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How to Build a Rum Business with Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery: Business Podcast

How to Build a Rum Business with Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery: Business Podcast

How to Build a Rum Business with Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery: Business Podcast

How to Build a Rum Business with Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery: Business Podcast
How to Build a Rum Business with Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery: Business Podcast

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Summary

You know the saying, “It’s not a party until something gets broken.” Well…

Building a liquor business is fun, building your own distillery is a challenge, but hey, you get to party because you have a rum company right?

Listen to this episode where entrepreneur Ben Lyon from Lyon Rum Distillery tells how he build a rum company from nothing and what broke. Listen in to get the scoop and some HPT’s to build your own liquor brand…

A full transcript of the episode is below

Brandon: 

All right. Hey, everyone, Welcome to another episode of Build a business with Brandon. We have been lions from lines distilling then Thank you so much. 

Ben: 

I know it’s the holidays. You’re busy, but thanks for joining today. 

Ben: 

Absolute Thanks for having me branded you so for all of our listeners, everybody always ask me. 

Brandon: 

They say, How can I network right? Im don’t know doing this. Now. When I get to know people, I’m doing all this. 

Ben: 

Well, here’s the story for everyone of how Ben and I met. And this is true. You can’t even make this stuff up. Ah, I am a biker, as a lot of the listeners know and was road biking one day, I think, actually, on the way that Oxford, Maryland, Oxford up to three days did in Oxford. 

Ben: 

Yeah, that’s Ah, good short route. 

Brandon: 

That’s about an hour and 10 minutes fried. And I’m riding back. I think I was on the partner. Anyway, We stop, we see this guy and there’s road bikers on the Eastern Shore. But not a toner. Really serious guys. And you can sort of tell him a mile away. So we see this guy on the side of the road. He’s got a flat. 

Ben: 

We pull over when we start talking. And turns out Ben had just moved to Talbot County, which is on the eastern shore of Maryland, Sort of East and Oxford and ST Michael’s. 

Ben: 

We strike up a conversation, we help, I forget. We There you are set with that. 

Ben: 

You have the flat tire actually wasn’t me you knew existed from Oxford. 

Brandon: 

You were headed towards us for doing the flat tire. 

Ben: 

Because a higher on there, I’m joke. 

Ben: 

Yeah, the Schwabe tired. 

Brandon: 

So you stopped. 

Ben: 

Okay, so you stopped and we started struck up a conversation. And one of the things that I always do is I really believe in this, whether you’re religious or not, or whatever it is, I believe that the universe sort of works in this mysterious ways. 

Ben: 

And that you, when you meet someone, there is a reason. Sometimes that isn’t obvious. 

Ben: 

But, you know, and whether good or bad things happen, Teoh figure that out. So I did. And I has, like a, started talking. I forget what you told me. He said you move from an Hattner. New Yorkers recently moved from Manhattan. 

Ben: 

Teoh, Tiny Little town of ST Michael’s, Maryland. 

Brandon: 

Right, That’s best described. I think it’s a drinking town with a sailing problem. 

Brandon: 

So it was perfect for May, and it was only supposed to be for six months, mind you to do exactly those two things, but Okay, so there you go, there. 

Ben: 

There’s the story, but he and one of the things that we didn’t have. 

Brandon: 

We had a little bite group in Eastern, and we’re always trying to recruit more people because the more people riding the Saletan easier it is. 

Ben: 

I’m gonna get Ben’s number. 

Ben: 

And we exchanging and we became friends over the years. Turns out, then starts a distilling company. I’m gonna let then take over, cause I don’t really know how the six months of sailing and drinking turned into the dismantling. It totally makes sense. But the story for everyone so they know that we can’t make this up. I have a picture of my bike, which I’m gonna post in the bog in front of love ends place right before he started. 

Ben: 

I think he started in 2012 maybe launched in 2013. You can tell the story that was to December 2013 but yeah, and I have my bike right in front of their And I remember going by it was really been like, I think, in a tub. 

Ben: 

Nixon rum. 

Brandon: 

So right. That’s his story on the guy with the flat go figure, no. And then stopped. And and that’s the way it works. So, Ben, Thanks a lot. Take us through the rial story. You know, we you then and I were talking beforehand and just about what we’re gonna talk about intends, Like, Hey, let’s just talk about, like, the rial stuff that happens. And here’s what happened to me, and I was like, That’s exactly it. So you’re in Manhattan. Doing what? 

Ben: 

So I was a currency trader and then lobbyist, So spend a little something on Wall Street, and then I was a policy that you kind of guy in college. 

Brandon: 

And so I, you know, I sort of look at currency trading and sort of the perfect intersection between economics and political policy. And then, of course, you know, I I do enjoy strategy. 

Brandon: 

So ultimately, you know, what’s another good highlight reel job? When you become a lobbyist, you don’t do any of the drudgery. 

Brandon: 

You the excitement of kind of the end goal and really, your job is just execution. So, concentrator lobbyists foot, But we’re gonna step back before all that stuff, which is? 

Brandon: 

When I was in college, I was obviously always that it helps to be an enthusiastic drinker. If you’re gonna get into the booze biz. but I started brewing my own beer, and I grew up in New England, so it was sort of the the cradle of craft beer in the nineties, and I straighten brew my own beer in college. Turns out it was pretty good. 

Brandon: 

And right out of college ended up going to Nantucket with my best friend. I had 11 wants to kill before was started. this this new consulting gig and we end up working for, Cisco Brewers, intra plate stilling out on the island and the intention at that point. 

Brandon: 

So this is 2005 is to get into the craft beer world and just just have that experience, see what it’s all about and drink some really good beer. 

Brandon: 

But it turns out, in 2005 there are only roughly 14 craft distilleries in the US at this point. 

Brandon: 

So you’ve had a bit of the wine boom beers on fire Spirits just aren’t there yet, but it’s happening. 

Brandon: 

You are right in the beginning because 14 like now I don’t even know, right and 1000. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, and it’s it’s well, I think these days we’re approaching. 

Brandon: 

Ah, we’re somewhere on the 3000 ish mark for for distilleries in this country, which is an absolute massive increase. 

Ben: 

And if you look at the graph in terms of growth of the craft beer industry and growth of the craft distilling industry spirits are growing at a slightly faster rate. 

Brandon: 

So but back to the story, working there, intending to do the beer thing. 

Brandon: 

And they’ve got this distillery going as well. 

Brandon: 

And I’m fascinated because it all starts is a fermentation, right? 

Brandon: 

But when you make whiskey, you literally start with beer and you just take it essentially one step further. 

Brandon: 

And I gravitated towards the distilling side and end up doing a lot of that and fell in love with it and had one of those lightbulb moments. 

Brandon: 

For if I could do anything, this would be it. 

Brandon: 

But of course, growing up in an Ivy League town and going to a good school and you get these ideas about, you know, having the right job and doing the right thing, and that taking some crazy risk, which would be moving to an island off the coast of do England and and working in a essentially a boost factory right stuff. 

Brandon: 

So I do after a time. 

Brandon: 

But this is in my mind really what I want to dio and, so that’s always there. 

Brandon: 

And I’m living in New York and I was always visiting distilleries and sort of keeping up to date on, you know, what was going on in the industry? 

Brandon: 

We had, tough Hill Town, which is in upstate New York, the Kings County. 

Brandon: 

The story with my favorite distilleries owned by one of my good buddies, Collins Fellman in Brooklyn Massively successful award winning distillery, making just unbelievably high quality stuff. 

Brandon: 

And you’ve got all these things popping up and honestly was jealous because doing doing the right thing, sitting at my desk, plugging away. 

Brandon: 

But that was really where my passion waas So I was. 

Brandon: 

I had the opportunity to go somewhere else for a time. 

Brandon: 

I had geographic flexibility. 

Brandon: 

Is lobbyist where essentially if I had my laptop and my phone, I could be anywhere. 

Brandon: 

So at times, in a relationship with somebody who did not want to move to New York City. 

Brandon: 

And as it turns out, this will be my my eventual business partner, but you’re gonna take six months, and I was gonna leave the city for six months and I was a former competitive sailor. 

Brandon: 

Really wanted to get back into sailing regularly and take a little time off city just to just to see what’s what. 

Brandon: 

So that is how ST Michael’s offers in ST Michael’s for a month, just the beginning of this little six months. 

Brandon: 

Standard it. 

Brandon: 

What is ST Michael’s? 

Brandon: 

A choice because of the sit log, canoe sailing and all this stuff. 

Brandon: 

Or like and proximity to Annapolis, which is regarded as the ceiling capital of these Coast. 

Brandon: 

There’s a lot of good racing to Dio and then, as you know from my cycling background, incinerate. 

