June 14, 2022

Paul Voge (Aura Bora) - Why he decided to found a sparkling water company with weird flavors, How he entered retail during COVID, and What perception he would change when founding a CPG business

Paul Voge (Aura Bora) - Why he decided to found a sparkling water company with weird flavors, How he entered retail during COVID, and What perception he would change when founding a CPG business

Our guest today is Paul Voge, one of the founders and CEO of Aura Bora. Aura Bora is sparkling water made from real herbs, fruits, and flowers for earthly tastes and heavenly feelings. The flavors are definitely one of kind and different like Lavender Cucumber, Cactus Rose, Peppermint Watermelon. I was skeptical at first but when I tried it, I must say I LOVED it. My personal favorite is lemongrass coconut. Paul has a pretty fascinating story about how he started and his approach to building a sparkling water company with out-there wacky flavors that are delicious.

  1. How would you define your relationship with Sparkling water before you started a sparkling water company?
  2. Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
  3. What was the “aha” moment?
  4. What was the first flavor you LOVED that you felt you perfected?
  5. How did you think about different flavor profiles/expanding SKUs
    1. I had Seth on last week
  6. How did you think about experimenting with flavors? Was this something you did yourself, did you hire/partner with a food/drink scientist?
  7. You didn’t have any experience within CPG. How did you go about building your network?
  8. Why invest in beverage brands?
  9. What was the hardest part fundraising?
  10. How do you think about ads?
  11. When did you feel like you were on to something?
  12. At what point did you quit your job?
  13. What was your distribution strategy? Was it to start DTC and then go into retail or go into retail from the getgo?
  14. How did you get into Whole Foods?
  15. Why did you move from Boulder to San Francisco?
  16. What were some of the things you had to pick up on quickly since you didn’t come from CPG prior to starting Aura Bora?
    1. How much should you spend in tradespend?
  17. You were in SKUs accelerator, what was so valuable about that experience?
  18. It’s March 2020. COVID happens and your cranking, trying to get into stores. Walk us through what’s happening during that time?
    1. How did you approach developing relationships with stores during that period?
    2. How did COVID change your distribution approach?
  19. We talk to a number of CPG retail investors on this show that emphasize it’s all about velocity rather than the total number of stores you’re in. What’s good velocity to you? How do you measure success?
  20. Why did you decide to go on Shark Tank? What was that experience like?
    1. Was the intent always to take a deal no matter what?
  21. What was your approach to raising a fundraising round?
  22. How do you think about SKUs and flavor approach today? What’s the strategy?
  23. What’s one thing that you’ve been surprised in the consumer response - could be positive or negative. Negative could be more interesting.
  24. What’s one book that has inspired you personally and one book that inspired you professionally?
    1. Seth Goldman - Mission in a Bottle
    2. Mark Rompolla - Build Something Great
    3. The Last Lecture
  25. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
    1. Amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics
  26. What’s one thing you would change about the CPG industry?
Transcript
WEBVTT 1 00:00:12.400 --> 00:00:16.960 Hello and welcome to the consumer VC. I am your host, Michael, 2 00:00:17.160 --> 00:00:20.960 and on this show we talked about the world of venture capital and innovation in 3 00:00:21.000 --> 00:00:25.480 both consumer technology and consumer products. If you're enjoying this content, you could 4 00:00:25.480 --> 00:00:30.480 subscribe to my newsletter, the consumer VC DOT sub stackcom, to get each 5 00:00:30.519 --> 00:00:35.079 new episode and more consumer news delivered straight to your inbox. Our guest today 6 00:00:35.159 --> 00:00:39.799 is Paul Vogue, one of the founders and CEO of Orebora. Or a 7 00:00:39.840 --> 00:00:44.840 Bora is a sparkling water made from real herbs, fruits and flowers for earthly 8 00:00:44.880 --> 00:00:49.640 taste and heavenly feelings. Their flavors are definitely one of a kind and different, 9 00:00:49.880 --> 00:00:54.479 like lavender, cucumber, cactus, rose, peppermint, watermelon. I 10 00:00:54.679 --> 00:00:57.520 was a bit skeptical at first when I tried it, but I must say 11 00:00:57.560 --> 00:01:02.399 I loved it. My personal favorite is lemongrass coconut. Paul has a pretty 12 00:01:02.399 --> 00:01:07.159 fascinating story and how we started and his approach to building a sparkling water company 13 00:01:07.280 --> 00:01:15.879 without their flavors that are delicious. Without further ADO, here's Paul. Paul, 14 00:01:17.000 --> 00:01:19.480 thank you so much for joining me today. How are you? I 15 00:01:19.480 --> 00:01:21.840 am doing well. How are you doing, Mike? I'm doing great, 16 00:01:21.920 --> 00:01:25.640 just, you know, drinking my cactus rose or a Bora. It's great 17 00:01:25.640 --> 00:01:27.400 for a Monday. You know, you know what I feel. That's true. 18 00:01:27.439 --> 00:01:30.359 CACTUS rose is a good Monday, a flavor. There's very few things 19 00:01:30.359 --> 00:01:33.719 you can say that about. But that'll get you out of the Monday funk, 20 00:01:33.840 --> 00:01:36.640 for sure. Absolutely. Also, chatty with you will definitely get me 21 00:01:36.640 --> 00:01:40.000 out of the Monday function. Paul, my mom would disagree, but I'll 22 00:01:40.040 --> 00:01:44.239 take the comptable. So let's start for the Riviginni. What was the fine 23 00:01:44.319 --> 00:01:49.719 your relationship with sparkling water before you ended up started a broken water company? 24 00:01:49.719 --> 00:01:52.680 Hey, that was actually mistakenly a good segue. So I grew up with 25 00:01:52.719 --> 00:01:57.200 a mom that did not allow us to drink soda. I was on the 26 00:01:57.280 --> 00:02:00.040 sparkling water kick, I'll say, earlier than most, probably, you know, 27 00:02:00.319 --> 00:02:04.239 five, six seven years old. As a result, when I got 28 00:02:04.280 --> 00:02:07.159 my first couple of jobs after college, we had that fully stocked pantry that 29 00:02:07.199 --> 00:02:12.800 you're probably familiar with and we had a virtually unlimited you know, Lacroix, 30 00:02:12.840 --> 00:02:15.400 Waterloo, polar you name it, and there's an old saying. And you 31 00:02:15.439 --> 00:02:20.439 know what white collar jobs is. If you want to raise just, you 32 00:02:20.439 --> 00:02:22.800 know, drink or eat more from the pantry. So I did just that. 33 00:02:22.840 --> 00:02:25.599 I was drinking probably eight to ten cans of Lacroix a day at the 34 00:02:25.599 --> 00:02:30.199 peak, and then I would come home and drink more at home, often 35 00:02:30.199 --> 00:02:31.919 with a soda stream that we had at the house. So that was myself 36 00:02:31.919 --> 00:02:36.560 and my wife, Maddie's experience sparkling water, both grip and homes. It 37 00:02:36.560 --> 00:02:38.039 did in nef soda and both kind of got addicted to it in our early 38 00:02:38.400 --> 00:02:43.599 s. As a result, bought that Soda Stream and started making weird, 39 00:02:43.599 --> 00:02:46.319 wild, whimsical flavors. So that that is the background of Oraboro. Was 40 00:02:46.319 --> 00:02:50.560 Maddie and I just messing around with our Soda Stream in the kitchen. Why 41 00:02:50.639 --> 00:02:53.199 did you decide it messed around with making crazy flavors? What was maybe and 42 00:02:53.319 --> 00:02:57.560 how did that turn into maybe like an Aha moment for a business? Yeah, 43 00:02:57.759 --> 00:03:00.159 I would say so. At the back to the office, you know, 44 00:03:00.199 --> 00:03:04.039 it seems to me that the sparkling water was by far the most popular 45 00:03:04.080 --> 00:03:07.000 item in terms of velocity, in terms of how many units everyone in the 46 00:03:07.039 --> 00:03:10.000 office was drinking a day, but definitely the least popular in terms of quality, 47 00:03:10.080 --> 00:03:13.479 IE, were all drinking this thing, but none of us like it, 48 00:03:13.520 --> 00:03:15.960 and that felt like a very weird kind of dichotomy to me. As 49 00:03:16.000 --> 00:03:17.960 a result, I thought, okay, it seems like there's a few reasons 50 00:03:19.000 --> 00:03:21.159 people like sparkling water. When they get really bored of it, you're drinking 51 00:03:21.159 --> 00:03:23.199 it too, ten cans a day, like pompla Moose is only in a 52 00:03:23.240 --> 00:03:27.120 cut it for so many months. Then to a lot of these citric acid 53 00:03:27.120 --> 00:03:30.319 and other ingredients that are in typical sparkling waters just feels kind of artificial, 54 00:03:30.360 --> 00:03:36.400 Soda Ish, almost salty throw in at these brands are totally marketed as commodities, 55 00:03:36.439 --> 00:03:38.919 so they're each kind of as drab as the next. And it is 56 00:03:38.919 --> 00:03:43.400 sparkling water. You know, the phrase even itself sounds like a commodity. 