Getting 10,000 retailers including Whole Foods and Walmart with Pop & Bottles co-founder, Jash Mehta
Updated: Jun 26
This is Jash Mehta for Female Startup Club
Hello and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here - your host and hype girl. Today on the show we’re learning from Josh Mehta, founder of Pop & Bottle. Pop & Bottle was inspired when Jash Mehta and her close friend Blair Hardy made the move from the London to California meeting for their daily ritual - the morning latte.
As coffee lovers who also prioritized health, the two friends asked themselves why nothing on the grocery store shelves met their standards: clean label, dairy-free, no refined sugar, and organic. Jash co-founded Pop & Bottle from a genuine desire to create quality coffee and tea beverages she wanted in her own life — and make them available to the millions of people who share in her passion for clean, healthful, high-integrity products.
We talk through her early blueprint which his still super relevant to today and how she expanded from 30 to 100 stores and then onto 10,000. If you’re in the food and Bev industry - grab your pen and paper and settle in for an episode packed with valuable insights.
And today is your last chance to join us inside Majic before we close the doors to founding members and go back to our regular pricing. It’s inside Majic that you can meet women like Jash and ask direct questions in an intimate setting, connect with other founders who are pre-launch or in the early stages of building their brand and access tonnes of resources/sops and frameworks that you can implement into your life and business today. If you’ve been excited about joining us, go to femalestartupclub.com/majic - with a J and when you sign up you’ll be prompted to book your 1-1 call with me so I can get to know you better.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Um so I'm Jash Mehta. I'm CEO and co-founder of a organic plant based last, a brand called Pop & Bottle were available in the US and 1000 grocery stores like whole foods and walmart and sprouts. Um and um we've been going for about seven years now. I started with my co founder. Yeah, it's been a beautiful, challenging, interesting, fun, terrifying journey. Uh yeah, I love what I do as it always is. It's a roller coaster. So I'm told so I've heard, I as I know where do you like to start your story? I know you launched around 2015, but where does kind of the lightbulb moment happen for you and your co founder? And what is that early kind of moment into starting popping bottle? Yeah, it's so interesting looking back because I think in any journey, you have these pivotal moments and we definitely had, you know, over the last seven years we've definitely had several of them and each one has kind of taken the business into a different trajectory. And so we started 2015 in that bootstrapped, very organic, very steep learning curve, the learning curve still steep, but it was very hands on back then, that was kind of phase one of the business and then it kind of moved into the next phase where we had a few more resources etcetera etcetera. But I can start in the bootstrap because I think, I think that's the most interesting and let's start there. We love that phase. Yeah, and I can help start with, you know why we, how we got into this and why we do what we do and what that looks like. So you know, for me personally, um I was coming at entrepreneurship from the person, I need to see my mom being an entrepreneur my whole life, so and I know I know you have a similar story. Um my mom was a kind of a big part of the role model that showed me what it was, what it looked like to have a female leader, a female business owner. So I always knew I had that entrepreneurship gene in me and I was coming to the table with that from a young age, but I just didn't know what that looked like, what was the business, where did I want to spend my time and there's a little bit of serendipity actually, the way we started um I moved to san Francisco um in my twenties for personal reasons, it's a big move from London and I moved to the city, which was, you know, 80% tech scene, but actually the part that drew me in was not the tech industry, it was the food industry and um you know London being big city, great food team, but um but removed from kind of the agricultural farm to table aspect of, of food and that's, that's what I, that's what I saw when I came to California, so I arrived and suddenly there was all this beautiful farm to table eating that I was experiencing these beautiful California farmers markets where I was buying my produce um the grocery stores for these amazing health food stores selling things I've never heard of and it was just such an interesting kind of facet of California living that really captured me in um and my kind of and really started my interest in wellness and healthy eating. The serendipity of the story is that my co founder, who was one of my best friends, happened to move to san Francisco for totally different reasons within six months and when I moved so suddenly I arrived here, I left my career behind and I had a space of time in kind of my career that was a break. Um and it was a forced break because I moved but it was such a great time to just slow down and experience this new place, get to narrow it, explore my passions and do it with a friend. Um He was a very good friend and so it started a completely passion based, we we love health and wellness, we started eating at these rational together we started kind of jumping into a plant based diet, seeing what that did to our bodies, how it felt, going to health food stores and understanding these ingredients and what they mean watching documentaries and yeah it was just a kind of a really fun period of exploration and then we would meet for coffee, we'd meet every day for coffee and talk about X. Y. Z. That we've learned or what we were interested in. And suddenly we kind of realized that, you know, we've been putting wellness into every aspect of our lives and seeing how that felt, but this daily ritual that we loved, this daily activity that we did that was social that we met. You know, it was community driven, We meet every day wasn't actually very healthy and especially you know, especially seven