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America’s fastest growing sparkling water founder Maddie Voge shares the Aura Bora journey

On the show today we’re getting super inspired by Maddie Voge, Co-Founder behind the sparkling water brand Aura Bora.

Aura Bora is the fastest growing sparkling water in the country. These 0-calorie waters are made from real herbs, fruits, and flowers like basil, cactus, and lavender. In 2021, they aired on Shark Tank and expanded into over 2000 retailers including Sprouts, Whole Foods, Thrive Market, Walmart, and hundreds of natural grocery stores.

We talk about the early days in proving out the concept slowly before committing to a huge order, what it was like to go on shark-tank and the aftermath of the experience and some of the mishaps she didn’t see coming; like when thousands of cans started freezing slash exploding. Crazy stuff.

While I’ve got you here > if you haven’t done so already… Your Hype Girl the BOOK comes out on February 28th. We’re having a launch week special that week so mark it in your diary.

Let’s get into this episode, this is Maddie for Female Startup Club

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Maddie. Hi, welcome to the show. Hi Doone

00:03:40Edit Thanks for having me. I'm excited to have you on the show today. I was just telling you how much I admire your brand from afar. Love the branding, love the vibes, love the purple jumpsuit that I've seen you wearing. Thank you. Thank you. I should have pulled it out for today. I mean we kind of would have been a bit matching. Like we would have, not that I'm wearing purple, but you know, bright poppy colors. Love it. Tell me about or Aura bora and the ethos behind the brand. Okay, so or Aura bora is an herbal sparkling water. It's made from herbs, fruits and flowers. So think plant extracts like lavender, basil, peppermint. So you take your conventional sparkling water and put a little twist on it with plant based, more natural ingredients. So that's or a bora. The ethos though, I would say we've created this natural whimsical world. If you've seen our can art before, I've got one here. It's these little creatures. This one is a chameleon, we have a sloth many others in this whimsical land.

00:04:46Edit He's riding a coconut back here. So we like that, the taste, which is pretty vibrant even though it doesn't have any sugar transports you to another whimsical land. Um, and that ethos is actually wrapped up in Partnerships with things like 1% for the planet and donations to environmental organizations. So that is, I would say foundational E who we are. I mean, I just love it on so many levels. I feel like naturally flavored sparkling water. How have I not already got that in my life? That's just weird and beyond me. I love sparkling water with lemon in it. I'm sure I would love basil sparkling water. 100%. We thought that actually, I remember early on paul, my husband and co founder, we tasted a lavender ice cream and you know, that's commonplace now, but this was years ago and it was sort of novel, we thought, why don't we do this with sparkling water? There's only like lemon lime, the occasional pomp la mousse.

00:05:49Edit Oh my gosh! So my next question was going to be, where does this story start? Does it literally start with the lavender ice cream? Is that the catalyst for this whole thing? That's definitely part of it? Um, paul and I, we now live in san Francisco, but this was now four years ago, we're living in Denver and we were working in offices novel. I know we haven't done that in a while where we had a fridge stocked with Lacroix, other conventional sparkling waters and we're drinking a lot of them paul especially, he used to come home with a backpack just to show me like a graveyard of the cans he drank that day, it would be like 12 and we just started talking about how uninspired we were and it wasn't that it wasn't good, it was good. We like sparkling water. We both grew up in homes that didn't allow soda drinking very much, but we just felt that it was a bit uninspired and it kind of left a funny aftertaste and so we wanted to mess around and that was when we thought about, okay, lavender ice cream or even, there's a big craft beer movement in Denver and we're just thinking like people are going craft and really enjoying it and that's when we started experimenting in our kitchen, just testing out with our home carbonate er a bunch of different funky ingredients.

00:07:10Edit The good old kitchen lab. Huh? Yes, I feel like it's in almost every food and beverage founder story is that they were just putting weird stuff in weird stuff and seeing how, how it tasted. What were some of the ones that didn't make the cut, what were the worst sparkling water combos that you did? Okay, so funny enough, early on, you know, we didn't have access, we don't even know where to get flavorings or extracts and so we started with things like crushed mint or herbs which were great, but we had some misses, we actually experimented a bit with essential oils and made like a frankincense sparkling water and that one was a little funky um and and costly um we made, we, we did try spicy, different spicy sparkling waters, like cayenne pepper and things like that. And I think I'm treading lightly because I still think we could make it work, but at the time it was not working. It was not a vibe then, but it should be a vibe.

