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BevNET’s Taste Radio is the podcast for food and beverage professionals, where we talk trends, interview the leaders and rising stars in the industry and discuss knowledge and topics that we hope entrepreneurs and pros everywhere find useful. Tell us what you think at ask@tasteradio.com. You can al…

BevNET Inc.


    • Sep 23, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 45m AVG DURATION
    • 463 EPISODES

    4.9 from 150 ratings Listeners of Taste Radio that love the show mention: beverage industry, food and beverage, cpg, landis, food industry, emerging, category, taste, ray, founders, brands, startup, trends, thanks for putting, indeed, insider, entrepreneurs, radio, products, space.



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    Latest episodes from Taste Radio

    The Most Asked Question We Hear From Founders. Jacqui Has A Hot Take.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2022 23:11


    In this episode, Taste Radio's hosts reflected on recent networking and live podcast events at BevNET's San Diego office and Super Coffee headquarters in Austin. They also addressed an often asked question from early-stage entrepreneurs and highlighted a few unusual products before Jacqui Brugliera took on one of the hottest of challenges. Show notes: 0:39: So Great To See You, Even For 10 Seconds. Support With Scaling. All Hell Breaks Loose. –  Ray admits to an issue with intros before the hosts chatted about conversations and connections from last week's meetup events. They also offered advice on scaling strategies, riffed on a marshmallow-flavored bourbon, functional spices and a new mood-centric beverage line. Later, Jacqui took on Paqui's one-chip challenge, eliciting sweat, tears and screams… among all the hosts. Brands in this episode: Paqui, Super Coffee, Marquis Beverage, Good Sunday, Recoup Wellness, Pocket Latte, Seoul Juice, Courtside Beverages, Somi Energy, Kimbala, Petit Pot, Shmallow, Spicewell, Kentucky 74, Vybes, Honey Mama's

    $1M To $8M In Less Than 12 Months. How Brazi Bites Thrived Under Pressure.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2022 42:22


    When Junea Rocha launched Brazi Bites in 2010, she thought its success would hinge on being a first-to-market brand of frozen traditional Brazilian cheese bread. Fortunately, she was wrong. Despite launching just a few weeks after another similarly positioned product, Brazi Bites has since developed into a household name. A major inflection point came in 2015 when the brand gained national recognition following an appearance on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Within 12 months of the episode airing, annual sales surged from $1 million to $8 million. The cheese bread is now sold at more than 16,000 stores nationwide including those of Whole Foods, Target, Costco, Wegmans, Publix, Kroger and Sprouts.  In 2018, investment firm San Francisco Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Brazi Bites after which Rocha transitioned from CEO to CMO and helped direct the company's foray into several other food categories, including empanadas, pizza bites and breakfast sandwiches, all of which are based on the brand's original cheese bread dough. In this episode, Rocha spoke about the value of peer mentorship, getting up to speed as a food entrepreneur and how she's utilizing her experience and resources to support early stage Latin business owners. She also discussed how Brazi Bites managed production challenges following its appearance on “Shark Tank,” the company's thoughtful innovation strategy and how she and her co-founder/husband Cameron MacMullin evaluated potential equity partners and decided to sell a majority stake of their business. Show notes: 0:45: Interview: Junea Rocha, Co-Founder, Brazi Bites – Rocha spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about the launch and mission of her Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, why her advisory network was critical to Brazi Bites' formative years and how entrepreneurs should consider the pros and cons of self-manufacturing. She also explained why appearing on “Shark Tank” was a double-edged sword, why innovative brands need to scale quickly or risk being left behind and why consumer trial has been the key to consistent growth. Later, she discussed how the launch of new products such as pizza bites is introducing Americans to the brand's cheese bread and why she describes herself as “the opposite” of entrepreneurs that are great at raising money. Brands in this episode: Brazi Bites

    Brooklyn, She Did It. Her Way. And With No Outside Capital.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2022 47:18


    Chitra Agrawal had no experience in CPG prior to launching Brooklyn Delhi in 2014. Nevertheless, she has built the brand of Indian-inspired pantry staples into an admired and profitable company that generates millions of dollars in annual revenue. As remarkable as those accomplishments might seem, they weren't goals when she started out. The daughter of immigrants, Agrawal envisioned Brooklyn Delhi as a brand that could connect Americans to authentic Indian cuisine through products rooted in culture and designed for modern consumers.  The brand's flagship product is achaar, a staple Indian condiment made from pickled ingredients and is often prepared spicy. Chitra developed her own recipe for achaar, one that eventually caught the attention of a Whole Foods global buyer and also meal kit company Blue Apron, both of which became key partners in the brand's rise to national prominence. Brooklyn Delhi has since expanded its product offerings to include simmer sauces like its Golden Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce and Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, as well as condiments including Curry Ketchup, Curry Mustard, and Guntur Sannam Hot Sauce. The products are sold in natural and specialty retailers across the U.S., online and via foodservice. In this episode, Agrawal spoke about her vision for achaar as a pantry staple in American homes, the influence of her popular blog in the early development of Brooklyn Delhi, why consumer education requires patience and how she leveraged the brand's strengths to win over Whole Foods. She also explained why the company has no outside investors, why profitability has always been top of mind, creating favorable contracts with co-manufacturers and how an omni-channel sales strategy has benefited the company. Show notes: 0:45: Chitra Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Brooklyn Delhi – Agrawal spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif  about her recent transition from Brooklyn to the suburbs and the benefits of having a bigger kitchen and gave a primer on achaar and its versatility in cooking. She also explained why she is frustrated with Trader Joe's, how she incorporated her personal story into the brand, why she didn't pay herself a salary  for the first four years of the business and how a remarkable meeting with a Whole Foods buyer changed  the brand's fortunes. Later, she discussed Brooklyn Delhi's partnership with Blue Apron, why she has  been adamant about not taking outside capital and how thoughtful planning and ingredient sourcing is key to the company's operational strategy. Brands in this episode: Brooklyn Delhi

    Networking Is Everything. And, It's Right In Front Of You.

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 9, 2022 28:31


    On the cusp of BevNET and Taste Radio networking meetups in San Diego and Austin, the hosts highlighted the value of industry connections and linking up with experienced professionals, and why showing up is half the battle. They also spoke about a new fund focused on women-led brands, a retailer focused on non-alcoholic cocktails and spirits and new products that caught the hosts' attention. Show notes: 0:39: Jersey Mike, Togronis For All, Confetti And BBQ – The hosts chatted about their respective summer vacations before sharing details about BevNET's meetup at the company's San Diego office and Taste Radio's live podcast and networking event at Super Coffee's office in Austin. They also noted the launch of Roya Capital, a new fund founded by the founders of Shaka Tea, a canned cocktail that's likely to be a hit in the office, John's visit to Spirited Away in New York City and a few brands marketing delicious drinks and food. Brands in this episode: Super Coffee, Confetti Snacks, Truboy BBQ, Togronis, Partake Foods, Seconds, Maker Wine, B Sweet, Oathaus, ROMR, Yerbae, embodygreen, Solti, Slow & Low

    He Once Dreamed Of Disrupting Multi-Billion Dollar Categories. He No Longer Has To.