years ago when um it was a lot harder to find great plant based options and um you know, you go for a coffee and it would mostly be dairy, there's also added sugar in lattes, it was very hard to find organic coffee, it was very hard to find t paste options. And suddenly we kind of had this moment where we wanted this ritual that we loved to just be more helpful. And we noticed that particularly in the grocery store space. So yes, you could go to your local coffee shop and craft that thing, that was your taste. But if you went to a grocery store coffee in the grocery store was really about hyper caffeine ation, it was more energy. Um it wasn't about ritual, it wasn't about delight, it wasn't about wellness and we just, we we noticed that white space and it was something we were doing every day and that was really kind of a light bulb moment. We wanted to craft something that was delightful and delicious and helpful for us and build a beautiful brand around it, that it was meaningful to ask meaningful to others. So that was really the moment that kind of started us on this journey. Um, the reality of it is that we had no food background, no beverage background, no CPG background Micro found was from a design background. I had an operational business background and so we were coming at this industry really naive and I think that has definitely benefits, has the challenges. You know, we have to have a lot in a short period of time, but it has its benefits. You know, I think if we knew more, we maybe wouldn't have jumped into it as hard. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Um, so that, that's kind of how it started and, and we really started small, we wanted to test the concept, we had no idea did other people want this, Would they pay for it when they buy it twice? Um, would the decision maker in the grocery stores, you know, I think this is a good idea what they make based on their shelves for it. And so there's a lot to learn and a lot to test and our goal. So the first milestone really was just Let's figure out how to make this in a way that is, you know, commercially viable and then let's get it into 2030 stores and see what happens, the process of selling it was us literally go into these little grocery stores asking to speak to the manager or the buyer and say, Hey, this is what we make. Um, we should be interested in this, what's your feedback? And we learned a lot doing that. And so at that time you're on this kind of forced break because you've moved, are you also going back into the industry or are you kind of like, let's see how we go and you are actually starting this business full time with the intention of just sticking with it full time? Yeah, it's a great question. Um, I was giving myself about six months to kind of figure out what life in California looked like for me. And so I think that's really in some ways important because we're all on this treadmill, right? It's like we're doing this and doing this and doing this and we want to be here by this age and you know, whatever that looks like. And it's rare that we intentionally take a break in our lives and I think for those who do it so wise. But for me it wasn't, it wasn't so intentional and it was kind of forced because I moved, but it gave me this like period of time to slow down and really be intentional about what I wanted to do next. And for me at the time it was the two options for me where I'm going to go join a company and kind of further my skill set and it was an exciting time to join tech and other things in saN Francisco or it was like actually this is the perfect time to really think about if I do want to start a business and what that looked like for me and I gave myself a period of time to test and learn and take some shots on goal and see what happened and what landed. Um and it was a very appropriate period of time to you know, things didn't work, it didn't feel right if my co founder was not working and we had a great friendship but maybe it wouldn't translate your business partnership, it's just kind of a great time to test all of those things and so yeah it was very open ended like let's try this, let's see what happens if we get to that next milestone will keep going and that has been the story of the last seven years, I love that. And just to further paint the picture, are you like making these products at home or you immediately kind of, you found a commercial kitchen, like what's the setup in those early bootstrapping moments? Yeah, yeah, let me paint paint color. Um so at the beginning we're doing all the R. And D. In my little apartment in san Francisco and uh we bought a vita Mix, like the first investment we made is $1000 in vita mix. Um You know fancy blender and that was that was kind of our big R. And D. Purchase and I wish I had one of those. Yeah it still works. It's in the museum of um And yeah it was at this point just the earliest form of an idea really. Um But we would you know find recipes. We were making our homemade flour based milks. We were you know literally making almond milk in our kitchen. We weren't selling it but we were just we were doing all the R. And D. And R. And D. Is very basic at this point and that's kinda how it started. We didn't we didn't go any further until we had an assemblage of a product that someone could taste. You know be friends and family, someone could taste and just give us feedback. We did that for a little while until we had I believe it was five different products that we had got to A point where we thought this delicious, we loved this, we have a recipe that we would buy it at least every day. Let's see if it lands with others. Think it's ladd's birthday in that year that we decided to have a friends and family tasting. Um And we invited 30 of our close friends and family, we had these big giant vats of lattes, different flavors and we set them up, we made it look beautiful and we had an ipad, a google form and we basically put together a questionnaire, um tell us what's your favorite, tell us what you liked, what you didn't like, would you buy the skin? How much would you pay? Just kind of basic questions to our audience of 30 friends and in exchange, you know, come hang out with us, will serve you breakfast, we'll have a good time, we'll celebrate the