ABOUT THIS EPISODE
We all know those people.
The people that won’t stop talking.
The people that never seem to be quiet long enough to hear what is ACTUALLY being said. They’re too interested in what they THINK is being said.
Unfortunately, this is the category that most entrepreneurs get lumped into.
Loud. Obnoxious. Won’t shut up long enough to take a breath.
Bobby Besant is not one of those entrepreneurs. He’s anything but.
Episode · 3 years ago
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Episode · 3 years ago
5. Being an Introverted Entrepreneur: How to Survive in a World That Wont’ Stop Talking w/ Bobby Besant
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
We all know those people.
The people that won’t stop talking.
The people that never seem to be quiet long enough to hear what is ACTUALLY being said. They’re too interested in what they THINK is being said.
Unfortunately, this is the category that most entrepreneurs get lumped into.
Loud. Obnoxious. Won’t shut up long enough to take a breath.
Bobby Besant is not one of those entrepreneurs. He’s anything but.
You're listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast from the Pierre L Morrisset Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Ivy Business School. In this series, Ivy Entrepreneur and Ivy Faculty member Eric Janson will anchor the session our entrepreneurs born or made. I don't know if we'll ever get a definitive answer on that question, but I can tell you that my guest on this episode of the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast was dead set on starting his own business for as long as he can remember. As soon as he could walk, he was wandering the floors of his dad's printed company, which was passed down from his grandfather, and before he even got to university he had a series of entrepreneur adventures under his belt. Bobby be's aunt, the cofounder of Iconic Brewing, is the entrepreneur behind ready to drink brands like dusty boots, hard root beer, which is a category that created in Canada, cottage springs, Vodka Sodas and Cabana coast Moscow Mules. But before bobby successfully launched iconic, he took a whole bunch of swings. He ran student businesses, scrub boats and cottage country and even successfully pitched a new alcohol concept on dragonsden twice. In this episode we cover Bobby's founding story, why he chose an atypical career path, how to use age to your advantage and his biggest advice to his twenty year old self. Enjoy this episode with ICONIC BREWING CO founder Bobby be's ant. All right, let's get things fired up here. So I'm here with that Bobby Bes ant. How are you? I, bobby, have never been happier. How you doing? I couldn't be better. We're going to go through a little bit about your story today, your entrepreneurial journey. So I actually want to start, if you don't mind, with a little bit about you as a human and understanding a little bit about where you grew up, how you were influenced and where the heck these entrepreneurial Englanding inklings may have come from. Yeah, well, I mean it's it's something that, I mean as far back as I can remember I've been just interested in business, and I mean I think a lot of it was influenced by my by my dad initially, I mean even when I was like not even in double digits out of age. We were talking about businesses. He would get me fired up about an idea that was like I think back to now and it's like no one's going to buy that. But he would get me fired up about stuff and just is always putting a little little nuggets out there, and I mean from a very early age he was kind of thrown into the business world as well. So there's kind of really three generations involved. There was a business that his father had originally, originally bought that was struggling and pat and then he ended up passing away very young, at forty eight years old, and then my dad had to leave university at the age of nineteen or twenty and and kind of jump into the driver's seat of this failing business that was in the paperboard manufacturing, making boxes for consumer package goods companies. For the most part, and I mean the big opportunity he saw on and grasps grasped onto, which ultimately made him successful in the end, was really the beginning of the private label kind of transformation in North America, when president is choice started coming out and no name and that and that kind of stuff. So I mean I grew up around that, went to the office office with him every weekend, walked around the plant, sat in his office, printed off thousands of pages of nonsense. For for whatever reason, I just always enjoyed kind of the vibe of being in a company and kind of the the the environment, the magic the environment. So I mean literally is as long as I can remember, there was nothing else I wanted to do in the world besides being entrepreneur be in business. So yeah, it's really just comes through the bloodline. And I mean even an interesting little quick antidote. This week I actually met up with the lawyer who has met now three generations of my family, my grandfather, who I never even met, my dad and now me, and kind of seeing the journey throughout kind of fifty years of of our entrepreneurial family. Does he say anything like you look less, sound like, look like, act like, anything like that? or I mean, yeah, I definitely have like kind of definitely some tendencies that came came from my dad. I mean, I've I like to have a good time and like to joke around. I mean I think I'm a little better looking, but yeah, I know he he just thought it was it was it was kind of neat and I mean I'd actually never met him before, but it was it was kind of cool just to just to sit down and kind of here some stories from like way back in the day when when he was involved, as like my grandfather, who, I mean sounds like a cool guy from everything I've heard. So dealt with three generations or had the privilege of working with three generations of bees ants exactly. Yeah, cool, cool. So, unlike a few others, including myself, I mean there wasn't a whole lot of entrepreneurs in my family.