57 00:03:43.479 --> 00:03:46.560 So it felt like, okay, we can use differentiated flavors, differentiated ingredients 58 00:03:46.560 --> 00:03:51.400 and have a differentiated brand and that would hopefully be the recipe for success. 59 00:03:51.599 --> 00:03:53.319 In that same Pantry, and I say the sentence all the time, we 60 00:03:53.360 --> 00:03:58.000 had kettle potato chips in Jenny's ice cream and justine's peanut butter and it seemed 61 00:03:58.120 --> 00:04:01.840 like all of those are artisanal options in what used to be commodity categories. 62 00:04:01.879 --> 00:04:04.319 Could we do the same thing to sparkling water? So that was the challenge. 63 00:04:04.360 --> 00:04:08.439 That was a bit of the Aha moment at work. And then got 64 00:04:08.479 --> 00:04:11.800 to work, you know, making what we thought would be innovative, interesting 65 00:04:11.800 --> 00:04:16.399 flavors. That's cool. So you were seeking inspiration from was happening other categories, 66 00:04:16.439 --> 00:04:21.279 billing out of differentire products, unique flavors and bringing all that to sparkling 67 00:04:21.279 --> 00:04:25.360 water, for sure. Yeah, I on the ice cream front. All 68 00:04:25.360 --> 00:04:28.639 I worth mentioning. My sister, emily, is actually an ice cream entrepreneurs. 69 00:04:28.680 --> 00:04:31.839 She has a ice cream parlor and in Incanitia, California, and she 70 00:04:31.920 --> 00:04:36.360 has always done very weird, whimsical, fun ice cream flavors. So I 71 00:04:36.360 --> 00:04:40.680 mentioned Jenny's for pints or you know, if you're in the east coast it 72 00:04:40.720 --> 00:04:43.160 might be van Luins, in the West Coast might be salt and Straw, 73 00:04:43.199 --> 00:04:46.439 if you're in San Diego, might be Jojo's creamery. But all that to 74 00:04:46.439 --> 00:04:48.600 say that was definitely the inspiration of can be taking ingredients that you know from 75 00:04:48.600 --> 00:04:53.680 a different medium and bring him to the fast growing sparkling water category. So 76 00:04:53.839 --> 00:04:56.879 when you, Maddie, are, I'd imagine, in your kitchen trying out 77 00:04:56.920 --> 00:05:00.480 all these kind of funky flavors. When did you actually think about doe? 78 00:05:00.680 --> 00:05:04.399 Maybe some type of market research or, you know, Chry with friends and 79 00:05:04.439 --> 00:05:09.040 see what they thought. You know what kind of went into your heads as 80 00:05:09.079 --> 00:05:11.839 you began to take this port seriously. We start to wear a lot of 81 00:05:11.959 --> 00:05:15.360 entrepreneur start whe you kind of just beg your friends to drink gross things and 82 00:05:15.360 --> 00:05:17.800 slowly they get better. So, if you're a friend of mine living in 83 00:05:17.800 --> 00:05:20.639 Denver, Colorado in two thousand and nineteen, thank you. To start, 84 00:05:20.680 --> 00:05:24.160 I think it was seventy eight. So with seventy eight, not friends, 85 00:05:24.160 --> 00:05:27.079 I don't have seventy eight friends, but seventy eight either friends or friends of 86 00:05:27.120 --> 00:05:30.920 friends or friends of Friends of friends living in Denver, and I kind of 87 00:05:30.920 --> 00:05:32.759 forced all of them to drink all of these concoctions. And we started with 88 00:05:32.839 --> 00:05:36.639 I think, seventeen flavors and will whittled it down to five that people felt 89 00:05:36.680 --> 00:05:40.959 really strongly about. That was the beginning and that was you know, we 90 00:05:41.160 --> 00:05:44.279 paid those people of very small stipe and gave them free pizza, invited them 91 00:05:44.279 --> 00:05:46.879 over and interviewed as many of them as possible. So that was the initial 92 00:05:47.000 --> 00:05:51.079 Rd. of course, we then had like more firm data. Of Okay, 93 00:05:51.160 --> 00:05:56.560 the category is really big. It's growing double digit numbers for sixteen straight 94 00:05:56.639 --> 00:06:00.319 years. There seems to be room at the premium end of the AI'LE. 95 00:06:00.600 --> 00:06:03.720 All of those things helped to but the initial research, in quotes, was 96 00:06:03.959 --> 00:06:08.680 let's make as many people as possible drink this stuff we made in our kitchen. 97 00:06:08.720 --> 00:06:12.040 How also, even before, when you're a guest, concocting all these 98 00:06:12.040 --> 00:06:15.399 new, different flavors, because you do combine flavors right, like a cactus 99 00:06:15.480 --> 00:06:18.959 rose, you like comy. You know, how did you think through different 100 00:06:19.000 --> 00:06:25.120 combinations even that would actually lead to that? You know, that's the flavor. 101 00:06:25.519 --> 00:06:29.519 Yeah, I would say forgive the baseball analogy, but this seems like 102 00:06:29.680 --> 00:06:34.079 maybe half of how I communicate. We didn't want any like fastballs down the 103 00:06:34.079 --> 00:06:38.240 middle, but there's only like so many curveballs you can have as well, 104 00:06:38.279 --> 00:06:43.079 so I'll say like peppermint watermelon. We knew. Okay, everyone is familiar 105 00:06:43.120 --> 00:06:46.120 with both of these ingredients. You may have even had kind of a mint 106 00:06:46.160 --> 00:06:49.160 melon salad before in your life. Basil Berry, you're probably familiar with both 107 00:06:49.160 --> 00:06:53.000 of those ingredients. LAVENDER, CCUMPRY, you're probably familiar with both of those 108 00:06:53.079 --> 00:06:57.720 ingredients and then on the far fringe was probably cactus rose and lemongrass coconut. 109 00:06:57.720 --> 00:07:00.160 If you live on the west coast or probably more familiar with lemon grass and 110 00:07:00.199 --> 00:07:03.399 prickly pair. Elsewhere in the country not so much. So when we launch 111 00:07:03.439 --> 00:07:05.120 we kind of felt like, okay, we have a mix of things that 112 00:07:05.120 --> 00:07:10.600 we think will immediately be popular and not to intimidating but not so normal as 113 00:07:10.600 --> 00:07:12.839 to kind of fit in with the rest of the crowd, which is, 114 00:07:12.879 --> 00:07:15.680 I'll say, constantly a struggle here. Can we be different without being intimidating, 115 00:07:15.720 --> 00:07:19.360 but not so normal that it doesn't feel like our Abora. One of 116 00:07:19.399 --> 00:07:24.000 the flavors were you most surprised by the may be people loved or people didn't 117 00:07:24.040 --> 00:07:27.720 love. So I just mentioned cactus rose. You're drinking CACTUS rose. I 118 00:07:27.720 --> 00:07:30.279 will say I was the biggest CACTUS for a was skeptic out there and I 119 00:07:30.279 --> 00:07:33.120 already mentioned to you it's our best seller. In some stories it's our best 120 00:07:33.120 --> 00:07:38.600 seller, not by a small margin. I assumed no one would like it, 121 00:07:38.639 --> 00:07:42.120 not because I didn't like it. I actually loved it mostly because, 122 00:07:42.160 --> 00:07:45.319 hey, how many people have actually had I had had a prickly pair Margharita, 123 00:07:45.399 --> 00:07:47.360 but it was like kind of reason how many people enjoy drinking rows? 124 00:07:47.480 --> 00:07:51.480 I know that rose can be a very polarizing ingredient, but I've been shocked. 