This is a follow up story for BeatBox Beverages. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey! My name is Justin Fenchel, and I am a co-founder and CEO at BeatBox Beverages out of Austin, TX.
BeatBox is the world’s tastiest portable party punch. Our core product is an 11.1% wine-based cocktail that comes in a 3L and 5L bag-in-box format, as well as a 500ml TetraPak single serve size. We started with only the 5L bag inbox, but now 95%+ of our sales come from our tetra-pack offering.
We like to say our customers are really anyone who would enjoy going to a music festival. If you value a weekend with no worries but great music and drinks and sharing experiences with your close friends, you’d likely be a BeatBox customer!
While we are not profitable yet, we’ve grown our sales quite a bit to $4.4m in 2018, up from $2.4m in 2018 and $1.1m in 2017. YTD in 2020 we have already hit $3m in revenue.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We’ve grown quite substantially since we last talked, as our monthly sales run rate has doubled from $250k to $500k and in June/July we will be at $650k. Fortunately, alcohol sales were deemed essential and we began to see record numbers as almost none of our sales are in bars and restaurants.
With the success of BeatBox Beverages, we pivoted to a portfolio model providing alternative beverage solutions to our beer wholesaler partners. We are distributed by beer wholesalers who have seen a decline in sales of their main product, domestic light beer (think miller lite and bud light) and they are looking for alternatives. Given the disruptive nature of BeatBox, our millennial founding team, and industry veterans, we felt we were well-positioned to launch new, differentiated products in different segments.
So we launched Brizzy Seltzer Cocktails in Fall 2019 and Corkless Canned Wine in Spring 2020. While both of these innovations are a smaller percentage of the overall portfolio we’re very excited to have them in the market.
BeatBox Beverages continues to be our main product with distribution in 20+ states and rapidly increasing sales. In fact, Nielsen recently named us the fastest growing single-serve wine product in all of the US convenience channels.
Our traditional way to market BeatBox has been through music festivals, and with everything going on we have had to move to a more digital approach. Alcohol is late to the game as far as direct to the consumer goes, but we recently launched in 42 markets with GoPuff where you can now order BeatBox directly to your door. We are throwing our first “Digital Music Festival” with some of our DJ partners in June and we will likely do more of that.
We also ran a #BeatBoring marketing campaign where users tagged us in how they are keeping themselves entertained while in quarantine for a chance to win free BeatBox for a year. We got a ton of submissions and engagement.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I don’t know that anyone could have foreseen exactly what happened when Covid-19 forced a shutdown in March. We had to make moves at an incredibly fast pace (faster than normal for us, which is already so fast!) while at the same time needing to keep morale high and our team in place. We secured a short-term loan from our board, had everyone in the company take a 20% salary reduction for 90 days, and we cut our sales and marketing budgets by over $650k into year-end.
Being profitable and growing profitably will be more important than ever.
As I mentioned earlier, we were fortunately deemed an essential good, and our sales all take place in the convenience, grocery, and liquor stores. While we saw a slowdown for a couple of weeks our sales rebounded dramatically and as people stocked their home shelves we saw some record numbers.
So-net/net we took the right measures to ensure our survival, and have benefitted from the industry we are in. It’s a huge testament to our team for emerging stronger than we ever have during the pandemic.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We are looking to raise a Series C round in the winter. We have aligned with an investment bank and are going to be going to market in the next few months. We are looking at strategic partners who can help us scale our distribution faster than we could do on our own. It is no longer a question of if there is a product-market fit or how should we market the product at the point of sale. It’s about getting more states and more stores to bring in BeatBox.
We will be a global brand in the next 5 years. We created BeatBox because as founders we loved bringing people together and having fun, all centered around music. I absolutely love music festivals. I can’t wait until I can go to one again. Music is global and I can’t wait until we are sold in all 50 states and all over the world. We are closer than ever before. It took us a few years to get to this point and we almost went out of business a bunch of times along the way. And the reality is anything can happen but we have found ourselves in a good position. Our sales are up 100%+ 3 years in a row, our margins have dramatically improved, we have an incredible team and we have multiple products now. It’s time to run even faster!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I think for the next couple of years there will be a focus by investors on profitable businesses. We are still not profitable and we are reliant on outside capital to grow. That’s incredibly scary to look at your burn rate and realize you might only have a month or two left to exist without more funds. Being profitable and growing profitably will be more important than ever.
So I would take a look at your business and figure out how you can get profitable NOW, not a few years from now. Build a scalable business for the long term.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re always posting new positions on our website as they come up. Right now we are not hiring but that changes all the time.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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