I think it was for me it was driven more an into your inside motivation. For you, it sounds like you saw something that you liked about the way that your dad was or the life that he had or the excitement of the buzz around entrepreneurship, and that's why you knew that you wanted to do it. Like what about it got you? Yeah, I mean he just he just always seemed so kind of passionate about about everything, like he could work eighty hundred hours a week kind of no problem, just because he loved it. And I mean just kind of seeing as much as I was young, going going to the plant and everything, I just I could see kind of the the magic of a being done, and I mean I've asked him to tell stories over and over and over again kind of just about his his journey, and I mean as much as he was not in not in a new world business. It was paper board manufacturing. I mean just to see someone kind of work towards being the absolute best and at what they do was pretty cool. So kind of I've always kind of wanted to try and do that as well in my career. Cool, that's neat. So then you, I guess as a child you add these entrepreneur ambitions, which is really cool, and then you went to Western. Yeah, I went to Western. I mean even before that I had a few little businesses in the summer and high school and whatnot. Will side hustles or some side hustles? Yeah, actually, one of them are. The vast majority of them were with my current business partner Cam. We actually met working on a gas doc and in cottage country. Gas Stock, like yeah, filling up boats, gas, Gass Doc. Yeah, DOC got filling up boats, B Canadian thing, a gas doc. It's a cottaging thing. I got a marina, I guess. So we would our day job was filling up boats, but we were always trying to figure out a little side hustles that would, I mean a earnes some extra money. So we were doing we were doing boat detailing, we were doing property management, we're doing landscaping, kind of up in cottage country. We kind of also used it as a platform to meet a bunch of interesting people that, I mean, we thought, we saw as quite successful. So, I mean we use it as a networking opportunity as well. Kind of back in high school, and I mean kind of using your age when you're young to to get in front of some cool people is as a huge asset, for sure smart. I worked at a private golf club. Sort of viewed it as the same thing. It was a bunch of these members that are there because they've done something right. Yeah, and if I could try to pick their brain here and there for nuggets like what is it? What do you do? You driving up playing golf three days a week and you're pulling up to a nice car, wonder what this guy does and asking them some questions about that. Yeah, well, still still to this day is some of those guys that we met will still call up on occasion and either get together for a drink or mean some of them they've even they've almost been investors for us at that periods of time to and just never know in different projects we can undertake. Yeah, I know you you never you never want to burn a burn a relationship. I mean you always want to always want to shoot everybody you meet as good as possible, because you never know, you never know. Speaking of you and I met when you first went to school here. So I was teaching at Western at the time. For sure, business. Yeah, that's where you and I met. Yeah, I came in as a as a young naive first year. Sure, didn't really know, didn't really know what to expect, but I mean from the Gecko business was naturally my favorite class, and I mean I think you made it that much more exciting because he had a lot of great stories to tell as well. I mean, I'm a big chunk of business is just being able to story tell in order to make people relate to it, versus just riggers at hating stuff out there. So I mean that, yeah, that's how I met and I mean we've kind of kept in touch a little bit over the years. So it's kind of funny how things come full circle. And I mean what is it nine, this year's later, ten years later, now I'm sitting back here. Yeah, now I'm trying to learn from you. Now I'm on the the tables of turn. This is this is really it's cool. It's cool for me to be on the other side of it. So and if I remember, just to touch on for a second, in class, you were your good student, but I wouldn't say you were one of the most outspoken students. I would say you were. People have this perception of entrepreneurs as being, you know, boisterous and loud, and I wouldn't say you're not at all shy, but I wouldn't say that you were, you know, one of the people in the class that or particularly loud or I don't know, it did, does that? Yeah, I mean for me, like when I'm going to when I'm as in a situation where, I mean, I know I'm not the smartest person in the room or I don't have the most knowledge of the room, I prefer to listen. I mean in a classroom setting there's a ton...