00:08:15Edit Like jalapeno, spicy sparkling would be like a real vibe. It would be really cool, funny for people who are already haters on sparkling water and they're like, it tastes so spicy, that would be their worst nightmare. But I think some people would like, oh my God, I just can't live life without sparkling, and I'm so the girl that would want spicy love that. I agree. Oh my gosh, okay, so you're in your kitchen, you're doing the home development thing. At what point are you like, we're onto something, we should actually turn this into a brand and, and what's that process, like. Yeah, so I would say it was a big thanks to our friends because at the time, paul and I both were working jobs, paul was in tech. I was actually working for a little small batch gin company at the time, and our friends were coming over and we were whipping up a batch of whatever. We had just tried with our, our soda stream and pouring cups and sampling for folks, and it was not serious.

00:09:21Edit We were not like, we want to make this real, can you tell it, give us your feedback. It was more like, hey, you guys should try this. It's like really spicy sparkling water. And after the first, the first few rounds, our friends were like, this is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable. But actually as time went on, we were getting good and people eventually new, hey paul is especially super entrepreneurial, Everyone always thought he'll probably want to start something. And they were like, this is it, do this, you're young. It's really good. We like it better than all the other boy popular sparkling waters right now. You should just make this a thing. Oh my gosh, that is so cool. Your friends with your hype girls and cheerleaders, girls and guys, I should say cheerleading you on and inspiring you to do it. I love that so much. And that's so important to have that kind of like network, whether it is through friends and family or whether it is through people you meet online and you know, through different private communities and I say that because we have a private network.

00:10:26Edit So I always love to shout about it wherever I can shameless plug it's great for CPG founders. You should come in there. Yes, but it makes all the difference I'm in. So okay, your friends inspire you to like actually take it seriously. How much does it cost to get started? How do you finance the brand and like what do you spend the money on? Yeah, so early on, um, we weren't ready to think about raising money or anything like that, at least to start out. We wanted to do a little bit more experimenting, especially before we went to family and friends, which sounds like the easy thing, but it is, I mean that's a big ask and it's also very scary. You have to be super committed to your idea to be able to take money. Yes. And especially if you know this is what you want to do. You know, you want to be an entrepreneur, what if this isn't the idea, what if there's something else and then you sort of, I don't want to say burned that bridge. Obviously our, our family at least is very gracious, but it's like, that was my shot. I mean you're literally, I can't even really speak about it right now because I haven't like overly announced this on the, on the show yet, but I was developing a non alkaline all of last year and we spent about 20 K and development and branding and things like that.

00:11:41Edit And it got to the point where we needed to place our first order, which was circa 50 K and we were like, not sure if this is it so spoiler for everyone else has been following along me building in public tough times. We were like, we can't take other people's money right now. Like it's, it's, we're not 100% confident in what we're doing and like we really felt that Yeah, I absolutely connect so early on what we didn't realize. We were incredibly lucky is that Denver, especially the boulder area in Colorado is a hub for natural foods. And so we ended up connecting with a food scientist, which is a job that if I had known existed, I would have gone straight into and he helped us at a really low cost, developed the first flavors with using extracts because we were using, you know, crushed herbs and then we basically used just some of our own money, a couple $1000 to start a very small production run with like we basically were sealing the cans ourselves in a machine.

00:12:48Edit So it wasn't like this huge operation. But there was, we did a production run outside of Boulder and it was about 1000 cans and that was when we were basically like, is this this is it, is this going to work well the cell and they did. So that's when we knew, okay, I think we can go to our friends and family now. So a few months later, this is in 2019 we, I went to some friends and family on both sides of our families and raised $200,000. Right, okay. I have so many questions. First question is you get those 1000 cans made as a test. How long does it take you to sell them and how do you sell them? Is it literally just within your network, a couple of friends and family or is it like the markets thing or what's the vibe? Okay, so paul took a bunch of those cans to a conference that was going on in the Boulder area and there are a bunch of buyers from different retailers and I mean truly we had no idea what we were doing, but he was pouring samples and we had, I want to say like probably like a little printed sign that had or a bora on it for our name and people, it was, it felt very scrappy.