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2022 53:59


    Practically as soon as it got off the ground, Dream Pops was already under pressure. Founder and CEO David Greenfeld admits that launching the platform brand of plant-based, indulgent desserts and candy via a direct-to-consumer model – a strategy that almost bankrupted the company – was a mistake. However, lessons learned – and shared – have given Dream Pops a foundation to disrupt multi-billion dollar categories. Launched in 2018, the company aims to challenge legacy confectionary brands by giving consumers better-for-you options across four product lines, including its flagship coconut milk-based popsicles and shelf-stable chocolate-coated snacks sweetened with coconut sugar. The brand is sold in over 6,500 stores, including nationally at Whole Foods as well as locations of Wegmans, H.E.B. and Harris Teeter, among others. Dream Pops' innovation and retail strategy is bolstered by its active social media presence, which Greenfeld says “completely changed the trajectory of the company.” Greenfeld has over 44,000 followers on LinkedIn and points to constant engagement on the platform as driving significant interest in Dream Pops among industry professionals. Meanwhile, the brand's early embrace of TikTok has helped it attract over 181,000 fans and millions of views of its short videos. Within this episode, Greenfeld spoke about the origins of Dream Pops, how he navigated a myriad of challenges in the frozen aisle, the duality of better-for-you and indulgent food and how he used the popsicles as a proof of concept and springboard into shelf-stable products. He also explained why every CPG company needs to also be a “content company,” the importance of investing in merchandising and why consistency is the most important aspect of Dream Pops' social media strategy.   Show notes: 0:42: Interview: David Greenfeld, Founder/CEO, Dream Pops – Greenfeld sat down with Taste Radio   editor Ray Latif and chatted about his experience as a finalist in NOSH Pitch Slam 3, his method and process for gaining followers and influence on Linkedin, and what motivates him to invest in early-stage companies. He also discussed the meaning and importance of the brand name, why he was bullish on the frozen aisle, how the term “plant-based” has evolved in recent years and its impact on the development of Dream Pops. Later, he spoke about the company's roadmap for innovation and new product development, applying learnings from merchandising in the frozen set to ambient shelves and whether it's too late for brands to now start incorporating TikTok into their social media strategies. Brands in this episode: Dream Pops, KIND Snacks, Butterfinger, Hershey's, Ferrara, Snickers, Nestle Dibs

    Gen Z Holds All The Cards, But Do They Have Winning Hand?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2022 44:10


    Emma Chamberlain is the face of Generation Z. Can the 21-year-old YouTube sensation be its Juan Valdez, too? In this episode of Taste Radio, the hosts discussed Chamberlain's foray into the coffee business as the founder of Chamberlain Coffee, a platform brand of coffee and tea products that recently completed a $7 million funding round.  They also spoke about the surprising news that Haus, a promising brand of low-ABV aperitifs, is shutting down and the launch of Coca-Cola Dreamworld, the latest variant in Coke's “Creations” sub-line, which promises consumers “technicolor tastes and surrealism of the subconscious.” This episode also features the latest installment of The Maxi Minutes, in which investor Maxine Kozler Koven shares insights and expertise with early-stage founders. Show notes: 0:48: A Golden Introduction, Brad Moseys, Mike Gets “Real” – The quartet of BevNET editorial assistant Shauna Golden, reporter Brad Avery and regular hosts Mike Schneider and Ray Latif chatted about what it means to be a “BevNETtter,” strutting vs. moseying and a social app that only Mike seems to understand. They also discussed recent articles about Chamberlain Coffee and Haus, penned by Shauna and Brad, respectively, why none of them are too excited about a “dreamy” cola and notable new products, including an addictive snack and non-alcoholic canned cocktails. 31:33: The Maxi Minutes, Part 6 – Maxine Kozler Koven, the co-founder of L.A.-based investment firm LDR Ventures, shared advice on the information that investors want to see from entrepreneurs in quarterly reports, strategies for working with outside agencies, the value of a management team with industry experience and tips on how to get current investors to join subsequent funding rounds. Brands in this episode: Omsom, Chamberlain Coffee, Haus, Coca-Cola, Figlia, Chunk Nibbles, Nguyen Coffee Supply, Altitude Beverage Co., Willa's 

    When Faced With Failure, XCJ Froze… And Built A Multi-Million Dollar Brand

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2022 49:23


    When Jen Liao and Caleb Wang saw their dream business in peril, they froze. The reaction, it turns out, was brilliant. Liao and Wang are the founders of XCJ, a surging brand of frozen foods inspired by Chinese street cuisine. The couple, former corporate executives, launched XCJ as a Seattle-area restaurant in 2018 and it quickly became a popular destination among local residents thanks to its authentic Chinese soup dumplings. Yet its early momentum was threatened by the rise of Covid-19; in response,  Liao and Wang stopped serving hot takeout meals and instead began delivering bags of frozen dumplings for consumers to prepare at home. The dumplings quickly became a cult hit within the region and within a matter of months, XCJ expanded distribution nationally. The company has since established a frozen logistics network with warehouses across the U.S. that allows it to ship millions of its critically praised dumplings direct to customers from coast-to-coast. XCJ also expanded its offerings to include lamb, beef and chicken BBQ skewers, as well as sauces and a recently introduced ice cream line inspired by Chinese flavors.  In this interview, Liao discussed her and Wang's decision to enter the restaurant business, despite having no prior experience, and how XCJ cultivated consumer interest in the frozen dumplings. She also spoke about why self-manufacturing was the only path forward and how they are managing multiple business divisions while continuing to grow and maintain quality standards. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Jen Liao, Co-Founder, XCJ – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Liao about her brand's shorthand name and meaning, swapped Seattle area restaurant recommendations and touched on the launch of XCJ ice cream. She also explained how the company utilized Facebook and WeChat to build consumer awareness and interest for XCJ's frozen dumplings, unusual ways of distributing food to customers early on, the importance of educating consumers on food preparation and whether domestic production has an impact on perception and marketing. Later, she spoke about how XCJ splits responsibilities and manages disagreements among its founders and leaders, how the company is crafting a new look for the brand and how growing interest in AAPI food and culture factors into the rebrand. Brands in this episode: XCJ, Omsom, Fly By Jing

    The Giants Have More Of Everything. But Charles Joly Is Winning Because He Has This.

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2022 39:16


    Their primary competitors are multinational corporations with massive marketing budgets, highly experienced sales teams and distribution reach that stretches from coast to coast. So, how is it that Crafthouse Cocktails is beating the giants at every turn? Co-founder Charles Joly, a celebrated bartender and an influential figure in the emerging international cocktail movement, developed Crafthouse in 2013 and in doing so helped pioneer what is now a booming ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail category. The brand markets small-batch bottled cocktails made with all-natural and high quality ingredients and are designed to replicate the quality of drinks served at the world's best bars. In the nine years since its debut, Crafthouse has expanded distribution of its products, which include a Moscow Mule, Paloma, Pineapple Daiquiri, Rum Old Fashioned and Smoky Margarita, to 23 states. Available in 200 mL screw top cans, 750 mL swing-top bottles and a 1.75 L bag-in-box package, the cocktails are carried by Walmart, Wegmans, Total Wine and More, Binny's Beverage and Whole Foods, among other retailers. The brand is also available at several theme parks and outdoor venues while its Gold Rush variety is available in all Amtrak dining cars across the U.S. Amid rising consumer demand for RTD cocktails and an increasingly crowded category, Crafthouse is distinguishing itself via quality, consistency and variety. In an interview featured in this episode, Joly discussed the brand's emphasis on differentiation, the impact of his experience and reputation in the brand's development, how a focus on quality helped establish and cement the company's relationships with retail buyers, and his perspective on the parallels between bartending and entrepreneurship.   Show notes: 0:45: Interview: Charles Joly, Co-Founder, Crafthouse Cocktails – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif sat down with Joly at the 2022 Tales of The Cocktail conference where they chatted about 20-plus year career as a bartender and bar consultant, why ice shouldn't be overlooked in cocktails and his consistent attendance at Tales. He also spoke about why the creation of Crafthouse “was so simple and so complex,” the challenge in finding a co-packer that was aligned with the brand's quality standards and how the company is navigating a flood of new RTD cocktail brands coming to market. Later, he explained how Crafthouse was prepared for an explosion of consumer demand at the outset of the pandemic, why he believes that “cream will rise to the top” in the category, how he advises retail buyers about assembling an assortment of cocktail brands and why he credits taste, first and foremost, to the company's success in landing high-profile placements and partnerships.   Brands in this episode: Crafthouse Cocktails, Abstract Ice, Skinnygirl, Ketel One

    Maybe Shock Value Does Work? Plus, We Meet A Trailblazing ‘Walker.'

