What happens when a lemonade-crazed New Yorker meets a jalapeno-loving Texan? The result is a lemonade with some serious kick. Follow our weekly chronicles as we attempt to turn our business school idea into reality.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Hot off the press...

Rafi and I just handed in our 37 page marketing plan for Austin DrinkWorks and think it's pretty solid (shameless plug). We graduate in 13 days and have a ton of Disorientation events planned between now and then. We are going to meet with the Austin Chronicle on Monday to find out more details about participating in the Austin Hot Sauce Festival in August. We need to book time in a commercial kitchen in Austin, produce labels, order raw materials and packaging, and sell, sell, sell. The critical piece of the puzzle is complete - identifying our target markets and learning as much about them as possible. Our first flavor will be an all-natural, low-sugar spiced lemonade with mint and jalapeno. We have lots of other cool flavor ideas to follow targeted to Mexicans between the ages of 10 and 39 and a group of people we call "Experiencers." So stay tuned...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Beautiful Day for Spicy Lemonade

The last Saturday in April is shaping up to be a beautiful day in Austin. Rafi and I are putting the final touches on our marketing plan and will hand it in at the end of the week. We spent last Saturday afternoon in East Austin sampling spicy lemonade in an area with a high concentration of Mexicans. While we didn't collect many surveys, the response was overwhelmingly positive with people in all age groups enjoying the drink. It was a hot day and we were at a baseball field complex with parents, teenagers, and young kids all of whom could not get enough of our spicy lemonade.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What I've Been Doing Lately

I've been drinking as many new beverages lately to get a better sense of what they have to offfer. From Jarritos and Topo Chico targeted to the Hispanic market to MetroMint's new Spearmint Water and every possible pomegranate-based drink I can find, I have tasted tons of new (and old) drinks available in the market. I spend lots of time in the aisles of Whole Foods and HEB observing shoppers and looking for new products. Rafi and I are making progress - we conducted an online survey of nearly 45 Mexicans living in the US and sampled spicy mint lemonade this past weekend in Austin - and are taking steps towards validating our market. We have to further analyze our survey results and continue to work on our marketing plan. Only 7 weeks until graduation...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I HEART Topo Chico


Apple Flavor Soda - This tastes more like a traditional cream soda (a la Dr. Brown's) than like apple. In any case, I love this soda and the fact that it is made with cane sugar contributes to the purity of the flavors.

Sangria Flavor Soda - I wasn't sure what to expect from this soda, but one sip and I was hooked. It tastes a little like sangria and a lot like nothing I've tasted before. But it is sweet, refreshing, and crazy delicious.

Marketing 101

So...we had coffee with one of our marketing professors to bounce some ideas around. Her words of advice were simple, "Get out there and have people taste and give you feedback." With these sage words still fresh in our mind, we took a ride to Central Market to see if we could convince them to let us sample some lemonade to customers. It was a resounding "No," but we were able to grab two managers in the parking lot and have them taste. They both loved the concept and the jalapeno/mint lemonade. When we got back home we called the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market in Austin and the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to get information on sampling lemonade at these venues. Rafi and I are attending a mixer tomorrow sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to network with members. They agreed to let us have a table at a future mixer on April 13th, so we want to see what these events are all about.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Survey Results

We sampled a batch of spicy lemonade to 30 classmates on Tuesday. 20% of the respondents replied that they like the taste of the drink - which means 80% didn't like the taste. The sample size is way too small to draw any conclusions, so we plan to do more surveys around town, but it poses an interesting question. What percentage of people do we need to like the drink to make it a viable business??? I don't know. But, I imagine if we were sampling something like tomato juice, we wouldn't get more than 20% of people saying they like the taste of it. But, I may be wrong - it wouldn't be the first time...and it won't be the last.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Q&A

SO...we sampled about thirty fellow MBA students some of whom liked the jalapeno/mint lemonade, a couple even loved it, and a lot of 'em really hated it...Rather than write more about the results we thought we'd share a list of our favorite responses...Here goes...

Q: What is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about this drink?
A: "Lemmon"

Q: What type of person would drink this drink?
A: "Thirsty people" (same person as above...hmmm...)