Brandon: 

I have a little bit of a competitive competitive instinct, right? 

Ben: 

Just a touch. 

Brandon: 

And so I’m in ST Michael’s for months and my now landlord for the distillery and I sitting around one evening, and he’s a sailor as well, getting drunk on rum. 

Brandon: 

And he says, What do you want to do with your life? 

Brandon: 

That noticeable, actually? 

Brandon: 

Well, when I have my own distillery, he’s a pauses for a second, takes a sip of Rahman baseball. 

Brandon: 

You know, I have the perfect building for that. 

Brandon: 

Let’s go see it tomorrow. 

Brandon: 

Okay. 

Brandon: 

Really Right. 

Brandon: 

Long story short. 

Brandon: 

Is this a drunken conversation that we have late at night? 

Brandon: 

Or is this real right now I’m rethinking and precisely so I said, Alright, it’s so we five oclock the next day go over and see this property that he owns, which is owned industrial. 

Brandon: 

And there’s already a winery and brewery on the block and it turns out it’s as perfect as perfect can be. 

Brandon: 

I had envisioned doing it back home in New England, but you know, some old barn. 

Brandon: 

But I think one of the things that you realize as an entrepreneur hopefully realizes not for sure that if you never start, then you don’t have anything. 

Brandon: 

And so a certain point you have to dive in. 

Brandon: 

You have all these ideas about the perfect moment, the perfect time, the perfect place. 

Brandon: 

Sometimes you just want to Those things has to be true. 

Ben: 

And you just have to begin. 

Ben: 

And that was that moment. 

Brandon: 

When is it Okay? 

Brandon: 

I think I’m not gonna go back to New York. 

Brandon: 

Gonna do this right here right now and start doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Brandon: 

We can figure all that stuff out later. 

Brandon: 

And that was how it all began. 

Brandon: 

So it begins in a night of drinking with an idea for a office, which is a good idea, I guess if you want to brew, but no brewing equipment, no financing, no business plan at this point. 

Brandon: 

I mean, the business plans sort of in your head, I imagine, because your you know, your general outline of what I wanted to do right here. 

Brandon: 

And I had sort of been working preliminarily in some seriousness on a plan for a couple of years. 

Brandon: 

you have been working on a real plan, working on an actual plan. 

Brandon: 

It was gonna be in Brooklyn, New York, with a couple of big investors people I was working with out there. 

Brandon: 

But it wasn’t exactly tugging at my heartstrings. 

Ben: 

You’re dealing just market research every night at these bars in Manhattan, understanding the the different types of rum and needing to sample many of those every night. 

Ben: 

Precisely. 

Brandon: 

Okay. 

Ben: 

And then ultimately, if we always did things we said we do, we were drunk. 

Brandon: 

World would be a much more interesting place. 

Ben: 

Anything take anything away. 

Brandon: 

This is like a George Costanza thing. 

Brandon: 

Isn’t it? 

Brandon: 

Just the opposite. 

Ben: 

You do what you do when you say when you’re drunk, because that’s really what you want to dio precisely. 

Ben: 

And I think it’s also ultimately for the entrepreneurs in the audience about really diving in on your passions because you can always play left by the numbers, right? 

Ben: 

You can always decide what you look at the projections, look at your spreadsheets and play it by the numbers. 

Brandon: 

But what do you actually have? 

Brandon: 

Heart and soul It and it could be is hey, well, I love cocktail hour. 

Ben: 

Or it could be something different or by, like, riding my bike. 

Brandon: 

Or maybe it’s all those things or, in my case, like ride my bike a like stealing and like drinking and sometimes all those things that are set perfectly. 

Brandon: 

So I think there’s also something be said there around, not just the passion, Ben, but when you build a business and you and I were talking about this beforehand. 

Brandon: 

Ultimately, if we look at all the successful companies out there, it ultimately is the founder who exemplifies what that company is right. 

Brandon: 

I mean, we go all the way back to even mention are doing Patagonia and a pair of shorts and climbing. 

Brandon: 

I mean, right, even tech companies, you can do oracle, and you can do Facebook. 

Ben: 

I mean, all of these companies effectively Microsoft, right? 

Ben: 

I mean, Microsoft, everybody equates with Bill Gates and Bill Gates put his self into there. 

Ben: 

So I would, say that not only is it about the passion, but it’s about actually being that person, right? 

Ben: 

Like I absolutely wholeheartedly agree. 

Brandon: 

Or if you’re not that person, find a partner. Who is that person? Because it’s going to be a character, so to speak that you build this cult following around right? 

Ben: 

And ultimately, I’ll say that your long days, the all nighters, all that stuff is a lot easier. You actually do have a little heart and soul in it, E You know what a tough times we’ll keep you going. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, maybe the word been because I look at you and we were talking. 

Ben: 

I think about you and and building a distillery. 

Brandon: 

Its authenticity. 

Ben: 

Right? 

Ben: 

Pick those pictures of you on Instagram and Facebook and all that stuff hanging off of boats and sailing wherever God knows you sail and doing all that like that. His heart fashion shots There’s a really it’s it’s real life, right? 

Ben: 

And And I think that is for Riel Brand, right? 

Brandon: 

And we could We could talk for hours about how you build a brand, how you create often too steep it. But that’s the thing about authenticity is sometimes you find it in unexpected ways are or it’s right in front of your face. And you didn’t actually have to look anywhere else, Andi. And for me it was about doing something that I that I loved and believed in and and ultimately, even when it comes down to the business plan Ah, it was just a bootstrapped operation between being a business partner. 

Brandon: 

And can we stop there? 

Brandon: 

Because everybody way skip over that and one of the questions that I get all the time because I say the same thing. 

Brandon: 

All bootstrapped it. 

Brandon: 

But how did you bootstrap it? 

Brandon: 

Did you did you save up from all that work in the cubicle that you were doing? 

Brandon: 

Did you do some consulting on the side? 

Ben: 

I mean, sales didn’t come in. 

Ben: 

I know that cause I remember your your thing blew up or didn’t work right or whatever. You guys, Bruin, you can cut that. I seem to remember it Didn’t all go is plan. So did you have savings? And you just what did you do? 

Ben: 

Yes, and one of the So I mean literally We had some. 

Brandon: 

Both of us had some money that we had saved doctors. 

Brandon: 

It’s talked away and decided to roll it into this thing and it was. 

Brandon: 

And again this was where, maybe as a where the passion where maybe too much emphasis was on it being a passion project like because hindsight is always 2020 and it really waas the only calculation in terms of will this work is how much does it cost to keep the lights on every month? 

Brandon: 

Your burn rate? 

Brandon: 

Yeah, What’s our burn rate and the burn rate Waas really, really low. 

Brandon: 

And I think for me, especially coming from Manhattan overhead scares me so much. 

Brandon: 

And I think a lot of entrepreneurs waste all and untold sums of money on overhead that they don’t actually need to. 

Brandon: 

I wanna I wanna stop you on that, cause because I just talked to someone the other day and I live this first thing. 

Brandon: 

Entrepreneurs dio one of the first things a lot of entrepreneurs dio is they run out and ethane by and art rent an office? 

Ben: 

Yes. 

Brandon: 

Can you dio No offices? 

Brandon: 

I didn’t pay Ben to say this, but like, why That doesn’t make us professional? 

Ben: 

No, A laptop in a phone, any place, Any time you have your office. 

Ben: 

Yeah, overhead is the is the thing that will absolutely bleed you dry even if you’re doing all the right things. 

Ben: 

And for me. 

Ben: 

And this is sort of one of the unique twists of this story we had very friendly landlord who cut us a break in the beginning because they wanted to succeed. 

Ben: 

Because one of the scary things in the distilling industry is before you actually get your federal and state licensing, you have to have a physical location. 

Brandon: 

But a sense there is there is an overhead component that’s required, and you just need to be smart about it because a lot of them aren’t, And how long does the process or about I mean, you are in your in Maryland? 

Brandon: 

I don’t know I mean, there’s a state of Maryland is absolutely fantastic. 

Brandon: 

The Comptroller’s office in the state of Maryland. 

Brandon: 

Peter Franchot Phenomenal guy. 

Brandon: 

You send them an email. 

Brandon: 

I’m not kidding. 

Brandon: 

Within five minutes when somebody always writes you back, that’s not an exaggeration. 

Brandon: 

If every state agency work the way the comptroller’s office in Maryland does, there it would be incredible. 

Brandon: 

I mean, they really are a remarkable lunch. 

Brandon: 

The  federal license, on the other hand at the time, took eight months. 

Brandon: 

So your pain if you don’t have a deal and you’re going, and there’s a few students that have had who have distilleries or want to go into stone if you don’t have some sort of deal like you can’t go out unless you I just don’t even know how the numbers work. 

