In this episode, we’re joined by Ted Fleming, Founder and CEO of Partake.
Ted talks about his life and experiences after receiving a devastating medical diagnosis and how that inspired him to create his product.
Ted tells us that he knew in his core that there was a market for this product, even though others thought it was a terrible idea.
He also shares the actions he took after his manufacturer sent him a bad batch of the initial product and how that led to the creation of a different product that he still sells to this day.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode of the Physical Product Movement podcast. I speak with Ted Fleming, Founder and CEO of Partake, a non-alcoholic beverage brand.
Ted talks about when he was given a devastating medical diagnosis and how that inspired him to create his product.
Ted also talks about why he knew in his core that there was a market for this product, even though others thought it was a terrible idea.
Ted also shares the surprising actions he took after his manufacturer delivered him a bad batch of initial product and how that led to the creation of a different product that he still sells to this day.
Ted is a great entrepreneur and was a fantastic guest. I hope you enjoy.
Yeah. Hey, Ted. Welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining me.
Ted: Thanks for having me on Ken.
Ken: Yeah. Uh, where, where are you located? Where am I finding you.
Ted: Today I am in a beautiful, Calgary Alberta, Canada.
Ken: Nice. I hear it’s absolutely beautiful up there. Um, what’s the outdoor scene like in Calgary?
Ted: It is, uh, a phenomenally outdoor oriented city. We’re less than an hour away from the Rocky mountains.
Um, world-class skiing, mountain biking, uh, hiking. Um, you know, if you’re into the outdoors, this is a fantastic place to come. Uh, bam, which maybe some of your listeners know about. Uh, yeah, it’s literally, uh, an hour from my, from my door here. So, um, we’re very, very lucky and grateful to live in this part.
Ken: Nice. Nice. Have you, have you lived there long or is this recent?
Ted: Yeah, I lived in for most of my adult life and, um, my wife and I moved out here with our three young daughters in, uh, early 2018. Um, just looking for a bit of a change, maybe that’s the entrepreneur in me, just being open to open to new things, uh, and, uh, You know, we’ve, we’ve thought it’s been, uh, although half the time has been in, uh, in COVID and some form of lockdown, um, you know, it’s a great place to raise a family.
Ken: Nice. Well, we’d like to kick off the podcast with, um, with a quote, um, and I didn’t check in with you. Do you have a quote in mind that, um, that you could share with the audience, something that motivates you is, or has been impactful to you in some way?
Ted: Sure. So, you know, one thing, one quote that I particularly like is.
You know, the little details all added up, make a big difference. And even this morning, when I was working with my personal trainer, we were talking about the same concept of, you know, you’re putting in this, this little single workout, but you know, if you do it over the course of a year or several years, the results are, are astounding.
So I think it’s, uh, it applies to both the business and personal life.
Ken: Um, yeah, that’s very cool. Do you know, uh, do you know who said that originally?
Ted: I got it from, uh, uh, uh, a book I read a few years ago. Um, and I think it’s called the messy middle and, uh, hopefully the author forgives me for forgetting their name right here.
But, uh, yeah, the book’s called the messy middle and I found it to be very insightful.
Ken: [00:03:35] Yeah. Um, the messy middle. And so, uh, Ted, why don’t you tell us, um, for people who don’t know, you know, about your company, why don’t we start off by just telling us a little bit about what partake, uh, brewing is?
Ted: Sure. So, you know, I know in order to do that, I need to take everyone back to 2005.
I was, um, a few years out of college. Um, You know, having had some good success in my professional career, I was, uh, I was a high level athlete playing sports at the professional level at, at the same time, you know, like, uh, I played squash, uh, racket sport. That’s pretty popular here in Canada. And, um, you know, just things were looking up and all of that came crashing down.
I started to have some severe abdominal pains. You know, going to my doctor’s having a series of tests and, uh, ultimately was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and, and, and that was a huge, uh, change in my life. And it took me several years to really change my perspective on that. You know, it wasn’t until 2010, when I had a pretty big, uh, flare up, I needed to have some surgery and I spent almost a week in the hospital and it was, it was in the hospital.
He’s got some long hours alone to think about sort of where your life is going and having a, you know, a serious scare, like a surgery and unexpected surgery and hospital visit. Um, molded me, motivated me to think about, you know, the changes I needed to make and. Eating healthier and drinking healthier were big parts of that as we’re reprioritizing, uh, family.