Q: What type of person would drink this drink?
A: "Snobs"

Q: Where do you think people would consume this drink?
A: "Gobe" (crossed out) - "Gobi Desert"

Taste Test

Today we'll be conducting a taste test of our Jalapeno Lemonade. We've put together a pretty thorough survey that we'll ask everyone to fill out. I wonder whether anyone will like it...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mexican Candy

Sampling all of the Mexican candy this past week has been an interesting experience. It's very different than the Jolly Ranchers and BlowPops I ate as a kid. I've actually never eaten Tamarind before, and thought it was pretty good. I don't know what to compare it with. It sort of reminds me of the center of a Fig Newton cookie. Except, of course, that it's covered in chili powder.

My favorite Mexican candy so far has been Salsagheti. It's a pack of spaghetti shaped gummies sprinkled with chili power. The first pack I ate, I thought it was pretty darn good. Until I realized there is a packet of salsa at the bottom that you are supposed to cover the "spaghetti" with before you eat it. So, the second pack, was even better. I highly recommend it!

The Mexican version of a BlowPop is called a Rockaleta. As expected it has a gum center, but the hard candy has a spicy element to it. I thought it was decent, but not nearly as cool as the Salsagheti. I'm still not done, though. I still have more candy to eat. Next time, I'll report on how many new cavities I have from all this candy! ;-)

Izze is 'off the hizzy'

I tried the IZZE Sparkling Pear soda and it was delicious. It had just the right amount of sweetness and ripe, fresh pear flavor but it was not too sweet. This company is such a success story and their flavors are super-cool to boot. They started a few years ago in Colorado and now have national distribution. In addition to the sleek packaging in retro-style bottles, IZZE also has these really cool mini cans. I can't wait to try the rest of the sodas in this line as I understand the best is yet to come. The pear was so clean and refreshing and with 70% juice you just can't go wrong.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Focus...must have focus

So Rafi and I have decided that we need to conduct a few focus groups in which we have local Austinites taste our drinks and give us feedback. We've done our fair share of secondary research, but really want some primary data. The goal is to clearly define our target market and gain some feedback on those all-too-important issues like product positioning, packaging, and price. We plan to conduct some focus groups with fellow MBA students, others with friends, and several with people who we don't know. Our ultimate goal is to get as much unbiased feedback as possible regarding the direction of our company. The focus groups should start next week.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Spicy Candy


Of course I've heard of "Atomic Fireballs" and Red Hots and other cinnamon "spicy" candy, but I've never heard of anything like this. Today I found out about "Lucas" candy and have been surprised by the vast array of spicy Mexican candy! How have I never heard of this stuff before? Spicy lollipop anyone?

It is official...

We have filed our company name - Austin DrinkWorks LLC - with the Texas Secretary of State and are in business...well, sort of...We are in the process of designing a questionnaire for a focus group that we will hold in the next few weeks. We need to hammer down our target segment and identify characteristics of our potential buyers. A focus group will provide us with some great primary data on the Austin market.

Our goal is to launch our first drink in August at the Austin Hot Sauce Festival. Last year there were roughly 12,000 people who ventured out in the 100 degree heat to taste hundreds of hot sauces from all over. We think this will be a great venue to launch, but want to confirm our hunch with some real data.


Right now Rafi and I are working on some homemade batches of jalapeno/mint and ginger/mint lemonade to use as tests before we make some for the focus group.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Making Progress

Dan and I are steadily making progress. We contacted a glass bottle distributor (We've settled on glass vs. plastic) as well as a local bottler here in Austin. We have also started shopping around for food product insurance, which we will hopefully never need to use. We have also made contact with the school of advertising here at the University of Texas where we hope to find some enthusiastic students willing to help us create labels. Do you have ideas for labels? E-mail us!

As far as bottles go, there are several things we are thinking about. We want a bottle that will be different than the standard "Snapple" bottle, but we also need to use a bottle that won't cause any problems for our future bottler and retailers (hopefully!). If we go with an unusual bottle, not only will it likely be more expensive, it will also make life more difficult for the bottler, as their assembly line may need to be modified specifically for us. When we are running tens of thousands of bottles, maybe, but being that we are just getting started, we want to make it as easy as possible.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Packaging

Dan and I are trying to figure out what we want our brand to look and feel like. We think our target market are"foodies" - people who watch food network. With this in mind, what should our label look like to appeal to these people? Should we use glass or plastic bottles? Do you have any thoughts? Please post a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

FUZE


I tried the FUZE - Healthy Infuzions Tropical Punch tonight. I think this company does brilliant things with its packaging and this bottle is impossible not to notice on the shelf. The 18 oz. punch is chock full o' Vitamin C and other words I can't really pronounce but are supposed to be good for you. I thought the drink was pretty good, really light and refreshing, and would like to try some of the other products from this company.