00:14:03Edit I remember like loading up our Subaru with, with a bunch of cans and sending him on his way, but people really loved it. And then we caught this wonderful break, I want to say in that about three blocks away from our house in Denver, there was a brand new natural grocery opening called levers, locavore and they wanted it in their store and they bought, they placed the first order ever and actually they're still one of our best retailers to this day. Oh my gosh, that's so cool. I love that. Back to the 200,000 you raised 200,000 through friends and family. What does that allow you to do in terms of investing in a bigger, a bigger, a bigger, you know, um, order of stock and inventory, you know, branding, I'm imagining what's that kind of cover. Yeah, so that helped us cover the packaging to start out, we started with five flavors and worked with a cool agency in Boulder to help design and then we, we were able to order a bunch of those can material, lid, materials, packaging, etcetera, to do our first production run at a little bit more of a scale.

00:15:24Edit So costs went down. I want, I don't want to say a lot because that wasn't enough money for the cost of goods to go down in a big way. But it did help us produce the first round of cans and so yeah, I would say it basically covered materials and the first big run of all five flavors. That's so interesting. You say that at what level does it actually start to impact the cost of materials? I mean, the, it's basically at about a million cans that things start to get really, the cost of goods goes way down and we're still, You ordered like 30,000 in this batch, right? This first batch Yes, Wow. So 30,000 to a million is a lot, it is incremental, there's, there's, there's still changes as you go along, but it takes a while, I mean, especially if you, you'll notice there's obviously a cost difference between a can of or a bora and a can of Lacroix is still on the shelf and that's obviously because their cost of goods is like way, way, way down and you can buy it for under a dollar, Got it, okay, got it, got it, got it, And so you get this 30,000 units, how do you launch that in a bigger way and start to really market the message and get this brand out there.

00:16:41Edit Yeah, so for a while it was just like I said, loading up the Subaru and cruising around town to a bunch of different natural groceries especially we weren't um we weren't at the time getting into any big chains right off the bat, but it was a lot of just like pounding pavement as they say and and networking with buyers and on my end so paul was doing a lot of the selling, I was doing a lot more of the brand building and so getting a social media up and going, we were on instagram and just trying to build like a look and feel, and then we were developing our e commerce site, so I've been talking about retail a bunch, but we also early on decided, hey we think that e commerce is going to be a big thing, especially in food and beverage and then the pandemic happened and we were thankfully already underway in getting this e commerce site streamlined and um looking good, so that's that was a big part of ramping up was paul is out hitting the road, talking to buyers, going into natural groceries um and I was like, getting our website designed, figuring out Shopify and starting to think about what our social media look and feel would be and it's such a crazy time for CPG brands in the food and bev space specifically because pre pandemic, you know the blueprint was like sampling programs, demos, just getting out there and like meeting people face to face or markets or whatever it was Cut to 2020, all of that totally goes to ship and you have to focus on DTC only, which is just so crazy.

00:18:23Edit So besides social media, what were you focused on to kind of like switch that sampling program specifically to online or were there any of those like kind of websites that you were trying to get onto to still build those sampling programs. I've heard of this one, I don't know what it's called in the US, but they like, I think what they do is maybe you subscribe and they send you drinks every month or something. Yes, those definitely exist like sampler sites, Those definitely exist where you can subscribe and get samples sent to your house, which is nice, but it definitely does not stack up against what demos can do for you in a grocery store. The reason I say that I mentioned, yes, I mentioned levers locavore before and that was the only retailer we were able to do any significant number of demos in before the pandemic hit because they were our first and we think that's the reason that the velocity on shelf there is still as high as it is, it's been years now is because of those early demos. So it's interesting that you say that because they make such a big difference, but to replace those at a time when, you know, we haven't been able to do them a lot, it's been a lot of coupons on shelf and sales so that when people see our, our drink in the fridge or on shelf, they think I've never tried that before, but oh, it's two for one or um so that's nice and thankfully when it comes to beverage, I don't know if you feel this way in the grocery store, but that's an area where people are actually willing to experiment.

00:19:49Edit They're like, you know, I have, I have my brands, I have the type of pesto I like to buy, I have the type of potato chips I like, but with drinks, people are down to like, I'm grabbing lunch. Oh, this looks interesting. So thankfully we have that going for us. That's so true. I personally have that consumer behavior, I'm like always open to try like a new beverage and be excited by something. I always want a new beverage. I'm like, what else can I have, what is going on right now in the beverage space. Yes, I agree. Um so that we had going for us and I think honestly, e commerce As a whole, even though, you know, you don't get the free sample, it does help get the word out. So we all the time still to this day, we ship out 12 packs of our five flavors and our limited edition flavors from our website. Um, all the time still, we get comments from folks, even though we're in grocery stores in every state saying like, I can't wait for you to be nearby, like I'll order online until then.