And, um, and one of the specific things that came out of the, the health and wellness part of that was a decision to give up alcohol and, uh, You know, for many people, alcohol is, is a really important part of how we socialize. Um, for me, after playing sports, having a beer was a big part of that experience.
Uh, family events, holidays, you’d often just find yourself having a drink and socializing. And it was a social lubricant that helped, uh, helped connect with other people. And when I, when I took that away, I realized, you know, how important that was and socializing. And it was even more acute because as I was dealing with this, this other condition Crohn’s I needed my, I needed my support network even more.
In, in a way I was, it was a double whammy because I was taking it away in some ways with, with not drinking and finding that connection harder. Um, and so, you know, I’d go out to bars and restaurants with my friends and, and, you know, try to keep that connection up. But ultimately you were, you are almost treated like a child.
Your options were water, soda juice, Shirley temple, if you were lucky. And, it was very juvenile. Um, set of options. Um, if you were not drinking alcohol. And so I look to other countries for some inspiration. Europe was way further ahead in terms of the development of mint non-alcoholic beer. I was a beer lover, so I started importing some of that product into Canada, and started an online store around that.
And then. You know, I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started it. I was just solving a problem. And what I ended up discovering was I was building a community and really being a lightning rod for change and for making people’s lives better, who were, who were going through some of the same things I was.
And eventually that community. You know, they, they helped me by saying, Hey, can you get craft non-alcoholic beer? And I couldn’t source it. And you know, we were still too early, most brewers I talked to said, you know, there’s nothing here. There’s no market, there’s no opportunity. I disagreed with them. I thought there was.
And so I created, uh, my own brand and partake green and, uh, it’s been, you know, wildly successful.
Ken: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Um, a couple of things I wanted to dig into. So even just your last comment, you know, where, where people were saying, oh, there’s the market’s not big enough. You know, there’s not really an opportunity there.
And, but you disagreed. Um, what, what do you think it was that you were seeing that maybe other people weren’t.
Ted: You know, I, I think it was, it was the fact that this experience touched me personally. I, I knew it, you know, deep down that this was something that was important to me and it allowed me to. To feel like I was, I was normal.
I could go out and have a great beer and, and have the craft beer experience and, and feel accepted. Uh, And I, I think that that personal, um, experience is what kept me driving forward, even when people would tell me. And, I remember vividly at an industry conference in 2017, I said, you know, I’m going to make a global beer brand and we’re just going to make non-alcoholic craft beer.
And someone said that is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. That’s retinal work. You know, I’d love to, I’d love to have a beer with that person today, but, uh, you know, I just, I, I had this conviction, um, early on and, you know, in hindsight you kind of recognize, look, if I wasn’t early, the way I was, it would be so much harder to compete.
Um, you know, true innovators have to be ahead of the curve and have to be told. Things like that in order for them to know. Yeah. I’m, I’m onto something because I’m early. If everyone said this is a great idea, you’re probably, you know, a year or two.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s really interesting. It’s almost like, like you have to find an idea that actually is a good idea, but, uh, on the surface doesn’t necessarily look like a good idea.
Right? If it looked like a good idea, if it was obvious that it was a good idea, everybody else would be doing it. Right. And that means that there’s not really that big of an opportunity for you. Would you agree with
Ted: Yeah, absolutely. Like we are, we were the first real company in North America to launch a craft non-alcoholic beer line.
Uh, You know, and today we’re, you know, we’re, we’re competing against 30 other products, you know, and we’re in a great position because we were first and we built, you know, we, you know, we, we built variety and we, we, we figured out all the problems, you know, early on and now we’ve scaled and you know, the guys coming in now, or, you know, your MBA grads are like, oh, this is a, this is a growing market.
And like, all those signals are there. Now we had to do it. Based on intuition before and saying, Hey, we think we think this is going to happen before the data said it was gonna be.
Ken: Right, right. I mean, an analog that I think about is, uh, like Airbnb, you know, when you hear the founding story of Airbnb, I mean, they were laughed out of so many rooms and investor pitch meetings.
Everybody thought it was just an idiotic idea. Right. But it turns out it was actually a pretty good idea. It just looked, it was disguised like a bad idea, you know, but they were seeing something that I think that the greater market wasn’t, you know, well, it sounds a little bit similar, you know, you saw this, this non-alcoholic.