125 00:07:51.519 --> 00:07:55.560 So I would say during the night with the seventy eight people, that 126 00:07:55.600 --> 00:07:59.959 was really shocking and every day since then, for the last nearly three years, 127 00:07:59.959 --> 00:08:03.120 it's surprised to me each and every morning. I'll say maybe my favorite 128 00:08:03.160 --> 00:08:07.199 flavor they got just totally destroyed in that R and D was it was a 129 00:08:07.240 --> 00:08:11.399 birch flavor. I love root beer. I grew up loving root beer. 130 00:08:11.480 --> 00:08:13.439 I mentioned I couldn't really have sodas, so you can imagine how hard I 131 00:08:13.439 --> 00:08:16.120 went at birthday parties when they had root beer present. I just think it 132 00:08:16.160 --> 00:08:18.639 a few root beers. Yeah, I had to sneak in a bars or 133 00:08:18.680 --> 00:08:22.319 anw here and there. Birch. The biggest negatives. People are like hey, 134 00:08:22.360 --> 00:08:26.720 this tastes like root beer when you're at the machine and it's almost that 135 00:08:26.839 --> 00:08:28.920 of Syrup, like it's just like a water down root beer. So which 136 00:08:28.959 --> 00:08:33.519 for me I'm like, Hey, I'll take root beer, water down distillated. 137 00:08:33.600 --> 00:08:35.000 You take it, I'll drink it. So anyway, that the Birch 138 00:08:35.039 --> 00:08:39.279 Flavor died, got left on the cutting room floor. That makes a lot 139 00:08:39.320 --> 00:08:41.039 of heads. How many flavors were thinking about producing? Yeah, we got 140 00:08:41.080 --> 00:08:45.200 advice to launch with somewhere between three to five, you know, to seem 141 00:08:45.279 --> 00:08:48.399 like you sixteen like too many. swent with five. We had those five 142 00:08:48.399 --> 00:08:50.559 flavors. I joke about this now, Mike. I live in San Francisco 143 00:08:50.639 --> 00:08:54.440 today. I moved here in two thousand and nineteen, kind of right as 144 00:08:54.440 --> 00:08:56.759 we launched. But for those initial months in the summer two thousand and nineteen 145 00:08:56.759 --> 00:09:00.399 when all this was getting developed, I'll say like the beginning of twenty nineteen, 146 00:09:00.480 --> 00:09:03.120 up till like August, before we had product in hand, I was 147 00:09:03.159 --> 00:09:05.399 living outside a boulder, Colorado, which I now know is like living in 148 00:09:05.399 --> 00:09:09.360 Hollywood and wanting to be a stunt double, like you're just in the perfect 149 00:09:09.360 --> 00:09:13.440 place. At the time I was just wandering around boulder so surprised that everyone 150 00:09:13.519 --> 00:09:15.879 was so helpful. I'd ask someone, Hey, I need someone to sell 151 00:09:15.879 --> 00:09:18.399 me cans, I need a copack or I need food scientist, I need 152 00:09:18.440 --> 00:09:22.200 someone to help me get lavender, and every time I was getting helpful of 153 00:09:22.240 --> 00:09:24.480 connections and I thought, man, this entrepreneurship thing is so easy, like 154 00:09:24.559 --> 00:09:28.720 you can just ask someone in there. I'll introducing someone now I realize, 155 00:09:28.720 --> 00:09:31.399 Oh, I was living outside a boulder, Colorado, of course. So 156 00:09:31.480 --> 00:09:33.600 the next step was, can we get a food scientist to make sure that 157 00:09:33.600 --> 00:09:37.879 our ingredients are safe and they'll be able to scale them up? Can we 158 00:09:37.080 --> 00:09:39.519 get someone to sell us can so we can know for as production run? 159 00:09:39.519 --> 00:09:41.480 And then, finally, can we find the right Co Packer? And just 160 00:09:41.519 --> 00:09:46.960 to give you a sense of how central boulder is in this ecosystem, once 161 00:09:46.000 --> 00:09:50.159 we had those three parts, food scientists, copacker, person to sell cans, 162 00:09:50.200 --> 00:09:54.360 they are all in the same zip code, six and a half minutes 163 00:09:54.399 --> 00:09:56.360 away from one another. So that's how we started this thing in the summer 164 00:09:56.360 --> 00:10:00.879 two thousand and nineteen. That's amazing. That's awesome. It was awesome. 165 00:10:01.200 --> 00:10:05.679 Yes after you had the feod scientists and you were starting to produce cans and 166 00:10:05.759 --> 00:10:09.519 it gets you cands in hand in August. How did you think about distribution 167 00:10:09.879 --> 00:10:15.039 and getting into stores? There's first cans in hand. I was actually only, 168 00:10:15.080 --> 00:10:18.879 almost exclusively just giving to one particular store. was actually a grocery store 169 00:10:18.879 --> 00:10:22.399 called leavers locavore. It was at the corner of my block in Denver and 170 00:10:22.440 --> 00:10:24.639 we had it yet moved to California. I gave every can. We kind 171 00:10:24.639 --> 00:10:28.879 of made ourselves to them. In October of that year there was a big 172 00:10:28.919 --> 00:10:31.639 trade show in boulder called the Boulder Pitch Slam and there was an innovation showcase 173 00:10:33.120 --> 00:10:35.279 and I had read two books that really helpful, Mark Ranpola, the founder 174 00:10:35.279 --> 00:10:37.840 of Z ECO coconut waters, book, and Seth Goldman, the founder of 175 00:10:37.879 --> 00:10:41.159 Honesti's book, and both kind of suggested hey, trade shows are a great 176 00:10:41.159 --> 00:10:43.200 way to kind of prove the concept. You know, you don't just get 177 00:10:43.240 --> 00:10:46.879 consumers, you get like trade people, retailers, distributors, etc. If 178 00:10:46.919 --> 00:10:52.320 they're interested than it pretty good likelihood that consumers will be as well. And 179 00:10:52.360 --> 00:10:54.600 I went to that trade show. We did our first kind of mini production 180 00:10:54.679 --> 00:10:58.559 run that morning, which was myself in a sixteen year old named Colin. 181 00:10:58.759 --> 00:11:01.840 Thank you, Colin, if you're listening to this. We use this small 182 00:11:01.919 --> 00:11:05.159 little machine at a copacking facility, which I had the gall to ask the 183 00:11:05.159 --> 00:11:09.039 copacker if he would do a run of a thousand cans for me and the 184 00:11:09.080 --> 00:11:11.399 guy was polite enough to say, like, absolutely not, but you can 185 00:11:11.480 --> 00:11:15.519 use my machine if you'd like. So we use this machine. Should have 186 00:11:15.600 --> 00:11:18.879 to the trade show of the thousand cans, and luckily we got some good 187 00:11:18.919 --> 00:11:22.679 traction that evening. But maddie and I, Maddie was in California at the 188 00:11:22.759 --> 00:11:24.039 job that she had just been recruited to go do, which is why we 189 00:11:24.080 --> 00:11:28.679 moved, and we had kind of thought, okay, if this works, 190 00:11:28.799 --> 00:11:31.200 or off to the races and we'll swipe our credit card and do this first 191 00:11:31.240 --> 00:11:33.200 copacking run and if at the trade show everyone's like hey, man, this 192 00:11:33.320 --> 00:11:37.000 lemongrass coconut is way too out there, I'll wash my hands of this and 193 00:11:37.039 --> 00:11:41.000 move on with my life and see what happens at the trade show. There 194 00:11:41.000 --> 00:11:41.840 are a lot of great buyers and a lot of good trade people, and 195 00:11:41.879 --> 00:11:45.679 I mentioned it in bolder. So these are like people that I at that 196 00:11:45.720 --> 00:11:48.559 point now new to trust. The best was a whole foods buyer that was 197 00:11:48.639 --> 00:11:52.919 at the show by then. Followed up with samples the next day by kind 198 00:11:52.919 --> 00:11:54.960 of white lying my way into her office, dropping out samples, and then 199 00:11:56.000 --> 00:11:58.519 we got our first authorization from whole foods and that was like, you know, 200 00:12:00.000 --> 00:12:01.919 maybe the maybe one of the best days still so far doing this is 201 00:12:03.159 --> 00:12:05.879 whole foods is interested. Then whole food said yes. Then whole food set 202 00:12:05.919 --> 00:12:09.000 an authorization and yeah, at that point I'd already quit my job. We 203 00:12:09.000 --> 00:12:13.159 swiped our credit card in the first real production run. So to that first 204 00:12:13.200 --> 00:12:15.440 copacker. He ended up, you know, may making it worth it for 205 00:12:15.480 --> 00:12:16.960 me to use his machine with Colin, and that was kind of the beginning. 