00:20:52Edit So it's helping, it's helping in that folks kind of transition from being or durer's from our online site to its in my local grocer. Now, I can get it here. Yes, Yes. And now you guys are stocked in like thousands of retailers around. Actually, I'm skipping ahead of skipped apart. Okay, so this happens. And then circa 20 mid 2020 I'm going to say you start the process for shark tank, Let's talk about the shark tank thing. Yes. Okay, so in around mid 2020 Paul got an email through our website from someone claiming to be a casting producer at shark tank and we were like, allegedly, yeah, we're like, this is fake, there is no way this is real. And set up a call. And we connected with this casting producer at shark tank and he essentially was like, I came across your brand and we're like, how we were at that point, you know, some groceries, but not enough.

00:22:00Edit And he was like, I think it's really interesting and we'd love for you to apply to shark tank and we didn't know it at the time, but shark tank brings on a guest or multiple guests every season that play in a certain arena. And so the guests they had was the founder of kind bar and so they were looking for a bunch of folks in the food and beverage space to pitch. So we just got lucky and That process, I know you've interviewed other folks who have been on shark tank is a full time job, so much paperwork and pitching and prepping. But um, yeah, so that was through many months of 2020 were preparing and it wasn't until about a week, week and a half before we were filming that they said you're filming, you're in, it's on yes. Oh my gosh. And so like for Shark tank, what's the kind of investment, you know, that you have to take that risk on of potentially it not going to air or you know, those kind of circumstances that you hear happens sometimes when someone being like, oh no, I didn't go on, gosh.

00:23:07Edit So the amount of paperwork I've probably signed, so I'm going to tread lightly because I don't want to give away any trade secrets. They are the whole time vetting companies looking at your paperwork and looking at your numbers and making sure you're going to be a viable investment for the sharks and then at the same time you're putting together a pitch. The one you see where folks come out and say, hey sharks, that's, that's the only scripted part of the show is you get this like one minute pitch so you want them to like that and then you're starting to put together your set design and dream up what that could look like and that whole time, they're sort of saying this could happen. You could, you could be in, um, you might air and you don't actually know until I want to say, I'm trying to remember the exact time frame less than a month before you air. So even if you film, you don't know for sure. Oh my gosh, that is just so crazy. And I'm only asking you this because probably it was on the show anyway, but feel free not to answer what was your kind of like revenue numbers before going on the show?

00:24:15Edit Like where were you at in terms of what stage of the business? Oh, that's a really good question. Let me think. Um, so if I'm remembering correctly, we were raising, I think $150,000 from one of the sharks and we hadn't raised a significant round of funding at that point yet. We were just getting to a point where we needed more, we need more cash and I'm not locked on our revenue numbers. So I'll have to circle back on that. But um, we were definitely ready to ramp especially because of the time that we were pitching, we were waiting to hear back from folks like whole foods sprouts that were interested had sampled and we're like, oh shoot, we need to make more cans. Yes, right? Like it's all in the pipeline. You need this kind of moment to happen for you. Unpredictability is part of what makes starting and growing a business both exciting and terrifying from the next loan payment to your next big sale or your next acquisition finding predictability and business is about as likely as finding a last minute valentine's day.

00:25:25Edit Dinner reservation unlikely hubspot Crm platform is here to help grow and scale with you through uncertainty so you can spend your time getting to that dinner reservation, hub, sports reporting dashboard is like your crystal ball giving you a bird's eye view on your marketing, your sales and customer service performance so you can get ahead of any issues before they happen. Lead rotation and automation takes on operational sales tasks so your team can focus on customer needs and shared inboxes, make incoming chats and emails easy to manage and scale for the whole team. Learn more about how a hubspot Crm platform can help your business grow better at hubspot dot com. So what happens I obviously have you read the highlights online, how does it go, what offers are made and what do you accept? Okay, so we first of all, let me say it is as intense as it feels when you're watching my heart was beating so fast. Um you walk in, got the panel of judges in front of you, we have just learned maybe a day before that Daniel Lubetzky would be there from kind of our, so we're excited because you know, he's a he's a player in our space um and we give our pitch, I would say the most intimidating part of it is if we have now seen every episode of the whole show because we're getting prepared.