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 12, 2022 61:11


    Mustard-based donuts, beer-infused sneakers, cheese cocktails… No, this episode isn't about trying to gross you out.  Rather, the hosts discuss recent marketing campaigns, collaborations and limited-edition merchandise involving legacy and small brands and how each is attempting to strike a chord with target consumers. They also highlight BevNET articles about a major beverage deal and new funding for a specialty retail chain, riff on a suds-inspired day of celebration and chat about notable new products including premium canned tea, a conglomerate's foray into spicy sauces and sake cocktails. This episode also features an interview with Dr. Emma Walker, the master blender for Johnnie Walker, for a ten-pack of questions about her trailblazing role and the future of the iconic Scotch whisky brand. Show notes: 0:48: Everyone Loves Guinness (Well…), The Good, The Bad And The Weird, Do We Need A Store For That? – The show opens with a chat about Ray's passion for a certain Irish beer brand, before the hosts reviewed Velveeta's attempt to mix in, Aura Bora's “secret menu,” Heineken's odd kicks, why French's is imploring consumers “taste the tang” at breakfast and Tito's middle finger to the canned cocktail category. They also briefly discuss PepsiCo's new and exclusive distribution deal with Celsius and a capital raise for non-alcoholic beverage retailer Boisson, plus highlight peanut butter-stuffed dates and “choco nuts” and a new line of premium condiments from Heinz. 32:20: Dr. Emma Walker, Master Blender, Johnnie Walker –  Dr. Walker sat down with Ray at the 2022 Tales of the Cocktail conference, for an expansive conversation about her work with Johnnie Walker, including her leadership style and stewardship of the brand, her thoughtful way of communicating with colleagues and consumers and her perspective on being a trailblazer for women in the whiskey business. Brands in this episode: Athletic Brewing Co., Guinness, Dogfish Head, Trillium Brewing, Oathaus, Truff, Velveeta, Fishwife, Fly By Jing, Milk Bar, Aura Bora, Heineken, French's, Paqui, Tito's, Reishi Tea, Italicus, Savoia, Celsius, Mike's Hot Honey, Momofuku, Heinz, Motto, Rollin' & Bowlin', Joolies, Pocket Latte, Ysidro, Johnnie Walker

    What Does It Take To Lead A Revolution? If You're ‘Good,' A Star And Lots Of Farms.

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2022 39:42


    The revolution may not be televised, but if it's up to Heather Terry, it will be farmed. A veteran entrepreneur and business advisor, Terry is the founder of GoodSam Foods, a food brand focused on combating climate change through regenerative agriculture. Launched in 2020, GoodSam's central thesis is that by empowering small farms to adopt systems that improve soil health, increase biodiversity and sequester carbon, people and the planet will benefit for generations to come. GoodSam markets several product lines, including chocolate bars, candy coated nuts and baking mixes, all of which incorporate ingredients sourced from small farms that utilize regenerative growing methods. GoodSam products are currently available on Thrive Market, Amazon and the brand's website, and the company is planning for brick and mortar retail distribution in the fall 2022. As the brand scales, Terry is employing lessons learned from her first startup, organic chocolate brand NibMor. She's using the experience, along with several years as a mentor and consultant to early-stage food entrepreneurs, to accelerate growth while minimizing the mistakes. In an interview featured in this episode, Terry spoke about making the transition from an acting career in film and television to entrepreneurship, why acknowledging a lack of business acumen was important in NibMor's early years, and why a brand's “North Star '' should guide every decision. She also explained why adhering to GoodSam's mission is paramount to its operational strategy and how the company aligns with consumers and retailers that embrace its vision. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Heather Terry, Founder & CEO, GoodSam Foods - Terry and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif recalled their short interview at NOSH Live Summer 2022 and why visiting New York City can be cumbersome. She also discussed the origins of NibMor and why having a co-founder and CFO were critical to the brand's development and why it's important for entrepreneurs to consider the potential size of their businesses. Later, she explained why she got back into the food industry as a founder, building a team of veteran executives, why GoodSam markets a variety of products despite being an early-stage company, and her perspective on a rising tide for brands focused on regenerative agriculture. Brands in this episode: NibMor, GoodSam Foods, Taza Chocolate, Nuttzo

    The Nelson Brothers Planned To Take Over The World. They're Getting Closer.

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2022 34:48


    It's fair to say that brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson are ambitious entrepreneurs. “Take over the world” was an actual phrase in their first business plan. And since resurrecting Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, a company founded by their great-great-great grandfather in the 1800s, they've envisioned a future in which the brand's Tennessee whiskey, which was once one of the best known in America, is again among the biggest names in the spirits business. Although their ultimate goal remains the same, the strategy has evolved. Years of planning, refining and building have come with tempered expectations in terms of the time and resources required to achieve their vision. And that's okay, they'll tell you. Charlie and Andy's accomplishments this far has been  recognized by one of the largest beverage companies in the world, Constellation Brands, which first invested in Nelson's Green Brier Distillery in 2016 and acquired a majority stake in the company three years later. In an interview recorded on location at annual spirits convention Tales of the Cocktail, the Nelson brothers spoke about their interest in bringing back to life their ancestor's brand, why it was imperative to align with industry experts and how to bring them into the fold and why they never wanted to be the smartest people in the room when starting the company. They also explained why they turned down millions of dollars during one of their first funding rounds, the critical impact of having a brick and mortar home for Nelson's Green Brier Distillery and how they are adjusting to new roles and responsibilities since Constellation's investment. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Charlie & Andy Nelson, Co-Founders, Nelson's Green Brier Distillery – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with the Nelson Brothers at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans where they chatted about their first meeting in New York City before Charlie shared a brief history of the brand and Andy shared the best place for honky tonk music and fried baloney sandwiches in their hometown of Nashville. They also spoke about the research and planning they undertook prior to launching Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, how thoughtful networking was critical to identifying brand partners and advisors and how their father helped address a challenging funding decision. Later, they explained how the opening of their Nashville distillery validated the company in the eyes of some potential investors and strategic partners, how they assessed Constellation's offer to invest and eventually acquire a controlling stake in the company and why giant killers need to be patient.  Brands in this episode: Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, Angel's Envy, Jack Daniel's

    Over $60M In Funding, But Does It Pass The Smell Test? Plus, We Tell ‘Tales' And Maxi Mentors.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 29, 2022 42:43


    In this episode, BevNET reporter Brad Avery joined Taste Radio's regular hosts and discussed his recent article about an innovative “scent-flavored hydration system” that is making inroads in the U.S.  They also spoke about 7-Eleven's embrace of upstart brands and shared personal takes on several new products, including grain-free donuts and spicy (if not NOSH-y) potato chips. Also in this podcast: a brief recap of annual cocktail convention Tales of The Cocktail and the latest edition of The Maxi Minutes. Show notes: 0:48: We're All About The Hot, Hot, Hot. Tasty Treats Also Please Us. Brad Has Accepted The Challenge. – The hosts chatted about New Orleans, the site of the 2022 Tales of The Cocktail event, beignet-flavored beverages and PepsiCo's recent investment in a brand of refillable water bottles and scented “flavor” pods. They also discussed the ascendance of grain-free snack and bakery brand Soozy's, the market launch of a traditional salsa and new beverage brand with a proprietary sweetener blend. Oh, and Brad committed to setting his mouth on fire. 26:45: An On The Ground Report From Tales – Ray discussed takeaways from Tales of The Cocktail, which was held from July 24-29 in New Orleans. Notably, the convention highlighted the restaurant and spirit industry's continued focus on premium brands and ingredients, low and no ABV cocktails and ethnic spirits easing their way onto bar backs and liquor store shelves. 30:40: The Maxi Minutes, Part 5 – LDR Ventures co-founder Maxine Kozler Koven discussed effective ways for brands to achieve a high rate of sell through, tips on aligning with merchandising and demo agencies, and the value of having experienced industry professionals on your team (especially when courting investors). Brands in this episode: PulpoLoco Sangria, Ohza, Agua Bonita, Freestyle Snacks, Honey Bunchies, Chunk Nibbles, Tosi, Soozy's, Tia Lupita, Oathaus, Pringles, The Good Crisp, Paqui, Simple Mills, Inura, Faubourg Brewing Company, Italicus, iichiko, Campari, Wild Turkey, Crafthouse Cocktails, Batch & Bottle, Hendrick's Gin, Glenfiddich, Perrier, Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery, Johnnie Walker

