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Be Mixed

Be Mixed

The Cola Wars case taught us that the beverage industry is both unattractive and difficult. Either we are terrible listeners, took RC year to be one big Opposite Day, or, simply took TEM’s “fail early and fail often” motto literally, because we spent our summer launching a new drink.

Before we give you the highs and lows, we should probably catch you up to speed. We spent the summer at an incubator in NYC working on building Be Mixed replica breitling bentley 6.75, a beverage company whose first product is a line of zero-calorie, mixology-inspired cocktail mixers. With a fab idea and not much more, we spent the summer reviewing our RC year: meeting other beverage start-ups to share war stories (TEM), learning customer-speak from branding agencies and PR firms (Marketing), learning manufacturing from co-packers and flavor houses (TOM), and grabbing time with pretty much anyone else that would spare it (LEAD).

This meant that we read about your summer experiences – trekking around Japan, Israel, etc – from an insurance-office-cum-food-science-lab in Connecticut, where we spent warm summer days measuring out vodka in precise pipettes. Trying to replicate the frothy, muddled berry drinks we all love without calories, juice or muddle is akin to escaping FOMO in RC year – but, as luck would have it, we managed to get one flavor right on the first try. Had to say it! Every start-up chalks up their hallelujah moment to luck, right?

Still not learning to think before jumping in, we agreed to sponsor a friend’s event at the end of June. With nothing more than a tasty flavor in hand replica breitling Aeromarine , we spent the month begging. No, but seriously. It turns out you can’t order anything required to make a drink without getting quotes in truckload quantities. And not the kind of trucks that Crimson kids play with. TOM, help?

Somehow we did it. Oh! But wait, we can’t forget a really low point. We ended up having our prototype produced at a place called Bad Ass Organics. If you’re wondering how “organic” can ever be “bad-ass”, just wait. After a couple of hours filling and sealing glass bottles that were 200 degrees (stay-tuned for pictures of our pathetically blistered hands), our handler asked us: “Have you ever been pepper sprayed?” Somehow, it didn’t seem as weird then as it does now. I mean, there was a lot going on – flooding in the adjacent kitchen, garbage cans filled with fermenting kombucha, and so on. So, we all shook our heads and silently submitted to a group pepper spraying by the cleaning crew. Some things might not be better organic.

Now, we are at what feels like the edge of a precipice, and we’re learning to be more thoughtful. Somewhat. We’ve loved the summer, loved each other, loved our product, loved the business, loved learning, loved lots. But, to really blow this out we want to get the right brand (encompassing fonts, logos, messaging, color) and distribution plan in place before launching. Our process of iteration and testing has taught us that we have enough to make Coke and Pepsi look over their shoulders, but that we need to be ready to sprint right out of the gates to make it in this biz As such, we have decided to balance Be Mixed and being students for the next nine months – with the hope of writing a more positive ending to the Cola Wars case a little further down the track.

So, bottoms-up! If last year is anything to go by, you can expect to be drinking lots this year – and when you do, drink Be Mixed, cause who really wants another vodka soda?

August 26, 2013
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