birthday etcetera etcetera. So that was kind of our first piece of feedback are kind of first product trial, you know, in a safe environment with our friends. And then we use that to decide on three products, like we have five that we love, we can't launch five, it takes too many resources too expensive. Nobody's gonna give us five skews of shelf space in grocery store. So let's use this exercise to pick the best three and really focus on those. So we use the results of our little mocked up survey and we landed on three that we loved and that had the best feedback and it's not the kind of the rd stage. Once we've gone from there that it was really had to learn about the regulation, the licensing, we've got food service license ourselves and then we found a commercial kitchen um not too far outside of san Francisco um where we could rent by the hour of the weekends and you know, physically make the product ourselves um so what the working week look like in those early days for us is monday to friday, we would sell market, you know work on strategy designed packaging, like all of those great things and then on the weekend we would run production um and we would work in commercial kitchen make the product Mondays, we would deliver everything and Tuesdays to Fridays we do up here, what kind of like amount of money did you invest in that early stage to getting you to kind of like you know launch I guess where you have like those three products you've kind of invested in the like the the I don't know the setup of the company, the hiring of the commercial kitchen, getting licensed that kind of thing, like if you had to put a ballpark figure on the investment. Yeah it was about $10,000 um so my girlfriend and I both put about half of that in um and that was enough to get us on the ground which you know just sell, it might sound a lot to some might sound not very much shoulders um for us, you know at the time it was it was the amount that we were comfortable um putting in to invest and really give it a little bit of a go um but that felt comfortable to us and um it was enough for us to invest in our first round of packaging, do the business startup costs the licensing the regulation um, and um, you know, produce our first round of products, essentially, and at that time, you know, you are obviously kind of going into this with the idea that you would see how it goes, bootstrap the business, but at some point you raise money and I don't want to skip ahead too far in the process. But for you, I think it's an interesting moment to talk about because a lot of people kind of want to raise straight out of the gate, they want to raise early on and and go right into it and think that that's the answer. But oftentimes bootstrapping it until you get to a point where you have to raise out of desperation or out of the need to scale or expand, you know, comes along for you. Were you ever thinking about raising at that point or what was that kind of like, mental mindset around the bootstrapping to fundraising path? You know, there's so many ways to do this, and when I look back, I don't know if we did it exactly right, but I also don't know if we're going to do it again, whether we do it differently, it's kind of the path we chose and, you know, it worked, we've we've got here, but, um, but it probably slow things down for sure. So I think that's always the trade off, you know, resources always can help speed things up, but resources obviously come at a price, And so, you know, what is the right place for you and how much are you willing to, you know, give away in terms of equity or whatever it is to make that work for us going back to us not being from the industry. Um, and you know, the naivety that we talked about, I don't think that we really knew what it looked like to do this in a way that was really expedited. Um you know, if if I was doing it again now, I really understand, I zoomed out enough that I know that if I was sitting back in, um, I would know how to do things a lot faster and I understand how to scale things a lot faster, but at the time we didn't know that. And it's really important to us to get our hands study and learn. So we weren't looking to raise out the gate because we didn't, we needed to have the confidence in ourselves and in the product to know that, you know, if we, before we go out and ask others to support this, um, we need to know what we're doing. We need to know that we have X amount of data that we understand what this looks like. We have some metrics to show etcetera. And that took a little bit of time um, to a bootstrapped for a period of time, but ultimately it was also very apparent reasonably early on that we wouldn't really be able to be bootstrapped for that long unless we wanted this business to be very, very localized, I think, um if the ambitions were to do this kind of within a tight geography of san Francisco and do it in a very low wise way, I think that we could have continued down that path, but I think there's a philosophical question that we have to ask us, which is, you know, why are we doing this? You know, what's the, what's the North Star? And if the North Star is to build this brand that touches a large geography of people, um, then we're gonna have to raise some capital, we're going to need some support. Um, and um, it's it's not a cheap business to build, you know, when you really, you need scale in order to really build this uh geography that is meaningful. And so it was very apparent, reasonably early that we would need to raise funding if if that was the ambition. Um, and it wasn't necessarily obvious to us, that was the ambition day one. You know, it came with a few months of seeing the products sell, getting feedback and building our own confidence. You know, it's really the customer telling us we should have bigger ambitions for this because actually we do want it. Um, and then as we slowly increased our geography, it started to work in a in a bigger scale and a bigger geography and it's really been that process of feedback and there's many successes that have given us the confidence to go a little bit broader in our ambition. Mm Gosh, I love that. And I think it's you know, it's such an important point you touched on which is you really do need to prove out your concept