“You don’t know what you don’t know, but neither do they”. There were a few opportunities that presented themselves early on — I wasn’t sure if we were ready to expand into that market or launch an additional SKU. I’m so glad I took the opportunities when they came to me and had the confidence in myself that I’d make it work. What I’ve realized is that no one has all the answers, so you might as well bet on yourself.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Beechen, the co-founder and CEO of The Drop Wine. Alexis spent 5 years in advertising running campaigns for IKEA, Volvo and Dos Equis Beer. She got the entrepreneurial itch during her time at Columbia Business School. She saw the opportunity to create a new kind of wine company that combines packaging innovation and ecommerce with award-winning wine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Alexis! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in Southern California — I got my love of the outdoors from my Dad and learned about wine from my Mom and Stepdad. After spending some time managing ad campaigns for various brands, including the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man Campaign, I decided I wanted to launch my own company. I had a bit of a light bulb moment on a sailing trip with some friends. I introduced many of them to the glory of rosé wine, but the bottles couldn’t keep up with us — they were breaking and the corkscrew was always getting lost. There had to be a better way!
Why did you found your company?
I believed the wine world needed a fresh voice that was both innovative and approachable. Cans not only introduce wine to more occasions and customers, it’s also an exciting technological development in wine packaging and innovation. I was so passionate that I self-funded our first round. Luckily, we sold out within 16 weeks.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Due to anachronistic laws, alcohol hasn’t undergone the DtC revolution that’s happened with eyeglasses, suitcases, you name it. However, change is slowly happening and I’m excited to say that The Drop is at the forefront. Online wine sales will revolutionize the market, much like it’s done for retail and provide consumers with numerous choices that will better democratize the industry and allow consumers to buy their favorite drink without state-by-state limitations. Customers will begin realizing that they don’t have to accept what’s on the shelves of their local wine store. Outside of the packaging itself, we have questioned traditional assumptions about wine like occasion and labeling. We are pushing the boundaries about what is considered a “wine” occasion by sponsoring everything from adult summer camps to sports leagues to creating our own pool floats. We want to change the perception that wine is pretentious and difficult to understand. We are using 21st century tools like affiliate marketing, social media and e-commerce to connect with our customer and jump over the immense hurdles that the traditional alcohol industry has erected to keep the big players big and stifle innovation.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Daina Trout, the CEO of Health-Ade Kombucha, has been a great resource. As has Rachel Drori of Daily Harvest. Daina has helped me navigate how to hire and when to fire (which no one wants, but it’s part of running a business). Rachel has been an amazing example of how to fundraise on your own terms. Both ground breaking entrepreneurs who created their own product category and made some very gutsy decisions to get their companies to the place they are now.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are just getting started with our e-commerce push. We’ve created some really exciting co-branded, ”out of the wine box” products. It’ll bring a new sort of wine drinking experience to our customers. We launched the first ever resealable wine can in the U.S. this year and have additional wine innovations planned for next year.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Below are 3 examples of “Drops of Wisdom”, cheeky, modern sayings that we print on each of our cans. Each of these has resonated with me at one point while building The Drop.
#19 “You don’t know what you don’t know, but neither do they”. There were a few opportunities that presented themselves early on — I wasn’t sure if we were ready to expand into that market or launch an additional SKU. I’m so glad I took the opportunities when they came to me and had the confidence in myself that I’d make it work. What I’ve realized is that no one has all the answers, so you might as well bet on yourself.
#20 “If you put your mind to it, you can après anything”. So much of starting a business is finding answers to impossible questions and putting out fires. The only way to stay sane (and keep your creativity flowing) is by celebrating the wins and taking time for yourself to recharge. It may seem like an unnecessary luxury at the time, but I’ve found our team has been much more successful in the long run when we give ourselves breaks and enjoy what we’ve built.
#40 “Follow your bliss, not your ex’s social feed”. It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in what your competitors or your industry at large is doing and to question your strategy. You know your products and your customer better than anyone (or at least you should!). Focus on what you can control and stick to executing your business plan. The internet makes it seem like EVERYONE is killing it, but numbers don’t lie. Put your energy into building something meaningful, not chasing what everyone else is doing.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
“How I Built This” Podcast — My favorite part of the podcast is that each entrepreneur has a different story and approached entrepreneurship in their own way, but they were all authentic and built their businesses in a way that made sense to them. There’s no one way to build a company and there’s no one pedigree or criteria to be successful entrepreneur, except grit. You definitely need grit.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I’m a huge fan of Bozoma St. John, former CBO of Uber and current CMO of WME. She anticipates pop culture before anyone else and has done an amazing job navigating her career trajectory and cultivating her own brand — doing it all as a single mom. Plus, she has no qualms about being her true self and clearly knows how to have fun!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I live vicariously through The Drop’s instagram @thedropwine