00:26:50Edit There are times when food and beverage people come on the show and their pitch tanks because all the sharks try it and they just hate it. Oh my God, the opposite of a commercial, you don't even want it to air because you're like, okay, now, you know, five million people are going to watch five people that they love hate my product, so we were really scared of that happening are the ones that they all hate them. Yes, they have and it's we at least talk to one entrepreneur who was like, yeah, it was, I actually didn't get many orders from shark tank because of it, which is you know, the huge benefit of being on that show is that, you know, you get thousands. So it does happen, but thank goodness. I remember just all of the tension leaving my body when I think it was robert who was like, oh that's good and we were like, okay, yes, exactly.

00:27:55Edit Um so that is how it started, we were in there for what felt like five minutes, but it was actually closer to an hour. Um so we pitch, we answer a ton of questions they're asking things about, you know, how do you name the brand? We love your packaging actually, Yes. One of my points of pride was, I think it was robert again saying like this might be the best packaging we've seen in all 12 seasons, which was really cool. What a compliment. Holy moly huge compliment. Um and then we have this funny moment, so mr wonderful kevin, he puts in an offer, he's very known for wanting royalty deals where he gets a little piece of every single sale. He wanted five cents on every can and paul and I knew going in no go, we're not going to do that. We had that deal on the table. One of our favorite sharks, Mark Cuban was out really early. He was like beverages risky, I'm not interested. And then we had robert come in closer to the end, he was like, Hey, I know this is risky, but I'm actually interested and I really like it.

00:29:01Edit He's known for liking natural products. So originally we're asking for $150,000 for 5% of the company And we ended up taking a deal with Robert who offered us 200,000 for 15 And we tried to negotiate it down a little bit, but we knew no matter what, 15 was our ceiling going in. So we just, at the end of it made the deal. I love that for you. Is that something they tell you before you go on to like get firm on what you're like, areas of negotiation can be and what your absolute knows our yes, they do tell you as you're getting prepared, like, hey, it's not a good look to walk out of that room and have to sort of, I don't know if you've ever seen episodes where folks leave the room to regroup and discuss and then come back? They were like, I know what you want because in the time that you leave, those strikes can change their minds. So we knew going in 15% is our max. We really want to make a deal because we would love to have a partner.

00:30:06Edit And just generally we knew like, Hey, this would be huge if it aired and it was successful. So we were, we were down for it. Oh my gosh, I love that so much. So you get the offer with robert, he's obviously like, I guess a dream strategic partner for you guys on multiple levels. What's the impact? What happens after it? Well, I guess it's a while until it airs, what happens after that? Yeah, so there is a long period of waiting. We waited about six months where you're just like, what's going to happen. Um, as it got closer, we got notified that we were airing in january of last year. And so one thing that you do is you just start prepping boxes, especially having an e commerce site, we knew, hey, we're going to get a lot of orders. So let's just start getting prepped. So we prepped thousands of boxes to ship out. And is that like through capital that you're using your own working capital or at this point, have you already done the deal with robert behind the scenes and you've had the cash come into the business? We haven't done the deal yet, so it hasn't closed.

00:31:09Edit But at this point we were still using that early funding from family and friends. Um, And yeah, so we're like stocking boxes, getting those prepared. And we, I have this great video actually of us on the night that it was airing, we're watching it live and looking at our shop of fight site numbers. And at one point we had 25,000 people on our site. So that was the immediate aftermath was we got, I want to say like 7000 more Instagram followers. We had thousands of orders and a lot of those folks are still fans, the brand today. So it has, it has a long tail and then you enter into a lot of back and forth. We've, we've had back and forth for a long time with Robert's team before moving forward. Oh my gosh, that is just so exciting. I can't even imagine, you know, I've had any commerce site before and the thrill for me getting those little dings on the Shopify sounds like notification is unbelievable. I can't even imagine what it's like to just have that rolling for thousands of orders.

00:32:16Edit It must have been absolutely insane. It was crazy. It was totally crazy. Oh gosh! And I imagine the other like ripple on effect from this is then the national or nationwide retailers that start like hopping into your D. M. S or hopping into your inbox and being like, hey, we're over here and we're interested. Yes. All of a sudden we had inbound messages from folks and that's so uncommon. Occasionally you get a retailer that's like I saw you on the shelf here, I really want you. But all of a sudden we had all these natural groceries. And if you even like bigger retailers reaching out and saying like we want to try your stuff. Oh my gosh, I love that. How would you summarize, you know, the journey from then until now? I know that you've done a fundraising that time and I think I already raised $2 million. What are the kind of key moments for you to share? That can be good or bad from then to now from when it aired. Yeah, great question. So big key moment is at the time we aired last year, it was just me and paul, we had a lot of vendors and folks that we partnered with and who helped us, but no one time with us and then we built, Yeah, it was crazy truly.