first in the market to get that metric and data kind of analysis so that you can then figure out what the north star is and what you want to do with it. Because obviously if the market isn't ready for that product or it's not quite right, then you don't want to invest money kind of that can go down the drain when you need to jiggle things to to prove it out totally. Yeah. And it's really rare that you put something out in the world and you nailed every single thing the first time around, right? Like I think some people might be extraordinary our product and design thinking to be able to do that. But the reality is that you really need a bunch of touch points, a bunch of people to experience the product with different preferences or you know, whatever it is to help you shape what is wanted to be in the world and it's really healthy. I think to be open to pivoting in those early days. I think if you're too much of a perfectionist about that or you're too attached to that very first version that you made the vita mix in the kitchen, then there might be a missed opportunity. So given that given yourself that time um and being open to, you know, a potential pivot or the market guiding you, you know, for us was definitely really helpful. Was there a lot of change in the beginning based on the feedback? Like what were some of the things that people you know were telling you we need it to be this or we need it to be that. Yeah. Yes and no, I think one of the biggest ones that was, but it was probably the most transformative for our business was this idea of really zeroing in on a few products that resonated the best. And so I kind of alluded to this and you know, we had five recipes. We land we launched with three. That sounds very small, but it was actually very, very important when you're starting a small business and industry sources. But the biggest thing about that was not just you know, which of the three that taste the best, but it was really helping us better understand what problem you were solving for the world or from France or for our san Francisco community, whatever that was and what we realized is. So I'll give a very specific example in our case we had a selection of products that were coffee, tea and um caffeinated, we loved all of them, we use them at different points of the day. But as we looked at some of the early data and got the early feedback. The ones that were resonating the best were the ones that were taking the place in someone's life of their coffee. You know, it was the caffeinated, ritualistic products of the bunch. And so that's where we started. Um and that really helped us zero in on the fact that well who are we were a latte brand, that's what we want to be and that's what we want to do really, really well and that's what we want to be known for. And zeroing in on that was very helpful. Um it was really helpful so that we could focus on a limited number of products. That was very helpful because we could very clearly articulate from a brand and marketing perspective what we were selling and what we were hoping to improve for someone's lives. And so that that was an example of not necessarily a pivot but zooming in on one specific thing that we could be good at. Yes, very clear messaging, very like similar target profile for who you're trying to reach, stacking your marketing. I totally get it. That's amazing. And so for you, I want to talk about that like early period because you mentioned that in the beginning, you know, your goal was to kind of like get into 2030. You know, mom and pop style shops, see how it's going and the blueprint for that is, you know, from what I hear quite, you know, it's obvious you go and knock on everyone's doors, you get people to try your product, you get some orders in and rinse and repeat until you have those 30 stores. But from there like the 30 stores, how do you get to like 1000 customers whether that is directly through the website or whether that is, you know, more retailers, What's that next phase of expansion for you to get to that 1st 1000 if you have to summarize. It's a great question and it, you know, it was, it was not linear. You know, it was like, um, one thing for us which is specific to our business is at the time our products were all perishable. We've expanded our portfolio since then and that's a little different today. But um, back then, you know, with a small selection of products and they're all perishable. So that actually in some ways it did a little bit of focusing for us in terms of our channel strategy. So we couldn't really sell online because it was a very perishable product. We can shift. So that ruled out direction tumor was taking off but we can be part of it because that was not something that fit our product. So we kind of were limited by the distribution that are pressure products enable us to do and that really meant focusing on grocery and and so that's what we did. We we had our 30 stores of data. Um it was strong and we use that data to then try and get the next 100 stores. And for us the 30 stores like you said they were mum and parked their independence maybe a 22 chain store, three store three store chain. But it wasn't more than that for us. The kind of next Ambition was to be in whole foods. It was you know, a very important natural food store where we could get our products into kind of the 30 to 40 store regional launch. Um and Give us the opportunity to really test it at a wider market and that would have been kind of 100 store range. So it went from pitching individual stores, 1x1. The buyers in the store, you walk through the door, you make an appointment and you drop off, you physically drop off product to them trying to get an appointment with whole foods corporate and get their attention and get that opportunity. And that was what took us $200. And the way that that happened is really just a lot of a lot of reaching out a lot of persistence. Finally the forager in whole foods, there's a sort of forager program where they look to promote locally produced products. And so we learned about this program uh you know we fit the criteria and we met the local forager and I still remember that meeting, going to the corporate office was very exciting, very nervous. Um, but we were authentic and they were