206 00:12:18.000 --> 00:12:18.639 That was the end of two thousand and nineteen and were off to the 207 00:12:18.720 --> 00:12:22.320 races. So when did you when did you get into whole foods? We 208 00:12:22.360 --> 00:12:26.200 got authorized at whole foods right at the end of two thousand and nineteen for 209 00:12:26.320 --> 00:12:28.120 a March of two thousand and twenty reset. As you can imagine, that 210 00:12:28.159 --> 00:12:31.480 March of two thousand and twenty re set was pushed back a few times due 211 00:12:31.519 --> 00:12:35.480 to covid but luckily I have the email that I like printed out and kept 212 00:12:35.519 --> 00:12:37.960 in my subarus. When I was driving around the bay area dropping off samples 213 00:12:39.000 --> 00:12:41.759 at all of the natural food stores up here. They say hey, what 214 00:12:41.840 --> 00:12:43.759 stores are you in? I'd say, well, maybe you'd like to see 215 00:12:43.759 --> 00:12:46.960 this authorization letter from whole foods. And I got to tell you, if 216 00:12:46.000 --> 00:12:48.399 you are right now listening to this and you walk into stores with samples. 217 00:12:48.720 --> 00:12:52.320 If you have an authorization from whole foods, I think you'll find your batting 218 00:12:52.360 --> 00:12:54.799 average goes from like one hundred and fifty to four hundred immediately. People are 219 00:12:54.840 --> 00:12:58.600 way more interested. So I used that whole foods authorization until it was like 220 00:12:58.879 --> 00:13:03.320 frayed and Brittle on the sides, and that probably got us into I don't 221 00:13:03.320 --> 00:13:07.000 know, two hundred stores from January of two thousand and twenty until like July 222 00:13:07.120 --> 00:13:09.919 of two thousand and twenty, and in July we finally hit the shelves of 223 00:13:09.960 --> 00:13:13.120 that First Whole Foods region. Got It, and so, as o January, 224 00:13:13.200 --> 00:13:16.200 that's when you started, when you were when you moved to Zeffordsco, 225 00:13:16.279 --> 00:13:20.559 that's when you started just kind of going doortdoor it just selling and try to 226 00:13:20.639 --> 00:13:24.600 getting product and stories exactly selling, getting to know managers, store employees, 227 00:13:24.600 --> 00:13:26.440 etc. and kind of just being a pest, to be frank, until 228 00:13:26.440 --> 00:13:31.080 they'd finally say yes. So that's certainly how we got the first few stores. 229 00:13:31.120 --> 00:13:33.960 It was not because they liked our data or our product or anything. 230 00:13:33.039 --> 00:13:35.159 It was just hey, this guy's annoying us, so let's just like put 231 00:13:35.200 --> 00:13:37.600 his stuff on the shelf so he goes away. Do you have any advice 232 00:13:37.799 --> 00:13:41.639 for brands where it's just, you know, that hustle to get into retailers 233 00:13:41.679 --> 00:13:45.840 and into stores in terms of maybe little things you might have like picked up 234 00:13:45.840 --> 00:13:48.240 along the way? Certainly you can start with a local distributor, but often 235 00:13:48.240 --> 00:13:52.399 local distributor and a distributors want the lowest risk possible because they're going to put 236 00:13:52.399 --> 00:13:54.720 an appeal or all they know, you're going to disappear and move to Costa 237 00:13:54.799 --> 00:13:56.759 Rica and they're never going to hear from you again. So, as a 238 00:13:56.799 --> 00:14:00.000 result, anything to lower their risk is best. So for us we had 239 00:14:00.039 --> 00:14:01.759 a distributor say, Hey, if you show up with fifty stores that are 240 00:14:01.799 --> 00:14:05.240 all on our list of stores like we're going to say yes and take your 241 00:14:05.279 --> 00:14:09.000 product. So I took their list and once I had fifty stores, went 242 00:14:09.039 --> 00:14:11.879 back to the distributor and said, Hey, I'm delivering this amount of product 243 00:14:11.879 --> 00:14:13.360 of these fifty stores every week for the last six weeks. Will you say 244 00:14:13.480 --> 00:14:16.759 yes? And that got us the Yes. My biggest piece of advice is, 245 00:14:16.279 --> 00:14:18.879 Hey, distributors are not going to do you any favors. You need 246 00:14:18.960 --> 00:14:22.600 to lower the risk such that they'll take the plunge and give you the first 247 00:14:22.639 --> 00:14:24.679 po so for us that was a small distributor here in the Bay area called 248 00:14:24.759 --> 00:14:28.039 Rock Island. They distribute a lot of things, mostly eggs, but a 249 00:14:28.120 --> 00:14:31.759 few beverages. They they gave me their list. We might out and got 250 00:14:31.799 --> 00:14:35.159 the fifty stores. In terms of advice for dealing with like managers or store 251 00:14:35.200 --> 00:14:39.039 employs. They are getting bombarded by people like us, but like entrepreneurs, 252 00:14:39.080 --> 00:14:43.080 to show up with little bags of Granola, our muffins or cookies or sparkling 253 00:14:43.159 --> 00:14:46.360 water, whatever it is, and it felt like what was the best thing 254 00:14:46.039 --> 00:14:50.159 was just making a relationship. Don't be discouraged by the nose. That's just 255 00:14:50.320 --> 00:14:52.159 like the whole that's with all of this is it's a whole lot of nose 256 00:14:52.240 --> 00:14:56.360 and a couple of yesses or a Bora. Where does the name come from? 257 00:14:56.639 --> 00:15:01.679 We knew we're using these hippieish ingredients between lavender and LEMONGRASS and basil, 258 00:15:01.120 --> 00:15:05.480 a lot of herbal ingredients, so we love the word Aura. As a 259 00:15:05.519 --> 00:15:09.039 result, we felt like it had a connotation of kind of Hippie, Earth 260 00:15:09.399 --> 00:15:13.600 centric, you know, laid back feelings, and unfortunately we couldn't trademark the 261 00:15:13.679 --> 00:15:16.279 word Aura. I was reading a book on marketing at the time. They 262 00:15:16.279 --> 00:15:20.279 talked a lot about the power of rhyming and we kind of knew. Hey, 263 00:15:20.519 --> 00:15:22.519 to start, you know, you're not that many stores, so people 264 00:15:22.519 --> 00:15:24.840 are going to see your product maybe a couple times a year. The least 265 00:15:24.879 --> 00:15:26.919 you can do is be memorable, both with packaging and with the name. 266 00:15:28.320 --> 00:15:31.879 And there were a lot of rhymes that we loved, like that rhymed with 267 00:15:31.000 --> 00:15:35.399 aura and or a bora fit the bill for a few reasons. One we 268 00:15:35.679 --> 00:15:39.240 love just the way it sounds right off the tongue to we loved that Aurora 269 00:15:39.320 --> 00:15:43.639 Borealis is in your mind as an earth centric term for the northern lights. 270 00:15:45.080 --> 00:15:46.639 And then finally, there was a tongue in cheek aspect of it. Of 271 00:15:48.159 --> 00:15:52.320 Hey, water companies like naming themselves after rivers and valleys and mountains and islands, 272 00:15:52.759 --> 00:15:54.840 and we liked that. Okay, it almost sounds like Bora Bora as 273 00:15:54.879 --> 00:15:58.159 well. So all those things combined made it for a name we were really 274 00:15:58.200 --> 00:16:03.399 exciting about. That's cool. Edit hurts of your packaging. Did you did 275 00:16:03.440 --> 00:16:07.000 your package yourself or like, or did you consult with like a professional? 