Brandon: 

Then if you are, you don’t you literally don’t know. 

Ben: 

It could be a month. 

Ben: 

Some people get there, get there federal licenses in a month. 

Brandon: 

There been a couple of happen in two weeks that I know of. 

Brandon: 

For some, it takes a year, and you have to be prepared for that. 

Ben: 

And for us, a model I It did get scary towards the end of that licensing process, Because when can we start generating revenue? 

Ben: 

And also until you have that license, you’re not allowed to start making products. 

Brandon: 

And of course, I I never did any of that. 

Brandon: 

No test matches. 

Brandon: 

My So did you. 

Brandon: 

Did your you and your business partner just like cheap rent not eaten out all the time, Not taken trips. 

Brandon: 

Teoh, Cancun, right? 

Brandon: 

I mean that basically it now, did you do any consulting or anything to sort of offset this? 

Brandon: 

You did OK. 

Brandon: 

At the time, I was still I was still working and still head income from what? 

Brandon: 

What I was doing. 

Ben: 

But that, and and again, this is where the side hustle starts to potentially impact your actual venture or or your real job impacts your real venture, which is that you can’t put 100% into it. 

Ben: 

And the space that we took over and just gets a low overhead thing. 

Ben: 

I mean, I as a quote unquote master distiller, you’re also often, you know, the electrician’s the plumber in chief. 

Ben: 

You know, remember giving ever. 

Brandon: 

I got really good at pouring concrete and doing wiring. 

Brandon: 

And I think these air good life skills for anybody. 

Brandon: 

But there are also people who go out and just higher the contractors to do it, and that’s a totally legitimate and very expensive way to do it. 

Brandon: 

But I had a little bit of time, so in a lot of ways it was sort of a perfect intersection of all these things. 

Brandon: 

But I did eventually have to stop doing the work that I was doing with my clients in New York, because it just it just what’s it working with? 

Brandon: 

What I know is that just something you felt like one day you’re like, OK, I mean, because this is the thing that people always ask me in. 

Brandon: 

And when I do it, I just I don’t know, maybe from doing it for 21 years and being an entrepreneur and every company I’ve ever started as a side hustle cause everything you’ve said, which is low overhead. 

Ben: 

So for me, I mean, I am mathematical and I basically say, Hey, when the business can sustain my monthly burn, this isn’t vacations that Cancun or this is my burn rate. 

Brandon: 

Then that’s a point where I could start to think about ditching this other stuff. 

Brandon: 

Until then, I am not a big fan of ditching that unless you are so confident that revenue is going to come within 30 or 60 days. 

Brandon: 

But I’ve just never like I’ve never seen an entrepreneur that can nail the numbers in the beginning. 

Brandon: 

And I think what you just said right there is also incredibly important, which is that as entrepreneurs, we can come up with whatever projections we want that help us sleep at night. 

Ben: 

But ultimately, a lot of it’s total bullshit, right? 

Ben: 

It really is. 

Ben: 

And whether you’re a brewer distiller, you’re making whatever widget or piece of software just no idea who’s gonna buy it or how many are going to have what you’re what the revenue is gonna look like, Do you? 

Ben: 

You have to believe you’d least just have to get off the ground. 

Brandon: 

And for me, it was a simple as I think, in the beginning, without without without paying ourselves, that they needed to sell something in the neighborhood of we’ll call it three or $4000 worth of rum a month. 

Brandon: 

You needed to sell because effectively, the Rome, once the sun cost, is there It’s like media. 

Brandon: 

It’s pre pure profit, right? 

Brandon: 

Other than the bottle that can it’s me. 

Brandon: 

There’s a capital intensive industry. 

Brandon: 

But what you get past. 

Brandon: 

But But it was, Well, if weaken do three or four grand a month, anything beyond that is great. 

Brandon: 

Well, yeah, totally do that, of course. 

Ben: 

And and of course, in the beginning, and it turned out that worked worked really well. 

Brandon: 

And we were making money. 

Ben: 

And so and then the ball starts rolling on. 

Brandon: 

Call it luck, whatever. 

Brandon: 

You. 

Brandon: 

Anyway, I feel very fortunate that we were successful the beginning because a lot of people aren’t. But let’s talk about that. 

Brandon: 

I just I’m gonna interrupt, you know, treasure. But you go from Manhattan, you’re going to Nantucket. You’re coming back. You take six months off, you decide you’re going to do with the story in a night of drinking and literally and you decide to do it and you go off and do it. You’re now selling 23 $4000 a month. 

Ben: 

You have some success. 

Ben: 

Do you think that success that could you could you create a system and tell people wasn’t because you were living in town, and it was a small town. You were Ah, sailor, you’re a good sale. So you show up in town every e mean you’re a good sailor in those towns. Everybody is gonna recognize that. And a You are able to leverage that authenticity of sailing and bring them into the distillery to buy the room. 

Ben: 

I mean, is that okay, so that’s a little like to drink. 

Ben: 

Well, sailors drink a lot of rum, and, but that’s how you did it. 

Ben: 

I mean, some entrepreneurs, you know, I try to explain, like, if you’re if you have a hair salon, you’ve got to be like a really good hair salon person, right? 

Brandon: 

And that’s how you’re going to bring people in. 

Brandon: 

Or however that is so That’s really how you got for sales. 

Ben: 

You didn’t run ads on Facebook. 

Ben: 

I know or anything like to know. 

Ben: 

I mean, really did did zero advertising. 

Ben: 

And because of my background in lobbying and PR and political consulting, I knew how to leverage a good PR game. 

Ben: 

And another thing for entrepreneurs out there. 

Brandon: 

It is amazing to me the number of people with new businesses who don’t bother to make sure they’re just on Google maps. 

Brandon: 

It is mind boggling to me. 

Brandon: 

It is free. 

Brandon: 

It is right there and let’s people find you it. 

Brandon: 

The number of businesses who don’t bother blows my mind, and that is one of those simple little things were Just make it so people can find you. 

Brandon: 

It’s a huge tool right there, and it’s free. 

Brandon: 

That’s it is doing those little things, but also strategic press releases and taking advantage of the media cycle. 

Brandon: 

We’ve got a very hungry media who want to know what’s going on, and sometimes you just have to spoon feed it to him a little bit, but especially if you’re doing something interesting and this all goes back to make it so they can find you. 

Brandon: 

And Seth Godin describes the people. 

Brandon: 

Are your enthusiasts as your tribe? 

Brandon: 

We’ll make it so that your tribe know that you’re out there. 

Brandon: 

Let’s make it so that you can be found. 

Brandon: 

Make it so that people can discover your product because it’s not enough to just sit in the factory and crank this stuff out. 

Brandon: 

You gotta put it out in the world, and sometimes it requires a little creativity. 

Brandon: 

And some people get better at it than others. 

Brandon: 

But if you don’t know how to do it, there are lots of tools out there. People like Brandon can teach you how to do it. it, but But it really is that it’s making Some people can find you. 

Brandon: 

Okay, so that’s great advice. It’s free. It just shocked me. How many people? Just Oh, I don’t know how to do it. We’ll just get to know that hard. But we don’t want to go into that to get yourself on, especially if your location based business you know, you want to be on there now. Going back to your story, you bitch. Drop this thing. You’re not paying yourself. 

Ben: 

You went through, just previous to this some scary times when you’re not sure you’re going to get there. But you get there, you get $300,000 in sales, which isn’t a ton, but it starts to cover your burn when we were opted, are also rocked in our first month. 

Ben: 

and way went well past our goal. But that was that was all we had to do with them. 

Brandon: 

Wait a second. This is this is a really business. Who’s gonna give his holy shit moment of it works. 

Brandon: 

You put all these places like was this b two c business? 

Brandon: 

Or be to be where you getting your rum into other local places? Or were you also bringing consumers into the distillery? 

Ben: 

At this point, it was Onley foot traffic to the distillery. Now well, and we we said, because it’s a small won’t do any distribution for the first year. 

Brandon: 

Oh, after three months, that changed because the demand was absolutely massive. And that’s when I really started pulling a lot of all nighters. 

Brandon: 

So So you get some revenue that you’re only selling to the consumer. This is foot truck, just for everybody. This is foot traffic in ST Michael’s, Maryland that does have a lot of tourists in the summer. 

Ben: 

In the winter, it’s pretty much locals with a few people who go and hang out in that area. 

Ben: 

The and then so three months, you decide that you’re going to go to be to be in Is that that was driven by you just listening to the market then? 

Ben: 

Absolutely. 

Ben: 

The demand was there. 

Brandon: 

I give a lot of credit to spike up it. Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. doing great stuff. Has done great stuff up there for over a decade now. 

