Uncork Community Spotlight with Nick Allen, Founder and CEO of Cutback Coach
Nick Allen is the cofounder and CEO of Cutback Coach. Cutback Coach is on a mission to help people build healthier habits around their drinking, resulting in better sleep, a healthier diet, money saved, and an overall improved sense of well-being. Cutback Coach is built for the millions of us — Nick included — who enjoy drinking, yet who are also interested in being more mindful about the role alcohol plays in our lives.
Why did you create Cutback Coach?
My wife and I were on vacation and were drinking more than normal. We realized we weren’t getting as much out of our vacation as we could have, so I created a very beta version of what would become the Cutback Coach platform. We committed to a set amount of drinks per day, designated dry days, and made a concerted effort to be more mindful around how we were consuming. It wasn’t that alcohol was taking over our health or damaging us in any way, but I realized that the only tools available to folks who want to proactively manage their alcohol were sobriety-centric. That experience sparked the idea for Cutback Coach, with the goal of bridging the gap between teetotalling and going full tilt.
I come from a family where alcohol has had a profound impact — both my parents have been in AA for over 30 years and have not had a sip of alcohol for most of my life. They never forced sobriety on me, but watching their journey with alcohol definitely informed mine. Sobriety never totally fit for my life, but I’ve always tried to be conscious of my consumption. Cutback Coach feels like something I and my co-founder, Ian, were well-suited to build given our life experiences up to this point.
What was the most surprising thing about starting your company?
There have been a lot of surprises, but what I’ve enjoyed seeing is the impact that Cutback Coach has had on our users. We’ve worked with tens of thousands of people to date, and consistently receive positive feedback about how being mindful around drinking has had a major influence on the mental and physical wellbeing of our users. We have had folks report sleeping better, reduced anxiety, better moods, weight loss, and overall more energy. That has been really inspiring for us.
One of our main goals is to normalize talking about our alcohol habits. Drinking culture is so prevalent in our society, but acknowledging the want to cut back or monitor your alcohol consumption immediately earns the taboo label of, “problem drinker.” We want to dismantle the drinking binary (that’s the “sobriety or all-out” piece of drinking culture) and reduce the stigma around proactive alcohol health. It should be okay to talk about the role alcohol plays in our life. In the same way, we’re learning about mental health and being proactive in talking about more sensitive topics in our wellness, alcohol still isn’t there yet and it feels like there’s a huge opportunity to change the conversation.
What's ahead for the company in the coming year?
We see ourselves doing what Calm did for mental health via mindfulness and meditation — we see ourselves truly defining this category and de-stigmatized the conversation around alcohol. We’re pushing to build out the product and deliver it to even more people, with the aim that alcohol tracking and management becomes more common and, subsequently, less taboo. We want alcohol health to be something that we’re proud to talk about. We’re doing a lot of work on our brand, story, and product and that will hopefully push us into that popular wellness conversation.
What’s your most-ordered takeout food these days?
My wife is pregnant at the moment, so we’re catering to her cravings. Right now, it’s a lot of sandwiches and bagels. She’s on a carb binge, which I won’t complain about obviously 😉
What song do you listen to most while working from home?
My go-to is always the “Relaxed Brunch” playlist on Spotify.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.