Meet Our Founders

Welcome to the heart and soul of Tatsu Tea, a brotherhood of elite athletes, serial entrepreneurs, and fathers with a shared passion for health, wellness, and the transformative power of nature’s gifts. Meet the faces who fuel our mission to energize the body, sharpen the mind, and elevate the spirit..

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Todd Kupper RD, LDN: Co-founder and Science Guru

Todd is the scientific backbone of our endeavor. As a registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist, and formulator with 25 years of experience with a leading global nutrition brand, as well as a long-time practitioner and instructor of Aikido and Jiu Jitsu, he bridges the gap between theory and practice. Todd’s training in the martial arts started as a young boy, where he began by cleaning the dojo in exchange for the invaluable opportunity to learn at the feet of the revered Sensei Shuji Maruyama, the founder of Kokikai Aikido, who became like a second father to Todd and eventually taught him the sacred Japanese tea ceremony that is at the very foundation of Tatsu Tea. Todd holds the rank of 7th degree black belt and is the founder and chief instructor of Keystone Kokikai dojo. He has taught and trained throughout the United States, Germany, and Japan, where his extensive - and exhaustive - travels first planted the seed that would soon grow into the concept of Tatsu Tea. Todd’s relentless pursuit of scientific excellence, combined with his love of the transformative power of the martial arts and its wholehearted acceptance of anyone willing to commit themselves, drives the formulation of our beverage, ensuring it not only enhances performance but also prioritizes health and well-being.

Phil Migliarese: Co-founder and Innovator-in-Chief

Long before the UFC helped to popularize and mainstream jiu jitsu on a global scale as a highly effective martial art and combat sport, long before jiu jitsu became trendy on TikTok and Instagram due to its unique combination of physical fitness, mental discipline, and practical self-defense skills, a Philadelphian from four generations of boxers discovered a then virtually unknown style of grappling called Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that would go on to forever transform martial arts. As he does in all things, Phil went straight to the source, immersed himself completely in the study of the art, and lived and breathed jiu jitsu until he had it mastered. He was present on the proving grounds of Gracie Academy’s earliest days, when lifelong martial artists would commonly barge in to denounce the effectiveness of this new style against their own and challenge them to fight. At only 14 and a mere white belt, Phil participated in his first of many challenges, using the basics of jiu jitsu to easily defeat an adult karate instructor and tapping him out in 30 seconds flat. Phil diligently worked his way up through the ranks, becoming a beloved honorary member of the Gracie family, earning a 6th degree Relson Gracie black belt, achieving victories at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Nationals and Worlds, and opening then expanding Balance Studios, widely regarded as one of the best jiu jitsu programs in the world, to over 50 locations. While competing and running Balance, Phil, never one to rest on his laurels, ventured into marketing, sparking a 26-year run that included the founding of and exiting from a successful digital agency, and acquiring an intimate grasp of the CPG market that eventually led him to the beverage industry. With a humility belying his extraordinary talents, Phil brings a profound understanding of the physical and mental demands of both combat sports and entrepreneurial ventures, and his discipline, drive, and relentless pursuit of improvement and excellence fuel our team daily.

Ricardo “Animal” Migliarese: Co-founder and Competitor Extraordinaire

As big brothers do, Phil passed his newfound knowledge down to Rick, a natural who showed great promise and a deep-seated love of training from a very early age. From his first moments on the mats, Rick absorbed the technical aspects and philosophical principles of jiu jitsu like a sponge, his enthusiasm matched only by his hunger for success. With unwavering dedication, he honed his craft, transforming quickly into a fierce competitor. His natural perceptiveness and exacting technique, sharpened by countless hours of practice under the tutelage of Master Relson Gracie, soon paid off and he won numerous national and world championships. Co-founding Balance Studios, Rick, a fifth degree Relson Gracie black belt, soon became renowned for his deep expertise and instructional abilities, particularly his clear communication style and sharp attention to detail. His comprehensive training programs and trailblazing methodologies have rendered Rick a highly sought after trainer, who often works closely with UFC fighters and professional athletes. Rick brings his competitive spirit and dedication to our team, as well as the all-important philosophy under which the Migliarese brothers operate - that one must completely repress the ego in order to truly evolve, a mindset that fosters unwavering support and brotherhood in all their endeavors.

Bill Thanel: Co-founder and Supply Chain Maestro

Meet Bill, our supply chain expert with a talent for navigating the intricate web of beverage distribution and for ensuring that Tatsu Tea reaches you with precision and punctuality. With 25 years’ experience in custom packaging and design, Bill, an executive at industry powerhouse Stephen Gould by day, uses his agility and creativity to make sure our beverage not only meets but exceeds the expectations of our customers in every way. Bill’s keen eye for detail and knack for packaging innovation led him to win numerous packaging design awards for startup brands, including the prestigious GDUSA American Package Design Award for our very own Tatsu Tea. With expertise in optimizing packaging solutions and distribution strategies, Bill keeps our tea flowing smoothly from production to your glass. Behind every refreshing sip of Tatsu Tea lies Bill’s meticulous planning, dedication to quality, and commitment to excellence.

Twenty years ago, his path serendipitously crossed with Rick’s and he bonded with both Migliarese brothers over a shared interest in martial arts and in building CPG brands. With the intense focus and passion he brings to all of his pursuits, Bill began training in various martial arts and eventually earned the rank of Kru (an instructor responsible for imparting training techniques and traditions to future generations of students) in muay thai, black belt in taekwondo, and, under Phil’s tutelage, black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He regularly teaches muay thai and jiu jitsu, working with both amateur and professional fighters to enhance their combat skills, physical conditioning, and self-defense. Bill’s passion and natural talent for coaching and mentoring teens has also led him to run local high school programs and women’s self-defense seminars. No one knows how to get something - be it jiu jitsu student or case of Tatsu - from point A to point B quite like Bill. Cheers to smooth logistics! 

Michael Crossey JD: Co-founder and Legal Dynamo

The strategic mastermind behind growing our venture, Mike merges his 20 years of expertise as an emerging business and venture capital attorney with unique insight  gleaned from his studies at The Wharton School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After working with top international firms, Mike followed his true passion for nurturing fledgling startup companies. His quick legal mind and strong desire to help the young companies that no one believed in just yet earned him the invaluable role of protege to the so-called “godfather of Philadelphia startups”, Steve Goodman, who cultivated the region’s startup scene long before startups were cool. Mike later co-founded his own firm, was on the founding team of Venmo, and became a mainstay of the Philadelphia startup ecosystem, representing numerous top startups and venture-backed companies across the country. He is a lawyer who believes in the entrepreneurial spirit with the passion of a founder, and fosters our company through every step of its growth. Mike is our scrappy little secret weapon, who never met a challenge he didn’t reflexively throw himself into with full force. Longing for the combination of brotherhood and athleticism from his college wrestling days, he competed for years in Ironman and sprint triathlons, until he stumbled upon jiu jitsu and fell immediately in love. Though a novice compared to our other founders, the mindset that has served him so well in the entrepreneurial world quickly earned him respect on the mats - you have to be in it for the long haul. Mike understands the wholehearted commitment it takes to build something from nothing, and brings that unique brand of dedication to our team.

Together, we are more than just a team of entrepreneurs; we are a collective of jiu jitsu practitioners who view our company as we do our training - as a way of life that we are fully committed to developing, perfecting, and sharing with others.  We are united by a shared vision of empowering everyone - from the most elite athletes to the busy parent to the harried traveler and everyone in between - with the tools they need to excel on and off their own personal “mats”.