Last Updated on September 8, 2022 by
Tomas Crowe is the Co-founder and President of Dezo, the world’s first canned superfruit cocktail. During his time at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tomas first realized that there was a serious need for healthier drinking options. He shared this idea with his then fraternity brother, Tim Demirjian. Tim introduced Tomas to Marc Kessler who also had an interest in creating healthier cocktails. The three started experimenting in Tim and Marc’s kitchen in LA, and the rest is history.
Today, Tomas handles the digital marketing initiatives and production for Dezo. Tim focuses on marketing, fundraising, and strategic partnerships, while Marc concentrates on account relations and strategic partnerships with entertainment groups.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Tomas Crowe talks about what Dezo is
- The story behind the first flavors of Dezo
- Tomas shares how they found their distribution network
- The meaning behind the brand name “Dezo”
- The one thing Tomas would have done differently with Dezo if given the chance
- Tomas shares the typical pushback when trying to get store shelf placement
- The challenges of having three founders — and how they stay in sync
- What is Dezo’s vision?
- Tomas’ advice for founders that want to expand through investments
In this episode with Tomas Crowe
Spirits and alcoholic beverages are popular aspects of parties and social gatherings. People drink to celebrate and have fun, but often wake up to terrible headaches and hangovers. What if there was a way to have fun nights out without sacrificing productive weekends?
Tomas Crowe and his friends Tim Demirjian and Marc Kessler faced this exact problem during their college years. After graduation, the three reunited to craft something that didn’t exist yet: ready-to-drink superfruit cocktails with electrolytes and no added sugar or preservatives.
In this episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Tomas Crowe, the Co-founder and President of Dezo. Tomas shares the story of how he and his Co-founders came up with the idea and launched their rapid-growing business of a healthier alcohol option. From experimenting in a kitchen apartment in LA, Tomas talks about how they managed to get funding, find a distribution network, secure shelf placements, and ship Dezo products to 20+ states today.
.Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Tomas Crowe on LinkedIn
- Tomas Crowe’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dezo on Instagram
- Dezo on TikTok
- Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
- Barrels Ahead
- Drew Thomas Hendricks on LinkedIn
- Bianca Harmon on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.
At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.
Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.
So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!
Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show
Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:19
Drew Thomas Hendricks here, I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. We work with wine and craft producers across the United States to find marketing plans that highlight their authenticity, tell their story, and connects them with their ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more, today, so today, Bianca Harmon is Joining us again, how’s it going, Bianca?
Bianca Harmon 0:56
Hey Drew excited to talk to Tomas and learn all about this as Oh,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:02
yes, yeah. today we have Tomas Crowe on the show Co-founder of Dezo, It’s the world’s first can super fruit cocktail. And gosh, Tomas’ entrepreneurial journey is motivation for anybody who wants to get past their jlb and create something great. Welcome to the show, Tomas.
Tomas Crowe 1:20
Thanks, Drew. Nice to see you again. Bianca. And
Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:23
oh, thanks for being on. So Tomas, talk to us a little bit about what Dezo is.
Tomas Crowe 1:29
So Dezo is a premium canned cocktail that focuses on using ingredients that have naturally replenishing benefits. The first flavor we launched with was a spiked coconut water with us ie Berry, Himalayan sea salt and gluten free vodka. The second is a spiked watermelon water with Cucumber, Lemon and Himalayan sea salt and gluten free vodka. And the third is a spiked prickly pear water with lemon Himalayan sea salt and gluten free vodka. So as you can see, we stick to these ingredients that are commonly known to have some hydrating replenishing benefits. But they’re also commonly known ingredients. And we make sure that the drinks taste absolutely amazing.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 2:07
Because you come up with those other than being any oxidants. I want to jump into your entrepreneurial journey. But before I got to know how did you figure out some of these flavor combinations?