276 00:16:07.600 --> 00:16:11.240 Yeah, so, first all, I married, well, my wife, 277 00:16:11.320 --> 00:16:14.720 Maddie is is an extreme created. You know, that would be clear to 278 00:16:14.759 --> 00:16:18.360 you the moment you met her. She had like a very strong vision of 279 00:16:18.639 --> 00:16:22.720 okay, I mentioned earlier about the flavors. We wanted them to be like 280 00:16:22.879 --> 00:16:26.360 peculiar, interesting and, you know, delightful. Could we have the can 281 00:16:26.519 --> 00:16:30.720 be as peculiar but delightful as the flavors and them? And this isn't, 282 00:16:30.840 --> 00:16:33.240 this isn't a new thing. You know, craft beer probably did this fifteen 283 00:16:33.320 --> 00:16:37.279 years ago. We feel like something similar is happening and ready to drink right 284 00:16:37.360 --> 00:16:45.000 now. So maddie had this idea for a big kind of surreal experience of, 285 00:16:45.200 --> 00:16:47.960 you know, we're strawberries of the size of escalades and we have these 286 00:16:48.440 --> 00:16:52.480 creatures running around in this kind of fake version of earth. She and I 287 00:16:52.759 --> 00:16:56.000 worked at a company called MOXI Sooso, there an agency and Boulder Colorado. 288 00:16:56.120 --> 00:17:00.080 Highly recommend them. Is An awesome experience. I don't know, at one 289 00:17:00.120 --> 00:17:02.799 point we were probably their least favorite client because it was a lot of a 290 00:17:02.919 --> 00:17:06.440 lot of back and forth between Maddie and myself and them, of revisions on 291 00:17:06.519 --> 00:17:10.240 revisions, on revisions to make something that we think is like truly different and 292 00:17:10.359 --> 00:17:12.720 hopefully at ten feet from the shelf, you think, what is that can 293 00:17:12.880 --> 00:17:15.240 forth from the left, I need to go grab it. Well, were 294 00:17:15.279 --> 00:17:19.119 some of the elements that you think in your can that really makes it pop? 295 00:17:19.599 --> 00:17:22.519 Hmm, I would say when is the can shape itself. So we're 296 00:17:22.599 --> 00:17:26.079 using a twelve ounce sleek can. If you're listening to this, red bulls 297 00:17:26.119 --> 00:17:30.640 probably the most popular version of this can, which is a little unusual, 298 00:17:30.680 --> 00:17:33.039 and sparkling water, both Lacroix, Polar Waterloo, you name the competitor. 299 00:17:33.079 --> 00:17:37.440 They're either in a plastic bottle like perier, Saint Pellagrenow, or they're in 300 00:17:37.480 --> 00:17:41.119 a twelve ounce squat can. Ie what you what you buy traditional Cocacola and 301 00:17:41.720 --> 00:17:45.880 holding a sleek can right now. The second was, I would say, 302 00:17:45.079 --> 00:17:49.079 the intricacy of the design. In fact, Andrea from snack shot talks about 303 00:17:49.119 --> 00:17:53.039 this a lot. There's like a pendulum in brands where we go to simplistic 304 00:17:53.200 --> 00:17:56.440 and you could even call it blanding. Bloombird did an amazing article on blending 305 00:17:56.480 --> 00:18:02.839 where so many direct consumer or consumer products went to simple sense. Sarah funse 306 00:18:03.119 --> 00:18:06.759 simple, as few colors as possible, it's few shapes as possible. Let's 307 00:18:06.799 --> 00:18:10.599 make it look like Casper or Warby Parker or, you know, you named 308 00:18:10.680 --> 00:18:14.960 the Buzzy DDC brand of yesteryear. We wanted to go the opposite way of 309 00:18:15.039 --> 00:18:18.640 okay, if most sparkling waters being branded as a commodity and most new consumer 310 00:18:18.720 --> 00:18:22.599 products are being Bri blanded as a commodity, let's go the opposite way and 311 00:18:22.680 --> 00:18:26.640 just make this so intricate that hopefully consumers think, Whoa, that is so 312 00:18:26.839 --> 00:18:30.240 eye grabbing. What is happening on this can and honestly, our hope was 313 00:18:30.279 --> 00:18:33.119 before you even read that it's a sparkling water, I would love for you 314 00:18:33.200 --> 00:18:37.720 to be endeared by the sloth, you know, swinging a vine into the 315 00:18:37.920 --> 00:18:41.480 cucumber canoe and then realize, okay, I'm holding a herbal sparkling water. 316 00:18:41.559 --> 00:18:45.799 Let me give it a try. How did you get creative during covid in 317 00:18:45.039 --> 00:18:49.039 terms of since you obviously couldn't sample in source? Gosh, you know, 318 00:18:49.200 --> 00:18:52.480 I would say this is no longer true, but there was a time where 319 00:18:52.519 --> 00:18:56.359 we were two years in and I had done fewer than seven sampling events, 320 00:18:56.440 --> 00:18:59.960 which, like most entrepreneurs in this business, you know that number is a 321 00:19:00.079 --> 00:19:03.240 hundred. Two Hundred Times. At that point so yet we could not sample 322 00:19:03.319 --> 00:19:07.559 in the stores. Fortunately we have a cheaper product where in some instances we 323 00:19:07.640 --> 00:19:10.599 were allowed to give full can samples of hey, take this entire can and 324 00:19:10.680 --> 00:19:11.759 let me know what you think. But we got creative. If some of 325 00:19:11.839 --> 00:19:15.440 it was social ads for people going to our website, for people going to 326 00:19:15.480 --> 00:19:18.799 specific stores, we did social ads. Some of it was working with the 327 00:19:18.880 --> 00:19:22.079 actual grocery managers to say, Hey, if we do a two or three 328 00:19:22.079 --> 00:19:26.480 dollar promotion, can we get an endcap by the counter? And then some 329 00:19:26.559 --> 00:19:29.039 of it was good old couponing of hey, we can't do free samples, 330 00:19:29.279 --> 00:19:32.240 but we can lap a dollar off coupon on the can and see what people 331 00:19:32.279 --> 00:19:36.480 think. So we got as creative as possible. In some instances it was 332 00:19:36.559 --> 00:19:38.759 me standing in the parking lot, even with a sign and saying hey, 333 00:19:38.880 --> 00:19:41.839 try this product, let me know what you think. I'll hand you a 334 00:19:41.920 --> 00:19:45.400 dollar bill to get your feedback. So long way of saying, short of 335 00:19:45.440 --> 00:19:48.920 sampling, we did anything and everything to get people to you know people who 336 00:19:48.000 --> 00:19:51.920 say liquid to lips to get to drive trial. And we've talked a bit 337 00:19:51.960 --> 00:19:56.000 about how your approach for brand in the physical world, with your label, 338 00:19:56.039 --> 00:19:59.640 which I love, and your cans just looking very unique and different. For 339 00:19:59.839 --> 00:20:03.839 online I'd imagine it can be maybe tough to be be captured that or you 340 00:20:03.960 --> 00:20:08.079 have to obviously think differently. How did you approach your marketing and branding from 341 00:20:08.200 --> 00:20:11.279 online perspective? Yeah, Maddie always said, how do we get people to 342 00:20:11.319 --> 00:20:15.559 taste with their eyes when it's just water? You know, it's one thing 343 00:20:15.599 --> 00:20:18.039 if you're if you're selling a chocolate chip cookie, like I can film slowmo 344 00:20:18.160 --> 00:20:22.400 shots at me breaking up warm chocolate chip cookie all day and like you and 345 00:20:22.440 --> 00:20:26.839 I would probably click and order. There's only so much you can communicate in 346 00:20:26.920 --> 00:20:30.839 pouring what looks to be just a standard glass of sparkling water. So we 347 00:20:30.920 --> 00:20:33.480 had to get out there for sure, and do a variety of things. 348 00:20:33.599 --> 00:20:37.200 Some of it was leaning into our ingredients, some of it was leaning into 349 00:20:37.319 --> 00:20:40.359 a lot of influencer content of people who had tried the product, you know, 350 00:20:40.640 --> 00:20:42.720 filming reviews and sending them in. But all that to say, we 351 00:20:42.799 --> 00:20:47.079 threw everything at the wall to see what would stick and we got a huge 352 00:20:47.160 --> 00:20:49.720 bonus. Worth noting that we were we aired on Shark tank in January of 353 00:20:49.759 --> 00:20:52.480 two thousand and twenty one, which I said that point. That was nine 354 00:20:52.519 --> 00:20:56.440 months into the pandemic and that was a huge boost and online sales and email 355 00:20:56.480 --> 00:21:02.279 addresses and kind of bottom of funnel mark getting shortly thereafter. So all that 356 00:21:02.359 --> 00:21:03.799 to say at the beginning, you know, we didn't do our first online 357 00:21:03.839 --> 00:21:07.319 advertisement until right at the end of two thousand and twenty, right before we 358 00:21:07.400 --> 00:21:10.079 knew we were airing on chark tank and that was sort of the beginning of 359 00:21:10.200 --> 00:21:15.880 this big push for ECOMM for online adds to specific stores, for retail. 