...of different perspectives, obviously around the room, then there's the the prof I actively try and listen more than I then I talked and I mean, I try it when I when I talk, I try to make the words kind of count versus just kind of talking to hear my own voice, as pretty as it is. I definitely prefer kind of listening and kind of trying to synthesize the a conclusion in my head based off of everything that I hear. I mean, I mean, I think to some degree, I think I at times I need to talk, I need to speak out more, but I mean, for me, listening has helped me kind of learn all sorts of things and yeah, such cool. That's it's a good anecdote. I think people have this perception that entrepreneurs are a certain way and I think they'll come in different flavors and types and sizes. And Yeah, I mean I think finally, like the good balance. Like, obviously someone who's overbearing, it's it kind of gets hard to be around someone like that too much, and then someone is too quiet and it's hard to hold the conversation with it's it's too much. On the other other end of the spectrum, I like to just have like good, healthy back and forth dialog where you can learn a little bit for me, I can learn a little bit from you. Yeah, and we'll get into a little bit later, but coming off as not shy, I mean didn't stop you pretty much. If we measured talk time, when you were on Dragon's den twice, you spoke up probably more than anybody else. So it's not like you're a shy person. No, I mean I would say like I mean, I would actually say I'm I'm more introverted than extroverted. However, when I'm in it, when I'm in a scenario that kind of requires kind of presentation, you almost you almost put on this. I don't not alter ego, but you're acting in a sense to present in a way that protects confidence and that in that you know you're talking about, and when you do know you're talking about, it makes it that much easier to to do that. So, I mean makes making sure you're prepared for any sort of kind of presentation, whether it's on dragons den or in front of a buyers is, is critically important, because other than that it would be either talking in circles are or not talking at all. But yeah, I know I enjoyed presenting, but it was it was certainly like public speaking. I would say was more of a fear of my own. I was younger than it is now. Cool, cool, so let's get into I do want to get into dragons don here in a little bit before we get there. So when you were we met, when you came to Western you then went to ivy and an HP to we do a project that I'm actually teaching now called new venture project. So in this project, students come up with not ideas, they come up with problems to address with specific ideals or solutions and they put it into a essentially business plan. So you participated in the new venture project? I did. Yeah, I'm surprising. Unsurprisingly, you had an idea that you brought forward for the new venture project. Can you tell me a little bit about that process, what the idea was or what the problem was that you identified and a little bit of that project for you, because you have an interesting story. That's going to lead to my questions about dragons then. Yeah, well, so, I mean thinking thinking back to kind of how the new venture project went for me, it started off as an ideation session. So like there's a couple few people in the group or whatever, and we all kind of threw all sorts of ideas out there, and I mean ideas are very abstract when you just throw them out or it's hard to really know if one's going to go anywhere. And kind of one night I had this very university student oriented revelation when I was when I was at our friends house having a few drinks before we were going to go out later, I noticed a lot of people were bringing kind of a full bottle of alcohol a full bottle of mix and the vast majority of the time kind of a lot of that was left behind. So I had this concept that if you could make a two compartment bottle that separate at the alcohol from the mix, not only would it allow the person to have both be able to purchase both at the same location, because in Ontario, you're buying vodka, you kept it by the Lsbo they have to go over to the convenience store. It'd be more convenient to carry for the person, but it would also create a new a new experience for for for the customer as well, having the basically basically becoming your own kind of bartender and mixing, mixing your own higher end cocktails and idea of separating them out. We were using we would use real fruit juices versus all the artificially flavored other stuff that was on the market at the time. So that was kind of the germ of the idea to improve the pre drinking experience for the university student with a cool concept, and I ended up pitching that to my group as...
...a potential idea, and I mean give him the stage of life. We were odd all out of the time, it seemed it seemed like a home run idea. So we actually ended up pitching it too, to the to the new venture project, I guess, profit the time, and then waited for his feedback on whether he thought it was a good idea or not, and he ended up coming back to US shortly after and he had, too mean two main pieces of feedback, one being the lcbos incredibly difficult to get into work with expensive. The chances are very low of getting a product in there. It's just it's too hard. The other being commercializing a very customized package and product was going to be very expensive and difficult. So he ultimately can the idea and told us that we needed to come up with something else for for the new for the new venture project, which we did, which was actually a pretty cool idea too, and it could have been a fun one to explore as well. So to rewind for seconds. So you you got in a room with your group, mm, try to come up with a bunch of ideas. Yeah, to abstract. Yeah, and then you went to a party. Yeah, and in your own experience, experienced a problem. MMM, and that then led to the idea you sage of stage, the two compartment bottle. And I mean I think, I think a lot of the kind of the best ideas, they come more from experience than just sitting in a chair and hoping that something hits you in the in the face. I mean even some of the biggest companies in the world now, Uber, Airbnb, they were all started with a simple pain point that the founders had. So I think the more you can get out there when you're trying to ideate is is probably better than just all sitting in a room and hoping something miraculous comes to you. Or even a lot of great companies are started by people who did work in another business and noticed a niche opportunity that no one just sitting in a chair could have ever come up with themselves because they weren't involved in that space. So yeah, yeah, so that's that's great advice. I mean get outside the building. You can, you can have a hunch towards an idea, but I think getting validation, especially when you're we call it scratching your own itch. Yeah, is is good. That's good advice. So when you first got it going, so I'm a stay, stay on stage for a second. So it got rejected from the prof which is interesting. I rejected it. How did you decide who you were going to focus on with that specific idea, with sage? How did you how did you decide that this was a product for a specific segment of customer? Well, I mean sage, I mean in my mind the target demographic was was that university student. I mean it was almost like I was somewhat creating a product for kind of myself, because I kind of did the same thing that I was I was witnessing or people were kind of leaving half of the half of what they brought behind when they went to the bar. So I mean I'd say I was creating a product for myself and then also, I mean creating it for my friends that were around me. That's great. And so you didn't come up with an idea and figure out who would it's be best for you experience the problem yourself and you thought, I know, it is better anybody. This is for us. As for the university student, yeah, I mean it kind of came from, I mean, witnessing the problem and trying to put a solution to it, versus coming up with the solution then trying to backtrack and find the problem for that particular solution. So I mean this is a the stage bottles. It's obviously it's a relatively simple concept, but I think diving deep into whatever problem you're trying to solve or whatever little inkling of an idea that you have is the best way to is to really is the best way to find a real sustainable product, both from creating it as well as producing it and marketing it. If you do all the right steps and preparing leading up to it, you should have a pretty good idea whether you're going to fail or succeed. And easier when it's something that you don't hate doing. Yeah, exactly. I mean in that and the stage case it is I mean kind of doing what you love and university, not that I could condone either way. To each their own, but yeah, I mean doing something that you you did socially of something that you yeah, you know, you knew well. So the Profabe a good point. The ecosystem in that case was a huge challenge. I'm going to come back to that, because the Lcbo, at least in Ontario, is a massive barrier for a lot of people. Ton of competition in the alcohol space with big budgets. And so how did you even if we fast...