Tomas Crowe 2:18
Yeah, so when we initially had the idea to launch Dezo it was pre seltzers, like seltzer wasn’t even a thing, really. And my Co-founders and I thought that it would be a really good idea to launch a spiked coconut water brand. Coconut water was huge at the time, and still is huge at the time. And we honed in on that for three to four months, and then kind of realized, as the market opened up that there was an opportunity for an entire category of really clean, healthy, canned cocktails. And honestly, they came from combinations of the CPG products that we were drinking that we were obsessed with that we thought good had had great flavor profiles. One of them was a watermelon water that was out on the market. And another one of those was a prickly pear cactus water. So we tried to basically you know, Bouza Fie, and make fun our favorite CPG products that were already out there and improve them as well
Drew Thomas Hendricks 3:09
create a better, better cleaner version of them. So going back, so like let’s stepping back for a second. So you did this just shortly after college. Is that correct? Where did where did you go to college? Correct.
Tomas Crowe 3:22
I went to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. As did one of my co founders Tim
Drew Thomas Hendricks 3:29
and then after college you got a job in the insurance industry.
Tomas Crowe 3:33
Correct? Yeah, I felt like I had an I had an internship, my junior year summer in college at an insurance company called eon create company. And to be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do post college except be a CPG entrepreneur but I knew I didn’t think I could just jump into doing that. So once they offered me a full time job at an insurance I took it because I figured I could do the job well and still kind of moonlight as a CPG entrepreneur not bringing
Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:02
any hope you’re not gonna bring any homework home at night or stress eggs. He needed a day job.
Tomas Crowe 4:07
Exactly. This is a strict nine to five that I was good at and you know could do well and also do my my moonlighting as in CPG
Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:15
entrepreneurial tip number one, find a day job that you can moonlight with. So good talking about that in college what excited you about the CPG category?
Tomas Crowe 4:29
I think it was specifically beverages and CPG that I was always obsessed with because I think I’ve always just been huge into drinks. Aside from alcoholic drinks. And my whole life I was always looking for a different type of drink. I always thought with every product I drink. Okay, well you could change this a little bit if you use a little bit less sugar. I think that was a common feedback I would consistently have and I just found myself always turning the drinks I was I was drinking from the CPG brands. into something else than making my own concoction. So it wasn’t really something in college, when, you know, we were focused on school and partying and I was worried about but more just my entire upbringing. And then once we started, you know, living the college life, I think those two things kind of converged when we were partying, and I still had my obsession with tweaking drinks.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 5:19
So the key is we’ve all sat around drinking any type of beverages around whatever party and we’ve all said, I can make a so much better version of that. But the thing is, you actually did. How, how did you get from that dreaming that we all had many parties to actually activate it?
Tomas Crowe 5:39
I think it was, because for so long, I can’t hold it close to my chest that I wanted to be an entrepreneur in this space. You know, nobody wants other people’s energy getting involved in their ideas, and making them think they can’t do it. So I held it so closely closely towards my chest. And eventually, I finally told one of my good friends in college, Tim Demirjian. And now my Co-founder, about this idea about this idea that I had, after us only drinking vodka sodas in college every single weekend, and all anybody drink because everyone was trying to be lean and healthy, that we should put something similar into a tan. And it was because I told him that idea that later on when he converged with one of his friends growing up from Boston, Marc Kessler, my third co founder, it was because of me relinquishing this idea that all three of them, you know, had something all three of us had something similar brewing and converged on the idea and kind of pushed over all of each other to do it, we kind of laid out the skills and tools and the network that we had and realized it was something we could actually do. And it was the three of us pushing each other.
Bianca Harmon 6:41
So did you guys start concocting everything in your own homes? Or how did how did you come about with the you know, I know that how you got the watermelon water and all that. But what of all the ingredients in general?
Tomas Crowe 6:55
Yeah, we were in Tim and Marc’s kitchen. buying products at Ralph’s grocery store, using blenders buying teas, getting, you know, some basic vodka and going from there. And we did that for months and months and months, while also iterating with a formulation company out of New Jersey.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 7:16
Okay, that’s that’s the that’s the key. That’s the part that most people getting up from the kitchen to production is the hurdle that most most people can’t get over with. What pretty? How did you find those connections?