looking for authentic stories. You know, one of the missions of that program was to support local food entrepreneurs and that's exactly who we were. So we told our authentic story, he liked the taste of the product, he understood the white space that we were operating in and he didn't have anything that that close to his store. So he gave us a chance and that took us to the 100 store mark. But really our first chain and that gave our brand and our product legitimacy. And once we had that legitimacy, then suddenly we had a case a successful case study in a reputable larger retailer that we could then take to others. And you know, that was a billboard for us to be in whole foods and that credibility and and other people seeing it there. And that helped open the doors to more conversations with other with other stores with other grocery retailers. Um, so that was definitely tipping point for us. And is that in parallel where you kind of needed to raise capital because I imagine Maybe 20-30 stores you can maybe manage, you know, on a very lean team. But scaling into 100 is a lot like production changes significantly from being like you making it on the weekends to being like we need to outsource this. Yeah, totally, no, you're exactly right. That was almost hand in hand with that wider launch in whole foods was the upsizing production situation, So we're raising capital and we were doing this kind of in parallel, um so we're selling, raising money producing other weekends, you know, it was a lot, but it was exciting and we were seeing progress. Um, so we kind of, we started raising our first small seed round were supported by friends and family and a few other investors, but it was enough to get us to that next hurdle of needing a bigger commercial kitchen where we ran production every day that we kind of owned and operated and where we could hire a production manager, our first big high was our production manager. I remember meeting another entrepreneur back then, you know, he was a few years ahead of us in the food space, and the biggest piece of advice you gave us is, you need to both get yourself out of the kitchen, um you know, you need to, if you're really going to scale this, you need to bring in someone who knows how to do that, do that really well, so that you could really focus your time and attention to everything else and um that was such an important step for us to take and we really need a capital in order to do that, so finding that right higher, finding commercial kitchen space that would work for us. That could really allow us to be to grow for another year, year and a half at least that started to inform those types of things, starting to inform how much capital we wanted to raise and yeah, we're doing these things simultaneously. It wasn't sequential, I would say so, um I think that's an important thing to know because had it been, it would have been very difficult to make progress, but we kind of needed to have confidence that okay, we need to raise x. We've got 20% of that committed so far, but we don't have time to wait till we have the 400 We need to keep going and taking steps in this direction. So, you know, there's a leap of faith and confidence that we will continue raising this, we will we will raise this money while we do all of these things in parallel to secure the space, to secure the higher etcetera etcetera. So, uh, it was all kind of happening at the same time and even more at the same time. I imagine that your marketing is also evolving from being, you know, pounding the pavement door knocking to kind of how do we reach more people and get more attention and the spotlight on us? What were you doing marketing wise? Were you focusing on influences or pr or paid ads? What was the kind of evolution on that side of things. Yeah. So this was very bootstrapped and we needed every, you know the time and even when we had some funding, we need every dollar to go back into producing the product working capital investing in packaging, operating our kitchen. And so at the end of the day, there was very little left to really invest in marketing in a very intentional way. And so it had to be quite bootstrapped and quite grassroots. But I think that that also was an absolute blessing. Um, it gave us an opportunity to try different things and see what works to see what landed, but it also really added to the authenticity of the brand, which I think is really important. The one thing we knew and you know, we knew it to begin with, but it was really evident as we started to grow was that in a world with where you have very few marketing dollars, the best thing to invest in your product, It's really hard to acquire new customers, but when you do, you want them to, we repeat purchases and you want them to be advocates of your products, you want them to come back, you want them to spread the word. So making sure that the product is right, that the pricing is right, that the packaging is good and friendly and appropriate. Um, those are really, really important things to invest in and that's a very, very important part of marketing. Um, yeah, that really is stage one I would say of kind of what it took for us to be successful. So we invested everything into the product, you know, it is the cap. I remember one time we were just, we were not having the caps, they were hard to open and they're creating some frustration and we spent time fixing, you know, investing money on fixing the cap to find something that was just like a lot more user friendly and putting money there instead of putting it somewhere else. Because we knew that that was a really important part the experience. So I said yes in the beginning days really getting the product right, really getting the brand right. I alluded to this before, but we didn't have cash to put in paid ads or other things, but we did know that once our product lands on the shelf, that's a huge billboard for who we are, you know, a customer has, takes seconds only uh only seconds attention when they walk in a grocery store, the beverage aisles are particularly um busy and there's so many options and so many colors and so many things going on, so much messaging, how can we use that little bit of real estate that we're gonna get, no matter what, if we get into the