Brandon: 

And, of course, now has the line hotel with the with the nomad guys in D. C. And is doing incredible things with rakes. Progress. but he was the early driver of of us. Getting into Woodberry Kitchen was our very first wholesale account, but through so well, if Spike wants and he wasn’t the only one, but he was the one who said We want it here now on. 

Brandon: 

And we thought, Well, love Woodberry, kitchen love all the things that he does with sustainability supporting, you know, local producers. 

Brandon: 

It was all that stuff, and it was meaningful. 

Brandon: 

Place toe have as the first account. 

Brandon: 

And then from there, it just absolutely blew up. 

Brandon: 

Now you are making this stuff yourself, right? 

Ben: 

A really. 

Ben: 

Everything yourself, not hiring a tone of employees. 

Ben: 

No employees, no employees. Just, you know, been there was it was May and Jamie And then I think we hired her sister part. 

Ben: 

Time to help us to bottling and stuff. 

Brandon: 

Got you. And Jamie is your is your business partner in line. So you guys were doing all of this. And how long do you both with this part time, sister? 

Ben: 

Ah, go until you decide. 

Ben: 

Like, hey, this is you know we’re gonna break because there’s only so many late nights. 

Ben: 

Well, ah, the first year I was pulling at least a few all nighters every week. 

Ben: 

Wow. 

Brandon: 

Or I was sort of running stills going in, make you There’s about a mechanization in there, but, yes, you should go home, sleep for a few hours, go back, do it some more. 

Brandon: 

And that was very much during people say, Oh, I pulled pulled all these all nighters. 

Brandon: 

I really was on a schedule of pretty brutal all that. 

Brandon: 

But how? 

Brandon: 

But that’s what it’s took. 

Brandon: 

And we also talk a little bit about scale. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, this was one of the I’d say being what it is, if I could change one thing, building in more scale initially and making it easier to scale once restarted to grow. 

Brandon: 

And do you mean by that actually building systems in a bigger equipment? 

Brandon: 

Bigger acquaint result. 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

Because ultimately, in the distilling world, if you’ve got more of So we have. 

Ben: 

Our stills are fermentation tanks, right. 

Ben: 

This is a to three main pieces of equipment in the in the operation. 

Brandon: 

And if you have a bigger still, you’re making more product in the exact same amount of time. 

Brandon: 

And that’s the idea. 

Brandon: 

So early on only to little baby stills and everybody said, You’re insane. 

Brandon: 

That won’t work. 

Brandon: 

You need at least half a $1,000,000 to start a distillery. 

Brandon: 

And I said, Bullshit, Watch me go! 

Brandon: 

And sure enough, I was able to make it work. But it was only because of the crazy hours of those working. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, but that’s really what it takes, right, Ben, because you go out and spend half a $1,000,000. You either take it from the bank. You get an investor, whatever it is, and you don’t hit your targets on time or whatever. 

Ben: 

Now you’re behind the eight ball they can take over your company. You’re I mean, I just I just don’t know, You know, in the tech business, we do do that right. 

Ben: 

We’ll throw a bunch of money at it really fast and trying to happen. 

Ben: 

But it for most businesses in America that is just not the case. 

Ben: 

Like you’re gonna have to start small. You’re gonna have to start with either 11 Just, what you call it. This Still still still add another one. Work your rear off until you get enough business that you can by and financed that bigger one, right? 

Ben: 

I mean, sure, and that’s absolutely, I mean, that is the trajectory right of growing a business. 

Ben: 

But I think the bottom line is you. 

Brandon: 

You do yourself a lot of favors when you’re hyper efficient and because off the dollars, we were forced to be hyper efficient. 

Brandon: 

And I think, I learned so much by doing that. 

Brandon: 

And I think in a lot of ways you you do you learn mawr when you work more. 

Brandon: 

Obviously, the more times you do a thing repetition, right. 

Brandon: 

It’s the 10,000 hour rule and you learn more. 

Brandon: 

You become better at what you’re doing. 

Brandon: 

But you do, when it’s not just the simplest picking up the phone and saying Hey, and I need this done and stunts, you hire somebody, do it, you actually do it yourself. 

Brandon: 

Just more capable person, more capable entrepreneur and I think you’re more in touch with what’s going on your business, and I think it’s it’s it’s being in touch in that way and really having ostensible the pieces nothing. 

Brandon: 

You need to have your hands directly on all of them. 

Brandon: 

There’s a really quick wayto to burn yourself out in or fail, but at least having some sense of what’s going up. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I mean, a lot of people who say, Well, I don’t think I can do that. 

Brandon: 

I’m gonna hire that and and and look, I’m I don’t know how many of these things I’ve done. 

Brandon: 

I had to go far and I am. 

Ben: 

And I’m working on this new software company and I am still doing photo shop. I spent the weekend figuring out how to use Sangria in a better way for my email list than I have. 

Ben: 

And, you know, entrepreneurs come to me. They’re like, Well, I can’t learn that. Well, no, no, You’ve got to learn that if you’ve got to do wiring, you can learn wiring. My wife fixes the washer and dryer with circuit boards, watching videos and ordering the parks like you just can’t tell me everything’s on YouTube Everything? 

Ben: 

Yeah. 

Ben: 

I don’t know how to dio. 

Brandon: 

Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s all right, But But if you dig, if you dig hard enough you will find and the manufacturers have some videos, you will run away to do it. So you’re working long hours. You’re now You went from B to C. You got to be to B B to C business to consumer business. You’ve got to be to be because you we’re lucky enough to find someone who wanted and started to promote it, right? 

Ben: 

They really promotion. 

Ben: 

Oh, and maybe this is a time we were talking before we got on. 

Ben: 

And sometimes your day doesn’t go as planned, right? 

Ben: 

Like right? 

Ben: 

No. So how would like what has that been like for you? I mean, not that in a normal business job, your Damon it going plan, but as an opener, I think that’s a different. 

Ben: 

There’s a different definition of day not going his plant right. 

Ben: 

And I think, ah, well, whether it’s ah, a market not working out the way that you thought it would, Or maybe it’s things that we experienced. 

Brandon: 

I mean, you know, legislation not going your way or its conflict with a business partner or something like that. 

Brandon: 

As an entrepreneur, I think it’s crucial. 

Brandon: 

And again this is all stuff that I’ve had to learn and or or get better at or cope with. 

Brandon: 

And what do you do when things in your business aren’t going? 

Brandon: 

Have you thought they would? 

Brandon: 

When your when your perfect little plan either goes out the window? 

Brandon: 

Or it just changes in a way that forces you to reconsider your trajectory both in the business and maybe in your career, or or the industry? 

Brandon: 

And what’s that pivot point? 

Brandon: 

And I think it’s key to remember that as entrepreneurs, it’s important to have sort of a, you know, sort of a broad scope in terms of how you view your industry or business are the ideas that you have rights that you you’re not just pinpoint focused. 

Brandon: 

You have some perspective. 

Brandon: 

But then what is it you want to do next? 

Brandon: 

And I think this is also where if you consider yourself an entrepreneur, this is where we were. 

Brandon: 

We have to remember that as entrepreneurs, we have to put the pieces in place so that when we go where for forced to go away or, things change in ways that we can’t control. 

Brandon: 

The show goes all right, and for a lot of our viewers, for people out there who are are no my company, you see that I’m not around these days as much, and that’s the result of some things changing. 

Brandon: 

But for me personally, that’s meant that projects that I have in the works and been things that I wanted to execute on suddenly become possible because you’re not grinding it out day in and day out on the previous project, you’re able to move onto the next one right, And that’s something that, in the last year and 1/2 have actually been able to start to start. 

Brandon: 

Do it and taking some of because way. 

Brandon: 

Listen to whether it’s podcasts like yours or Seth Godin’s Another guy that I’ve listened to a lot in the past, or we read you know, Inc magazine, or whatever it is we don’t actually think about in seriousness. 

Brandon: 

What next, right? 

Brandon: 

We don’t we don’t do that as much. 

Brandon: 

It’s and it’s hard to dio when you’re wrapped it up in the day to day, and thankfully, when things started to change in my business, I had already had some things in the works and it opened the door to do that stuff. 

Brandon: 

And I think that’s an important lesson, A few things. 

Brandon: 

One is if you go into business with a business partner, whether that’s your girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other old friend, whatever that is. 

Brandon: 

And I talk from experience, you is really important. 

Brandon: 

And I tell people this and it’s very uncomfortable. 

Brandon: 

Let’s just be completely blocked. 

Brandon: 

One of the first things when people come to me and they say, Oh, me and my partner are doing this and I’m like, OK, well, 1st 2 questions that I ask that even though I keep blogging about it and telling it they still don’t have the answer, I guess maybe they don’t listen to me or no out there who don’t know which one it is. 