Tomas Crowe 7:33
The internet? Yeah. Sure. Yeah. My, like Co-founder, Marc, just use the internet.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 7:40
Just didn’t call them figured it out. Now, do you come from a family with an entrepreneurial background?
Tomas Crowe 7:46
I do. Yeah. My dad actually started a radio station and a TV station in the early 2000s was a Spanish language, American blended TV station that was big in LA. My mom is not an entrepreneur, she’s very much so in the corporate worlds. And my dad is still an entrepreneur. He’s now actually getting into cannabis and all sorts of entrepreneurship that are big in LA.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 8:12
That’s great. I mean, it’s so great to have a support network. I, I was raised in a family that my dad’s a doctor, my mom is a foster parent, and not having anybody in my family to understand like an entrepreneurial dream, that always is such a challenge to no one ever knew what I did, because I didn’t have an actual job that could be defined. Yeah, that doesn’t help.
Tomas Crowe 8:37
It 100% helps. I think the push was from the entrepreneurial side on my dad. And the poll was from my mom in the corporate world who said you better make sure that you’re gonna sell this frickin drink at grocery stores before you quit your job and start doing.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 8:52
Yeah, so how so going from production to actually selling this drink? How did you find your network of distribution?
Tomas Crowe 9:01
Yeah, we actually, were working a Saturday night in a nice apartment building in LA that our friend let us work out of we were working on desert stuff. And somebody walked into the boardroom that we were working in. And I guess we had switched rooms up and we were in their room, and it was someone who was going to play poker in there. And we got to talking. Yes, that’s what we were doing. And it turned out it was someone who had worked in the wine industry for a very long time. 30 plus years and worked with the biggest distributor in North America. And we created a relationship with this man and we ended up hiring him and he got he got us into southern Wine and Spirits distribution. Probably a year after that conversation.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 9:43
That’s fantastic. Wow.
Bianca Harmon 9:46
But explain the name.
Tomas Crowe 9:48
The name Dezo means of the waters and French. The story of the names a bit all over the place because it was out Actually, the three co founders last names put together. Demirjian Kessler Crowe. Dezo And we searched that term on urban dictionary. And it had a definition that really resonated with what our brand was, which is adventure, outdoor, outdoors and a thirst to get respectfully wild. And we actually trademarked the term respectfully wild. And then realized that Dezo and French actually meant of the waters and all of our drinks, are recall them. fruit waters, we use coconut water, watermelon water, cactus water.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:36
That’s fantastic. I was the synergy of that how it just all fell into place there.
Tomas Crowe 10:39
Yeah, can complete. It’s a bit all over the place. But you know, very much in sync.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:47
That’s great. So as you’re as you’re increasing your distribution, and now you’re out there and what 23 states or so, is what I see on the set for online.
Tomas Crowe 10:57
Yeah, we can ship to 23 states, but at a retail level level, we’re in California. Okay, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Florida very shortly.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 11:08
Now, when was the first date that Dezo was sold commercially?
Tomas Crowe 11:13
It was about June 15 2020.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 11:18
Oh, my Lord. So really a hockey stick growth trajectory right there going from where you were then to, to now? In that, in that real in that growth stage? Going back to the initial stage? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Tomas Crowe 11:35
Yes, absolutely. I think we really wanted to get Dezo everywhere as quickly as possible. And we there were ways to do that, in which we were willing to put Dezo to hundreds of accounts where we didn’t really think about who the consumers at those stores would be. And we ended up putting ended up putting Dezo into 500 stores realistically 100 of which would ever actually produce customers. For us, it just wasn’t the customer base we were looking for. And we didn’t think about that at all, I would have rather focused on 20 Really good accounts, really good stores, you know, built rapport with the beverage managers, you know, got some really good displays up and totally honed in on those accounts. And I think we would have done just as much business at those 20 As we did a 500.
