Archive for the ‘You Gotta Believe’ Category

Top Ten Tips for Entrepreneurs

December 1, 2014

Great advice from Robert Herjavec……I have long offered that starting a business was like climbing Mt Everest…..there is no way to describe how hard it is. It is the ultimate commitment.

Commercialization is hard work! 2

May 30, 2014

On this date in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first people ever to climb Mount Everest. We mention this because we have long said that commercializing a new beverage/food product is the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest. It is only fitting we honor them today. Get ready and strap it up! Let’s start the climb.

Good Advice – 2014

January 5, 2014

If you are starting a new company in the food/beverage space, here is some good advice from our friend Gerry Khermouch, Editor of Beverage Business Insights. While Gerry has nailed it, from our perspective, I would add one more – make sure you enjoy what you do…..if you don’t have passion, it is almost impossible.

As we usually do with first issue of new year, Beverage Business Insights offers some hopefully helpful resolutions for entrepreneurs trying to navigate around shoals of increasingly perilous bev biz. Once contrarian, these rules now seem well on way to becoming accepted wisdom, judging by similar advice proffered by experts at industry pow-wows like BevNet Live lately. As always we credit the insights to you, our readers, who’ve been so good about communicating your hard-won knowledge to us at BBI.

Better to be slightly starved of capital than over-endowed. Having not-quite-enough capital forces you to focus on key priorities and let distractions go. By contrast, too much capital almost inevitably fosters waste. Besides, once retailers, distributors and prospective new hires know you have the dough, their hands come out. So try to keep the round modest. Don’t let the institutional guys talk you up by too many millions.

Make your mistakes off-Broadway. There’s much to be said for foregoing the national landgrab and its concomitant capital raise in favor of starting small, in a market or two, preferably your backyard. Until the big Bev Bust of 08, not many paid it any mind, tho. By staying contained to a single region or channel, you can figure out what makes your brand tick, while staying out of the spotlight and not getting tarred as a failure while you work out the inevitable kinks. You’ll burn through less capital and less credibility if you make your mistakes locally, not nationally.

Learn to say no. “Getting to Yes” may be the name of an evergreen negotiation handbook, but “getting to no” is a better ambition for bev entrepreneurs to harbor. Learn to say no to big distributors you won’t be able to adequately support, and to retail chains (especially Walmart) where you’ll get lost on a bottom shelf and endlessly chiseled for pricing concessions. Tho audacious moves into the likes of Walmart seem to have worked out well for some intrepid bevcos, such as Vita Coco, the recent annals of troubled bevcos are filled with those who outran their coverage. If you stay contained within your chosen channel or geography and still manage to show accelerating off-the-shelf velocity, those other distributors and retailers (and capital providers and strategics) will only want you more, on your timetable.

Don’t be overawed by the big systems. The Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple and beer systems are finely tuned machines for moving high-volume, high-velocity products at affordable price points through the chains. That doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Big systems seem to work best for big brands. For smaller, premium brands, their default reflex, at the least sign of resistance, is to hit the 10-for-$10 button (or worse). Even if you do partner with one, maintain flexibility over what distribution option you employ in a given market until you’re further along. As a corollary: don’t be so dazzled by the resumes of big-company vets. Their credentials may be only remotely relevant to your own needs – unless your overarching strategic aim is to cook up those 10-for-$10 deals with large-format retailers.

It’s better to underplay than overplay your nutritional claims. We’re in an era of heightened regulatory scrutiny and class-action litigation and, given the excesses of the recent past, can’t really claim it’s undeserved. So you’re better off underplaying your nutritional and functional claims than overplaying them – that can only increase the likelihood of unwanted attention from regulators and sleazy lawyers, and won’t do as much as you think to impress jaundiced consumers.

Think strategically about the strategics. If your main game plan is to launch your product, fake it for a year or two, and get taken out by Coke, Pepsi or DPS at a nice premium, then you shouldn’t be in this biz. Figure you’re going to be in the game for a while, and think of strategics as cos that offer real help in staying in the game. That might mean less easily defined partners, from overseas firms like Tata to family funds like Verlinvest and Emil Capital to well-connected incubators like LA Libations and MetaBrand, not just KO, PEP and DPS.

Stop pounding on the DSD guys already. True, some DSD distributors are grasping, whining, endlessly finagling operatives. (That’s what makes them so much fun to have a beer with!) Maybe they really aren’t right for your brand, at least at the earliest stage of development or in the channels you’re targeting. Fine. It’s worth keeping in mind, tho, that there haven’t been any shelf-stable brands that have achieved megasuccess without going through the DSD network during their prime growth phase. So pick a limited # of DSD partners – maybe just one – make sure you’re on the same page, and see if it can work for you. Like democracy or America’s Got Talent, it’s sloppy and occasionally unsightly, but nobody’s found a better way.

Stand for something, from the start. We don’t buy that old saw that certain categories – tea, coconut water, energy – are tapped out, with no room for new entrants. Nor does innovation have to mean employing some earth-shattering new ingredient that sounds like a by-product from an oil refinery. As existing brands move through their life cycle, there’s room for reasonably straightforward brands to emerge, even without a lot of bells and whistles. But that only works if your brand stands for something, right from the outset. Trying to add on values or personality down the line is way harder, and less likely to be convincing to consumers.

Go Pirates

August 13, 2013

In our business, we root for the upstarts….brands that shake up the industry….that make the ‘old world players’ pay attention. We call these brands ‘the new rule makers’…..they change the status quo. Along that line, for the past 2 years I have told you to watch out for the Pittsburgh Pirates….they have turned it around and have been a winning team after years of losing. They have fallen short the last two years. Well, they are at it again this year with the second best record in baseball as of today. Maybe this is the year that they can break through.

The message is that nothing is forever…the world is turning upside down constantly. There is nothing to stop a good idea from being successful. If you have an idea or a dream….get going on it now. It won’t be easy, the road is long, but, it won’t happen unless you try!

The Value of Winning

October 7, 2012

Just sitting here on a Sunday afternoon watching NFL games and getting ready for the week ahead. I found a thought that merges the two of them together. A friend of mine sent me a GMA report titled ‘Winning Where It Matters – a focused approach to capturing growth’. It’s way too deep to go into right now…..I’m trying to watch the NFL – first things first. But, it did leave me with the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an NFL QB, or just someone just trying to make a sales number….it is all about winning.  That’s an easy thing to say….maybe overly simple.  To really be successful, you have to break it down to smaller pieces.  If you can look at it in shorter time frames….you can drive some exceptional results short term and long term.  Think of it in terms of this quarter….or this month…..or this week.  Set some strong goals and go out there and hit some home runs. (sorry for mixing baseball and football)  Go land a new customer, sell-in a major initiative, make something happen.  And when you do, celebrate for about a minute….and go do it again.  Winning can drive you and your organization.  Have a great week!

OK, I meant Tampa

September 30, 2011

Same message, just had the wrong team.  I have to give the Rays credit…they never gave up….and now they are in the playoffs.  The headline for me is still the same….the prize goes to who wants it most.  You gotta believe!

Keep your eye on the Pirates this year

July 20, 2011

The older I get, the more I enjoy watching baseball.   I grew up in the Boston area, so naturally I am a Red Sox fan.  I have lived in Dallas for the past 20 years and have become a fan of the Rangers, especially since Nolan Ryan has been involved.  In fact, I am watching them play the Angels as I write this. 

I always enjoy teams turning things around, and this year I am going to keep my eye on the Pirates.  Nothing would be more fun than if they are battling in September for a playoff spot.  It just goes to show you that anything is possible….and that’s how it can relate in life as well as the beverage business… just gotta believe!