...forward now to post new venture project, he somehow come back to stage. So you must have not liked the idea that you did for the new venture project and then you end up coming back to stage. Well, I would say like I was kind of working on on both kind of concurrently. After it got denied as a as a project idea, a friend of mine who had had had a few other little businesses with growing up, was actually in London that weekend visiting his girlfriend at the time and he came to my my my room at my student house and I kind of pitched him the stage idea to see what he thought and and to see if it was something that he maybe wanted to kind of join in on the journey with. And I mean he was at the same stage of life as me and he saw that it could be a really kind of unique trans formative product for the for kind of the alcal industry and how people kind of consume drinks. So we started this was at, I guess we had to start coming up with ideas the end of Thirger, I think it was, or beginning of fourth year. That's right. Yeah, so we kind of tinkered with this idea of this to compartment bottle, for we had another year of school left to tinker with with this thing and try and understand the feasibility of it. A lot of research, quote unquote, to do. Yeah, I mean a lot of research in terms of I mean we didn't know anything about like the ALCO industry besides how to how to buy it, and we didn't know anything about the packaging industry in terms of plastic bottles. I mean my family history is more in the cardboard side of things, not the bottle side of things. I mean I did, I will say I did get some warnings from my my dad that customized packages or are can be quite expensive, but I think I was just a little too maybe a little too strong headed and in saying that no, it can be done, and it actually it can be done, we did pull it off. But so hold on before you get to with what happened there. So you graduated, you made the decision to not do the traditional thing, which is go get a job. Yeah, so, I mean a lot of pretty much everybody, ninety, probably ninety nine percent of of the graduating class went off and and got different jobs and a multitude of different fields. But I mean I just had this again, undepressable drive to try and start a business and I'd been like waiting my whole life to essentially kind of do this for real. All the other little businesses I had kind of growing up or just like little side Hustles, little projects here, a little projects there, practice practice for the practice practice. Yeah, but this was kind of like the opportunity where, I mean, we could go for it, we have really nothing to lose at this point in time, or we could go off and get jobs and potentially get comfortable and in that scenario and not have the desire to do it five or ten years down the road. I want to tease that out for a second. So a lot of students that I'm in front of now think about, you know, if I don't get my first if I don't get the internship this summer. Yeah, if I don't start off in whatever industry, if I don't start off at whatever company, I'm screwed. I'm you know, I'm in a bad place. What would your message to people who don't get their dream internship right off the bat be? I would say stay patient, stay curious and keep searching, because pretty much everyone that I know that graduated, and maybe a chunk of them got their dream job, they're no longer at that dream job anymore because they just realized it wasn't there the be all in the end. All they like the romantic size whatever that career was, without understanding all the kind of underlying stuff that goes into it. I mean for me, I mean I coming from a kind of an entrepreneurial background and family, like, I knew it wasn't wasn't going to be pretty at first. I knew we were not going to make a lot of money, we were gonna be like living on scraps to start. You expect you expected the chaos, crazy. Yeah, I mean robint noodles whatever. Yeah, like a like one of the the kind of pieces of life advice we my friend Camra and business partner, came and I got when we were working one of these odd job companies up and up in cottage country from a successful guy up there is happiness is equal to expectations over realities. So keep your expectations low or lower and you end up being a lot happier than if you have these wild expectations and expecting the reality to catch up. Got It. I love that's good advice. Yeah, so, I mean we kind of knew that. We knew we were getting into by doing this, and I mean we tried to start the company...