Bianca Harmon 12:23
class for that big boots on the ground comes into play getting out, not your market before flying with it.
Tomas Crowe 12:32
Totally agree. Totally agree. I mean, the boots on the ground initially, were the three of us, I mean, our distributor had furloughed most of their workforce. So we thought we’re gonna have huge support from the distributor, but it ended up being us three in our head of sales at the time. And it wasn’t until really 2022 that we really started to invest into a really strong sales force and really high quality talent that we’ve really seen results on specific accounts and the relationships. They’re totally booming.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 13:06
Yeah, like getting that boots on the ground and then getting the actually targeting the accounts. So with your with your brand, what would you consider to be like an ideal and account?
Tomas Crowe 13:18
An ideal account for our brand? Well, currently we do a lot of business, I think there are two answers, because there’s an on premise answer on off premise answer. For us an on premise, location that absolutely will do completely, will completely crush it is in Los Angeles, and the outdoor day bar. Oh, yeah. 100% with people that are from 21 to 45, their day drinking, looking for something refreshing, cold and delicious to drink while they’re drinking. We’ve seen tons of success in those types of scenarios, sports bars as well. off premise, I would say a high end grocery store where we can really get in there and do some consistent sampling. That it really depends on who the beverage manager at the stores to put someone that’s willing to work with us and build a relationship with us and let us sample and put a point of display and a really higher end grocery store.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 14:17
What’s the typical pushback you get from beverage managers like trying to get placement on their shelves?
Tomas Crowe 14:21
I think initially when I was going into the grocery stores on a daily basis, it was the amount just the volume of ready to drink cocktails or sell to that were getting pushed to them that they didn’t even have the time to listen to why ours was different or try it. So they just kind of lumped everything all together and was like we have too many of these. Good luck. You know, basically they didn’t want any Yeah, if they took it in you basically had a two week timeline to sell it through. And even if you did, sometimes they wouldn’t even remember to order it again.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 14:59
And then that was Did you actually give them that aha moment? That desert was indeed a different category from seltzer or in the same seltzer category, but something that needed to be on their shelves? Because it is distinct?
Tomas Crowe 15:11
Yeah, I mean, I think the aha moment came from just building brick after brick over time and showing these beverage managers, especially if we were able to secure on a DSD basis. So we just have one store at a time within a chain. If we could get three stores within their chain, and really get in with the beverage managers and really do well with those. We could obviously use that as leverage for why we should get into the rest of the accounts.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 15:39
Now as far as marketing and get driving that demand for it, I mean, obviously it looks like the perfect day drinking thing. I can’t wait to drink this coconut water. I just got in the store nearby, so I’m picking up some for this weekend. But I mean, it’s as far as marketing online, what was your What was your channel? Was it Instagram TikTok? Did you use influencer marketing?
Tomas Crowe 16:03
out the gate? It was Instagram. Now it’s TikTok, we’re definitely investing more time into TikTok. And we did a lot of advertising on Facebook just to build awareness, a lot of awareness campaigns.
Bianca Harmon 16:19
Those music festivals and stuff right now, too.
Tomas Crowe 16:24
We have Yeah, I think are a bigger focus for us and getting consumers attention. And actually driving conversion is all on the ground in person. So we’re doing a huge focus on music festival sponsorship, in which we can get 10s of 1000s of people to see the jank, see it in a cool environment, taste the drink, and also buy it all at once versus pounding people with you know, Instagram or Facebook ads.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 16:50
Yeah, then they’re kind of living living it living the experience at the festival, and aligning your brand or something cool.
Tomas Crowe 16:57
Exactly, which is a process that could take six months in real time, if they’re seeing an ad and then seeing it in a store, then seeing it at a friend’s house and then eventually buying.