You know, the beer market, um, you saw it in front of you, but it wasn’t obvious to everybody else. So, um, let’s, let’s dig into that a little bit. Um, one of the things that I was, um, really appreciative of is when I went to your website and you just clicked on your story, um, immediately you opened up about this experience with Crohn’s disease.
You know, what, what do you think? You know, being open with your story and kind of telling these challenges, what do you think that’s done for your brand and for your company?
Ted: Yeah, I think today there are so many brands that, um, You know, lack authenticity, or they try to manufacture authenticity. I think, you know, my, my story and just being open about it, it serves two purposes.
It says, Hey, we’re, we’re open and authentic. And, and the purpose behind our brand comes from, from a real place, from a real, a real person, a real challenge, a real story of, of, um, overcoming a big obstacle. Um, I think that appeals to me. You know, so many different people, even if you’re not interested in non-alcoholic beer, I think people will say, Hey, that’s if I was going to be into this category, this is a brand I, I want to associate it with.
You know, there’s lots of brands out there that have some good purpose, but, you know, I think in many cases in CPG, consumer packaged goods is, is probably one of the, one of the better ones for authenticity, but there’s still tons of brands out there that are, you know, they, in my mind, they go to the purpose shop and decide, okay, what purpose are we going to tack on to our, our business?
Uh, and then they do it and, you know, some good comes out of that cause they support some good things, but it. It doesn’t, it’s not part of their original DNA. Um, and I think that’s, that’s an important distinction for our business, um, relative to our competitors.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I totally agree. You know, one thing that I took away from it, I mean, it’s just a powerful way to kind of infuse your brand with some emotion immediately.
You know, as, as, uh, you know, I, I listened to the new segment, um, about, you know, your diagnosis and, you know, how you kind of took that challenge and then were able to thrive after it’s, like, I felt like I had an immediate connection to you and, you know, um, by association to your brand, You know, and I, and I think that that’s something that, that a lot of brands could, could learn from and do more of, you know, lean into that.
Ted: Yeah. And I think for me, and I think for me too, right. I, I, I feel like I owe the Crohn’s and colitis community, um, to tell the story and to raise awareness and to, you know, hopefully be. Somewhat of an inspiration that even though you, you know, you may be diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis that you know, that, that doesn’t close the door on, on great things for you in the future.
Ken: Yeah, I agree. Um, do you think that you’ve, you’ve been able to find a market, um, in, in that community? Like, do you, do you know, other, you know, people who suffer from Crohn’s disease that, uh, you know, actually started buying your product, um, because of your story or because they had similar challenges .
Ted: Yeah, absolutely. Like we get lots of, lots of messages from people that, um, you know, have, have similar, um, have had similar challenges to me with Crohn’s and colitis. I, you know, they, they feel, you know, I think they feel. Um, welcome to reach out because my story is, is that public and it’s a big part of the why behind, uh, partake brewing.
So I, I think we hear a lot from that community. Um, I’m not going to say that, you know, stopping drinking is, is a one size fits all for anyone with Crohn’s and colitis. It’s, it’s a very individualistic condition where everyone needs to do. To figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. But I would say, you know, as a whole reducing your alcohol consumption, uh, is a healthy, is a healthy thing to do.
And, you know, everyone needs to find out what the right, uh, white right level of that is for, for themselves.
Ken: Sure. So let’s, uh, let’s dig into, um, well, actually, before we do that, um, this new segment, how did that come about? You know, the, it looks like a Toronto, uh, our Toronto new segment. Um, what, what was, what, what was the story behind that? How did you get on that.
Ted: Yeah, I think it comes back to like, we we’ve gotten some phenomenal media attention and I think it goes back to the authenticity of my story and us being a first mover and, and really trying to, um, you know, change the conversation around. Alcohol and its role in society. And can we, can we still socialize and have fun and have all the sensory experience of craft beer, but in a much healthier, in a healthier way.
And, um, you know, I think that that story just resonates with a lot of people and, and we’re, we’re fortunate to, um, to have gotten some, some great media, uh, because of that. And because, uh, I think the story resonates with a lot of.
Ken: Yeah. So did they, did they reach out to you or did you reach out to them?
Did you hire somebody to do this, like a PR consultant or something like that?
Ted: Yeah, like today we definitely have a PR agency that works with us, but that was early days. It was still, I think I was a one person business at that point. So it was probably just me hustling and yeah. You know, throwing out some emails and, and, you know, hoping something would stick.
