Embrace Being Uncomfortable. Hyper Growth May Follow.

+ Joshua Ellis, Founder/CEO, WithCo Cocktails


What’s on the other side of hyper growth? It’s a question that makes Joshua Ellis, the founder of WithCo Cocktails, uncomfortable. But, as he explained in this episode, that’s a good thing.

A former real estate investor, Ellis saw an opportunity for a brand of high-quality, small-batch mixers and in 2016 launched WithCo, which stands for With Company, as a side project. Made with fresh ingredients and no preservatives, WithCo products are packaged in 16 oz. bottles wrapped in sleek, minimalist labels and come in eight varieties, including old fashioned, honey sour, agave margarita and a ginger mule.

After his aggressive 2020 retail plan was upended by the pandemic, Ellis instead weaved together a DIY and paid social marketing strategy that fueled a surge in direct-to-consumer sales. Last year’s growth has given way to revenue expectations of $6 million for 2021 and a staff of 25 employees that continues to expand.

In an interview featured in this episode, Ellis explained how, despite being the company’s sole employee in early 2020, he planned and executed upon a hastily revised business strategy, why he expects that a pandemic-driven shift in at-home drinking occasions will continue, how he’s thoughtfully expanding the brand’s retail footprint and what he means when he says that he’s “building to sell.”

In this Episode

0:48: Barry, Beer and Bites — The episode’s hosts chatted about John Craven’s visit to San Diego, which included a stop at Athletic Brewing Co.’s rapidly expanding facility, a plethora of upcoming Speed Dating events, why entrepreneurs should get their tickets to BevNET Live and NOSH Live ASAP and a variety of new food and beverage products introduced over the past month, including pizza’nadas and an drink intended to arouse.
20:07: Interview: Joshua Ellis, Founder & CEO, WithCo Cocktails — Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Ellis about a recent sales milestone for WithCo, why he believes that going from “zero to 100” is a flawed notion and why he designed the packaging to evoke a multi-sensory experience. He also explained how he effectively utilized Instagram hashtags and direct messages to build awareness for and a conversation around WithCo and why he advocates for founders to step out of their comfort zone to better understand various elements of their businesses. Later he discussed how the company works with both independent and chain retail stores and why the “four P’s” are guiding how he continues to develop WithCo and prepare it for a potential acquisition.

Also Mentioned

WithCo Cocktails, Athletic Brewing, Babe Kombucha, Afia Foods, Brazi Bites, Amy’s Kitchen, Free Rain, Spindrift, Corsa, Post Meridiem, Ranch2O, Sideyard Cocktails, Rebru Vodka, Thorn Brewing