Arthur Gallego Of SunDaze: 5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand
… Know that in beverages, cans are king. It seems silly but I’ve seen countless brands fail because they insisted on glass. Very few beverage brands will thrive, in glass bottles. It’s expensive, has legal and insurance liabilities, and cripples e-commerce profits. Entering the market in a glass doesn’t make you distinct. It’s basically like handicapping yourself before you launch.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Food or Beverage Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arthur Gallego.
Arthur Gallego is the CEO and Co-founder of SunDaze, a revolutionary line of canned cocktails. But before that, he was a sought-after beverage marketing executive and advised many iconic beverage brands and categories, ranging from alkaline spring water, sparkling water, kombucha, and hard kombucha, fitness/sports drinks, super coffees, better-for-you sodas, cold-pressed juice, and coconut water. That broad expertise helped him become the co-founder of SunDaze, partnering with acclaimed food scientist Juan Cordón Toledano. Arthur’s vision: make people fall back in love with juice-based cocktails, and SunDaze can do it because the brand has figured out how to create them with lower sugar and true juice flavor.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I’m Filipino and grew up in California, mostly in white-populated neighborhoods and schools. That experience shaped my perception of self and my perceived place in society. This was in the 1970s and Asian families were pretty low on the social totem pole then, even if that family had some money. I remember some kids would call me a “chink” in the school bathroom in grade school, and white teachers used to complement my beautiful “Oriental hair.” I’ve come a long way in regard to self-image and self-worth since that time. Thankfully, the beautiful hair compliments continue to this day.
Can you share with us the story of the “ah ha” moment that led to the creation of the beverage brand you are leading?
My ah-ha is less of a major epiphany than a realization about what SunDaze was tapping into as we brought it to market. Most people know juice-based cocktails. We typically associate some paper umbrella stuck into them, or they’re an emoji for us (that daiquiri glass). My co-founder Juan and I realized we had something bigger on our hands when we saw people raving about our juice cocktails’ lower sugar. It was always a selling point, but an even stronger one when you think about sugary juice.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We chose this double-lid box to put SunDaze into two overlapping flaps, for more packaging space we could use for marketing to tell the SunDaze story.
Well, the flaps practically needed a crowbar to open, so the drinks were safe, but your fingers trying to open it, were not. I count a half dozen deep, painful paper cuts trying to open those boxes. The lesson learned is that simpler packaging works best, as long as it’s quality paper.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a beverage line? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common error is thinking that America needs a dramatically different beverage with more bells and whistles in regard to nutrition or function. America does not. What America needs is to revisit the drink categories and products we love that most, that can be improved in small or large ways, to be relevant for newer consumption and food trends. We declared the end of carbonated soft drinks 20 years ago. Been to the grocery recently? There’s an aisle filled with them.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to produce. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take? Arthur answer:
I recommend calling me directly so I can tell them if their idea is even a good one. I’m blunt and very informed. I built a business on that in a past life.
Many people have good ideas all the time. But some people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How would you encourage someone to overcome this hurdle?
What you’re describing is the challenge of entrepreneurship, and translating an idea into a business is the broadest summation of the journey. I would encourage anyone with a good idea to do extensive research and analysis before they dive in. That exercise is the foundation of a business and marketing plan. It unfolds from there, depending on what they discover and learn.
There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own? Arthur answer:
It depends on the entrepreneur’s expertise and talents. When I think about an “invention,” I think about technology, science, or something exclusive that entails real intellectual property. It’s very hard to say that about the average low-cal soda, sparkling water or some exotic tea drink. SunDaze has actual intellectual property. Most beverages do not.
What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?
My partners at Redbud Brands run a venture capital shop that has made it easier and faster for SunDaze to get to market. So I lean toward that model but Redbud’s people make the difference. I do believe that if you bootstrap your business, you should have a high level of self-awareness leading to a possible willingness to stop when you feel you’re about to lose everything.
Can you share thoughts from your experience about how to file a patent, how to source good raw ingredients, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer or distributor?
First, you have to have something “patent-able.” It’s not as easy as you think. And finding good partners is a mix of research, organized business practices, and human and emotional intelligence.
Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create a Successful Beverage Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Here are my top three tips:
● Get ready to kill your baby. And by baby, I mean your initial branding proposition, not the product concept. Brands morph many times after they enter the market, once distributors, retailers, and consumers tell you what they really want.
● Know that in beverages, cans are king. It seems silly but I’ve seen countless brands fail because they insisted on glass. Very few beverage brands will thrive, in glass bottles. It’s expensive, has legal and insurance liabilities, and cripples e-commerce profits. Entering the market in a glass doesn’t make you distinct. It’s basically like handicapping yourself before you launch.
● Base your proposition on something simple and familiar, and elevate that. SunDaze is a great example: it’s boozy juice but we made it better with less sugar.
Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
This one’s easy. By being a present and active mentor to dozens of entrepreneurs.
You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would remind them to be present, drop their f*cking phones for a few hours a day, and really listen to the people in their lives and observe the world around them, in a present mind-state.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.