And, um, I was fortunate that, uh, that, that probably, uh, came from, from that hustle.
Ken: And, uh, do you know if that, that particular segment, um, uh, had, had, you know, much, much of an impact in your sales? Like where were you able to see an uptick or, um, were there any particular sort of media or news coverage.
That, you know, you felt really kind of, uh, bumped, uh, gave, gave your, your business a nice bump.
Ted: Certainly had a great impact for us. It was, it was a local Toronto story, but, um, you know, definitely had a lot of feedback that, you know, people saw it, people. Um, wanted to try the product. They were excited about it because they saw it.
Um, you know, more recently we’ve had some, some great articles in, uh, in, uh, Forbes and a bunch of other business publications, the globe and mail, which is a. The Canadian national or one of the Canadian national newspapers has done some, some great stories on us and is interested in us, not just from a, you know, a personal level, but also as a successful business.
So we’re seeing a transition from it being, I get a bit more, a bit more of a personal story in the early days because the business hadn’t really developed quite yet. And, um, but today it’s more about, wow, these guys have really. Um, done exceptionally well from a business point of view and obviously the tie back into being early and being innovative and taking risks and, and the purpose behind the business. I’ll, I’ll flow into that as well.
Ken: Right, right. Um, and it looks like you were the, the first and young entrepreneur of the year and in 2021, is that right?
Ted: Yeah, I’ve been named a finalist and this, this actually just came out this week. So, uh, that’s, that’s hot off the press, but, uh, it’s an incredible, incredible program and award to be part of.
And, you know, I just look at the list of other finalists and I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m very humbled to be part of that, uh, that amazing group. And I’m sure, um, there’s tons of other amazing entrepreneurs in the U S and around the world that are also part of the program. So, uh, very grateful for, for that recognition.
Ken: That’s awesome. Well, I think that, um, that you guys have certainly had quite, quite a bit of success. You know, what I want to do is just go back in time a little bit. Um, just hear a little bit more about the founding story, you know, and so. You, you were diagnosed with Crohn’s and colitis. Um, you, you still wanted to, you know, be able to socialize, um, having a beverage, um, definitely, you know, lubricates, the conversation keeps things going.
You know, what I want to dig into a little bit is what are some of the first steps that you took in order to actually make sure that, Hey, there was, there’s a market here. And then, um, you know, trying to find a product, sourcing your product. Um, let’s, let’s go back to those days and tell us kind of what the steps were, uh, before you actually founded a business.
Ted: Sure. So, um, I’ll take you back to 2013. So I, it started in the non-alcoholic beer business really as a, as an importer and online store operator. So, you know, I took my inspiration from Europe. There were some. Established breweries. They’re making what looked like some quality product. I began to import and consolidate those in Canada and built an online store around that.
Um, I still remember to this day, you know, my first order and you know, you see it come in online and you’re like, oh, someone, someone ordered from us amazing. And I, you know, hand delivered that, uh, that product, um, And, you know, we, we grew that business to, um, a couple hundred thousand in sales and, and, and learned a lot about the business.
I, I had thought, okay, well maybe, you know, we could do that. We could do, uh, You know, we can create our own product, but I, I didn’t have a consumer package, good background. I didn’t have a brewing background. I learnt those things in those intervening years while I was also learning how to do online marketing and e-commerce selling and getting feedback from our customers, what products they like, what they did and where, um, you know, where there was opportunity.
And one of those opportunities that was identified was no one was making craft non-alcoholic beer and, and clearly. Uh, on the alcohol side, that was just a, um, an incredibly fast growing part of the overall beer market. I think it reached 20% of total beer. Uh, maybe it was in 2018 and, uh, you know, people will work clamoring for craft beer styles, like IPA and pale ale and, and stowed.
And so, um, you know, that was, yeah, go ahead. Sorry. So learning in those first years and listening to. Customers and to our community and understanding the role that I could potentially play.
Ken: Yeah. So for those that aren’t familiar with, with the distinction, you know, of, of craft beer, you know, that’s obviously it’s been a huge trend that’s been growing.
Could you give us a little bit of background and just tell us kind of what, what you saw in the alcoholic beverage market and then how you applied that to the non-alcoholic beer.
Ted: Yeah. So I think a lot of people associate craft with. You know, styles that different styles, particularly IPA’s and unhappier styles of beer.