    Innovators Often Get The Last Laugh. And Sometimes Katy Perry As A Partner.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 26, 2022 27:47


    There were a few chuckles when Morgan McLachlan launched her first spirit brand, a vodka crafted from California clementines. Yet, while its novelty may have amused some in the beverage alcohol industry, the product represented a foundation for her now acclaimed distilling philosophy, which is focused on botanical-based spirits.  The co-founder, chief product officer and master distiller of Los Angeles-based brand AMASS, Morgan describes the company as born out of “a desire for quotidian pleasures made better by plants.” Launched in 2018, AMASS produces a variety of spirits, including its flagship dry gin, and in recent years extended into hard seltzers as well as personal care and beauty products, such as liquid soap, hand sanitizer and candles. Earlier this year, McLachlan introduced De Soi, a line of sparkling ready-to-drink non-alcoholic apéritifs. Co-founded by global pop star Katy Perry, De Soi was designed as a brand for mindful, yet also refined, consumption. The line includes three expressions each made with botanicals like blackcurrant, birch and yuzu and functional ingredients, including reishi mushroom, ashwagandha and maca. In an interview featured in this episode, McLachlan spoke about her transition from a career in the film industry to the spirits business and how the former guided her focus on creative distilling methods. She also discussed how AMASS developed its distinctive branding and positioning, the company's decision to incorporate lifestyle products into its portfolio, how De Soi is an expression of a new phase in her life and the origins of her partnership with Katy Perry. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Morgan McLachlan, Co-Founder/Master Distiller, AMASS and Co-Founder, De Soi – McLachlan and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif riffed on the latter's pronunciation skills before discussing an industry honor bestowed upon the entrepreneur, exploring Los Angeles' micro-climates and why she decided to distill citrus for her first spirit. She also discussed how she applied her experience growing up in an artistic family into distilling, how blurring beverage categories has impacted drinking culture, how she joined AMASS as a co-founder and helped establish its positioning as both luxury and accessible. Later, she discussed the expansion of the AMASS portfolio, the launch of and roadmap for the distillery's RTD cocktails, why De Soi was established as an independent brand, the formulation of products and how Katy Perry is involved in planning and operations for the upstart company. Brands in this episode: AMASS, De Soi

    There Is A Fast Track To Success. And Onda Has The Blueprint.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 41:36


    When prominent beverage investor and entrepreneur Clayton Christopher calls your brand “a winner,” you're probably doing a few things right. And in the case of Onda, a premium tequila seltzer brand, the description seems spot on. Christopher's praise came after he joined as a board member and equity shareholder in 2021 as part of  a $5 million Series A funding round. At the time, he noted “the potential of the category, the positioning of the brand and the strength of the team” as key reasons for his investment.   Packaged in bright orange 12 oz. slim cans, Onda is made from a blend of blanco tequila, sparkling water and real fruit juice. Available in eight flavors, each can contains 5% ABV, 100 calories and no added sugar. Last year, Onda expanded distribution to over 10,000 retail accounts in 31 states, including Publix, Total Wine, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, Safeway, Albertsons and BevMo. Onda achieved over 700% growth in 2021 and emerged as the third-best selling brand of tequila-based seltzers, according to Nielsen data. In June, Onda announced a $12.5 million growth round led by existing investors, including Christopher, investment firm Aria Growth Partners, venture platform 25madison and several high-profile athletes, musicians and entertainers.  In an interview featured in this episode, Onda co-founder and CEO Noah Gray talked about Onda's origins as a “trade up” concept and how a confluence of premium ingredients and striking package design have resulted in strong consumer trial and repurchase. He also explained what up-and-down-the-street sales informed the team about effective retailing and merchandising and how he landed meetings with and won over high-profile investors, including Christopher and former President & CEO of Moët Hennessy Jim Clerkin. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Noah Gray, Co-Founder & CEO, Onda – Gray spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about his unexpected career in the beverage alcohol business, how a recent tweet encapsulates Onda's genesis, aligning liquid and package harmoniously and why the products are positioned as an affordable luxury. He also discussed how, disrupted by the onset of the pandemic, Onda pivoted its retail launch strategy to door-to-door sales model, and the importance of optimizing merchandising  in driving velocity. Later, Gray explained how Onda assesses a growing pool of tequila seltzer brands, attracting industry veterans to a young company and how the team determined capital needs and the most effective ways to deploy new funding. Brands in this episode: Onda, Sweet Leaf Tea, Deep Eddy Vodka

    Perfect Partnership, Or Peculiar Pairing?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 15, 2022 27:51


    Taste Radio's hosts discussed several recently announced collaborations, including those of high-profile drink brands that have aligned to create new RTD cocktails, a well-known entertainer and an upstart energy drink company and a humanitarian initiative that connects with better-for-you brands. They also chatted about notable new products, including a line of shelf-stable tamales, NA wine and beer and a protein bar with a somewhat odd name. Show notes: 0:52: It Wasn't Intended To Be A “Gotcha.” The Uniform, Upgraded. Cookies Make Ray Happy. – After a brief chat about the perpetual problem of uneven heating and cooling in offices, Ray puts John on the spot about a prediction that came true and the hosts collectively spoke about what moves their needles for canned cocktails. They also praised UNSTUCK, an initiative that connects leading CPG brands with suppliers that hire refugees, offered mixed opinions about a brand-centric music video and lauded innovative new products, in particular an amaretto-flavored cola, spiked aguas frescas and soft, doughy cookies. Brands in this episode: Coca-Cola, Jack Daniel's, Frecsa, Simply, Vita Coco, Captain Morgan, Topo Chico, Chobani, That's it, La Colombe, GoodPop, Petit Pot, Pitaya Foods, Joyburst, Gruvi, Visitor Beer, Fillo's, A Dozen Cousins, Calidad, Jambar, Powerbar, Ghia, Brooklyn Cannery, Bell's Cookie Co.

    How Does An Innovation ‘Haven' Scale? By Focusing On The Fundamentals.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2022 53:31


    Ten years ago, Alison Cayne opened a cooking school in New York City called Haven's Kitchen. The goal was simple: help local residents learn how to make better food at home and enjoy doing it. Although the pandemic forced the school to shut its doors in 2020, the mission of Haven's Kitchen lives on in the form of an eponymous consumer brand of refrigerated sauces. Available in eight globally-inspired flavors, including Golden Turmeric Tahini, Edamame Green Goddess and Herby Chimichurri, the sauces are packaged in transparent, squeezable eco-friendly pouches. The products debuted in 2018 and are now available in over 2,000 locations, including at Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, Giant and Foxtrot. Much of the retail growth has come over the past two years and reflects the brand's surging sales: a 500% year-over-year increase in 2020 and +80% in 2021. In an interview featured in this episode, Cayne spoke about the origins of Haven's Kitchen, the impact of the brand's innovative packaging and striking label design on trial, why emphasizing use case and occasion is critical for consumer adoption and repurchase and how effective merchandising of the products has enabled it to become “the ultimate basket builder.” She also explained how to use anecdotal data effectively when pitching to retail buyers, navigating the challenge of uneven retail pricing and how she found a co-packer that would invest in the brand's future. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Alison Cayne, Founder & CEO, Haven's Kitchen – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Cayne at Haven's Kitchen's test kitchen and office in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan where they chatted about nostalgic snacks, her team's desire to return to an IRL work setting and Whole Foods' influence on the launch of Haven's Kitchen sauces. She also explained the reason behind the brand name, how the company successfully broke traditional rules of branding and package design, educating mainstream consumers about esoteric flavors and why Chobani's head of innovation told her to stop innovating. Later, she spoke about how an argument with her partner led to an emphasis on gross margin, why she's bullish on Target, despite the chain's pricing strategy, and why her podcast has been beneficial to her education about the food industry. Brands in this episode: Haven's Kitchen, SOMOS Foods, Kind Snacks, Cholula, Chobani, A Dozen Cousins, Sabra, Perfect Snacks, Lucky Charms, Snickers, Ithaca Hummus, Spudsy, Sir Kensington's, Momofuku