Brandon: 

E se. 

Brandon: 

What is your burn rate? 

Brandon: 

Your personal burn rate not. 

Brandon: 

And you should know that down to the penny if you’re gonna be an entrepreneur and two is what is your agreement with your partner? 

Brandon: 

And they’re like, Oh, what do you mean while we sort of doing it together and how. 

Brandon: 

Now you have to have that discussion and you have to go over that agreement in detail and understand the implications of what it means. 

Brandon: 

And paperwork and legal work is really. 

Brandon: 

I mean, there’s two reasons. 

Ben: 

One is it goes really well and you’ve gotta divide the money up some point right, and it spells out. 

Ben: 

And then when things don’t go so well, you can go back and lean on that operating agreement, whether you’re A C Corp Best Corp LLC, whatever you are, partnership to basically be able to do that. 

Ben: 

So I think it’s really important to do that because in all partnerships disagreements will happen. 

Ben: 

People will grow apart. 

Ben: 

I started a company with my wife, and I made sure you know, people like, well, are it? 

Ben: 

Looks like you’re preparing for divorce. 

Ben: 

I was like, I’m not preparing for divorce at all. 

Ben: 

What I’m preparing for is a disagreement that could lead to divorce that isn’t even related to the business. 

Ben: 

And each of us needs to understand what that is. 

Ben: 

So, you know, I’m saying this because it sounds like things you know, don’t always go well, what? 

Ben: 

Your partnership. 

Ben: 

And then when you get out of the blue, that’s the first thing I want to say around. 

Ben: 

That is, is that if you haven’t had a discussion with your partner, you need to sit down and do it and know that it will be uncomfortable. 

Ben: 

We as humans. 

Ben: 

I don’t want to because there’s that. 

Ben: 

Well, then we’re going into business together, and you, you’re already planning for us to not work well, I would be like saying, Well, let’s just not incorporate. 

Ben: 

Let’s not get a bank account. 

Ben: 

Let’s put the money in a box like that. 

Ben: 

That’s not how this stuff works. 

Ben: 

So we’re not We’re not doing that. 

Ben: 

Nobody is preparing. 

Ben: 

We’re just documented. It’s Everybody knows where they stand, and then the second thing is is and I And this is true of entrepreneurs who things don’t go right necessarily in their business and they decide to leave or it forced a happen, and or even then, I think you’ll agree. 

Ben: 

And I know you know a lot of people up in New York, and I’m sure late that you sell your business, you’ve got a windfall of money. 

Ben: 

You haven’t thought one iota about what you’re doing right now. 

Ben: 

Everybody and you’re and you’re and you’re sad and everyone’s like, Oh, I really feel sorry for you made all this money now. 

Ben: 

But truthfully, it’s not always, about the money. 

Ben: 

It’s it’s there’s a personal component to this. 

Ben: 

This is why I really always talk about business isn’t just business. 

Ben: 

It’s mind body business. Like if you haven’t thought about who you are, and it’s easy to get lost in who you are in building these businesses. 

Ben: 

But if you don’t at least spend some time thinking okay, I love what I’m doing and some people feel like, Oh, well, if I think about that, I’m taking away from know your you’re having some sanity because luckily for you, it sounds like then you thought a little bit about this. But there’s a lot. I have a lot of friends who made a lot of money who are pretty unhappy because like, Well, what do I do now? 

Ben: 

Yeah, I It’s an interesting thing. 

Brandon: 

I e. 

Brandon: 

I think this is Oh, don’t make this a little personal. No, we get away from, but I think the reason and I will tell everybody out there from my perspective, when you when you write an offer, any agreement right here that Brandon just said You’re preparing for the worst, which at the beginning, when it’s all you know sunshine and and bunnies and puffy white clouds, you don’t Jones can’t think about the worst, right? 

Brandon: 

And so I and on that note for me as been starting this business, it wasn’t it wasn’t about the money, really. 

Brandon: 

It all, or I would have been much more cutthroat and bloodthirsty when it came to writing Are operating agreement, which was ultimately preparing for the worst and, tactically in retrospect, Is that an error? 

Brandon: 

Yes, but because it’s not all about the money, am I unhappy? 

Brandon: 

Am I without direction as I move forward? 

Brandon: 

No, and having those projects that move you having those passions in life? 

Brandon: 

That’s what keeps you going. 

Brandon: 

And I think that’s what keeps you going both in business and life, and I’m amazed, and it’s actually my favorite question to ask anybody. 

Brandon: 

What? 

Brandon: 

What do you like to dio by yourself? 

Brandon: 

Nobody knows what you’re up to. 

Brandon: 

Water, what’s the thing or the things that in life make you sublimely happy, you know, for you and I, it’s getting out on Blake, where I could, you know, go sailing. 

Brandon: 

Are you know how I could big myself cocktail or what? 

Brandon: 

I mean, it’s it’s all those little things, right? 

Brandon: 

But it’s what, actually, you know, in a real true way, fulfills you. 

Brandon: 

And that could be a hard question for a lot of people because you get wrapped up in your day to day life and you’re doing all the right things. 

Brandon: 

But you actually fulfilled. 

Brandon: 

And like you said, I mean, you’ve got a lot of friends, have been a lot of money and have been very successful. 

Brandon: 

But what necks? 

Brandon: 

Well, yeah. 

Brandon: 

I mean, I’ll raise my hand and not just say, you know, friends. 

Brandon: 

I mean, I’ve had it happen to me like finish of business. 

Brandon: 

Think I got my stuff together, right? 

Brandon: 

And and basically, you’re like, Oh, my God, like who? 

Brandon: 

I Who am I? 

Brandon: 

What am I doing? 

Ben: 

Like I’m not good anymore? Whatever. And a lot of it is, I think, as an entrepreneur, I mean, you’ve got toe like a little bit. There’s some sort of you like the attention, right? I mean, you get off of the attention. You you like your customers. I love the customer. Don’t talk of customers all the time. I mean, and then all of a sudden, you don’t have these customers. You get like, two meals a day when I’m from your mom, Jackie checking on you and the other one’s a bill and and you’re like, Well, well, who am I? 

Ben: 

And I think those that you know, it’s a hard question that make no mistake, I think you and I being in the game is exciting, right? 

Ben: 

It’s help pro athletes go through that, too. 

Brandon: 

It’s Yeah, you’re you’re you’re not when you’re not in the game anymore. 

Ben: 

Well, what would now? Oh, right, Writing It’s fun. It’s fulfilling its as much as the agonizing because it can be. 

Brandon: 

It’s also, in a way, for Philip. 

Brandon: 

So when did you think about that band like E? I mean, you aren’t obviously preparing for the worst. Nobody knows that things are gonna go bad, but I mean, you sail, you bike those air times when your mind is just, you know, at ease. 

Ben: 

So when things didn’t go perfect, right and you’re not as involved in the business anymore. You already had your bookshelf. It sounds like ready to pick off what’s next? 

Ben: 

And I think, thankfully, being well regarded in the industry, I had people who wanted to call in my expertise. 

Brandon: 

I had opportunities that I hadn’t executed on. 

Brandon: 

Then I had projects that me, that that work, work, demanding attention, and I was able to go and literally immediately. 

Brandon: 

And this is whether it’s locker, what happy. 

Brandon: 

I feel lucky to have had those opportunities, but it also made the transition easy. 

Brandon: 

And I think a lot of people in your industries when you one of the things also at and I think it is one of those little little lessons to is on the one hand, you want to be close to the chest right with whether it’s your strategy. 

Brandon: 

You know the secret sauce, whatever it is. 

Brandon: 

But I think also you want to be giving of your time and your expertise right, especially to new guys in the business. 

Brandon: 

I had some great mentors coming up and it happened sort of naturally and had some some great friends in the industry who were always very helpful in the beginning when I when I really needed whether it was, how do I You know I don’t have the right heat seals to the top. 

Brandon: 

My bottles steal some of yours or little pieces like that who are really helpful. 

Brandon: 

And I made an effort when you know we re established ourselves. 

Brandon: 

And when I had sort of the ultimate reputation to make sure that didn’t forget that to be, to be helpful, to be giving a time to be, ah, not sort of looking at everybody as terrible competition. 

Brandon: 

They’re just sort of one of these boats, you know, on the rising tide. 

Brandon: 

And I think if you have that mindset, it’s it’s it’s healthy, it’s good for your industry. 

Brandon: 

It’s good for your community. 

Brandon: 

And ultimately later, when you want to do something different or there’s a change because they hate you know that that guy knows what he’s doing, and we’ll get something that could use some attention over here. 