00:33:40Edit And do if we had to do it again, I would say we would hire earlier because we were so busy. Um, but we built a team, we have 10 folks on our team now. Um, we have started this fun e commerce campaign where we released limited edition flavors. So we've already had three of those merry christmas. Yeah, yeah, I'm adding that to my mental notes right now. So that's been a really fun campaign where we've gotten to launch more flavors beyond our 1st 5 And then we've, we've grown into 2500 plus retailers now. So we've, we're in a few regions of whole foods, um, wherein sprouts were on thrive market. Um, and so those have been some big key retailers that have helped to make us feel more legit and to also so that our e commerce folks can find us nearby, which is really cool. So those were some key moments and then, gosh, and I'm thinking of some, some big disasters that have happened in that time too because obviously in the day to day it's really busy when you zoom out.

00:34:56Edit There are so many good things, but I'm remembering, um, last winter, there were a lot of big freezes around the country where the temperatures got really, really low. And it actually coincided with a lot of issues with mailing services because they were understaffed and it was getting close to christmas time. So there was just like such a high volume of packages, it was in the middle of the pandemic and We started getting one email and then five emails and then 20 emails that people's cans had exploded. Oh my God, I forgot that can explode. Oh no, really explode. And you know, for a while I thought we were thinking about the biz like going away, that's what I had in my head can explode. Shit, I wish I had a reference photo, I could show you because folks would send us emails and they include photographs and it would be like slush box of slush.

00:36:00Edit So that was a very funny, but it felt so stressful at the time how much like stock was caught up in that can massacre thousands and thousands of cans for sure. Um, so we were issuing a lot of refunds and helping folks, you know, get coupons, etcetera. But that was, I will say we were very, very privileged up until that point because cans are fairly durable. So we're not working with glass, we don't have, um, it's shelf stable. So things are going bad, but this was our, our disaster. Oh mama, those are, yeah, that's pretty crazy. It's just pretty wild, I guess. You just don't think about that. How will you avoid that in the future? Yeah. So a big part of it has been making sure that our cancer just packaged well that they have some space in between them so that if they do like expand and contract with the temperature, they're not just going to like create this little pressure system inside of the box and explode.

00:37:04Edit So that, that has been a big part of it was just experimenting with the right kind of like insulation and packaging around them. And then actually, I think a lot of it was circumstantial and that typically they don't leave packages in their trucks overnight when they're the mailing trucks. Um, but because they were short staffed and because it was during christmas season and holiday season, they weren't pulling things out of their trucks at night. So we are hoping that it was just a million different factors at once playing in and that we won't experience the crisis of the same sort again. Yeah, it was just like bad luck coming together. Exactly. What is the best and worst advice you've ever received sometimes I say that I'm like, did I say that right, best and worst yet you said it right, You definitely got it. Okay, let me see. So the best advice I can think of right off the top of my head is a friend of ours who's been in the industry for longer essentially saying everyone is faking it and that is, you know, there's a there's a limit to that belief.

00:38:10Edit Obviously there are folks with a ton of experience who have done this longer who know more. They know what they're doing in a lot of ways. But it's easy, I think when you're first starting out, when you're like making drinks in your kitchen or you know, making your homemade granola in a little, you know, kitchen down the road to feel like, oh, everyone's legitimate and I'm not, everyone, everyone else is doing this the right way and I'm not. And even to this day when when paul and I are breaking down a million boxes in our house, because we just had all these samples get shipped to the wrong place and we're and we're jamming them into our tiny recycling bin, It can feel like we're still not legit. We're still we don't have all the systems in place to make us real in a real company and a real business. Um and so I think that was helpful to hear someone say, who's been in the industry much longer. It's like, yeah, you're real, this is very much a legitimate business.

00:39:11Edit And this is just how it is. And if you feel like other people are doing it better. Yeah, maybe they are. But they also have days like that. So that has been definitely the best advice trying to think, okay, worst advice. Yeah, it's been reassuring I think especially in times when we're like all our cans are exploding, like no, this doesn't happen to anyone else. And then you learn, oh actually no, there was like a massive recall on, you know, this giant beverage that you just didn't hear about 100%. Everyone's going through those ups and downs. Yes, exactly. And then worst advice. Well I would say someone recommended to us really early on that we only launched with one flavor to start out just to dip our toes in and you know, obviously they were trying to be helpful so I don't want to say, oh worst advice ever, but it actually would have been really detrimental to our brand early on to just have one flavor and not this like broader variety so folks can get an understanding of what our brand is all about.