Bianca Harmon 17:07
Yeah, I had a time in my life where I tried to get out of the wine industry for a little while. Obviously, it didn’t work very well, because here I am back in it. But and I was a brand rep and so I had like kombucha as and health food snacks. And I was dealing with the store managers, right. And it really so like hearing you talk about trying to get in man, it was really just building a relationship with these people to like, almost bribing I felt sometimes, but like to get that display, and then just like, in regularly showing up that you were active and at their stores. They were like, Okay, this person’s not going away. So I guess I will and coming in, and I would like you know, fix my shelf have been organized and being proactive with them really went a long ways.
Tomas Crowe 17:57
That’s so accurate.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:00
And I can I can. Yeah, on the buying side. So I was the guy in the store that kept telling everyone that we had way too many one category. And I can say that the people that got on the shelves, were the people that were persistent and actually, on a one to one level. I just felt like it was easier to do business with them.
Tomas Crowe 18:18
Yeah, I mean, it’s true, because you can actually believe what they’re telling you. And it’s hard to show up to the same store over and over again, it takes a lot of work and persistence. So a lot of brands don’t do it.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:29
For sure. So with three founders, there’s got it, there’s got to be challenges. We don’t just build the dirty laundry, but how do the three of you stay in sync?
Tomas Crowe 18:41
Challenges? Yes, of course. I mean, really the way the three of us stay in sync is every single Monday, no matter what we do our in person sync and talk about everything that happened the week before everything that’s gonna happen the next week. And the meeting doesn’t really end until everything is covered. It took honestly, it’s it’s hard to get in sync with your Co-founders, and really find the right rhythm, you know, having independence from each other and not babysitting and hovering, but also holding each other accountable. And we’ve found that being consistent with those Monday meetings and really using an organizational management tool online like we use Asana. Although it seems like babysitting, it’s it’s been totally necessary for us and it keeps yourself accountable to yourself and organized as well.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 19:29
Yeah, one of the I’ve had, I’ve had business partners before and they’ve, the problem is we were always visionary. And all of our visions never really seemed to go the same direction. So we spent more time trying to keep the vision united than actually implementing it sounds like you’ve got a good distribution of skill sets and stuff. How would you describe all of your co founders?
Tomas Crowe 19:51
Yeah, I think that Tim, who is my good friend from college, he’s a really personable guy and one of the greatest networkers I I’ve met. And initially when you have absolutely nothing to show and three kids trying to raise millions of dollars with a couple of silver cans, you need someone like that. And you know, he was really the reason we were able to finance Dezo initially. I think Marc is a lot more analytical. He’s really good at math and numbers. And he’s also the dreamer of the three of us. So he really pushes totally out there ideas that, you know, Tim, and I would never think is possible. But I think his optimism has gotten us a lot further than we ever thought we could go.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 20:36
Well, yeah, you need it. You need a visionary and an implementer. If you ever look at like the iOS company profile, say,
Tomas Crowe 20:45
Yep, I would agree, I would call myself the implementer.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 20:48
The implementer. Yeah, somebody’s actually going to actually do it. So the vision, so the vision of the Dezo, where do you what are your plans?
Tomas Crowe 21:01
I think that Dezo was gonna become a name brand, that, you know, I don’t want to compare to competitors. But they’ll go to summer, can cocktail brand and as once we capture the warmer summer spring months in the settings like the day clubs that I was describing, where we absolutely crushed it. And the more high end off premise grocery stores were going to expand doesn’t lend to other spirits and other categories as well, that I’m not gonna get into sure, you know, basic basically have the report their consumers that every single product that Dezo comes out with is going to be as healthy as we can get it is going to have high quality alcohol, and is going to make you feel better the next day than as if you were to drink our competitors. And once we are consumers know that we’re definitely going to expand in other categories in the beverage space.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 21:51
That’s a that’s a great vision to guide the brand. And it actually lets it go into like unlimited channels within that drink category. So yeah, I love it. It’s not just, it’s not just into this, like what you’re doing now. It’s the fact I love that. Drinking and feeling better than next day. That’s what we all want to do.
Tomas Crowe 22:12
Especially as we get older. And I’m only 26 It’s starting to feel that way. Yeah,
Bianca Harmon 22:18
usually starts about 25.