...really lean. So it wasn't like we went out and and raised a bunch of money and got got comfortable salaries. We didn't make any money for but the first couple of years. But hold on, you you did start lean, but you were so in Twenty fifteen you actually appeared on dragon stand for the first time m with sage, and you maybe walk us through that experience. So yeah, after we fully decide that we were going to go ahead with the with the sage concept out of university, we continue to tinker with the idea and try and pull it together a kind of another just a little funny stories. Our first prototype was a hand blowing glass bottle and bottle. I think it cost us a thousand dollars and we were it was three hundred and thirty three bucks of peace and we didn't have much more than that. We actually gave it to a friend to take some pictures for us that we were going to use to help try and pitch investors. It fell over and broke. So that our first prototype. And then we discovered D printing. We actually stood at d printing back in the back. then. Yeah, we started to many printing prototypes after that. In twenty one, Thousan four hundred and fifteen mm. I guess that's just become a fairly common now. But those early enough, early ish. Yeah. Yeah, I mean they're not super cheap either, but I mean you can get like one that at least proved the concept, not maybe not pretty, but for a hundred fifty bucks something like that. So yeah, we started three printing after that we realized glass is not the way to go. Yeah, so how did you get one of you applied to be on dragons then. So, yes and no. So we did know. We kind of knew who one of the like producers was there and we kind of reached out to ask what the process of how can we get on the show and and and whatnot. She kind of told us that, like, Oh, you have to apply and you have to go through kind of jump through these hoops. You got to pitch to the producers first. Generally we were able to basically finagle our way in, so we didn't even have to do the audition, Steff, and just go right to the live shows, skip the audition. We basically skinned me skip the audition. Yeah, basically because this producer kind of knew we were already about and thought we would make an entertaining story to put out there. So we but typically, you you apply, you have to audition to the producers, then they cut it down whether they like you or not, and then you go to the, I guess, the taping shows after that. So I mean the first time we showed up we didn't really know what to expect. I mean we'd obviously seen the show bunch of times on TV. I mean, for me, like the experience, it was actually a lot more like a real business negotiation than I expected it to be, just based on how they kind of cut an edit the pieces. They make it seem a little bit more showy show business ee. But you really dig into the into the Nitty Gritty, and I mean you, they can make you look like an idiot pretty quick if I'll put the I'll put the link in the show notes here. Yeah, but you so that when they cut to behind the scenes and that's the three of you negotiating in the back room, that's real time, legitimately talking through. Yes, you're going to take the deal. Yeah. So you're there for I think we were there for about an hour. It's fast actually. Yeah, an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I mean we'd been able to connect with a couple of the people that had pitched on it before and they kind of gave us some tidbits in terms of how to make the the pitch go as smoothly as possible in front of them. So we were well, well prepared. It kind of comes back to the preparation point. And but yeah, it's all it's all a live time. There's not like cut this that it's a full one hour, hour and a half taping, one shot. If you get offered a deal, generally it's good to generally it's good to take a deal no matter what and and work on actually closing it behind the scenes, because I mean, like like any deal in business, all the ones that I've been involved in trying to negotiate, they all sound great when they first start and a fraction of them ever actually closed for for one reason or another. All right, so you guys did really well. Actually, there wasn't. Seemed like from the very beginning, despite the fact that you'd call this a first world problem, right, like, this wasn't. We talked about in our classes a gushing neck wound, which is a very visual yeah, it's a visually remember that term rushing. That going to stick with everybody. They and they talk about. It's the big burning problem that you really need to dig into and think about, and I would say that, least from my perspective,...