00:40:19Edit I understand that we are like the flavor, the struggling water with unique and interesting flavors and also on a more technical note selling into retailers and getting that shelf space if you're just one skew, uh, that's, that's not going to take up much space. It's going to be really hard to launch new flavors and convince them to take them on. So we, we feel lucky we didn't know we didn't know better, but we just, we just launched with five and, and we're glad we did. I also just think like it's so much harder to if you don't have a range of flavors, you're really banking on that person being a mass kind of audience to that one flavor profile. Whereas like someone might be really excited about the brand but they might not be into that one. They might be into the one next to it. You know, everyone's got such different taste buds and like what they would automatically go for. 100%. Yeah, that's a great point. You just capture the wider audience. Their love those. Thank you so much. All great. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode.

00:41:21Edit We are testing out something new here for the next while and we're splitting up each episode into two parts, the main interview part and then the six quick questions part to make them easier to listen to. So that's part one done. Tune into part two to hear the six quick questions.

Here are the six quick questions question number one is what's your why? Why are you doing what you're doing? It's A Great one. So, for me, I spent a lot of my time on the creative work around or a bora. So whether it be designed, social packaging, branding, copyrighting, and my wife feels like in the same way that if you were, say writing a fantasy story and you get to world build, I feel like I'm getting to take this world that's in my mind and put it out into the world in a way that no one else would do, and it feels so special that all of these ideas I've had in my head, these little haiku shoes on the back of each of our cans, they're just this world I've gotten to create and that feels really special and I think that would be my why is that?

00:01:40Edit I get to take my own, like imagination, creativity and just like, I'm kind of like birthing something into the world that then I get to, you know when people say they love it, it feels really special. Yeah, it's kind of like an expression of things that it's it's an expression of you in a way. I love that, That's so cool. You the designer, are you actually the one designing these as well? So we work with illustrators, I am a designer, but on these ones we work with some really cool illustrators to I love that amazing question. Number two, I usually ask what is your number one marketing moment, but I'm going to ask you what your second biggest marketing moment is because I feel like number one is kind of obvious what's been the second marketing moment worth shouting about last year. We tried this for the first time and we're going to do it again this year. But we've been doing this golden ticket campaign where we hide golden tickets in five of our e commerce boxes And if you find one you get a year's supply of bora bora.

00:02:45Edit So we had five winners last year and it was really, really fun, really exciting, folks were excited to buy them. Um but also we got the best videos from our winners who were like I found it. Um so we're doing it again this year and that marketing moment has been special on a few fronts. The first one is just that obviously people are excited and we get a higher volume of sales, but more than that it feels so, so special to get people really excited. And then we have these five winners who a lot of them are loyal, true fans. Um, so that's been a big fun one that feels super on brand for us because it's playful and whimsical and sort of game the side. Oh my gosh, I love it on so many levels. You know what it reminds me of? I don't know if you've seen that episode of modern family where Phil runs out of his lifetime supply of razors that he won and it's like, he basically is like, oh my God, it's going to be a bad day because I've run out of these races and it's so funny.

00:03:47Edit Um, oh my gosh, I haven't seen it, but you should look it up, it's just too funny. That is so cool. I like, love that. Those videos must be, I don't know, so special. Love it. Special question number three is what's your go to Business resource in terms of book podcast or newsletter? Mm Okay, I'm going to come at it from again, a creative angle, I get this great, um, twice per year magazine called departamento and it's International and it's an interiors magazine and it has amazing graphic design and beautiful artists and it features folks who are writers and artists around the world and so it's not necessarily business Ian quotes, but for me it's big time inspiration for like brand building colors. What do we want our next can colors to be like, um I use that a lot. That is so cool. What did you say the name was?