Tomas Crowe 22:22
Sounds about right.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 22:23
I’m 50. And it’s still getting worse. Doesn’t stop.
Tomas Crowe 22:27
Drew Thomas Hendricks 22:30
No, I could have had that last week, we were up on the Russian River for a week. Just basically sitting by the banks of the river paddling a little bit, basically day drinking all day. And we had had a bunch of seltzer, but boy, this this sort of
Bianca Harmon 22:44
how many of these could you drink? Do you think without where you finally wake up the next morning and you’re like, Okay, I feel like crap.
Tomas Crowe 22:54
We can’t make any promises on that front. The TTB would come for us. But what I can tell you is we firmly believe, and according to our anecdotal and some studies, that we’re actually putting together with one of our investors who is a physician at UCLA, that you feel better than you would feel as if, from a competitor that you were comparatively small compared comparatively better. Exactly.
Bianca Harmon 23:19
Well, I always used to tell people, you know, working in the alcohol industry for so long, it’s like, it’s not like the alcohol. I mean, yes, granite, you drink a ton of alcohol, you’re gonna feel like crap the next day, but it’s the sugars. And crap that is in your drink is really what makes you feel so crappy the next day. And so if you’re drinking, some, like higher quality, and not all these like sugary, sweet things, I promise you’ll feel better.
Tomas Crowe 23:48
I would promise that too. If you drink vodka waters all day, you probably feel pretty good. Now imagine if you add vodka, water and coconut water to that.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 24:01
Yep. Now you mentioned I’m gonna shift back to a little bit on the entrepreneur side that you mentioned you had some investors. And that’s it. There’s a that’s a challenging thing. negotiating a partnership or a buy in? What advice would you have for other founders that may want to expand through getting investments?
Tomas Crowe 24:22
Yeah, I would say it’s not going to be easy. If you have 10 people that you’re looking to to potentially invest in your company, I would try and triple that list because like everyone says that you get a lot more Nos than yeses. And I would also start filling out your pitch initially on some of the potential investors that are not as important for lack of a better word, and fill out their response and adjust as necessary because maybe what you’re pitching is not the correct parameters and adjust from there and be super persistent didn’t talk to as many people as possible because if one person is not going to invest, who knows, maybe their friend will, and maybe their business partner, maybe a family member, pretty much our entire investment network has come from a very small group of investors that have been really excited about Dezo helps us expand from there.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 25:17
That’s great. So as you as you’re going through all these pitches, and you’re kind of testing out what, what works and what doesn’t, and you’re hearing those, all those inevitable Nos, with each Nos comes, but I wish you had this, or I wish you had that. Or if you if you had structured like this, I’d be an investor, how do you keep your TrueNorth in the face of all these people giving you advice of what you should be doing?
Tomas Crowe 25:44
I mean, I think you have to have conviction in what you’re pitching. And I think you have to want the people investing in your company to have very fruitful outcomes and have success from this investment to so if you’re on your investors side, which you absolutely should be unless you’re a psycho, you’re gonna pitch something, you’re gonna pitch something that makes sense for them as an investor, as well as makes sense for your company. Very good. Stick and stick with it.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 26:12
That’s pretty good. So as we say, got so much going so the insurance to transfer to Dezo and then you’re expanding? What? If you didn’t do Dezo, what would you have done?
Tomas Crowe 26:32
I mean, I think I was so obsessive about being a CPG entrepreneur, I probably would have started like a health food snack brand, I think some somehow I would have, I would have come to that, or I would have done some things like selling something really easy online with Shopify. Now I’m pretty good with Shopify, I’d probably be selling T shirts or something, it might have been in the reverse order. So I’m probably would have started by selling something really simple, easy to advertise online, like T shirts, and eventually getting into some type of CPG. I
Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:06
just, that’s the amazing part of your story that I just I’m fascinated by because too often I interview entrepreneurs, and they do the Shopify route, they do the T shirts, or they do some small, some small thing. And then eventually they get to their dream of doing a can CPG. It’s just so amazing that you were able to transition straight into it.