store, how can we use that valuable piece of real estate to stand out above all else. And my co founder had a design background. Um it was not a seafood design background, but it was and again, it that was fantastic because she was not from the industry. So she kind of applied more of her fashion design background with the food lens and our packaging, which was completely designed internally led by her, was so simple that it stood out where everyone else was shouting about the product, we were telling the customer this is a very simple clean product by the lack of messaging on the packaging. And letting that simplicity really stand out. We picked really approachable pastel colors, we have really refined text um and it was an elegant, simple product inside and out and the packaging really spoke volumes, it got the attention, it encouraged people to try and the product was good enough that when they tried they came back and that was really the beginning of the flywheel that started to work for us. Once we had a little bit more capital to start to think about Margaret, comprehensive marketing plan, we leaned on, it leaned in on social media and instagram in particular, which back then was really the it was in its infancy in terms of how brands were using it. So, um it was not focused on paid advertising at the time as much, it was really about, you know, community voices, getting recommendations from friends and getting recommendations from kind of the early influences of the platforms and we sent our product, we never paid, we couldn't afford to do that. But again, letting the product speak for itself and having confidence in the product, we would send the product to wellness influences were right ourselves as part of kind of, again, the authenticity piece um and build a relationship, but if they were interested in receiving and product, we would send them some and hope that if they liked it, they would share it. And and that started to create a little bit of flywheel too. So those two things, the billboards in the store and the kind of authentic grassroots reach out. Those are the two things that we kind of linked on in those early days to start to get the word out. Do you think that for anyone listening who might be in the food and beverage industry and they're following a similar blueprint because, you know, low kind of budget bootstrapped, but knowing that the landscape has changed so much with social media, you know, everything is saturated, Every influencer is like promoting a million different products. If you were to start this same business tomorrow again on a low budget and you have those kind of, you know, first stores that you've already put in the hard, like pounding the pavement work, where would you kind of, what would you focus on as a channel today? Yeah, it's a really good question and I still think about this because, you know, even for us as these platforms have become saturated, it becomes harder to to do exactly that. And I think it's it's even harder if you're brand new, but it's hard, even if you're a few years down the road and I think zooming out that question asking yourself, and I think I would ask myself, what's the community that we're trying to build and what's the most micro version of that? So when you don't have a large platform to reach everyone, how can you find a small platform? But really go deep with the micro community um for us, You know, it's it's wellness, it's women, it's coffee, it's t it's moms who need a lot of coffee. Um and really kind of drilling down to those micro communities. I think that a genuinely great product or service that is suited to a micro community that is solving a real problem, will resonate and will break through the noise even in an increasingly noisier world. And sometimes I think just looking at that landscape and finding those grassroots opportunities to connect with that audience, I think they still exist. And again, going back to the point I made earlier, which is that sometimes having less resources actually is a good thing, when you have a lot of resources, you might choose to do things bigger and broader. When you have these less resources, you take it down to the most simplest form, those three products, that small community, that small geography, whatever it is, and um and I think that that still exists today, if it's a whether it's something in person or online, other communities, um, newsletter communities in person wellness events, um, all of these types of things where they're still connections being made and people are looking for, you know, still great products that through their lives. I think the opportunities still exist absolutely, absolutely. Gosh for anyone in the food and beverage industry, what would your kind of key piece of advice be? Great question. Um, so many things come to mind, but one is just a little bit more philosophical. Um, and that's everything every industry is is tough and food and beverage is no different margins are tight. Um they're often perishable, but there's large startup costs sometimes, like it's just it's a hard road. And one thing that has been really helpful to me and I think this applies to not just been beverage in place with a lot of different industries, but I know that we wouldn't have got here today if it weren't for this is just having the support system to kind of get you through the journey. And for me, I had my co founder, but not just my co founder, I built a network of people that could help fill in the gaps where I didn't know what I was doing in this industry, you know, great other founders who had been there and were willing to have a coffee with me. Um industry people who probably felt sorry for us. We're willing to, you know, listen, listen to, give us some advice. Um, give us an introduction to someone, whatever that support system. You look at your skills that you look at the resources you have and thinking about where the gaps are and figuring out how to supplement those gaps with support. So, uh, for me, I had a lot of kind of mental support and having a co founder when you're having a bad day, they're having a good day, they they pull you through and vice versa, but then also the knowledge gaps, um, finding those right people to kind of plug those in. I think that that's really