I think craft beer was built around a hoppier higher alcohol products. And, um, you know, that was, that was a big departure from, you know, the prior 30 or 40 or 50 years in beer, which was all about macro lagers and light beer. Um, So it was a totally different sensory experience. And, and, and from those IPA’s, um, the products evolved into, into other styles.
And so there’s not really a definitive way to. You know, to define craft, um, you know, there’s, there’s been some work by the brewers association to try and do that based on volume and so on. But from my point of view, I, I very, I very much view it as a, a stylistic difference. Um, and the batch size is being maybe a bit more.
Having a bit more variance that, you know, you could, you could have the same beer from a brewery in two different months and they’ll have, they’ll have differences. Whereas, you know, the macro beers are very much, you get what you get and it’s, it’s consistent month over month. And you know, some, for some people, that’s what they want.
And for other people, they like that. They like that little surprise of, you know, the, the beer being slightly different batch.
Ken: Understood. And so how did you take the, the trend that you were seeing there, um, and see an opportunity, um, in the, in the non-alcoholic beer space?
Ted: Yeah. So when I got into developing partake green from, from our online store, and again, it goes back to the feedback from our customers.
No one was making an IPA in the non-alcoholic format. And so that was really our first goal. And we said, Hey, can, can we make a non-alcoholic beer? An IPA tastes good less than half a percent alcohol. And we had some other constraints, like no, and no brewery. So we combine those strengths and said, okay, well, how do we, how do we develop our product?
And, yeah. It took a lot of iteration, a lot of trial and error, a lot of, a lot of batches, you know, I, I made some faces that, uh, you know, were not good faces and tasting Eastern some of our batches. So, um, you know, a lot of, a lot of, we went down a lot of wrong turns and dead ends, but uh, eventually got something where we thought, Hey, we could.
This isn’t bad. And we took it to, um, we partnered up with a local college. Um, they had, uh, a pilot brewery system and we were able to bring on board some professional, professional brewers and, and microbiologists to help us with our, our process and our recipe and, and commercialized our first product in September of 2017.
And we we’d actually pre-funded it with a Kickstarter campaign in April of that same year.
Ken: Okay. Then how did the Kickstarter campaign.
Ted: It was, uh, it was a resounding success. We w you know, we, we benefited immensely from, from that online community we’d already developed from, from the online store. There are so many people there that are just like, I’m going to give you my money, because even if I don’t like IPA, which was the product we had on our Kickstarter, they said, I’m going to give you my money, because I know you’re gonna to make something that I’m, you know, a style that I’m going to like, and you’re the only one.
And so I’ll give you I’ll buy five cases of IPA, even though I’m just going to give them to a friend. So we met our Kickstarter goal, which was $10,000 in the first three hours of our campaign, which was amazing. It put us on like kind of, you know, top, top projects list on the, on the Kickstarter homepage.
And by, by the time the, uh, the campaign was done a few weeks later, we, uh, more than tripled our, our original goal. I’m very pleased with the outcome and that, uh, you know, that, that success was, was what allowed us to actually talk to brewery brewers in a more serious manner about making our product when they knew that we had close to $40,000 sitting in the bank for ready to make, uh, make, uh, the product.
So, you know, it’s. There was a lot of putting the right, the right foot in front of the other and then repeating. And, um, again, going back to my, going back to my quote, um, there’s a lot of little details that went into that, that, that made it.
Ken:Yeah. Yeah. So I want to dig into a couple of those, those little details.
Um, so for most Kickstarter projects, they, they, they, you know, they put it out there and it doesn’t go well, you know, and even the ones that go exceptionally well, um, a lot of times there’s, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. Um, a lot of marketing that goes into getting people to that Kickstarter page, um, reaching out to media outlets to promote it, that, that kind of stuff.
Did you guys do any of that or what, why do you think that you were, you were such a success.
Ted: Yeah, we, we totally took a, you know, a pre a pre-launch, uh, we had a pre-launch plan. We planned it out, you know, eight, eight weeks in advance. We started talking to our community. We started doing some online ads.
We were building our email lists. We, we were starting from an email list of around 4,000 people from our online, from our online store. So we were in a good spot. We had some good data in terms of how to, you know, how to. Target our ads. Um, and then we were able to leverage the fact that we were already an existing business, um, into, into some media as well.
So, you know, I I’d say probably 80% of our revenue came from our existing community or the community we assembled prelaunch and probably only 20% came from, from posts launch.