Tomas Crowe 27:26
It was pure ignorance. It really was. I think we had no idea what we were getting into. And we were incredibly ambitious. And we didn’t think about the steps in the middle. But we attacked every obstacle as it came. And it was
Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:42
really hard. All through the pandemic.
Tomas Crowe 27:46
All through the pandemic. Yeah, we really were supposed to launch in March of 2020, which is when everything shut down. And we pushed that to June and shifted to an online strategy. And that was when we learned how to use Shopify. We didn’t even know until then,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:00
in hindsight, do you think that helped you?
Tomas Crowe 28:04
I absolutely do. Yeah, I think we learned the Shopify and EComm side of things when we needed to. And it gave us time to slowly work out how we need to do this on the ground from a sales perspective and what types of stores we need. And now we’re able to do both. And we know both.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:21
Yeah, that’s been a common theme as terrible as the pandemic has been. And as challenging as it has been to businesses, those that rose through it, and actually were founded right at the start of it. Pretty much all the founders say that it was actually a blessing in disguise for them. It gave them opportunities that they might not have had when everything was shifted around.
Tomas Crowe 28:41
Yeah, I’m not surprised. I mean, I have no idea where we’d be at without the pandemic, we could launch the biggest distributor in North America, and it could have gone well, but I think the lessons are invaluable and where we are right now, we’re so prepared for anything.
Bianca Harmon 28:57
Oh, when you’re choosing your products for when you’re choosing what you’re making your Dezo drinks with? I mean, how do you go about choosing the products that you’re using? For them? For the actual drink?
Tomas Crowe 29:08
Yeah, the specific ingredients like what it is, I mean, if it’s kind of like a two step process, where we weigh how, how many replenishing components does this ingredient have? How well known is it to consumers? And then there’s actually a third which is how good does it taste? Can we make a good cocktail? A lot of it. There are more now that I’m thinking about right? How ready how readily available? Is this ingredient logistically? How do you need to store it etc. I work on all of our production so I have to think about those things.
Bianca Harmon 29:43
Is there a shelf life then on your products? Because it is watermelon and coconut Are you know,
Tomas Crowe 29:49
there? There is yeah, we take no shortcuts and producing does Oh, it’s all natural ingredients that have to be handled very delicately and there are no artificial preservatives either. So there is a shelf life. It’s one A year. It’s totally safe to drink after that one year period, but the natural ingredients just to to lose their flavor a little bit.
Bianca Harmon 30:06
That makes sense. And are they sparkling?
Tomas Crowe 30:10
They are sparkling.
Bianca Harmon 30:11
Oh, good. Okay, I’m exhibiting. Yeah. Now that’s good. Because when I look at I couldn’t, you know, because you think coconut water and it’s just still and you think watermelon water and it’s still because I drink both of those every single day. So, yeah, they’re my favorite, I actually have started making my own watermelon water at home. It’s the best, so much better than fine just water like watermelon water from the shelves. So but then I was like, wow, if they’re sparkling that makes it even better.
Tomas Crowe 30:46
You’re gonna have to try Dezo like
Drew Thomas Hendricks 30:52
what percentage of your sales are online?
Tomas Crowe 30:57
A much smaller percentage, probably around 10. I would say. And we want to build into that. I just think since we learned how to do it and learned how to, you know, effectively allocate resources towards it. We’ve always had it and we use it strategically. But we’ve really focused on for us, the big homerun is on the ground. retail marketing. That’s a three tier. Yeah, the three tier system which we have to use. But yeah, we’ve I still think that ecommerce for alcohol is very nascent. And there are a lot of tweaks to work out. And I don’t think you’re going to be able to set up some smile direct club, crazy model immediately
Drew Thomas Hendricks 31:45
for for your brand. Because I mean, my my wine clubs and stuff, they’ve got sort of that you get your wine every month, your subscription systems.