Brandon: 

And maybe this is Maybe that’s a jumping off point or it’s an opportunity. 

Brandon: 

Yes. 

Brandon: 

So let’s just catch the listeners up because they’re probably, sailing around with a little rutter, not the rudder, not working that well as it should. Basically, what’s happened is then has is still an owner of lines Distillery. 

Ben: 

It’s still going, still sells Rome, makes good rum. 

Ben: 

He has an owner, but you’re not as active on the daily basis. And that’s why I’m no longer the master distiller. 

Ben: 

No distiller. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

So that’s and that’s been about a year and 1/2 now, but yeah, sure is. 

Brandon: 

Ah, which is a transition. 

Brandon: 

But why? You’re still don’t you still own it? You’re still were going on. 

Ben: 

then my way. Change that. But now you’re looking on on some new ventures and, you know, looking back on your whole experience because, you know, from the from you stop. And I mean, I really was lucky enough to get into your story from my flat tire today. 

Ben: 

We hate on the very beginning A. You and I may not stayed in touch. Just trained since I moved out of Maryland, on social media and what not and I don’t know where you and I exchange probably social media the most. 

Ben: 

Most of its I fall you, but, you know, looking back then what? 

Ben: 

What would be three tips that you would give. 

Ben: 

Entrepreneurs who are, you know, want to do something, whether it’s their passion or they’re good at. 

Ben: 

I always say, I think people should follow their passion, but not not always. 

Ben: 

If the passion is really a hobby because, you know, following your passion, you got to make sure that there’s a business. 

Ben: 

The mortgage comes on the 30th at least for me, every month, and you gotta pay it. So if a passion becomes ah hobby too long, then I think people get caught up in and aren’t able to put Put it aside. 

Ben: 

So you actually were able to take this passion and turn it into something that made money at some point. 

Ben: 

But what would be three tips looking back on this? 

Ben: 

And it has been six years. 

Ben: 

Yes, we just had our six year anniversary, right? 

Brandon: 

Six years. What would you you know as a on and then we’ll talk about it. 

Ben: 

It’s totally wild to me, but about where you’re going. 

Ben: 

But let’s talk about three. 

Brandon: 

I call him high Percentage Tips that you would give entrepreneurs right. 

Brandon: 

I think the first thing is you. 

Ben: 

Whatever the idea is, I think, distilling it’s fairly easy, right, because there’s a tangible and product things, you know, like tack or software. 

Ben: 

Etcetera can be a little bit less. 

Brandon: 

It’s a little bit less formative, at least in the in the beginning stages, right? 

Brandon: 

Because so many things could change, at least in distilling. 

Brandon: 

You get this very, very tangible in product, which is running the bottle. 

Brandon: 

And I think having a good, clear direction off where you’re going is absolutely key. 

Brandon: 

And on that note, so, you know one. 

Brandon: 

Like I said, getting to that tangible in product. 

Brandon: 

Keep your overhead low. 

Brandon: 

Don’t go get in office. 

Brandon: 

Don’t do any of that nonsense. 

Brandon: 

Outsource or or delay as many of those little things you need. 

Brandon: 

You don’t need to go buy a fancy that a copier you don’t need. 

Brandon: 

Teoh have this. Great. You certainly don’t need a receptionist. I think things like task Rabbit. You know, the online concierge services. All that stuff can be leveraged to your advantage. 

Brandon: 

And, beyond that, which is sort of the nuts and bolts financial stuff at the beginning, which is just just be hyper efficient, just it is efficient as you can run it from your couch. 

Brandon: 

And I got a few friends to do that and it and it works for me. 

Brandon: 

And then it gets the point where this too hard it needs to make the next step. And then that next step is so much easier if you’re not locked into some least somewhere in some building that you hate and doesn’t so you anymore. 

Brandon: 

Next piece is just just the idea and passion and really believing in what you dio. 

Brandon: 

I had a maddening discussion with a friend the other day is just, you know, it was really cool. 

Brandon: 

My brother set out to just make a $1,000,000 and this is well, it’s just I just think it’s really cool that you did that double. 

Brandon: 

But to what? 

Brandon: 

End? 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

And so you have a 1,000,000 literally thin what right and where’s the soul in that? 

Brandon: 

And where’s the passion and e? 

Brandon: 

Think online. 

Brandon: 

There’s least easy. 

Brandon: 

Oh yeah, you know, this is the my feel and you’ll become a millionaire done in it and forget all that. Forget all that nonsense, being a passionate person who has interests, who is out there engaged in the world and interesting. 

Brandon: 

Well, you know, I want to make this 1 20 do this thing that’s such a such a time. 

Brandon: 

You gotta be flexible. And if you believe in what you do, so many other things will take care of itself. 

Brandon: 

I mean, really, it’s it’s, but it’s, But it’s really fundamentally believe in what you’re doing and being authentic about it. Because if you’re not authentic in this day and age, with all the advertising that we get pegged at us all day long, people are really wise to it and have incredible radar from bullshit. 

Brandon: 

So just just don’t be a bullshitter. 

Brandon: 

And after that, whether it’s ah, you know, this is a general strategy. 

Brandon: 

But but having a vision about where you’re going, which ties in a lot of things, whether it’s writing your operating agreement, building in scale, all of those things where you ultimately want to go and how big do you want to be? 

Brandon: 

And also, I think, as a entrepreneur or something, starting a business figure out. 

Brandon: 

Do do you want to do this job for the rest of your life, which, if you do it is fantastic, and and that’s a beautiful thing in and of itself. 

Brandon: 

Or do you? 

Brandon: 

Is there something you’re very interested in and you want to grow it? 

Brandon: 

But then ultimately you want to move on to the next thing, and that’s a That’s a very important thing to think about in terms of how you you ultimately structure that business. 

Brandon: 

And that’s and that’s a fundamental piece that doesn’t get enough attention, which is, and you really can break it down. Is, is this job you do for the rest of your life? Or do you wanna build this thing and then and then go forward and do and do lasting? 

Brandon: 

I think those air That’s kind of how I would have to break it all down. 

Brandon: 

 first, we talked for hours about each of those things, but of course, be a But I think that’s great advice. 

Brandon: 

 so I want to switch topics real quick and talk about the industry, because now that you are there, there’s 14 distilleries in United States. 

Ben: 

When you first start Europe in Manhattan and you’re doing this and you’re working on Nantucket, there’s 14. Now there’s 3000 you said in the United States. It’s a craze. I mean, I hate to say craze, but it’s a craze. 

Ben: 

Everybody wants to do it. I don’t know how big the market is. In general, a lot of people drink were outlawed and drinking. 

Ben: 

 there’s definitely all these niches. There’s definitely exits. The big liquor companies can’t produce the types of authenticity that Alliance distillery can because they can’t be Ben Rock. 

Ben: 

Right? so can you talk a little bit about the in general? The economics? Because I asked you earlier, and I know that it’s capital intensive. So you know you want on a smaller route. Maybe you invest $100,000 or maybe invest 50. And then can you talk about the actual economics? Once you’ve got that capital infrastructure, it’s essentially a some cost. Then there’s there’s, you know, on that financial sheet. There’s the cost of the actual product. 

Ben: 

There’s the and there’s the bottle in that little piece of paper that goes around it that says lines, instilling that off three cents. 

Ben: 

You know, it’s got to be a profitable thing once you get there. 

Ben: 

Can you talk about those that economic for sure? 

Ben: 

I think on a small scale, it is pretty easy, relatively speaking to it’s a lot easier in this business to start out really, really small and establishing nature, your local community or local market than it is to create something huge and then and then say We’ve got enough production built in here that we have to sell nationwide. 

Brandon: 

Otherwise we’re done and I don’t I mean, it’s like I don’t I don’t have the perfect solution for that. 

Brandon: 

But what I will say is that it is. 

Brandon: 

It is obviously very capital intensive business, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. 

Brandon: 

You can become a craft distiller, which is your hands on, literally making the thing from, you know, the raw ingredients fermentation, distillation, bottling, doing all in house. 

Brandon: 

And and that’s a method that I absolutely respect. 

Brandon: 

And I appreciate it have been there and done that, and that’s how I created my reputation, which is doing it the man the good old fashioned hard way. 

Brandon: 

You can also create a brand. 

Brandon: 

You can source spirits from any number of big producers and put your own spin on it. 

Brandon: 

Put your own label on it. 

Brandon: 

What have you? 

Brandon: 

There’s a brand that I worked with up in Vermont who is doing just that thing. And they they unfortunately didn’t do a good job of inner closing their doors at the end of this month. 

Brandon: 

And that’s, Ah, it’s It’s an unfortunate reality, which is in every market segment. 

Brandon: 

You have sort of the unicorns, right? 