    The Common Threads Of Effective Leaders

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2022 50:54


    This special edition of Taste Radio highlights actionable insights and advice from interviews with six founders, creators and leaders who joined us on the show during the first half of 2022. Our guests include Todd Carmichael, Co-Founder, La Colombe & Loftiwater; Zoe Feldman, GM of Consumer, Momofuku; Adam Bremen, Founder, Keto Krisp; Annie Ryu, Founder/CEO, Jack & Annie's; Sandro Roco, Founder & CEO, Sanzo; and Kat Cole, President & COO, Athletic Greens. Show notes:  0:44: Interview: Todd Carmichael, Co-Founder, La Colombe & Loftiwater – We kick things off with La Colombe co-founder Todd Carmichael who has turned his attention from coffee to sparkling water with his latest venture, Loftiwater. In this clip, pulled from our episode published on January 4, Todd spoke about the origins of the brand name, the value of hard work, how he landed on sparkling water as the basis for his next beverage brand and why he chose to build a production facility rather than work with a co-manufacturer. 10:28: Interview: Zoe Feldman, GM of Consumer, Momofuku – Our next clip is pulled from an episode featured on May 17 and features Zoe Feldman, the GM of Consumer for acclaimed and influential restaurant group Momofuku. Zoe discussed the importance of maintaining perspective, the reason she only hires “Swiss Army knives,”  her emphasis on building contingencies into the company's operational strategy and why she maintains an “open book, open door” policy. 19:06: Interview: Adam Bremen, Founder, Keto Krisp – We continue with a clip from our episode published on February 1, which features an interview with Adam Bremen, the founder of  fast-growing snack bar brand Keto Krisp. Adam explained the importance of “getting outside of our comfort zones” and how it led to his passion for surfing, why he wasn't overly concerned about the challenges of entrepreneurship in the food industry and why he always “puts himself in the [retail] buyer's shoes.  27:07: Interview: Annie Ryu, Founder/CEO, Jack & Annie's – Next up is a clip from an episode published on January 11, which featured an interview with Annie Ryu, the founder and CEO of The Jackfruit Company and sister brand Jack & Annie's. Annie explained the special nature of jackfruit, identifying the right messaging to attract retail buyers and consumers and what she's learned about entrepreneurship and the value of persistence. 33:01: Interview: Sandro Roco, Founder & CEO, Sanzo – The episode continues with Sandro Roco, the founder and CEO of fast-growing Asian-inspired sparkling water brand Sanzo. In this clip, from an episode published on March 22, Sandro explained the impact of well-known culinary personalities on his decision to start a beverage brand, how he identified addressable white space in the sparkling water category and why “hitting quickly” is important for an early-stage drink company. 41:47: Interview: Kat Cole, President & COO, Athletic Greens – Finally, we hear from Kat Cole, the president and COO of rapidly growing wellness brand Athletic Greens. Cole spoke with us in an episode published on February 15, and in this clip she discussed her funding strategy as an angel investor, why she urges entrepreneurs to find a “minimum viable community” and how she efficiently consumes large amounts of information using a variety of ways and sources. Brands in this episode: La Colombe, Loftiwater, Momofuku, Sanzo, Jack & Annie's, Keto Krisp, Athletic Greens, Fly By Jing, Omsom, Nguyen Coffee Supply, Chobani

    Bangs, Deals And What Never To Say To An Investor

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 1, 2022 39:01


    Taste Radio's hosts riffed on Bang founder/CEO Jack Owoc's unforgettable stage appearance at BevNET Live Summer 2022, M&A headlines in the business of beer and food, why it's important to stay connected to our newsrooms and notable new products, including pickle-infused hummus and a fizzy drink inspired by the flavors of Korean cuisine. We also feature our latest edition of The Maxi Minutes for a conversation about what investors don't want to hear in a pitch. Show notes: 0:52: A Free Tee, John Was Glued To His Screen, Three Stars… And Vegan, Steaming At Home – The episode opens with a reminder on how to get a free Taste Radio t-shirt (hint: it's really easy), a less-than-craven take on a ‘bang' up interview and how Jacqui convinced Ray that Michelin might have it right when it comes to a high-end restaurant. The hosts also discussed the recent acquisition of  two well-known brands, why samples are really helpful and why Ray is excited about coming back to BevNET HQ. 26:25: The Maxi Minutes, Part 4 –  Maxine Kozler Koven, the co-managing director of Los Angeles-based investment firm LDR Ventures, advised listeners on what not to say to a potential investor and also tackles the timely topic of supply chain challenges and how to address them with your funding partners. Brands in this episode: Bang Energy, Clif Bar, Stone Brewing, Soultopia, Teaonic, Parch, Halmi, Berry Bissap, Vermont Smoke & Cure, Razorwire Energy, Ithaca Hummus, Grillo's, Snow Days, Wholly Veggie, FOMO Baking Co., Ruani

    Buyers Were Initially Skeptical About His Brand. Now, It's An Anchor For A Fast-Growing Set.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2022 47:01


    When Ibraheem Basir launched A Dozen Cousins in 2018, retail buyers questioned the marketability of the brand's first products, a line of premium-positioned cooked beans. Four years later, those buyers are asking a different question: “How do we keep up with consumer demand?” A former marketing executive with General Mills, Basir founded A Dozen Cousins to increase accessibility of better-for-you food within Black and Latino communities via healthy ingredients, authentic seasonings and convenient preparation. Available in varieties such as Mexican Cowboy Pinto Beans and Trini Chickpea Curry, the beans are packaged in microwavable pouches that can be heated in 60 seconds. As A Dozen Cousins expanded distribution, the brand found traction with a broad variety of consumers seeking a quick, flavorful meal or side dish. The company has since added two complementary product lines – bone-broth cooked rice and seasoning sauces for rice and meat dishes – and widened its presence in stores across retail channels, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Trader Joes, Kroger and REI. In an interview featured in this episode, Basir spoke about how the brand's initial focus has evolved, working with co-manufacturing partners to ensure quality standards, why sampling was critical to its development and why keeping a foot in the familiar is a key tenet of its innovation strategy. He also explained why A Dozen Cousins is relatively quiet about raising capital and shared his take on improved opportunities and continuing challenges for BIPOC food entrepreneurs. Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Ibraheem Basir, Founder & CEO, A Dozen Cousins – Basir spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at NOSH Live Summer 2022 where they discussed their shared experience growing up in large families, alternate names for A Dozen Cousins and how the brand addresses “two different levels” of consumer needs. Basir also spoke about how he prepared for a national launch at Whole Foods while the brand was still in its infancy, the impact of his experience as an employee at a large food conglomerate, what social media taught the company about the unexpected ways consumers used the beans and what moved the needle for retail buyers that were initially skeptical about the brand. Later, he explained why the launch of A Dozen Cousins' rice was about creating something “additive” to the category, why he wants the brand to be “in the middle of the spectrum” when it comes to innovation, the reason the company isn't vocal about funding and why he points to the lack of “insider knowledge” as a hurdle for BIPOC founders. Brands in this episode: A Dozen Cousins, Annie's