Ken: Right. And even the fact that you were running ads to your Kickstarter campaign, right. Promoting it, um, you know, that that’s, that’s something that I think a lot of people don’t realize that, that there’s just a lot of marketing that goes, goes into making these things a success.
Ted: I think a misunder standing is that the platform will bring the audience. The platform itself will bring almost nobody. Um, you have to bring the audience to these, uh, to these things.
Ken: Okay. So you have a successful Kickstarter campaign. You start reaching out to brewers who are taking you a little bit more seriously now.
Um, what, what were the next steps? What, what, what next? What happened next?
Ted: So we, we signed on, um, they were willing to take us on because of, um, the success of the Kickstarter campaign. They saw that we had some money in the bank, so they were, they were keen to, to, uh, help us spend that, um, You know, that first batch was a challenging, uh, you know, there’s a lot of excitement around it.
It’s going to turn out great. We were, um, two months behind our schedule, we were hoping to have the product to people early July. Um, we didn’t get it shipped till September, which in the context of Kickstarters is, is really good. That’s what I was going to say. A lot of them end up six months to a year, or if not more, uh, Um, so we were, we were pretty good in that context, but obviously we would have loved to have met the target we had and given people beer in summer, um, when we got the first batch, the brewers came to me and they said, oh, it’s amazing.
Here’s the beauty. And I, you know, I tasted it and I said, this is not the beer. This is not the recipe I gave you. And we went back and, you know, they tried to convince me it was, and I was, I was adamant it wasn’t we went back and went through the recipe and, you know, I, I found something. You guys incorrectly transcribed my recipe on to your manufacturing.
And then they, you know, they, they learn, you know, took a double-take and we’re like, oh yeah. So, so they kind of admitted. Yeah, we, we messed up and, but I, you know, I was in a bind. I was, I had, you know, 500 cases of a product that wasn’t the product I was intending to give customers. They were clamoring to get it because we were already late.
Um, so I was, I was in a bit of a bind and, and the way I approached it was I went out to those consumers. I didn’t try to try to tell them that this was, this was what I intended to give them. I, I fessed up and I said, Hey, this is what happened. They made the beer. It’s not dispatch. It’s not what I was intending to give you.
However, it’s perfectly consumable. It was. Way hoppier and way, way more bitter than, than the spec product. Um, so I said to people, Hey, this is what we’ve got. You know, if you like hoppy hazy beers, um, I’m happy to send it to you, but I don’t want to send it to you under false pretense that this is what I intended to send you.
So I was able to. Get half of that product, move to consumers who kind of raised their hand and said, I’d, I’d love to try it. Um, we got a second batch done that was dispatched, and I got that to the other people. Um, we ended up selling out of that first batch. And to this day I’ve got customers saying, and we actually named that first batch.
We called it a happy accident because, uh, we had so many customers who loved it. You know, it’s, it’s a little bit too niche for, for mass market. Um, but we’re going to bring it back, uh, this fall and have it available in our online store, uh, which is pretty, we’re just almost at our five-year anniversary as a company.
So it’ll be a pretty interesting, uh, launch for us and kind of bring us full circle back to that very first batch.
Ken: Yeah, that’s funny. Um, what did you do differently for your, your second and subsequent, um, orders, uh, with, with this and other breweries? You know, what, what were some of the lessons that you learned from that first one?
Um, that if you were to do this all over again, you would definitely make sure to do.
Ted: Yeah. I think the big learning out of that is, is you have to be transparent and honest with your customers and you have to stick to your guns. Like I could’ve, I could’ve gotten. Rolled over by my brewer, perhaps, and then try to, you know, tell the customers one thing.
And, you know, half of them would have been upset and half of them would’ve been happy, but the way I did it, I think I made them all happy. Um, and I think that’s, you know, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot that we can do wrong. That they’ll forgive us for, because they know, you know, we’re just gonna, we’re going to do the right thing.
And I think, um, you know, that was our business could have been over before it even gets got started if I had taken the other path there. So I think it’s important to be transparent with your customers to have, um, you know, some ethics behind your business to be, uh, truthful and, and, uh, You know, particularly with something that people consume, um, they have to have a high, high degree of confidence that you’re not gonna put.
Uh, out something that isn’t of the highest quality into the specs that, uh, you say it is.