important. It can feel very lonely being an entrepreneur. Any kind of entrepreneur, but it doesn't have to be. And I think in today's day, more than ever, there's just so much support out there, if you priority creating that support system that support network when you're wearing so many hats that can sometimes take the back seat, but it's something so worth prioritizing because that's likely the thing that kind of gets you to that next place is just having that support network to get you there? Absolutely. For anyone listening. We we do have a private network for founders called Magic with a J. You should come and check it out, shameless plug. Where is the business today? What like paint the picture? What has it grown into? How many retailers are you stocked in, you know, who's on the team, What can you shout about? What's coming up? Yeah, we have a long way to go, but I think that's always the case. Um But I'm super proud of where we are today. I don't think me seven years ago would have quite imagined being here. So I think that there's a lot to be proud of. I think there's still a huge way to go um and every day is a new challenge, but um yeah, I'm very proud of our team that there's 12 of us, which is might sound tiny, but it's a lot more than two of us. Yeah, and it speaks a little bit to our culture because we're a small lean team and we've just chosen to stay lean as much as we can. Um We, we all know each other, we all work together really well um and it really does feel like a family and so that's kind of culture is something that's been important to us. But yeah, we tell people we're in about 10,000 grocery stores across the US were distributed nationally. We have great partnerships with large retailers like walmart and whole foods and Aldi and sprouts and still um you know, our bread and butter, which is our amazing early supporters of independent stores um that helped us really kind of grow in scale. You have three different product lines now. We started with one ad in several cities across the journey now in three different product lines so you can find us in lots of different parts of the grocery store. Um And we're continuing to just scratch the surface. I think that's the exciting thing is that I touched on this before, but this is a long journey and you're just getting the next milestone and so um while I'm super proud of where we are today, there's just so much ahead and I think that it's exciting to continue on this road. I'm still learning a lot. Um and now I just have the pleasure of doing it with, supported by a group of team members who also have a lot more industry knowledge than that. I didn't love that for you. Gosh, what a journey exciting!
So question Number one is, what's your why? Why do you wake up every day and put your energy into pop and bottle? It's really two reasons, I mean there's more than two, but there's two that kind of really top the list. Um one is, you know, the north staff of this product and this brand is making a moment in your day a little bit better, a little bit healthier, a little bit more intentional, a little bit more mindful, a little bit more enjoyable and you know, I was kind of cleaning up the coffee routine, that was the, the reason we started this, and now the goal is really to kind of make it more accessible, so we don't want it just to be in available to the small cluster of people that can benefit from it. We really believe that access to better, healthier products should be wider and broader and so the why really is how do we get to scale to the point where we can put it in the hands, as many people that choose to choose to choose it. That's kind of one big driver for what we want to grow the brand and and the second is for me, it's genuinely still so exciting to be building a brand that feels authentic to us. You know, it's something that we cooked up literally, you know, in our little kitchen, our little brainchild and it's evolved, it's grown, but it still has the essence of, you know, the friendship story that we started with the problem that we're trying to solve the community that we're trying to build the experience that we're trying to create in the world that didn't exist and just spreading that authentic story through our brand and having it, you know, hopefully impact other people in a positive way, in a small moment of joy, you know, we're not solving a huge problem that we're solving a small thing that you do every day that is really exciting to me and encouraging to me and something that kind of keeps me going on the gym. I love that Question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? I think the most substantial for us was just the realization and I talked about this already, but it was a realization that we could have our product do the work for us and that our sales and marketing could kind of work hand in hand to grow the brand. And so that first half was launched, I talked about and seeing that, seeing that sales opportunity as a billboard, that was really kind of the piece that helped me understand how powerful that real estate was and is um and how focusing on the distribution was really like was really the monthly moment that we needed to kind of keep us going. It had an organic sell through once we got it on shelf because of the strength of the products of the brand and those were the marketing moments that really kind of decided to go deep in. So that one launch that was meaningful from a sales perspective, it was really meaningful from a marketing perspective. I love that question. Number three is what's your go to business resource that you can recommend, whether it's a book or a podcast or a newsletter that you subscribe to, You know, there's so much content that I love and I wish I had more time for for all of it. But I really do like the one book I read recently that really resonated for me this atomic habits and you know, this concept that we really are our habits and the reason I really love it is because it's so every day, you know, it's when you think about goal setting and you think about milestones and and where you want to be, it's so zoomed out, it's almost unachievable. But when you think about your day, you control it, it's your time and it's just really a collection of habits, a collection of