Monday, January 30, 2006

To Do List

In order to register as a business with the state, we need an address. So, tomorrow, we will go out and get a PO Box at the post office on Congress Ave. After that we will get started on the paperwork to incorporate with the state. We just need to figure out what type of business we should be... LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, LLP.

Survey Says...

Austin DrinkWorks

We conducted a survey of friends, family, and classmates on what name we should call our lemonade business. The survey result speaks for itself.

We have chosen the company name that was the overwhelming favorite. Austin DrinkWorks will be the company name that we register with the state of Texas.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pomegranate Bliss


So, the first time I had pomegranate was on New Year's Eve when someone brought a fruit salad to dinner at my friend's place in New York City. Man...I didn't know what I was missing all this time. When I returned to Austin I went to H-E-B and picked up a bottle of this $3.29 nectar of the gods. The bottle is totally cool and the juice lives up to all the hype. I bought the pomegranate/blueberry concoction and it is intense but refreshing - and it has antioxidants which are totally cool. If I had more money I'd drink this all day long.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Market Sizing

We're trying to figure out whether there is a large enough market to support our spicy lemonade by researching the number of people who enjoy spicy foods. What we've come up with is that there are 190 million people in the United States that enjoy spicy foods and would be adventurous enough to consider drinking a spicy beverage.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another brilliant idea

Further research has revealed that another company is planning to introduce an alcoholic spicy lemonade. While most people might be discouraged with this news, it actually emboldens Dan and I, since this is proof that our idea isn't completely nuts.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sweet Leaf Tea Rocks

Ok folks...Is there a more refreshing, thirst-quenching, and better iced tea around? I would argue that there is not. Rafi and I are not only huge fans of Sweet Leaf tea, but also dig how founder, Clayton Christopher, built this company from the ground up. If you want to know more about Sweet Leaf, we encourage you to check out their story at www.sweetleaftea.com. I just had a Raspberry Sweet Tea with my lunch and I almost wish that I could hook this stuff up to an IV so I can take it with me wherever I go.

Sobering Information

We were just doing some research at the library and came across a very sobering statistic: 684 new fruit drinks have been introduced this past year. That number doesn't count iced teas, energy drinks, etc.

To say there is a lot of competition out there would be an understatement.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Driskill Hotel Chef to be on Iron Chef

Dan and I had the opportunity to eat at the Driskill a few months ago, and it was amazing. We wish their very talented chef, David Bull, good luck on Iron Chef. It will be filmed January 24th, we don't know when the episode will air.

Product Development 101

So we have been talking to a few flavor companies to try and develop our jalapeno lemonade. We are waiting on samples from Virginia Dare and have also spoken to Allen Flavors. It seems like Allen is more of a turnkey operation in that it develops a proprietary beverage based on our flavor profile. Allen is also a leader in producing simple beverages for co-packers to replicate without much difficulty. But it doesn't come without a cost. Once we get the samples from Virginia Dare, we plan to do a little chemistry and see if we can develop a sample our own drink. We'll see what happens...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

About Us

Our names are Dan and Rafi. We are second year MBA students at the University of Texas at Austin - focused on entrepreneurship and marketing. We have a passion for food, cooking, wine, travel, and beverages. We are doing an independent study this semester (our final semester) in lieu of a class. The goal of our study is to turn our idea of a Jalapeno infused Lemonade into a real commercial product.

You may wonder how we got to this point.

A couple years ago, Rafi was making salsa, as he is a salsa fanatic. This particular recipe required that the jalapenos be boiled before using them. So, after the boiling was complete, he had a pot full of jalapeno water, and of course, he couldn't let it go to waste. Instead of discarding the jalapeno water, Rafi decided to mix it with some Country Time lemonade mix and see how it tasted. To his surprise, it was really good! Unfortunately, his girlfriend had a less than favorable opinion so the idea was put on the back burner until a few years later when he met Dan at business school.

Snow Mint Beverage



Dan and I tried Snow for the first time this past weekend. BevNet's review gave it four stars. We admire all the buzz that has been created surrounding this new drink and think that the concept and packaging are super cool.

Have you tried Snow? Post your comments to let us know what you think.

Monday, January 16, 2006

First Blog Ever!

As we embark on our new lemonade endeavour, we thought others might find our experiences entertaining. Here we will chronicle the experiences we will have over the next few months as we try to create the best lemonade the world has ever seen.