Ken: Sure. Yeah. And I think that also, you know, there’s a lesson there about just transparency, right? I think that’s a common theme, you know, throughout this interview. Um, what about in working with your, your, your brewery?
Cause, I mean, sure. You, you had, you, you had some issues with that first batch, but you’re definitely not the first person that has, uh, received something a little different from their brewer or their manufacturer, their co-packer, um, than they expected. You know, what are some of the lessons around that and working with, with your, uh, your manufacturing partnet.
Ted: Yeah, I think you need to know your own product extremely well, and you need to, you need to work with them because you know, they’re, they’re important partners. They’re fundamental often to the success of your business and you need to select and work with them only if they view you as kind of equal partners.
Um, the first brewery we work with, we stopped working with them because we didn’t have that. Um, but subsequently we’ve, we’ve partnered with breweries that, that give us the impression that we’re very important to them, that they they’re proactive in making sure product isn’t mean. Um, the brewery that isn’t, um, you know, five out of five tasters, five out of five and five out of five, don’t say, this is, this is, this is the way it should be.
Like it doesn’t leave the facility. And we figured it out. How to, you know, how to work, uh, in improving that and also, you know, figuring out, you know, how to, how to split the compensation or the cost of some of those things. So, um, that’s, that’s a very important thing to me that our, our brewery partners, manufacturing partners almost act like they’re, they’re internal, they’re part of they’re part of our organization.
And it’s, it’s, uh, you know, it’s, it’s important to them. Whatever they produce for us and whatever comes out as the partake brand, uh, that reputation is our reputation of their reputation. That’s, that’s what we really like to see in our parks.
Ken: Yeah. And I think that there’s some, some real lessons there. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s almost cliche.
Uh, most people who start manufacturing, something in the physical product space, um, their first, you know, maybe even first couple batches can be pretty rough, you know? Um, and I liked your comment about, um, treating them like an internal partner that they’re almost like a part of your business. Um, and they are partners in every sense of the word.
Um, And so, you know, um, treating them like they’re internal, I think might maybe says something about, um, about your interaction, you know, your close interaction, your daily interaction, you know, what did that look like? You know, uh, and maybe what was different about that, uh, with, with your first brewery, uh, compared to, uh, the breweries that you’re working with today?
Ted: Yeah. I, you know, we got the feeling with the first brewery that it was transactional. Turn out the products get paid, turn out the product, get paid with, with our, you know, our, our subsequent partners. It’s, you know, we ask ourselves questions when, when there are problems and there, there inevitably are, you know what, you know, what, if you were me, what would you do?
What would, what makes sense? What makes you, what would make you feel like you’re, this is fair. Whatever we do is spared it’s to fix a problem. Um, how do we improve it in the long run? Um, it’s less about blame. It’s more about continuous improvement and, and making the relationship stronger and better and longer lasting.
And I think that’s a frame of mind and I think it’s incumbent on our company to have that as a cultural element. And it’s incumbent on our part and breweries to have that as a cultural element. And when we can, when we can get alignment on those, on that, that. Those core tenants, then, you know, you have the basis for a very successful relationship.
Ken: Sorry. Can you say that last part again? Uh, you know, it’s core on, uh, on those tenants and you have, uh, did you say base, or you kind of,
Ted: yeah i think if, if you’re aligned on those, on those core tenants, then you, you do have the basis or a very productive.
Ken: Agreed. Well, let’s actually a wrap up here, you know, me and you could talk forever about this and, uh, we can also talk about other subjects.
I think before we started recording, we were talking about our kids and family life and all that. Um, let’s, let’s move on to the quickfire round. Um, I’ve got four questions here for you to just tell me the first thing that comes to mind. You ready? All set. All right. Uh what’s one tool or resource that you feel has helped you the most in your career.
Ted: You know, reading a lot is, uh, has been, has been so helpful. Um, I didn’t expect myself to be a CEO, but there’s so many great resources out there. I think medium, uh, as a platform has, has so many great, um, user generated. So many user generated articles about being a CEO and work-life balance. Um, you know, that’s been, been super helpful.
Ken: Awesome. Yeah. Right along those lines, what’s one book or, um, that you could recommend to people.
Ted: Uh, atomic habits is a great book. Um, again, it’s kind of in alignment with that, uh, that quote of mine, but, uh, just very helpful insights and breaking big things down into small things and chipping away and, you know, getting a lot of singles and, uh, scoring a lot of runs doing it.
