What I want to be when I grow up
Working for a large tech company has many pros and cons. It did pay exceptionally well and allowed me the chance to rebuild my life, but it also carried risk in that I had to be constantly vigilant in making sure I was staying employed as the market and company are always in a state of rapid change.
That means that I would see a couple of scary, near un-employment job changes. What made these changes more prescient is that each change meant learning a new technology or segment and finding the value in each to warrant the energy needed to be successful.
I explored my passions and how I wanted to spend my time and ended up deciding that the emerging craft distilling industry looked the most compelling path for me. I already had a love for spirits and the craft and creativity is really attractive to me.
Now the hard part, what to make. I explored a number of options, began doing research on the distilling industry, took a course at Oregon State on opening a craft distillery. The thing that I had the most trouble finding was an actual business plan with startup costs, unit costs, production costs, etc. I scoured the internet, distilling forums, asked people in the business and realized that this was an almost foreign concept.
Distilling was an artisanal vocation and things like operations and financial models were at best a necessary evil and at worst non-existent. My passions quickly gave way to my practical business sense. The adult beverage industry had been undergoing a number of changes. Demographic preferences were shifting away from heavy craft beers to lighter, more refreshing beverages. Wine had begun to be successfully sold in cans, which was creating new opportunities for startup wineries to enter the market and challenge long standing players. Hard seltzers were also an emerging category that by 2018 was starting to take market share away from multiple categories.
I started to put the craft spirits ideas on hold to focus on a product that could deliver a compelling taste, calorie and ingredient profile that would be competitive in the market. What the market needed is something light and refreshing and provides a compelling alternative to beer, wine and seltzer.