things you do just a collection of tasks, it's just process and what I loved about this, but it's really this idea that you are your habits, who do you want to manifest? Do you do you see yourself as a healthy person if you see yourself with a healthy person when you're making that next choice, what would a healthy person do choose that habit and suddenly after doing that habitually ritualistically for a few days in a row, you're doing the habits of a healthy person, suddenly you become a healthy person. I think that's really powerful. I love flat berg, I love kind of thinking about it with our business in mind because it's described as habits in the book. But really, you know, the other lens of it is rituals, you know, we're in the business of rituals, the coffee ritual, tea ritual. And so that's just something cool about, you know, you are your rituals. So um for rituals, your manifest uh and how do you make your life a little bit more? How do you go where you want to go by changing the rituals in your life? This is a great segue into question # four, which is how do you win the day? And what are your rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? This is I think this is like the, I just changed my life. This is kind of the most powerful way of putting the day is by saying no, and sometimes sometimes the measure of a successful day for me is how many things that I say no to today? The reason I say that is because our time is just the most valuable resource that we have and there are so many opportunities to say yes to so many things, You know, whether it's a retail opportunity, but maybe it doesn't make sense whether it's a meeting that you love to do, but it just isn't the right priority for that day. Prioritization and what to say that yes to want to say no to, it's just so key to getting to where you want to go. And for me, it's really hard. I love to say yes to people. It's really hard to say no, and that's just a culture of training that I've had to build inside of me, and I'm still working on today. But yeah, I think a successful day for me is one where I've set some boundaries. I've made some decisions on prioritization and I've said no to a bunch of things that were hard to say no to God, I really resonate with that need to be better at boundaries. Question # five is what's been your worst money mistake in building the business, and how much did it cost you? Okay, We've had some real doozies, so feel free to share it. Yeah. Gosh, I probably so many things um we've definitely done things that just weren't the right time. I think we invested in pr a stage here, but it might not be the most exciting, but we invested in pr expensive Pr at one point and stage, it just didn't make any sense for us in the business because we had no distribution. So um it was something that we actually should do and would have been fantastic to do, but when you're so tiny and national pr doesn't make sense because nobody in the other part of the country can can find your product and you don't sell online. Um It was just kind of wrong prioritization at the wrong time. And so while it was very worthwhile at the right time, it's just it was not worthwhile at the wrong time. So um yeah, that would be one example and I think that's such an important one, especially for pr because pr you can also get really caught up in the ego of wanting to see yourself. But then if it's not really driving meaningful results, it really can be a money waster and it can also just be a money waster. If you have, you know you hire the wrong people to help you with that piece as well. So you have great, great bit of learning there and question number six. Last question, what is just a crazy story you can share from building your business that is good, bad or ugly. Let's see. Um there's nothing in some ugly moments. I have a really ugly one actually that I can share which I will never forget. Everyone survived. No one was, no one was hurt. Everyone survived. So we lived to tell the tale. Um This is probably in the first year or 18 months in our business, we had this beautiful branded, we met in the branded refrigerated vehicle, refrigerated van, they had parked a bottle on it, we see it drive on the highway. It was exciting and it was, it was a delivery van and truck product up and down California and I got a call early morning one day from our driver who when I asked because I thought it was april fools because I just couldn't believe what he was telling me. Um he gave me a call and he said hey I'm just I'm on the side of the highway, I just pulled up and the van is in flames. Um And I thought he was joking until he sent me pictures to my phone of our proper bottle. We thought oh my God is this a metaphor for what's in half with our business, our beautiful black van with popping bottle branding up in flames, the logo up in flames, in flames. All the product inside it up in flames. Um It was dealt with everyone was safe but we drove out to kind of look at our vehicle that we poured money into that we got branded. Um it was just a very low moment. Um It was all our product for a week, a week of sales. It was this vehicle that we that we didn't have another one, this is our only one. Um and suddenly it was a huge setback in business. We didn't have any product, we've lost our vehicle, it was like so stabilizing at the time. Um It's just one of those moments where you're like well do we have a business tomorrow because we don't, we just lost a ton of stuff. We had to go through an insurance claim. Um That was not easy. It was just it was just a crazy it was just a crazy time. Um But it was one of those moments when you realize that you have so much strength inside you you know and you you figure it out yes your phone problems and you figure out a rental um a late night production session calling our retailers to explain what happened, asking for some extra time to deliver. Um And we figure it out. But yeah it was it was one of the was ugly moment that is full on. Oh my God wow. Yeah that's a crazy one. That's a that's a crazy story. Oh my gosh josh thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story with pop and bottle and sharing all the learnings and the crazy stories. Gosh I'm like in awe of what you felt, thank you so much. Thank you.