360 00:21:15.440 --> 00:21:18.119 You know, I still don't feel like we have that totally figured out. 361 00:21:18.160 --> 00:21:22.200 To be transparent, I'll stay with some retailers. Yeah, we filmed videos 362 00:21:22.240 --> 00:21:26.839 of like human beings walking into aisle three and grabbing the product. Whether that 363 00:21:26.920 --> 00:21:30.480 works or doesn't work, you know, we can debate on a later day. 364 00:21:30.160 --> 00:21:33.400 What were your biggest learnings in two thousand and twenty and are you mentioned 365 00:21:33.440 --> 00:21:37.839 when you were kind of traveling back and forth between Austin and hy Francisco? 366 00:21:37.960 --> 00:21:44.039 What we're your biggest learnings through the the skew accelerator? Yeah, skews awesome. 367 00:21:44.160 --> 00:21:47.960 I learned about skew actually before even leaving my prior job, from my 368 00:21:48.039 --> 00:21:51.319 old boss. He had some connection where he'd said, Hey, I had 369 00:21:51.319 --> 00:21:52.799 a friend recently do this program maybe you should check it out. So for 370 00:21:53.000 --> 00:21:57.599 us, I would say I was just a total idiot in some ways of 371 00:21:57.599 --> 00:22:00.680 stealing, but I was. I was just so naive to the industry. 372 00:22:00.839 --> 00:22:03.559 I mean already told you the anecdote about not knowing that boulder is like a 373 00:22:03.640 --> 00:22:07.720 hub of natural products. So that that alone shows my not even tay, 374 00:22:07.920 --> 00:22:11.079 I would say, skews most helphone three ways. One kind of the textbook 375 00:22:11.119 --> 00:22:15.400 knowledge of what is a charge back? What's an offin voice period? How 376 00:22:15.440 --> 00:22:18.160 do you manage trade span? What should net percentage of, you know, 377 00:22:18.640 --> 00:22:22.920 freight be as a percentage net revenue, like all of these terms and nomenclature 378 00:22:22.960 --> 00:22:26.640 and knowledge that you would have if you worked at proctor and Gambler General Mills 379 00:22:26.759 --> 00:22:29.359 right after college, as so many people do. But I just didn't do 380 00:22:29.480 --> 00:22:33.319 that. The second was operational know how, I'll say, like more tactically, 381 00:22:33.680 --> 00:22:34.839 how to do this. So which distributor to you work with? How 382 00:22:34.839 --> 00:22:38.279 should you price these specific products? Fob or delivered, for all sorts of 383 00:22:38.319 --> 00:22:42.279 things? And then probably the final and third piece was just introducing me to 384 00:22:42.400 --> 00:22:47.559 so many people in the industry like. I'll say Christine May and Pat Muldoon 385 00:22:47.960 --> 00:22:52.920 and Clayton Christopher are three folks that I met during skew and I've I've spoken 386 00:22:52.920 --> 00:22:55.519 to all three of those individuals in the last seventy two hours. So it 387 00:22:55.640 --> 00:22:59.640 has been a huge help to getting to know the industry. And of course 388 00:22:59.680 --> 00:23:02.440 it's pretty small, so all of them know a ton of other people to 389 00:23:02.519 --> 00:23:04.400 introduce me to. So those were the three big learnings. I would highly 390 00:23:04.440 --> 00:23:10.119 recommend it, particularly for entrepreneurs that just feel like they don't know enough about 391 00:23:10.160 --> 00:23:12.079 this industry to know where to start. That's incredible. I mean Clayton, 392 00:23:12.079 --> 00:23:15.920 I'm sure also provide so much value with obviously he builds a waterloo. It's 393 00:23:17.039 --> 00:23:22.359 rosy water, so that speeches incredible to so obviously have him as a mentor 394 00:23:22.559 --> 00:23:25.759 or just someone that they can kind of just ask his advice for. Oh, 395 00:23:25.839 --> 00:23:29.559 the three people I've just named have probably cumulatively sold, I don't know, 396 00:23:30.440 --> 00:23:33.400 a billion dollars worth of beverages, so that certainly helps. It doesn't 397 00:23:33.480 --> 00:23:37.279 hurt our odds. Yeah, definitely, definitely. What has been the hardest 398 00:23:37.400 --> 00:23:41.319 part? You know, fund raising as a beverage brand. Gosh, I'll 399 00:23:41.480 --> 00:23:47.960 say in each fund raise. Some, some high percentage of investors are just 400 00:23:48.240 --> 00:23:52.880 category anti beverage, like there's nothing you can do or against this category. 401 00:23:52.359 --> 00:23:56.880 Doesn't matter if you're a cocacola or Pepsi, we're not interested. So for 402 00:23:56.079 --> 00:24:00.119 us at the beginning, you know, those comments would come in the act 403 00:24:00.160 --> 00:24:03.880 of like hey, you know you're differentiated, but not that differentiated, or 404 00:24:03.400 --> 00:24:06.960 Hey, your gross margin is okay, but it needs to be great. 405 00:24:07.039 --> 00:24:10.640 And obviously over the course of the last two years, since that first seed 406 00:24:10.759 --> 00:24:14.319 fund raise, we've made made huge strides. You know, I'm happy to 407 00:24:14.359 --> 00:24:17.160 say now we have a gross margin that is right up there with some of 408 00:24:17.160 --> 00:24:19.880 the biggest beverage companies in the world. We have a velocity that is right 409 00:24:19.960 --> 00:24:22.640 up there with some of the fastest moving sparkling waters in the country. We 410 00:24:22.720 --> 00:24:29.799 have a product who's, you know, gross margin profile and contribution margin profile 411 00:24:30.240 --> 00:24:34.720 is leagues ahead a lot of much larger beverage companies. And I'll say some 412 00:24:34.920 --> 00:24:40.000 of that comes down to investors are interested in beverage either because they've already invested 413 00:24:40.039 --> 00:24:41.519 in a beverage or they haven't, and they love that there are these big 414 00:24:41.599 --> 00:24:47.519 returns. Ie Beverages get bought for a higher multiple unrevenue by Nestlee Pepsi Cope 415 00:24:47.599 --> 00:24:52.240 Dr Pepper Cuig at the end of this growth curve. So for us, 416 00:24:52.640 --> 00:24:55.319 I think we've had a couple of things working for us and that, yes, 417 00:24:55.400 --> 00:24:57.319 we're able to have a better gross margin because we're not we're not using 418 00:24:57.440 --> 00:25:02.960 like protein based ingredients that are more expensive. It's mostly water. For Velocity. 419 00:25:03.079 --> 00:25:04.559 Luckily, people like our product and seem to be telling their friends. 420 00:25:04.799 --> 00:25:10.000 And for just capital intensity, like we've been as capital intensive as possible in 421 00:25:10.079 --> 00:25:14.480 beverage. I think in particular, investors probably lately have seen yeah, like 422 00:25:14.559 --> 00:25:17.759 liquid death just raised, I don't know, a hundred million dollars or something, 423 00:25:18.160 --> 00:25:21.279 something in that Ballpark, and there's a lot of other big beverage companies 424 00:25:21.279 --> 00:25:23.880 I could name that raised just huge, huge rounds of funding. I mean 425 00:25:25.240 --> 00:25:27.440 rounds of funding that are probably an order of magnitude higher than I could even 426 00:25:27.440 --> 00:25:30.480 imagine having. Like don't even know what I would do with the money if 427 00:25:30.559 --> 00:25:33.799 given to us. So I think there's a lot of reasons investors don't like 428 00:25:33.960 --> 00:25:40.039 beverage. Capital intensity is definitely the number one reason. I think our claim 429 00:25:40.160 --> 00:25:41.640 in a lot of these fund raising rounds has been. Hey, we're not 430 00:25:41.759 --> 00:25:45.160 as capital intensive as a lot of these other beverages and our velocity is better 431 00:25:45.200 --> 00:25:48.680 than a lot of these other beverages and our gross margins a lot better. 