...this isn't a gushing neck wound. But the same time, when you pitched, every single dragon was nodding their heads, like everyone was into it. There was nobody that thought this is ridiculous. Yeah, not a good idea. Hm. So I thought that was interesting. Ultimately, so you did do a deal on that show. Our lean came on as a partner or, sorry, invested. Well, we didn't actually close the deal with her on the show. You did the deal on the show. was on the show. We did the deal. It didn't close because we had actually just raised a little bit of sea capital before we finally got to pitch on there. So it just the timing wasn't right. Got It, but she was she was very active in trying to invest. But one of our other investors that had come on also had a marketing agency, mm. So it didn't make sense to have two of those in the investor group. But now she was great and very, very active in trying to close the deal. But the timing just kind of didn't work because you can't really you can't. You can't wait to raise money for your business just just to go on Dragonston and try and raise it. So I mean the financing around just happen to close a little bit before we actually got there. To you never know what's going to close. You gotta have lunch at the fire and take the money when it's available, because investors see so many opportunities. If they're excited it about yours, do you everything you can to close it, because if you sit on it, they might be already on to something else by the time you circle back with them. Right like this is sales sales, one hundred and one. If it's hot, close on it or yeahs a friend of mine, Rory Copern, who used to be used to run twitter Canada, is now at Palemer x media, the weather network. He says his dad's favorite saying was big Hay will, the sun is shining. So if the money's there, jump on it. Well, it's there. Always be closing. I always be closing. Okay. So you on the show accepted didn't end up taking that deal. Didn't end up closing. You explain why. But you came back on dragons den in what year? This is the two thousand and fifteen was the first show. Two Thousand and fifteen is when it air but we would have taped in two thousand and fourteen. Need you tape it a long time before got airs? Okay. And then I think the next time we would have taped in two thousand and sixteen and aired in two thousand and seventeen. God, I think so. Then you sage was no longer say it was gone. So yes, kind of the kind of close the loop on sage. I Will Give The the prof that turned the idea down. One half of the wind. Where's commercializing a customized package very expensive and difficult to do, especially, especially for a inexperienced team and it comes to customized packages. But on the other hand, the Lcbo, what the the stage product did for us is it pretty much open the door to every liquor board in Canada, because everyone we took it to is like wow, we love it. So it really it served as a relationship building tool with all these different liquor boards and it's really kind of what kick things off on the right for foot for us from the get go, and since then we've had one of the best strike rates in terms of getting new products in. Awesome. So he was right. To be fair, he was right. I'll give him the win. But, as is often the case, the first idea is rarely the idea and it you listen to feedback, you develop some relationships and that turned into the new company, which at the time was iconic. Yeah, so kind of re positioning the company. I guess we didn't want to stick with a name that was also related to a product that we were no longer selling, so we kind of decided to rename the company with kind of the overarching mission envision to build the iconic Canadian company and the next kind of great beverage alcohol company in the Canadian Industry and specifically in the ready to drink cooler space, because at the time, for five years ago, the space was pretty much just full of the old boring competition. Call it the SPIR KNOFF ICES of the world and the Games is the joke. I seeing somebody like yeah, anybody really drink them? It was just kind of a joke thing. It certainly pushes a lot of sales that I see. I seen joke, but yeah, it was just full of these old kind of products that weren't terribly exciting. So we kind of focused on trying to usher in the more craft side of the of the ready to drink cooler space, as it was already exploding, and beer and wine. Obviously there's a lot of crafts producers and kind of the next area that made sense for us was the ready to drink market. The other Nice thing about the ray to drink market is, well, it's a blessing and a curse. You can gain traction very quickly with a new product, but it can also disappear quite...
...quickly as well. At it. So you were on dragons and you pitched iconic and the brand at that time was how many products? So the focus of that pitch was on dusty boots. So at the time of the taping we had just launched in Alberta, I believe, kind of the First Alcoholic Hard Soda in Canada. We had launched it in Alberta and kind of sales just taken off out of the gate. It was really an unbelievable it was truly like a hockey stick growth curve kind of that year we experienced basically five hundred percent growth and in top line revenue of the company. So it was a MBA and casual management, supply chain management, all the engine expectations. Yeah, it was, it was. It was a fun it was certainly a fun experience at the time. was there anything like this in Canada? There wasn't Alcoholic Hard Soda in Canada. No, but this was a first of its kind. This is the first of its kind. The industries very quick to react now, though, so you get a lot of a lot of people that follow afterwards, but at the time it was first of its kind, and I mean even the story of how we ended up on dragons don the second time was a little bit unusual. We again didn't audition. They actually called us up and and said that one of their groups had had dropped out for their for their last day of taping. Again, we weren't looking for money really at the time and they asked, well, we liked your pitch the first time around and we thought it was entertaining. Would you guys like to come back for the second chance show? Because we technically didn't close the deal the first time around. So we had to think about it for a little bit. Actually, because a direct competitor of ours, she was on the panel, the Min has brewing family. Who she was right away the only one that was like, nope, don't like the taste, I'm out. Yeah, I mean, I'll just leave it at a difference of opinion between between her and us. I mean, yeah, I'll just all everyone else was into it. I'll leave it there. She had a competing product in market. Right, it does immune tastes like it should taste, like alcoholic root beer. I didn't think if it's sweet, it's because maybe roote you're sweet. Yeah. So, like her, her whole markets, Alberta. We launched an Alberta First. We were whooping her, but pretty good and in so through. You was about for to one at the time. Yeah, so, yeah, I mean, yeah, there she is a history of sure of it, Shah, sure. So you went, you ended up. At the time it was dusty boots. was there. Did you have another product? That I mean on the show. Did you showcase another product? I think it was just dusty boots. It was mainly around dust was. I think we may have had we may have had a cabana coaster, but we were there pitching, like dusty primarily does, as that's where all the sales came from. All the numbers. that. Yeah, that was kind of our our lead dog at that time. So we were riding that one. Yeah. So then you get to offers. Is like people, Chris try so hard to get on the show. You guys got on it because you got asked to get on the second time and then you got a second deal. So between the few offers that you had in the first one the few offers you had in the second, you ended up yea Michelle and Joe who offered you almost what you asked for. Then you had whack offer you kind of like a royalty deal until he got his money back and you took wax deal. Yeah, so I mean a little bit of strategy, kind of going into into the pitch. We kind of Knowe knew that. We kind of knew that if you made a deal and when you were there, it greatly improved your chances of getting on Quan TV. And, and I mean we felt like whack had kind of the biggest personality. The equity. Wasn't it right? And no equity, I mean his deal was not wouldn't have been a great one, for at the time we were growing incredibly quickly. For the cashul of the business, paying out I think it was a ten cent royalty per bottle. Per bottle. Frankly, would never have done that deal in a private board room, but from a strategic stand point of of the show business world, he seemed like the right person to align ourselves with. But again, we didn't actually end up closing that overally that deal either. No, okay, no, okay. Both times we were there, and I mean the second time we got called twenty four hours before taping, right, we didn't have any time to really prepare for it. We weren't it wasn't the right time for us to bring on a new financial partner and obviously you have to go back and DU due diligence and our current investor group just said it wasn't. It wasn't the right time. We didn't feel it was the right time, so we had to decline both times. But still, great experience is not nonetheless cool. So yeah, cool, cool. So there's a couple other things we got to...