Tomas Crowe 31:53
Totally agree. Yeah, I should specify that for spirits, and especially something like beer or Selter or canned cocktails, where people especially in my generation want it now now now. And that’s not what any of the service providers can really provide unless you’re ordering through something like go puff or jersey, which are fantastic. But though you’re not able to mark it the same way you can directly from your website using a fulfillment company like we use.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 32:21
Okay, so you if you were had to set up like a subscription model, it would have to go through the fulfillment company because you’re actually producing a spirit.
Tomas Crowe 32:30
Correct? Yeah. Okay, versus
Drew Thomas Hendricks 32:35
versus a winery can sell directly and it makes it the subscription model a little bit easier.
Tomas Crowe 32:40
Absolutely. Yeah, we can’t sell direct. We it still has to go through a retailer who ships it out who we don’t really have any contact with. And he’s drizzly for that. No drizzly is actually for on demand immediate delivery. Oh, that’s like, that’s right. Yeah. They’re like, well,
Bianca Harmon 32:59
they’ll you can order alcohol, and they’ll bring it to your door in like two hours.
Tomas Crowe 33:03
Yeah. Yeah, we use a company called Excel pay. I can just give them the plug.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 33:09
Yeah, definitely. I mean, there’s, there’s all the other companies looking for the same thing. They’re gonna cut in your business, but they, they could probably use it tip. There you go. Well, how I handle here’s the thing, you’re incredibly driven, if you’re expanding all across the nation, directly, and in California right now in stores? How do you stay motivated to just keep pushing forward?
Tomas Crowe 33:38
I think we stay focused on the small wins, and we download our VIP VIP reports every week, which are the reports we get from the retailers. And we see how much we’re growing every month. And it’s exciting. And you know, we really are starting to see some of the fruits of our labor. So celebrating those small wins week after week on our Monday meeting.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 33:55
That would be I mean, that’s that’s exactly when you’re we’re in the growth time. It’s easy to stay motivated. But personally, personally for yourself, how do you stay motivated when maybe the week is not going the way you want?
Tomas Crowe 34:06
Right? And there have been a lot a lot of weeks like that. I stick to my schedule. And the cheesy thing to say is you have to really believe in your dream and your product, but you absolutely do or you will be unmotivated. And you know I go to bed early. I wake up early. I get my workouts in, I do my meetings with my Co-founders and I made sure that I never felt fall off my strict schedule and I motivated through
Drew Thomas Hendricks 34:37
account I really liked the way he said that because motivation only works so much. Most of the time. You just have to put your head down whether you’re motivated or not, and just excel your vision. I’m kind of I’m reading this David Goggins book can’t hurt me and he’s all talking about how motivation is crap. Like, and we’ve said that
Tomas Crowe 34:58
I’ve heard I’ve heard a lot of David Goggins. It’s definitely inspired that motto for me for sure.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 35:04
Well, gosh, this has been fantastic talking to you. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want to talk to people about?
Tomas Crowe 35:12
I think I should let everyone know that we are fundraising currently. Oh, wow. Yep. So Dezo is absolutely fundraising. And anyone listening to this should reach out to me. email@example.com. If you want to talk about Yeah, I don’t know how much into the details. We should go on this. But I definitely wanted to just make it known that we’re fundraising. And we should be closing around. In the end of October latest,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 35:40
okay, great. So if you’re looking to invest in a water, alcoholic water company that makes you feel better the next day? Or is it comparatively better than if you took some wrong choices the night before? Dezo is a choice and they should reach out to you directly. Absolutely, that’s great. And where can they Where can this consumer find out more about your brand and purchase does?
Tomas Crowe 36:07
They can find out more on our website drinkdezo.com At our Instagram @drinkdezo, our TikTok drinkdezo, I would say those are the three best places to go.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:19
Awesome. Tomas. It’s been fantastic talking to you.
Tomas Crowe 36:22
Great time on YouTube. I
Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:23
greatly admire how much you’ve done. Thank you.
Bianca Harmon 36:26
Tomas Crowe 36:27
Of course. Thanks for having me.
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