00:04:50Edit I didn't get it apart aumento parlamento. I'm going to check that out. I've never heard of that before. Thank you. Love something I've never heard of before. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful? This is a great one. I want to start by saying, I regularly don't win my days. I regularly, you know, go a couple of too many days without showering et cetera because there's a lot going on, but here's what it looks like when I do in my day. I wake up early, usually around 6 30 or seven, although in the winter it gets a little hard. Um, I feel that I like to go on a walk with my dog and I really like to sit at a coffee shop in journal and people watch and I think for me it's just really nice to not start my day by thinking about work and opening my computer and kind of getting anticipate that anticipation that just comes from like I've been asleep and now I'm awake and suddenly I have all these things on my mind.

00:05:59Edit So journaling, walking my dog, starting early, having a slow morning is really big for me and then paul and I have this great time after work where if we're able to end early enough, we'll go on a walk and talk about what we're working on and talk about um talk about the day. And I think, I mean that's like a really sweet part of having a co founder that you also live with is that you can sort of debrief on everything around everything and you know, you know what the other person is talking about? That's so true, so true. My husband and I worked closely together and I just love it. I really love it. You really know what the other person is like, not just goals, but like how they feel about everything and what's important to them on like just such a deep level obviously because they're your partner, but like on a work front, which I think sometimes you, you kind of like miss um if you're partner works in a completely different industry or something. Yes, that's a great point question.

00:07:02Edit Number five, what is the worst money you've ever spent in the business? I would say early on, we got really excited about having or a bora merch and we wanted to have, you know, t shirts or hats and we were looking to source them from more sustainable places and we've never done it before and this wasn't necessarily the biggest loss we've taken on something, but it was a huge time commitment to go looking for the right hat to find the right color to decide on the design. We wanted for it to prep like our Shopify site to add it on there and figure out how we were going to drop ship them out and we ended up getting this shipment. This was only a few months ago of what we thought were going to be this cool khaki hats and they were going to have our eyeball logo right on the front and they showed up and they were dark army green with a lavender patch on them and it could not have been the worst color combination.

00:08:12Edit I didn't even know that it was possible to get this bad. And what about samples, samples? Okay. Yeah, great question. Remember when I said we hadn't really ventured down this avenue before we just got a photo sample and it looked khaki and we were like amazing looking like that. So I, yeah, that's the one. And now we have, you know, over 1000 hats that were like, I, no one wants to wear this. We can't in good conscience sell these. So that is actually one of our more recent um, spending failures. Oh my gosh, how much did that cost? How much does much cost when you're buying a few 1000 units? Mm, It's about $3 a hat. So it's not, it's not the end of the world, but and we'll definitely find a use for them. We definitely will not throw them away. But it always get the sample kids. That is the lesson, get the sample. Oh my gosh, 100%.

00:09:15Edit This question kind of blends on from the last one. So maybe you won't have a specific answer for this. I might have to make these questions up in the future. But what's been a major fail or mistake that you can share? And how did you deal with it? Building our website early on. We really wanted it to be beautiful and there are a couple ways you can build a website and I'm probably gonna get some of these technical terms wrong because I'm not an engineer. But there is a version of it that's called the headless site, which essentially means you're not using a template and instead you customize the whole thing And so um for the sake of artistry, I decided let's go that direction. Let's build out the most beautiful custom sight you've ever seen and it's going to have animation and things are going to move and and it's going to feel different because it is different. There's no template and that can be done but it ends up, we didn't know at the time being very difficult to then have any kind of tracking on your site. So like inserting pixels so that, you know, when people have arrived and how long they stay or when they dropped off in the, in the funnel.

00:10:21Edit Um we realized after a huge time commitment and customizing with designers and engineers. This beautiful sight that we were going to have to change it over to a template and that was, I want to save hundreds of hours of time and just like a loss of something that felt like, you know, truly transported. So that was, that was a failure. And that happened, I want to say about two years ago now and I would say some days I'm still sad about it. Oh no. Gosh, what's the learning there though? I feel like that sounds amazing. Like is it to keep it simple? Like not complicate things. I don't know what is it? Hmm. I think the biggest learning was actually learning how to be gracious with myself and be like, I didn't know better than um, we've never done this before, paul and I say that to each other a lot because we'll look back on things that we now know better then and would never have done it like that and have to remember at the time that was our best choice.

00:11:32Edit We made that choice with all the facts we had. Um, so I think that's the biggest learning. Yeah, that's a good one. Good on you. I hate that for you, but good on you. Thank you. And I will say I said I'm still sad about it. Sometimes our site is beautiful now is amazing. Very special. It is very special. Your, your overall brand and what you've created. I I just love it and I'm so happy that you came on the show and shared all these amazing things with us. I'm so grateful. Thank you so much for coming on.



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