...get through here in the next a few minutes, but we're coming to a close actually on the resources side. So there's a lot to figure out in businesses like this. And we're pointing at your products now. So we got a whole line up a products here. We got dusty boots, we've got some seasonal dusty boots products. There's a couple of other brand spinoffs that will will touch on maybe a little bit later. But there's a lot to figure out from manufacturing, marketing, distribution and with limited budgets as a start up, like how did you not get deterred by all that? There's got to be like overwhelmed and oh my gosh, how's it going to work when we're up against these big people with comparatively unlimited budgets? MMM, how did you, Geven, get your head around everything? We need to get done. I mean I think, I think you either have you have to be a the either a little bit kind of naive or just a little bit crazy to think you can do it all and like a shoe string budget and make it happen. I mean, on the on the competitive side, like we knew we had a lot of other competitors out there, but they moved like the big guys, but they move quite a bit slower. They weren't the tastemakers, they were the taste followers. So we kind of felt if we could get a jump out ahead of them, we could have some success there, which which we have on like the resource side, manufacturing. I mean, it really comes comes down to, I mean, if you don't have the skills in your immediate team, finding the right people to tour willing to work with you and help you in any sort of interesting arrange and that, however, however it made may or a free, free product or if they like your story. I mean, I think starting young and and using your the fact that you are young as as an asset to to get services at a significant discount or for free at time works is a good way to do it. So, I mean it was a steep learning curb. None the last. There was nothing linear about it. I mean the first first like two and a half years for were kind of very hectic, trying to trying to figure out how the whole industry works, from a regulation standpoint, from a selling into the customer standpoint, to as selling to the end user standpoint, to manufacturing and managing supply chains and cash flows. It was just one one grand experiment that we had background knowledge to try and manage. But until your ass is really on the line, on the line, you just find a way to make it happen. When the stakes are high, they that old addage burn the ships right when this you'd never know, you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. And so in that case your back was against the wall. It was like in or we go home. Yeah, there was. There's multiple times where, I mean, if we didn't get creative, we could have gone out of business, either from trying to grow too quickly or some other disaster or our control takes place. We had to be very on the ball and aggressive and creative to to stay in business. So something that you mentioned the beginning you had worked with your so Dan. One of the partners played professional or semi professional hockey from the Church Republic. Yeah, he originally came to Canada to play hockey, play in the WHL, the Western Hockey League. And your other partner was the one that you did all the cams with. Yeah, so Cam Cam and I were working on the gas doc from our high school years. I don't know how older, or probably fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. Summer around there and had a few little businesses along the way, whether it was landscaping to trying to do smartphone accessories, whatever, all sorts a little all sorts of little businesses, just because we were we just couldn't wait to try and try and do something. So yeah, so it's not like you, three of you guys came from a background in beverages or the industry or anything like that, and I think in your case a little bit of naivete probably went a long way. The fact that you thought you had a chance against these big big dogs maybe a maybe a good thing. Yeah, I mean I think I think having a little bit of naivety definitely helps. I mean you can you can try and prepares as much as you want, but one thing I've kind of found in like this industry dominated by a few big players for the most part. Sure, there's a lot of small suppliers out there now, but the big companies are really looking to the small companies to lead the innovation curve. And I mean just anecdotally hearing from friends at work at these other companies. We've popped up in their internal slideshows multiple times.
