was named the Best New Product at BevNET’s Best of 2020 Awards.

Like many small business owners, John and Tom are actively involved in their community. Locally, Phocus regularly supports community organizations, including the Louisville City Football Club’s youth soccer clinics and the American Junior Golf Association’s Justin Thomas Junior Championship. During the holiday season, Phocus has teamed up with ESPN Louisville for its “Cram the Van” toy and clothing drive for children in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company donated 200,000 cans of Phocus to 472 hospitals and healthcare facilities across 40 states. In May of 2021, their “Buy One. Gift One. A Case for Teachers.” program donated cases of Phocus to teachers nationwide in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Month. Phocus’ community involvement, success, and products have been profiled in local and national outlets, including WDRB, WAVE3, Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville Business Journal, MarketWatch, Fox News, and CNBC. 

Clear Cut Phocus, LLC is a remarkable example of the resilience and adaptability of locally-owned small businesses. Small businesses, like Phocus, form the heart of towns across Kentucky, and play a critical role in Kentucky’s beverage industry. Congratulations to John, Tom, and the entire team at Phocus. I wish them the best of luck, and I look forward to watching their continued growth and success in Kentucky, and beyond.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Paul continues the tradition of honoring America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship oversees proposed legislation on matters relating to the Small Business Administration and investigates all problems relating to America’s small businesses.