    The ‘Perfect' Plan To Become A Billion-Dollar Brand

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2022 57:07


    It's rare for an entrepreneurial food or beverage brand to generate a billion dollars in annual revenue. Yet that hasn't kept ambitious founders from envisioning a 10-figure future for their companies. Yanni Hufnagel, the founder and CEO of Lemon Perfect, is one of those aspiring leaders, and based on the trajectory for his brand this far, he has a realistic shot. Launched in 2018, Lemon Perfect markets a line of low-calorie, lemon-flavored water. Positioned as hydration beverages, the USDA certified organic drinks come in seven varieties each sweetened with a blend of erythritol and stevia and containing five calories per 12 oz. bottle.    Available nationwide at Publix, Kroger, Whole Foods and Ralph's, Lemon Perfect anticipates over $60 million in sales and a retail footprint of over 40,000 doors by the end of 2022 as it expands into Costco, CVS, Walmart and Target. Earlier this year, the company closed on a $31 million Series A funding round that included a high-profile roster of celebrity investors headlined by music icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. The recent financing brought Lemon Perfect's total funding to $42.2 million and a valuation of over $100 million. In an interview featured in this episode, Hufnagel spoke about his overarching vision for Lemon Perfect, the parallels between coaching college basketball and running a beverage company, why nailing “the big decisions” has been critical to the brand's development and how his perspective on gross margin has evolved. He also explained why Lemon Perfect has invested heavily in field sales, how he cultivated a culture of hustle and commitment and why he says that he's never sold the brand to an investor.   Show notes: 0:42: Interview: Yanni Hufnagel, Founder & CEO, Lemon Perfect – Before diving into Lemon Perfect's backstory, Hufnagel and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif chatted about the entrepreneur's Instagram handle, his brief flirtation with investment banking and the origin of the brand's name. Hufnagel also discussed the simplicity of Lemon Perfect's ingredients, how he got up to speed in the beverage industry (hint: a certain podcast was key), his counterintuitive advice about gross margin for early-stage brands, why moving to a shelf-stable formulation was instrumental in the brand's growth and why not hiring a CEO was one of the best decisions he's made. Later, he explained why Lemon Perfect's unit economics make it highly attractive to investors, his praise (and acronyms) for hard work and why “being great fiduciary of a capital” is a point of pride.  Brands in this episode: Lemon Perfect, Vitaminwater, Bai, Vita Coco

    (We're) Back in New York, And Loving Every Minute Of It

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 17, 2022 16:52


    Taste Radio's hosts reflected on the return of BevNET and NOSH's summer events to New York City, the accessibility of admired brand leaders and top retail executives at NOSH Live, the camaraderie among entrepreneurs meeting each other for the first time in person at BevNET Live and why taste and story inspired the strongest reactions for judges in the events' brand competitions. Show notes: 0:40: Chelsiron, Jacqui's A Pitch Slam Pro, Content Is Still King, Brownies Are The Best – Convening on the stage after day one of BevNET Live, the hosts chatted about Jacqui's first time judging the New Beverage Showdown, the quality of speaker panels and presentations at the events and the triumph of an adaptogenic brownie brand. Mike also praised the communication skills of New Beverage Showdown semifinalists and Ray expressed his admiration for an innovative cocktail brand. Brands in this episode: Wild Fizz Kombucha, Plink, Perfy, Aura Bora, Saffron Road, Mid-Day Squares, Sweet Loren's, Jeni's Ice Cream, Orgain, Culture Pop, Poppi, Ruani, SOMI Energy, Everything Cheeze, Straightaway Cocktails

    How Kin's ‘Big Bold Bet' Is Changing The Way People Think About Social Drinking

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 10, 2022 60:13


    What do adaptogens, nootropics and botanicals have to do with the future of social drinking? If you ask Kin Euphorics co-founder and CEO Jen Batchelor, the answer is “quite a bit.” And, based on Kin's trajectory, it's hard to argue with her. Founded in 2017, Kin Euphorics is based on the idea that there needed to be a better-for-you alternative to alcohol when decompressing after work or enjoying a night out with friends. Available in five SKUs tied to distinct use occasions, the beverages are formulated with functional ingredients said to enhance mood and relieve stress, including,, depending on variety, Rhodiola Rosea, 5-HTP, Gaba and L-Theanine. Since its inception, Kin has raised over $10 million dollars in venture capital, a figure that reflects the brand's remarkable growth, particularly via e-commerce. While 90% of the company's revenue is currently derived from direct-to-consumer sales, Kin is in the midst of an aggressive push into brick and mortar retail. The company recently announced the hires of three former Fever-Tree executives tasked with expanding distribution of the brand into large retailers in all channels of trade. In an interview featured in this episode, Batchelor discussed the inspiration for and development of Kin, why the brand adopted “euphorics” as part of its branding despite the word's association with drug culture, how Soylent provided a rough template for the company's business strategy and the brand's association with sober-curious lifestyles. She also explained how Kin has built an effective D2C strategy, applying learnings from success at upscale retailer Erewhon to other chains, and how she views me-too brands that have emerged in recent years. Show notes: 0:49: Interview: Jen Batchelor, Co-Founder & CEO, Kin Euphorics – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Batchelor about Kin's recent company retreat, the impact that growing up in Saudi Arabia had on her belief system, how she weaved together cultural experiences and Ayurvedic methodology into the creation of the brand and why, despite its unconventional positioning, traditional business fundamentals have been critical to Kin's development. She also explained how Kin became an “accidental D2C brand,” how supermodel Bella Hadid became an investor and partner, the ambitious goals for the company's new commercial team, and why Batchelor is enthusiastic about some emerging non-alcoholic social brands  — and less so about others. Brands in this episode: Kin Euphorics, Soylent, Ghia

    Brad Paisley's Bourbon Is On A Bumpy Ride. And, That's A Good Thing.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2022 35:58


    Before country music star Brad Paisley embarked on his 2022 global tour, he had to pack a few things. Namely, 90 or so barrels of bourbon. A Grammy award-winning singer  regarded as one of genre's most talented solo artists, Paisley is also the founder of American Highway Reserve, a limited-edition whiskey brand he developed in collaboration with Bardstown Bourbon Company.  The brand gets its name from the unique way part of the bourbon is aged. Each batch contains a blend of whiskey that is filled into barrels and loaded onto a trailer truck dubbed the “Rolling Rickhouse,” which accompanies Paisley during his U.S. tour. American Highway Reserve's debut expression was made with whiskey that traveled 7,314 miles across 25 states in 2019. According to the brand, the whiskey's exposure to variations in temperature and reverberation from the road impart greater nuance in flavor and aroma. In an interview featured in this episode, Paisley spoke about the inspiration for American Highway Reserve, which recently released its second expression, appropriately styled as “Route 2,” as well as the decision to partner with Bardstown Bourbon Company and why he immersed himself in the process of distilling and blending the whiskey. He also discussed his role in communication and marketing efforts, why his name isn't on the label and his ultimate vision for the bourbon. Show notes: 0:46: Brad Paisley, Founder, American Highway Reserve – Paisley and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif riffed on the musician's 2022 tour, including the country music scene in Scandinavia and the on-stage bar at his shows. He also discussed his passion for bourbon and remarkable whiskey collection, training his palate, and why, despite many high-quality bourbon brands on the market, he saw white space for a new one. Later, he discussed how the positioning of American Highway Reserve was determined as it was developed, communicating the production story to consumers, how he addresses some critics' skepticism about the aging process and how the brand can potentially evolve. Brands in this episode: American Highway Reserve, Jefferson's Bourbon, Four Roses, Angel's Envy, Bardstown Bourbon, Parker's Heritage, Casamigos

    Honest Tea Opened Doors. Its Closure Might Open Even More.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 3, 2022 27:42


    Taste Radio's hosts discussed Coca-Cola's decision to discontinue Honest Tea, the brand's legacy and impact on better-for-you beverage and food companies, and what the move might mean for new and emerging upstarts. They also highlighted recently announced speakers, including Bang Energy founder/CEO Jack Owoc and top executives from Whole Foods and Kroger, that will be joining the stages at BevNET Live and NOSH Live this summer and chatted about several innovative products that crossed their desks over the past month. Show notes: 0:40: Jacqui Wins Again, Mike Is ‘Country Curious' And Drinks Broccoli, Ray's Essential Travel Food – The episode opens with a chat about a country music star's bourbon brand, another trophy for Jacqui and why March 1, 2011 was a special day. John explained why some small brands will likely benefit from Honest Tea's discontinuation, Ray noted the sale of a pioneering cold-pressed juice brand and the hosts collectively spoke about some of their favorite new products, including a mouthwatering coated nut snack, outstanding RTD cocktails and cannabis drinks, plus some beverages made with unusual ingredients. Brands in this episode: American Highway Reserve, Honest Tea, Smithwick's, Shaka Tea, Odwalla, Zico, Nantucket Nectars, Snapple, Evolution Fresh, Bolthouse Farms, Bang Energy, Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar Energy, SkinnyDipped, Tipsy Lady Cocktails, Madre Mezcal, Artet, Levia, Reveal Avocado Seed Brew, Frescos Naturales, Broc Shot, Doozy Pots, Honey Mama's, Unique Belgique, Blissfully Better, Momofuku