Yeah, I can imagine. So as long as you're as long as you're not following them and you're leading them, it's kind of like the elephant and the most thing. You can kind of run around and create a market for yourself and they try and catch up with you, and and they can if you don't stay focused, because they have the resources to just keep going at it year after year after year. But if you can get far enough ahead, multiple process that we've waunched these most in our the bat has come out with something kind of similar the next year and as much later, much later, and they're not on the market anymore. Right so. So some interesting learnings there. I mean the team that you were comfortable with, you had experience with a handful, or at least one of your other cocounters before it sounds like you did a good job of plugging the gaps maybe in the lat experience for lack of experience that you folks had. Is that? Yeah, I mean me, we certainly, we certainly try to find kind of mental relationships, I guess I'd call them, like early on in the industry. I mean not being afraid to reach out to people that are either higher up in the industry and different businesses that are related to yours, and and trying to seek mentorship from them. I mean, we were very hands on to trying to learn as much as we possibly could. But I mean we made a ton of mistakes and in the first little bit there is a lot of older their up until tomorrow and the next day after, there's going to be always mistakes and failures that that are going to happen. I mean, as long as you, I mean, either have a plan B or you've made it, so it's not betting the business. A mistake is generally you're able to come back from it. Cool. So if you few left here while we what we try to wrap up update on where iconic is today, because we're looking at a whole bunch of new brands here. So we've got Cabana coast. We've got cottage springs that I know I've seen some great traction. Maybe just a quick Snapshot Update of where the brand is today. Yeah, so iconic as a company. We still have dusty boots going strong in the hard soda space. Combanda coast is kind of as more of our cocktail and a can brand, so hire and cocktails, Moscow Mules, a Chucomer Gen and tonic we launched. And then cottage springs is more of our I guess call it healthier oriented brand, where it's no sugar added, no carbs, nine calories per can, and that area is seeing a lot of a lot of great traction right now as well. In addition to our own brands, we both an agency business as well on the side. So we represent and sell other brands and products, for for other companies smart, that are cut complimentary to or on. We won't sell another hard root beer, for example, but a couple craft Foka companies and smart and some other beer companies. So it kind of makes our sales, the sale side of our business, more efficient and allows us to hire more reps as well. Smart and yeah, I mean we almost got into the manufacturing space. We didn't. But yeah, we're pretty much cross Canada. The only provinces we don't have a big presence in yet or our Quebec, and not as much in BC, but every other province we've been we've been in for the last at least three or three years and keep bringing new products market every year. Awesome, awesome. got a few more rapid fire ones to ask you. But if people are looking online, how can they find either your brands, your products? Was the best place to find them. So I mean in terms of communicating to people, we do a lot of that on on social media, facebook, instagram. We do have a website, iconic brewing dot CEO Steam. That confuses a lot of people. It was one of the dumber kind of communication mistakes that we made. But got CEO. And Yeah, if if you want to kind of see if the products available close to you and Ontario, go the Lsbo website and just search it. A lot of the other provinces around Canada have kind of similar websites, so you can search for the product. I mean else be able to deliver it to you now if you want, but just but that hasn't really gotten a lot of traction yet. Cool, cool, okay, so if you more rapid fire things before we wrap up for good it. Where do you do your best thinking? My best thinking has generally been done driving randomly, and I'm a day, morning, night, pretty much any time a day, like driving a car or even driving in a boat. And then I also just do like more deep thinking, like just on my own at the cottage, sitting on the dock and super quiet with one of your own products in hand. Absolutely, and of course, course, of course, advice you'd give your twenty year old self if you could think back to you with new venture projects, advice you give your twenty year old? So I would say maybe just be kind of a little bit more patient and a little bit more focused on on setting the...
...the foundation for for the business before just jumping right off the cliff. I would say, like there's there's definitely some learning lessons in there that if we took a little bit more time to either find the right person to help us with the with the problem or the project verse is trying to do it ourselves. Yeah, like that would be one. I mean, I would say just just be patient because, like good things, they take we thought we were going to make an overnight success and when we when we first started. But things take at least five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years. It takes a long time to build something and and more take a more long term perspective towards towards things. You could do it all, just not all at once. Yeah, exactly, and you can do it a lot better if it's done in a more structured manner. Got It. Last one here for you personally as an entrepreneur, what is your superpower? What are you better at than either your partners or most people? I'm generally a pretty creative guy. Come up with a lot of a lot of different ideas and I'm pretty good at kind of seeing the big picture of whatever the project or product might be. Cool, that's good. That's always someone to keep you on track who can see the big picture. That's good. Yeah, yeah, I mean I can see the big picture, as sometimes get a little too a little too over the over the edge. So I have my partner's kind of ring me back a little bit, which is you've been just going it. Yeah, exactly, real men, cool, but yeah, cool, bobby. This has been awesome. Got A ton of good notes here. I've got a lot of things to put in the show notes. Has Been really good. It's a down spend of time with us. Nice to catch up. Thanks, Erk, I just great. My pleasure. You've been listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit IV dot Ca, a forward slash entrepreneurship. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.
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