Brandon: 

The ones who just it was just like this magical success story, and you can’t just flat out emulate that. 

Brandon: 

So there are lessons to be learned or things to be drawn from their experiences, but you can’t just set out to be them. 

Brandon: 

And that’s what this business is like, where it really requires some kind of hooks, some kind of, you know, unique aspect to your story. 

Brandon: 

And also it has to be good. 

Brandon: 

And I think that’s one of things that excites me so much now is compared to six years ago, when we started, the spirits are just better right and competition. 

Brandon: 

Not only is it can be scary, right, but it does force just force everybody to be better. 

Brandon: 

And ultimately, in this business, one of the things that you oddly realizes a just on the creative side is a master distiller. 

Brandon: 

You want to put your touch on everything you wanna have your vision of what the thing is supposed to be. 

Brandon: 

There has to do. 

Brandon: 

You want some sort of context there that you inserted into the product. 

Brandon: 

But the reality is we’re here for everyone else. 

Brandon: 

Nobody buys your stuff. 

Brandon: 

Is it relevant? 

Brandon: 

Is what you’re doing. 

Brandon: 

Important thought that is not cool. 

Brandon: 

But we are also running a business here, So really it in a sense, it’s It’s important that you have input, but the only thing that matters is what people want. 

Brandon: 

Yes, when you make them, do they want it. 

Brandon: 

If you don’t want it, how do you make them on it? 

Brandon: 

And and that’s that’s also part of the secret sauce. 

Brandon: 

But that’s what it’s hugely important. 

Brandon: 

It’s a very competitive industry, and because of the regulations in alcohol, it could be in our came thing to navigate around with regard to excise tax and different regulations, state to state and wholesale distribution. 

Brandon: 

All that good stuff. 

Brandon: 

So it’s Ah, it’s a tricky thing. 

Brandon: 

So let’s say Let me, I want it doing exams. 

Brandon: 

Don’t that answered your question up, and that’s why I’m gonna come back to you. 

Brandon: 

But I think that was really want you to hear that and understand that. 

Brandon: 

But let’s take a $40 bio around. 

Brandon: 

Is that expensive ballroom or is that a middle price? 

Ben: 

that is sort of edging towards the higher end. 

Ben: 

Okay, let’s just let’s just do that cause it’s the holiday and were in good spirits and we’re gonna be out of the great. 

Brandon: 

We sell a bottle room for 40 bucks. 

Ben: 

We’ve got taxes that I don’t know what alcohol taxes. 

Ben: 

That 15% in general, can scales tax or excess tax. 

Brandon: 

Well, the whole thing just give me, like, the whole my whole A for a bottle of rum you’re looking at about. 

Brandon: 

Call it, close to a buck in taxes. 

Ben: 

A buck out in the 40. 

Brandon: 

Yes. 

Ben: 

OK, so we got 40 bucks, we got a dollar in taxes, and, we’ve got how much is a bottle cost? 

Brandon: 

Like you have a customer. 

Brandon: 

Your average bottle is gonna be a buck a dollar. 

Ben: 

52 to 50. 

Ben: 

Okay. 

Ben: 

Started last year just for the glass. 

Brandon: 

We’ve got to 50 marks another five or 10 cents. 

Ben: 

Well, sleeve is like a penny. Your label could be a dollar, or it could be $5. 

Brandon: 

So labelling is is a huge variable. Okay, you’re on Figure a couple bucks on the label and do you? 

Brandon: 

I don’t know. 

Brandon: 

I know I I don’t drink. So in general, Not because I’m like anything other than I just I don’t have time to recover anymore. 

Ben: 

It got harder after I got older, and I was like, I think that but Ah, do you? Some people put their packaging in a box. Does Does lions put their stuff in a box so that you got a box? 

Ben: 

When you ship it out to wholesalers, you gotta put it in a box That all could also costs. Ah, could be anywhere from a dollar to $2. 

Brandon: 

So let’s just call it unit 40 bucks, $10 in taxes, and I’m just gonna wraps a marketing and you got some shipping, whatever in their right. 

Ben: 

And if you’re wholesaling that do liquor stores, I’m not I’m not as familiar with her. Do they want a keystone that meaning they want to do? Ah, a markup you. 

Ben: 

So you have to discount from your MSR Pierre, your you’re suggested retail price. 

Brandon: 

Now, if you and I could be anywhere from 25 on average of since a 30 to 40% discount from from retail price. 

Ben: 

So $40 bottle, $10. 

Brandon: 

You sell it to them for 20. 

Brandon: 

You really only making 10 bucks a bottle. I’m just trying for the our listeners. Get down, toe. Okay, I’m gonna build a two storey Ben, I’m calling you tomorrow and we’re going to do this. I understand that. You got a one thing that I tell people on Ben, you know this from coming from Manhattan and being a traitor. And everything is if you don’t run that spreadsheet, Yeah, are in big trouble. 

Ben: 

I’m not saying, you know, you said some really good things, which is, you know, the projections air going to be total bs. You’re probably not gonna hit him, but it is important to run. 

Ben: 

 So you understand what that is because I’ve gotten in a few places where we meet with someone and I said, OK, let’s go through the cost just like we did. And we do it on the back of a napkin, and all of a sudden it costs exceed the price. I like you like. Let’s just stop. 

Ben: 

Let’s just stop like we’ve got so many problems here. So it’s a story business, though on volume Sounds like it could be very profitable once you’ve absolutely And I’ll tell you, we have done a few projects where it doesn’t make financial sense. 

Ben: 

It was literally just a called a marquee product, very good to show how creative we were and to show capability. 

Brandon: 

And it was It was things that were just I mean, whether you want to call them artistic exercises, whatever my big but that don’t and didn’t really make financial sense. 

Brandon: 

Well, I think that’s important because for entrepreneurs like you had said earlier, you see this stuff on the Internet, right? 

Brandon: 

Like build this funnel ban and you can make $1.5 million in 45 days. 

Brandon: 

Well, well, and my thing is, that’s awesome. 

Brandon: 

But how much did it cost you to make the 1.5 and then you learn to cost 1.75? 

Ben: 

They lost $250,000 I don’t really care how much revenue is. 

Ben: 

So you know, in the distillery business, I think that’s important because sometimes and sometimes companies or whatever that is, do projects that don’t make financial sense. 

Ben: 

But we as entrepreneurs, need to go and dig in and ask those questions because then we go out. We follow this model, and all of a sudden the officials don’t make any sense and we’re following a dream. 

Ben: 

That’s just not It just doesn’t the economics don’t work. 

Ben: 

You can’t glass cost your ex right to pay Bending up India master to store of this magical recipe that he works on for 90 days. 

Ben: 

Cost of room e mean so but and there is this. 

Ben: 

There’s a scale thing. 

Ben: 

They’re right, it’s It’s everybody’s got their own already figures out what what numbers work for them? 

Ben: 

And it’s not that there’s any particular does that return that you should always strive for this right? 

Brandon: 

It’s whatever works for you. 

Brandon: 

It’s your game. You play the way you want, but ultimately you gotta make a little bit of money. 

Brandon: 

Well, yeah, you Most e started into a 51 C, in which case it’s a whole different ballgame. 

Ben: 

But which is the business of non profit, is not to be underestimated. 

Brandon: 

However, I think that I mean, you know, a lot of people have wineries that lose money so they can write off their farm. And I think we just absolutely, I think that’s great. You know, I think that’s a really, really smart thing to Dio. But what’s not smart is is an entrepreneur thinking that you’re gonna follow that model and that you’re going to make a living doing it. 

Ben: 

And just understanding, I guess, is what I’m really saying this context. But these e mean the truth is, is that if you can get your one distiller, you can work at night. You can put this thing together. You can become an authentic brand for whatever reason and make a good product. 

Ben: 

It is the spirits business. 

Ben: 

I guess call, it can be really lucrative right for sure and and again, I think we get back to the way I started with one. 

Ben: 

It was cost, keep the lights on, but really the most important thing was making the absolute, best possible thing that I could and being totally authentic and transparent about that, and it’s like making however you want make do it everyone but but you also. 

Brandon: 

I think you really do need to put that quality and authenticity first, and that was the thing that that set us apart. 

Brandon: 

And it’s you play the volume game you condone. 

Brandon: 

Slap a label on a bottle of junk. 

Brandon: 

But people will realize that and for entrepreneurs out there and the skits in the pricing to, we’ll make it more efficiently and and present lower than everybody else. 

Brandon: 

And the race to the bottom in terms of pricing is also you. 

Brandon: 

The fast way to fail because all the big guys could do it more cheaply and more efficiently than you can. 

Brandon: 

And you should strive to build your brand in a different way. 