    Innovation Is Critical. But How Far Do You Step Outside The Box? It's An Empirical Decision.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2022 49:41


    Let's say you have an innovative concept for a new brand, but your idea doesn't fit within the established construct of the industry that you would be operating in. That was – and continues to be – a quandary for the co-founders of Empirical, a Copenhagen-based company that produces innovative spirits and, more recently, food. Launched in 2017 by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, both of whom previously held influential roles at world-renowned restaurant Noma, Empirical describes itself as “a flavor company” first and foremost. The goal is to identify and source sustainable, high quality – and often unusual – ingredients and turn them into delicious experiences. An example is Empirical's “The Plum, I Suppose,” a clear spirit that, like all of the company's beverages, is made with a base of koji, and flavored with the kernels found inside plum pits and distilled marigold kombucha.   While praised for their unique approach to distilling, Williams and Hermansen are often challenged by the traditions of an industry that historically inhibits, rather than rewards, innovation. Moreover, communicating the originality of Empirical's production methods to retailers and consumers can sometimes be a tedious process. Regardless of obstacles, they remain committed to their vision and continue to build Empirical on their own terms, defining the path as they walk it. In an interview featured in this episode, Williams and Hermansen spoke about their remarkable work at Noma, their decision to leave the restaurant and start a distillery, flavor innovation as a means of stimulating memories and why transparency is the priority in marketing. Show notes: 0:46: Lars Williams & Mark Emil Hermansen, Co-Founders, Empirical – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Williams and Hermansen at Empirical's harbor-based distillery in Copenhagen where they discussed the beauty and liveliness of the city in springtime and growing beyond their reputations and careers at Noma. They also discussed the upcoming launch of a product designed for scale, why explaining how Empirical is different is one of the more challenging parts of their jobs, the complexities of a recent label revamp and why satellite distilleries are integral to Empirical's next stage of development… and its P&L statement. Brands in this episode: Empirical

    Against All Odds, They Built Against The Grain. A Skrewball Emerged… And Surged.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2022 43:27


    On a BevNET Live stage several years ago, former vitaminwater CMO, beverage investor and current “Shark Tank'' judge Rohan Oza remarked that “everything is niche, until it's not.” It's an adage that one could certainly apply to Skrewball Whiskey, a peanut butter-flavored whiskey brand that has experienced one of the one of the fastest market rollouts in the history of the spirits industry. Launched in 2018 by married couple Brittany and Steven Yeng, Skrewball was inspired by a popular peanut butter shot that was on the menu at Steven's restaurant in San Diego. While flavored whiskies have become an established segment within the overall whiskey category, few believed that Skrewball would be anything more than a novelty concept. It's safe to say that the naysayers were wrong. Skrewball has grown at an astonishing rate, selling over one million cases within three years of its debut. The brand is available in all 50 states along with Canada and the Caribbean and sold at major retailers, liquor stores and restaurants. In an interview featured in this episode, Brittany, who earned her master's in chemistry before becoming an attorney and eventually the owner of a spirits brand, spoke about the development of Skrewball, why an “against the grain” approach has worked for the company, what she learned about trust and aligning with people acting in their best interests and why a gut check is a key factor in every decision. She also explained how a poor review of the brand early on was a blessing in disguise, how she and Steven won over a key distribution partner and her position that she's not selling peanut butter whiskey. Show notes: 0:46: Brittany Yeng, Co-Founder, Skrewball Whiskey – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Yeng about Skrewball's partnership with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, why a desire to build something with her husband and align their work schedules were important factors in launching the brand, their faith that the company could succeed and the emotional conversation she had with her father about leaving her career in law. She also discussed the impact of her husband's perspective as a restaurant owner and her experience in navigating the nuances of the hospitality industry, why misjudging people was both problematic and helpful and how Skrewball landed its first distilling partner. Later, she explained why identifying a retail buyer's personal motivations is critical to the pitch, the importance of sharing the brand's origin story, the art (and not science) of asking questions, the conundrum of bad people who have good advice and good people with bad advice, the company's straightforward pricing strategy, why naming the brand was the hardest part of the brand's development and how she views ‘me too' products. Brands in this episode: Skrewball Whiskey

    We're Psyched About These Things. You Probably Are, Too.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 29:13


    Taste Radio's hosts reflected on upcoming cultural events and the excitement surrounding NOSH Live and BevNET Live Summer 2022 in New York City. They also riffed on several new and innovative products, including crunchy mushroom chips, gut-health drinks made with upcycled whey, a soda-inspired line of kids' beverages and cigarette-styled snacks made for “invisible friends.” Show notes: 0:40: Tom Cruise + An Aperitivo = Perfect. Plus, Squares, Severed Heads and Stars. – John is irritated, so Jacqui suggested an eject button, while Ray is pumped about a certain sequel and bitter cocktails. After debating the value of novelty holidays, the hosts also discussed entrepreneurs and executives from high-profile brands, including Mid-Day Squares and Liquid Death, that will be on stage at NOSH Live and BevNET Live in NYC, why it's fine to pair these ‘delics with kids' drinks, what a super-premium coffee and tea brand has to do a ‘90's hip-hop group and the value of striking packaging and craftsmanship. Brands in this episode: ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto, Select Aperitivo, Amaro Montenegro, Campari, Mid-Day Squares, Partake Foods, Sweet Loren's, Saffron Road, Everything Legendary, Ithaca Hummus, Magic Spoon, Liquid Death, Orgain, Ocean Spray, Harmless Harvest, Uncle Matt's, Culture Pop, Poppi, Popadelics, Starryside, Mr. Raspy, Chatty Matcha, Onyx Coffee Lab, Pricklee, Super Frau, Aura Bora

    Momofuku Is Extending Its Empire, And She's Leading The Charge

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 73:33


    How do you extend a restaurant empire into pantries across America? If you're David Chang, you hire Zoe Feldman. Often regarded as one of the most influential chefs and restaurateurs of the past two decades, Chang is the founder of Momofuku, a global restaurant group that is credited by The New York Times as leading “the rise of contemporary Asian-American cuisine.” In October 2020, Momofuku launched a consumer brand of restaurant-grade pantry essentials, including noodles, seasoned salts, crunchy chili oil and bottled sauces, that are designed for at-home chefs and enthusiasts of Momofuku's acclaimed restaurants.    At the helm of the consumer division is Zoe Feldman, a former Chobani and Pepsico executive who led new ventures strategy for both companies and is known for her advocacy of underrepresented entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industries. Feldman joined Momofuku in October 2021, and over the past seven months she has overseen a dramatic acceleration in direct-to-consumer and retail sales. According to Feldman, the company is re-forecasting growth every three weeks. Remarkably, the brand's ascendance has come with little investment in marketing. While a majority of the products are sold via the company's website, the brand is rapidly making inroads at retailers including Whole Foods, Amazon, Central Market and Target. In an interview featured in this episode, Feldman spoke about the development of and vision for Momofuku Goods, the impact of Chang's media presence on awareness and trial, why she can't hit the brakes on growth – even if she wanted to – and the reason she only hires “Swiss Army knives.” She also discussed the brand's role in the evolution of the ethnic aisle and why she focused on the fundamentals of building a good business.   Show notes: 0:46: Zoe Feldman, GM of Consumer, Momofuku – Feldman and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif chatted about her master's degree in public health in the context of the pandemic before discussing previous her work experience and decision to leave Chobani and join Momofuku, expounding on the consumer brand's blistering start and the challenges of working with Generation Z. She also explained why she maintains an “open book, open door” policy, her emphasis on building contingencies into the company's operational strategy, why it's okay for leaders to cry, what it means to build a business “the right way” and how reputation is a critical asset in the food and beverage industries. Later, she spoke about why relationships have been key to managing the supply chain crisis, balancing short-term and long-term planning, what Momofuku has learned about and from its consumers in terms of trial and innovation, why she compares gradual changes in the availability and acceptance of ethnic food brands to that of the natural and organic ones and why her love and passion for Momofuku drives her every day. Brands in this episode: Momofuku, Chobani, Spindrift, Maya Kaimal, Fila Manila, Guinness