432 00:25:48.799 --> 00:25:51.599 But for some investors that there's a line in the sand and it doesn't matter 433 00:25:51.640 --> 00:25:53.319 if it's a liquid that you consume as a beverage, like it's not a 434 00:25:53.400 --> 00:25:56.079 sauce. They're not interested. Doesn't matter how good you are in those three 435 00:25:56.119 --> 00:26:00.599 camps. But we've certainly tried our darnist to to make people look past the 436 00:26:00.680 --> 00:26:04.000 category. Yeah, that basically sent. Maybe it's a tough question to answer 437 00:26:04.200 --> 00:26:08.519 because I guess you never quite know if and when you would exit. But 438 00:26:08.680 --> 00:26:12.359 I've had on the show entrepreneurs that you know don't want to raise, for 439 00:26:12.440 --> 00:26:17.240 example, a ton of money and some that you know end up do raising 440 00:26:17.400 --> 00:26:19.559 a ton of money. How do you think when it comes like you're like 441 00:26:19.640 --> 00:26:23.119 true jectory per se on the fundraising side. How do you think about this 442 00:26:23.240 --> 00:26:26.680 in terms of how much you want to raise from, like outside capital? 443 00:26:26.119 --> 00:26:29.759 Some of it's a necessity, right, like we we are not a profitable 444 00:26:29.759 --> 00:26:32.960 business today. We weren't a profitable business last year. Could we be a 445 00:26:33.000 --> 00:26:36.079 profitable visit next year? Maybe. So some of that is just a necessity 446 00:26:36.240 --> 00:26:38.440 of okay, there's only so much debt you can get ahold of as a 447 00:26:40.200 --> 00:26:42.440 beverage business. So what's left is raising equity. I will say for me, 448 00:26:44.160 --> 00:26:47.240 that question depends on kind of what what an entrepreneurs priorities are. So 449 00:26:47.440 --> 00:26:51.599 I'll say this one. I think we have proven this that kind of Arabora 450 00:26:51.720 --> 00:26:55.000 exists to be in the world. Like we've seen the feedback from consumers, 451 00:26:55.039 --> 00:26:59.000 we've seen how we play into their everyday lives and as a result, it 452 00:26:59.039 --> 00:27:02.480 feels like okay, first and foremost, we would like to build this brand 453 00:27:02.599 --> 00:27:07.039 such that it exists in fifty plus years, which there are plenty of beverages 454 00:27:07.119 --> 00:27:10.279 that have exited and then don't exist a few years thereafter. You just saw 455 00:27:10.319 --> 00:27:11.400 actually mark her and Pole, I just mentioned his name. He just bought 456 00:27:11.440 --> 00:27:15.920 back zeco coconut water is getting continue my coke. So there's plenty of outrageously 457 00:27:15.960 --> 00:27:21.599 successful beverage companies were investors all make a lot of money and consumers like the 458 00:27:21.640 --> 00:27:23.759 product and then it still gets discontinued by one of the world's largest companies. 459 00:27:25.079 --> 00:27:26.960 So for us, I would say uniquely. Yes, I want this product 460 00:27:26.960 --> 00:27:30.839 to be here in fifty plus years. Second most, that first fundraise every 461 00:27:30.880 --> 00:27:34.319 two hundred thousand dollars from a number of blood relatives. If you've seen my 462 00:27:34.359 --> 00:27:37.279 big fat Greek wedding, and that's not far off from my family, I'm 463 00:27:37.319 --> 00:27:41.319 from a very large Greek family. I had six different cousins invest in, 464 00:27:41.440 --> 00:27:45.400 laws, parents, all four of my siblings, aunt's, uncles, you 465 00:27:45.519 --> 00:27:48.200 name it, they're on our cap table. And Yeah, I have like 466 00:27:48.400 --> 00:27:49.759 a duty to make sure they get their money back because, frankly, I 467 00:27:49.799 --> 00:27:53.319 don't want a bunch of awkward thanksgivings. So I would say those are probably 468 00:27:53.359 --> 00:27:56.480 the two biggest guide posts for me. Is One, how to build a 469 00:27:56.519 --> 00:27:59.720 product that's going to be here in fifty years, and to how do I 470 00:27:59.839 --> 00:28:03.480 make sure my cousins and brothers and sisters get their cash back in their pocket. 471 00:28:03.839 --> 00:28:06.920 That makes flood of sense. I mean how do you also totally understand 472 00:28:07.039 --> 00:28:10.200 in terms of obviously, when family's involved, you know, you obviously want 473 00:28:10.279 --> 00:28:12.920 to return their investment. They were obviously, you know, the very, 474 00:28:14.000 --> 00:28:17.319 very early believers in new and I'll see, not that I'm not as worried 475 00:28:17.319 --> 00:28:19.200 about I would like to return all of our investors money. I'll just say 476 00:28:19.359 --> 00:28:22.880 uniquely, if their blood related to you, they have a little special hold 477 00:28:23.039 --> 00:28:26.039 over you, where even more so, you probably won't hold into them. 478 00:28:26.160 --> 00:28:30.240 So not not that. If any of our other investors listen to this, 479 00:28:30.319 --> 00:28:33.200 it's not like I'm not working for you to get a return to just my 480 00:28:33.480 --> 00:28:34.519 my brother. Can you know, beat me up and I won't call the 481 00:28:34.559 --> 00:28:37.720 COPS. Yeah, how do you think about yourselves in sorts of like a 482 00:28:38.160 --> 00:28:42.359 inlagie, actually competitive set when you think about your space? I mentioned this 483 00:28:42.440 --> 00:28:45.640 earlier myself. Am I with Maddie were, you know, sparkling water addicts. 484 00:28:47.119 --> 00:28:49.480 We came into this product of the very clear idea what we wanted. 485 00:28:49.519 --> 00:28:53.279 We want an alternative to Lacroix, waterloo polar that we think is more interesting, 486 00:28:53.400 --> 00:28:56.519 taste better, as better ingredients, as a packaging and a brand that 487 00:28:56.640 --> 00:29:00.960 we really care about. What I've been so shocked by is, one the 488 00:29:00.000 --> 00:29:03.440 number of consumers drinking our products as an alternative to soda, to the number 489 00:29:03.440 --> 00:29:07.079 of consumers drinking our products as an alternative to alcohol, as a mocktail and 490 00:29:07.160 --> 00:29:11.000 free the number of consumers on the obstinate of the spectrum that are drinking our 491 00:29:11.039 --> 00:29:15.640 product as a tonic to mix with alcohol. So that seems to be where 492 00:29:15.759 --> 00:29:18.559 consumers are coming from and it's great because it feels like we can play on 493 00:29:18.559 --> 00:29:19.839 a lot of trends. Hey, we're sparkling water to some people, were 494 00:29:19.880 --> 00:29:22.960 so to others, were a mocktail to others, etc. That is a 495 00:29:23.039 --> 00:29:27.000 huge positive and negative being. Okay, how do you heady make your marketing 496 00:29:27.160 --> 00:29:30.079 fit all these different things to all these different people? And that's been a 497 00:29:30.119 --> 00:29:33.559 bit of a struggle, but we're trying our best. So all that you 498 00:29:33.599 --> 00:29:36.680 say, no, I you know, we're certainly not a competitor of poppy 499 00:29:36.839 --> 00:29:40.680 or Ali pop or Vina or any of the prebiotic probiotic sodas, because we're 500 00:29:40.680 --> 00:29:44.279 not a functional product. But we find yes, our product can play in 501 00:29:44.319 --> 00:29:48.160 a lot of spaces. That's really cool. That's really cool. What's one 502 00:29:48.359 --> 00:29:53.759 book that's has inspired you personally, one book that's inspired you professionally? Okay, 503 00:29:56.000 --> 00:29:59.319 I will do two. For professionally, I reference them earlier. The 504 00:30:00.000 --> 00:30:03.440 F Goldman Book. It's called mission in a bottle. It's actually a actually 505 00:30:03.440 --> 00:30:07.000 a comic book. My Mom would laugh at that answer. You asked me 506 00:30:07.039 --> 00:30:08.160 for a book and I give you a comic book, but it's an amazing 507 00:30:08.240 --> 00:30:14.799 comic book about how Seth Goldman started honesty with his old business school professor and 508 00:30:15.039 --> 00:30:17.240 kind of all of the things they had to do to get it started. 