Brandon: 

Do not get in the race. 

Brandon: 

The bottom. 

Brandon: 

Be the guy. 

Brandon: 

Please. I believe who’s about doing the better thing because you can’t make everybody happy, can converted the cheapest thing. 

Brandon: 

Give him the best thing and give him your brand of that. 

Brandon: 

And I think bigger, not what you’re niches, right? Like here’s the Here’s that wine company I read a, in business school. I read a case study on It has been quite a few years since I went to business school. But on it’s a kangaroo. wine. They only make two types of wine red wine and, oh, interesting white walking. And they priced it low. They priced it at 13 or $14 a bottle, but they they said, This is going to be our segment. 

Ben: 

And basically, based on that segment, we can only make this quality product. But the person that buys that quality product understands that that it’s that it’s a 14 or 10 or whatever it is dollar online. 

Ben: 

Right out in California, you’ve got, ah, famous winemaker tucked back Stauffer, who has the 75 wine company. 

Ben: 

And he’s, of course, of famous wine consultant because Aaron all of big places, that helps him, you know, put their stuff together. 

Ben: 

But then he also had his access to all kinds of great resource is, namely the fruit and the juice that the big shops like Opus and whoever else didn’t need or do anything with. 

Brandon: 

And then he has his own brand of wine, that is everything tucked Beckstoffer An incredible, incredible stuff for 14 to 25 bucks a bottle, and it’s literally the scene, the same ingredients in that bottle that cost, you know, 17 box, as in the $300 bottle of Pride or Opus or whatever my beauty. 

Brandon: 

And that’s also another interesting exercise where it’s, you know, it’s a high quality product. 

Brandon: 

There’s an interesting opportunity there, and and he’s doing it that way. 

Brandon: 

But it’s but it’s but it’s cool. 

Brandon: 

So you and I think in some ways he’s he’s breaking the rules of the industry, which are while you’re famous and you could charge me and he is who he is, so he could charge 300 bucks a bottle and people buy it. 

Brandon: 

And wine is also an industry that is literally built on bullshit on and on. 

Brandon: 

And that is a business words extra scary to break the rules and to and to know, look so safe stuff. 

Brandon: 

You know what? 

Brandon: 

You have somebody who is in the secret sauce and you bring a call. 

Brandon: 

The marketing rules. You break all the branding rules, you say. Well, I was left 75 1 label, and it’s it’s literally world class blind for $17. Well, that’s sort of sets the industry on its head tip. 

Brandon: 

So I mean, I think with any of these wine or rum or watches or cars, some of it’s just okay, I’ve got this brand right? 

Ben: 

I don’t know anyone wine, but but I I’m able to buy this $400 bottle. 

Ben: 

Why? It’s like women’s purses, right? I mean, at least, you know, and probably get in trouble with my wife and some other women potentially listening. 

Ben: 

But I really have not functionally understood the difference between the $3000 purse and the $50.1 there. I’m open to the fact that there could be something really magical in there that’s fundamentally different. But really, it’s about, ah, bring sure thing, knowing that that you could do that so that if you can build that, that’s important. So, Ben, with all this, what is next for Ben Lines? 

Ben: 

Now you’re a master distiller. Is that right? 

Ben: 

That’s I. So I will tell you, you know what? That’s the term. That’s the term that’s popular in our industry. Okay, I I would describe myself as the you know is a head to still are, but I mean, there there titles that you could go and earn and so on and so forth. 

Brandon: 

But I’ve I feel like I’ve won enough awards done enough in the business to call myself an expert of self sort. 

Brandon: 

 yeah. 

Brandon: 

Okay. And I do think master distiller is sort of a kind of a patriarchal term that I don’t particularly love, but Okay, Yeah, I’ve been head distiller. 

Brandon: 

Whatever it is, you know, it’s your like a spirits expert. 

Ben: 

Yeah, in a sense, not like you are her spirits experts from the bottom to the top, including her consuming and and sailing right into it. 

Brandon: 

Both of those things. 

Ben: 

At the same time, we do not recommend to any viewers. 

Brandon: 

No, not at all. 

Ben: 

And I think there’s a reason why USA Sailing adheres to the world if that doping regs which classify alcohol as a performance enhancer. 

Ben: 

So now what do you rate your performance? 

Ben: 

Kids don’t do it with alcohol, so I mean, maybe we need to test for what’s next. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, 2020. 

Brandon: 

And eso I’ve always wanted to do, exclusive whiskey distillery. 

Ben: 

So just disorder. 

Brandon: 

That’s just whiskey. 

Brandon: 

And that plan is pretty far along at this point. 

Brandon: 

And I’ve got the basic framework left, you know, in place and figured out the equipment piece. 

Ben: 

And the last little bit is this kind of where it’s going to be? 

Brandon: 

And then, of course, whisky being a very expensive thing to produce, literally raising the capital for that so that you don’t do it a little different. 

Ben: 

I don’t know anything about whiskey. 

Brandon: 

It it’s and and I think whiskey did. 

Brandon: 

I have done it one batch of time, you know, making three gallons of rye whiskey and, you know, in any of our period where it’s and it’s it’s good, I learned a lot. 

Brandon: 

But now I’m It’s time to take that knowledge and expand on it and whiskies a rented because of the in creedy INTs or because you have to let it age or ingredients are expensive. 

Brandon: 

And then, of course, you have the aging process, which is expensive. 

Ben: 

So for American whiskey, every time you make a new batch, it has to go to brand new chart of barrels. 

Brandon: 

So you’ve got the expensive all those barrels and then, of course, time value, which is you make the product. 

Brandon: 

You’ve got this literal liquid asset that you just keep sticking around? 

Brandon: 

Hey, A Well, it doesn’t require any particular timeframe, but you’re probably looking at at least a year and 1/2 to 3 years depending, and and the and it’s not to this numbers can’t work, and you take that into account when you’re making model. 

Brandon: 

And beyond that, I I’m just incredibly excited by what I see going on in the CBD space. 

Ben: 

I think the I think there’s a whole opportunity e I think there’s a CBD the opportunities wide open and for everything. 

Brandon: 

So I think there’s an opportunity there. 

Brandon: 

But maybe it makes the most sense to tune in with you. 

Brandon: 

Maybe after the first quarter of 100 and 20 and hear how this story has involved here, where lions distilling goes and then enter where maybe your next venture, absolutely. 

Brandon: 

And taking everything that you’ve learned and putting that into Ah, new product whiskey. 

Brandon: 

I you know, I feel like you trying your your stuff, but it just has this, like I never could get up on time. 

Brandon: 

And I’m not a not a not a person who does anything in moderation. 

Brandon: 

So, you know, if you like a brain. 

Brandon: 

And let’s go drink some beer. 

Brandon: 

I’m like, Yeah, let’s go drink some beer. 

Ben: 

Like, let’s drink if you you know, a case of beer. 

Ben: 

 I have I know myself well enough to know that if I start in the whiskey, that might not be good. 

Ben: 

Moderation is for monks, right? 

Ben: 

Exactly. 

Ben: 

Exactly what I’m saying. 

Ben: 

So listen, I want Thank you. 

Ben: 

This has been awesome. 

Ben: 

A great just catch up with you. 

Brandon: 

 great with you. 

Ben: 

I hope this was helpful for all the people out there, so Oh, my God. 

Ben: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it is. 

Ben: 

You’re gonna make mistakes. Just try not to make the same ones. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. Don’t make James. 

Ben: 

And if you missed six, make numerous. 

Ben: 

Six. 

Brandon: 

I like that. I’m gonna write that down. You can make new mistakes. 

Ben: 

All right. 

Ben: 

But you gotta you know, in all fairness, you can’t beat yourself up. You don’t know what you don’t know when you when you’re starting out. You know, I think one of the things I tell people is make sure that you get a mentor, you know, to be honest with you, it getting I got lucky. I actually got a guy. I mean, you know, my background a little bit from the fishing site that I ran, and one of the guys turns out to be a guy who sold his company to warrant takes a public good cells of the warm buffet, and I get to go fishing with him. Right? And what did that saved me? Yeah, that’s a V e. I can tell you that. the advice is don’t I like this? I think we’re getting some high percentage tips here. Which is don’t make the same mistake. Make new mistakes and mentor because you will. 

Ben: 

And it’s okay. 

Ben: 

And that’s that’s part of this process. 

Brandon: 

You will live. All right, Then we’ll thank you so much. Have a great holiday. Look forward to talking to Ian. 20 Dirty. 

Ben: 

Absolutely. Thanks. 

Brandon: 

Paraded Cool. I think that we’re Yeah, there goes. 

Ben: 

All right. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. I went really well and and I I think we played it Played enough that Ah, let me stop this

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