    How Do You Build A Bridge To Buyers And Investors? Bolster It With Brand Story.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 43:50


    When Bridget Connelly started Luna Bay Booch in 2018, the hard kombucha category consisted of a handful of brands, most of which were positioned as alternatives to craft beer and focused on distribution in Southern California. A former social media strategist for Lululemon, Connelly took a different tack.  She swathed Luna Bay with an ethereal vibe and incorporated design elements that highlighted its premium ingredients, better-for-you attributes and proprietary blend of Yerba Mate tea and seasonal fruits and herbs. Without any prior beverage alcohol industry experience, Bridget laid down roots in Chicago and focused on building a retail presence in the Midwest.   While the hard kombucha category is now represented by dozens of brands, Luna Bay's differentiated look and distribution strategy has supported the brand's expansion into retail stores nationwide, including those of Target, Marianos, Trader Joe's and Jewel-Osco. In an interview featured in this episode, Connelly spoke about her inspiration for Luna Bay and the origins of its name, why brand story was a key asset when meeting with retail buyers, how the pandemic influenced consumer awareness and interest, why investment in the category is a two-sided story and why she credits mentors as critical to the brand's development. Show notes: 0:49: Interview: Bridget Connelly, Co-Founder/CEO, Luna Bay Booch – Connelly and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif riffed on the entrepreneur's love of surfing, reflected on their first meeting in 2019 and the brand's origins in San Diego. She also addressed a writer's description of Luna Bay as a “a hippie-ish alcohol brand,” the brand's hierarchy of values and how it is depicted on the packaging and explained growing retailer interest in hard kombucha. Later, she discussed the continued lack of investment in female-led brands and why asking for specific help is important when working with mentors. Brands in this episode: Luna Bay Booch, Flying Embers, Juneshine, SkinnyDipped

    Coffee With An NBA Superstar? It's An Experience. Plus, Maxi Advises On Exits.

    Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 30:46


    Jimmy Butler's prowess on the basketball court earned him the nickname “Jimmy Buckets.” As he becomes more well known in the coffee industry, perhaps “Jimmy Barista'' will be just as fitting. A perennial NBA All-Star, Butler revealed himself as a coffee aficionado in 2020 when the league concluded its season in a “bubble” at the Disney World resort in Orlando. He stocked his hotel room with coffee equipment and began making and selling lattes, cortados, espressos and a variety of other coffee drinks to fellow NBA players and staff. But after the season concluded, it quickly became apparent that coffee wasn't just a passing interest for the Texas-born small forward. Over the following months, Butler laid the groundwork for a premium brand that could introduce high quality coffee to mainstream consumers. The result was BIGFACE, Butler's all-purpose brand which  sells coffee beans, branded apparel and other merchandise on its website. Since launching in October 2021, BIGFACE has launched four pop-up stores, including one at the 2022 Miami Open tennis tournament where the company served coffee to players at VIP areas throughout the venue. In an interview featured in this episode, Butler spoke about how he views his foray into the coffee business as a reflection of his competitive personality, the experiential impact of coffee, how the pillars of BIGFACE are based on his personal values and his ultimate goals for the brand.   The episode also features the latest edition of The Maxi Minutes, featuring Maxine Kozler Koven, the co-managing director of Los Angeles-based investment firm LDR Ventures who advises entrepreneurs on how to speak to potential investors about their vision and exit strategy. Show notes: 0:57: Jimmy Butler, Founder, BIGFACE Coffee – Butler sat down with BevNET managing editor Martin Caballero sat down with Butler at the 2022 Speciality Coffee Expo where the NBA star spoke about his cover story in “Barista” magazine, his experience at the annual trade show and his belief that coffee stimulates thoughtful conversations and spurs new relationships. He also discussed why coffee culture is increasingly popular among NBA players, BIGFACE's presence at the 2022 Miami Open, how he's educating himself about coffee preparation and the business of selling coffee. Later, he explained why BIGFACE is akin to a family or fan base, his vision for its development as a lifestyle brand, how he manages the company's growth while maintaining his focus on basketball court and why he loves visiting new cafes when traveling to cities for road games.  17:37: Maxine Kozler Koven, Co-Managing Director, LDR Ventures – Koven spoke about the importance of a first interaction, offered recommendations on how to build an effective professional network and explained why founders need to be realistic and thoughtful about their exit strategies when pitching to investors. Brands in this episode: BIGFACE

    Their ‘Aura' Felt Different… And Great Things Followed

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2022 70:21


    Paul Voge, the co-founder and CEO of artisanal sparkling water brand Aura Bora, wasn't too worried about his first large scale production run.  Aura Bora, which markets zero-calorie sparkling waters infused with herbs and botanicals, was born out of Voge's belief that an opportunity existed for an artisanal option within the carbonated water category. If, however, the brand failed to get off the ground, Voge, a prolific sparkling water consumer himself, was comfortable with the idea of having a personal stash of 35,000 cans to drink over the next few decades.  Thankfully, Aura Bora has resonated among category consumers, and over the past two years the Colorado-based company has expanded beyond its original focus on the natural channel and ecommerce and into conventional retail stores. Its drinks are now available at 3,000 locations, including nationally at Sprouts, and are also sold at 7-Eleven and Raley's along with Harris Teeter and United Supermarket, chains operated by Kroger and Albertsons, respectively. In an interview featured in this episode, Voge, who co-founded Aura Bora with his wife Maddie,  explained how he attempted to differentiate the brand from other sparkling water brands in name, package design and formulation, why he was inspired by artisanal food brands, the clever way he landed a meeting with a Whole Foods buyer; and how his pricing strategy was ahead of the curve for premium sparkling water. He also discussed his tension-filled, yet ultimately successful, experience on “Shark Tank,” why investors were at ease with an evolution of Aura Bora's retail strategy, why acquiring sales data has been critical to the brand's development and how he's attracted industry veterans for key roles.  Show notes: 0:46: Paul Voge, Co-Founder/CEO, Aura Bora – Voge and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif riffed on the entrepreneur's cap collection and experience at Expo West 2022, hand-canning Aura Bora's first products and the impact of launching the brand a couple months before the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. He also spoke about what attracted retail buyers to the brand, what he and Maddie wanted to convey in the label and package design, the thoughtful approach to naming the brand and how functional beverages factored into Aura Bora's pricing strategy. Later, Voge explained why Aura Bora is attempting to “own” a subset of sparkling water, how he indirectly met Whole Foods buyer, utilizing data and information from online sales to support innovation, R&D and marketing and his wild ride on “Shark Tank.” Voge also discussed why buying SPINS data has been a valuable investment, why the hire of a sales director made him realize that “he was driving without glasses,” and why, despite the many uncertainties of running a beverage company, it's important to have a plan.  Brands in this episode: Aura Bora, Sanzo, LaCroix, Polar Seltzer, Poland Spring, Jeni's, Van Leeuwen, Salt & Straw, Kettle Chips, RxBar, Waterloo, Topo Chico, JoJo's Creamery, Hoplark, Liquid Death, KIND Snacks, Pipcorn, Genius Juice, Harmless Harvest, Voss, Super Coffee, GT's Kombucha