509 00:30:17.799 --> 00:30:19.359 And if you're a bever John Spinnard, you should, you know, be 510 00:30:19.480 --> 00:30:22.599 worshiping it as some sort of Bible. The second one I references marker and 511 00:30:22.640 --> 00:30:27.119 Polo's book. His is called high hanging fruit. Build something great by going 512 00:30:27.200 --> 00:30:30.400 where no one else will. Both of those books, I mean, I 513 00:30:30.480 --> 00:30:34.240 don't know what they cost, maybe nine ten dollars. They've been worth thousands 514 00:30:34.240 --> 00:30:37.440 and thousands of dollars to me so far. So those are the professional books. 515 00:30:37.759 --> 00:30:41.079 On a personal note, I would say this is a book that really 516 00:30:41.119 --> 00:30:45.720 affected me as a kind of middle school high school kid. I've read it 517 00:30:45.839 --> 00:30:51.200 maybe five or six times since then. It's again a beetreat of sorts. 518 00:30:51.240 --> 00:30:52.799 So you can read this book in two or three hours. It's called the 519 00:30:52.920 --> 00:31:00.440 last lectures by a Carnegie Mellon professor named Randy Pouch. He was retiring from 520 00:31:00.480 --> 00:31:03.960 the school and actually retiring because he had pancreatic cancer, and he gave one 521 00:31:04.079 --> 00:31:08.440 last lecture of what he'd want his students to know if he could only teach 522 00:31:08.519 --> 00:31:11.880 them one thing for an hour. It's an amazing book. There's also a 523 00:31:11.920 --> 00:31:15.240 youtube clip with him actually giving the lecture that the book is based off and, 524 00:31:15.319 --> 00:31:18.559 of course you know, unfortunately he did die very shortly. They're after 525 00:31:18.880 --> 00:31:22.640 I would say I've gotten more learning out of that book than almost any other 526 00:31:22.799 --> 00:31:26.079 of what people should value in crafting their lives. The only get kind of 527 00:31:26.279 --> 00:31:30.279 a very short period of time on this big blue marble. What should you 528 00:31:30.400 --> 00:31:33.680 value the most? And I think grandy does a great job answering that. 529 00:31:33.359 --> 00:31:37.200 It's great. I'll definitely have to check out all three. I really appreciate 530 00:31:37.200 --> 00:31:40.440 you here in them. What's the best piece of advice that you've received? 531 00:31:41.240 --> 00:31:45.319 This one is more operational and I think there's some irony to this in that 532 00:31:45.680 --> 00:31:48.480 this is this is a podcast and I think often podcasts ask a lot about 533 00:31:48.519 --> 00:31:52.599 strategy because we're all, you know, casually listening to them on the way 534 00:31:52.599 --> 00:31:55.200 to work or on a run, etc. But the quote, and I 535 00:31:55.240 --> 00:32:00.119 can't remember who it's from, was amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics and 536 00:32:00.240 --> 00:32:02.519 I so enjoy that quote because there's so many days where I think it's just 537 00:32:02.920 --> 00:32:07.720 it's kind of an easier thing to talk strategy of Hey, we should do 538 00:32:07.920 --> 00:32:08.960 x, Y or Z, or this is the best way of going it, 539 00:32:09.319 --> 00:32:14.519 but a true expert kind of gets immediately past the strategy in into the 540 00:32:14.599 --> 00:32:17.039 logistics, in the the tactical know how of how to do something. So 541 00:32:17.519 --> 00:32:21.319 I really enjoyed that quote because I think about all the time and it's it's 542 00:32:21.319 --> 00:32:23.839 a great way to distinguish, you know, good employees from great employees. 543 00:32:23.880 --> 00:32:28.000 It's a great way to distinguish the wrong investor from the right investor. And 544 00:32:28.079 --> 00:32:30.839 for myself it's a great way of distinguishing he am I by being as responsible 545 00:32:30.920 --> 00:32:34.599 with my time as possible? Am I getting straight into the logistics, to 546 00:32:34.680 --> 00:32:37.880 the meat of a matter? So that's that's my my quote. No, 547 00:32:37.160 --> 00:32:40.359 I love that. I love that Amateur Talk Strategy, Experts Hath Logistics. 548 00:32:40.359 --> 00:32:45.480 I think that's a great one. What's one thing that you would change when 549 00:32:45.559 --> 00:32:51.759 it came to the perception of maybe building a beverage brand? Man, it's 550 00:32:51.799 --> 00:32:53.599 my I guess this is my third and final baseball analogy, so thank you 551 00:32:53.680 --> 00:32:57.000 for keeping you know, putting up with me. There's kind of a perception 552 00:32:57.119 --> 00:32:59.400 that in beverage, and it's some respects to a lot of CPG, but 553 00:32:59.480 --> 00:33:04.319 in beverage in particular, that things are either a massive five hundred foot home 554 00:33:04.400 --> 00:33:07.160 run or an ugly strike out and there's nowhere in between and there's no way 555 00:33:07.240 --> 00:33:10.319 for it possibly to fall in between. And I think it, or a 556 00:33:10.359 --> 00:33:14.680 board we're trying to prove is hey, you can build something really special and 557 00:33:15.359 --> 00:33:17.039 it can be a triple or a double and it doesn't have to be a 558 00:33:17.200 --> 00:33:22.880 massive five billion dollar exit or body armor with an eight billion dollar exit like. 559 00:33:22.960 --> 00:33:25.279 There is plenty of meat on the bone and plenty of big success to 560 00:33:25.400 --> 00:33:30.519 be had with the company that doesn't sell for say, billions of dollars, 561 00:33:30.640 --> 00:33:32.720 but you know, a back border of magnitude below that. And and I 562 00:33:32.799 --> 00:33:37.559 guess the perception I'd love to change is if you're building something in CPG, 563 00:33:37.960 --> 00:33:42.160 it is totally okay to be building something for a double, you know, 564 00:33:42.279 --> 00:33:45.640 for like a solid base hit. I always say like, look, it's 565 00:33:45.720 --> 00:33:47.440 the ninth ending. You just got called it from the minor leagues like choke 566 00:33:47.519 --> 00:33:52.279 up on the bat and you should be so pumped about a dribbler single because 567 00:33:52.319 --> 00:33:55.680 this is so hard getting to first like that is just so challenging to any 568 00:33:55.720 --> 00:33:59.839 sort of small win. So if you just get on first base, even 569 00:33:59.920 --> 00:34:02.359 with an ugly single, that's a huge win. So I guess that'd be 570 00:34:02.440 --> 00:34:07.400 one perception I change in the consumer community in beverage in particular, is investors 571 00:34:07.440 --> 00:34:14.400 and operators both need to play out more real world scenarios and allow room for 572 00:34:14.880 --> 00:34:20.079 nuance and allow room for say, not incredible, incredible world changing outcomes like 573 00:34:20.199 --> 00:34:22.960 an IPO or cocacola buying it. But there is plenty of meat in between 574 00:34:23.519 --> 00:34:28.400 failing in that huge success. I love that. I love that. Now 575 00:34:28.480 --> 00:34:31.719 that's such that's such a great piece of advice and in a really good, 576 00:34:31.960 --> 00:34:35.800 you know, perception in terms of CPG at. It's not all for nothing. 577 00:34:36.239 --> 00:34:37.800 And then you can still get a single or double. Paul, this 578 00:34:37.920 --> 00:34:40.559 has been such a good conversation. Thanks very much for your time, Mike, 579 00:34:40.800 --> 00:34:45.039 Having to trap anytime on your podcast or off. And there you have 580 00:34:45.199 --> 00:34:47.320 it. It was amazing chatting with Paul. Since you're still here, I 581 00:34:47.440 --> 00:34:51.559 bet you enjoyed it as well. Do yourself a favorite. Head to or 582 00:34:51.679 --> 00:34:55.000 Boracom and try their variety pack. You won't be sorry. Thanks for listening. 583 00:34:55.079 --> 00:34:59.000 Folks, if you enjoyed this episode, I love it if you'd write 584 00:34:59.000 --> 00:35:01.440 a review on the apple podcast. You're also welcome to follow me your host, 585 00:35:01.559 --> 00:35:06.280 Mike, on twitter at Mike Gelb, and also follow for episode announcements 586 00:35:06.360 --> 00:35:07.840 at Consumer VC. Thanks for listening, everyone,