Ken: What is one piece of advice that you’d give your 21 year old self?
Ted: Uh, I’d say think bigger. I think, uh, one of the things, you know, looking back about, uh, you know, early on in this business was I didn’t realize how big it could be. I realized that more than maybe some other people, but. If I would’ve thought bigger earlier on, I think we’d be in an even better place than we are today.
Ken: And, uh, who’s uh, somebody, um, in, in your line of work or some, you know, another entrepreneur that you look up to that maybe you’d love to take to lunch.
Ted: Wow. Yeah, there’s, there’s, uh, there’s so many out there. Um, you know, I’ll give a shout out to someone who’s on my own team. Like my, uh, my head of sales. Um, he’s been phenomenal.
He’s, uh, he’s taken us from, you know, 2 million in sales to north of 15 and a very short period of time. Uh, he’s a wealth of knowledge. So, uh, Steve, shout out to you, uh, I owe you lunch.
Ken: Awesome. Awesome. It’s nice when that person is within your company. That’s great. Um, well, um, you know, I, I think, uh, you know, we, we want to wrap up here.
Um, I wanted to ask though, you know, what, what are you looking forward to, uh, w with your company what’s, what’s coming up? What’s what’s, uh, what does the rest of the year look like for you?
Ted: Yeah, we’ve got some really exciting summer flavors that are available in our online store. You can get it at, uh, drink, partake.com.
Um, we’ve got, uh, a summer Radler, um, based on our blonde ale and a cold pressed juice. And we’ve also got a peach Gozo, which is, which is amazing. Um, you know, there are communities just can’t say enough, good things about those two products and, uh, perfect a refresher for the summer, summer heat. So very excited about those.
And then on a, you know, larger us, uh, retail games. Um, we’re really excited about new partnership with Wegmans and in the U S Northeast. And we’ve got a bunch of California retailers. Ralphs Vons, pavilions, BevMo, um, that were, uh, super-stoked about as well. So, um, yeah, business is going great. And, uh, just, you know, we can’t say enough good things about our fans and customers because they’re, uh, they’re what, uh, they’re they’re what make the magic happen.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And of course, you know, people can go to a drink, partake.com and they can also order online. Um, that’s another way to get to you. What’s if somebody wanted to reach out to you, you know, maybe by email or LinkedIn, what’s the best way to do that.
Ted: Yeah, LinkedIn is great. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and just a quickly back to the products, products item.
Um, you know, I think one of the things that, uh, people love about our products, uh, not only is the taste and variety, which are top notch, but, uh, our products are as low as 10 calories a can. So again, you know, for summer and, you know, people trying to try new, uh, you know, stay healthy, uh, you know, it’s a, it’s a great, uh, it’s a great product.
Ken: No doubt. And in fact, that’s, that’s a huge reason, you know, just to, to switch over and, you know, not do the non-alcoholic thing for awhile. Um, it’s just lower the calories and, and, uh, just be a little healthier. That’s definitely a big motivator.
Ted: Yeah. And you know, people, you know, it’s for us, we see it as an enabler that there’s, you know, without, without the drain of alcohol and in many, many instances, it’s, it’s, it allows you to do so much more in life than you know, for me going back to my story, it’s, it’s a refocusing of what’s important. And for me, it’s, it’s my family. It’s driving those business forward. And, and, you know, I, I don’t know if I could do that if I, if I drank alcohol. So it’s, uh, it’s, it’s a, it’s an enabler for, for definitely some, some bigger and better.
Ken: Well, this is a, just a good note to end on. Um, just any parting words for other entrepreneurs out there in the physical product space, you know, that are currently in the grind currently trying to get to that next level. What would you say to them?
Ted: You know, I I’d say to them just, uh, keep at it. There’s there’s certainly some, some challenging times out there.
You gotta, you gotta, you know, power through. And I I’d say, you know, really focused on solving problems if you’re solving a problem for someone, um, it may just be a small group of people in the beginning, like it was for us, but, um, you know, That’s so important that you’re solving real problems for real people.
So I’d, I’d focus on that and make sure that’s a core element of whatever, whatever business you’re working on.
Ken: Well, I think that’s a good place to end. I appreciate you jumping on today. I think we’ve learned some things. Um, I wish you the best of luck. I appreciate it.
Ted: Thanks, Ken. It was great to talk to you.
Ken: All right. We’ll see ya.
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