The story of how Eddie Simeon and his two best friends turned a hipster hobby into a multi-million dollar business is, dare we say, hella good.
Simeon, along with Jomaree Pinkard and Tobin Ludwig are the founders of Hella Cocktail Co., a brand of premium crafted products designed to democratize and elevate cocktail culture. Launched in 2011, Hella Cocktail Co. markets botanically-inspired bitters and mixers along with ready-to-drink sparkling apéritifs admired for their flavor and versatility. The products are currently sold in over 20,000 stores, bars, hotels, and restaurants.
Over the past 12 years, the co-founders have pursued a thoughtful, and occasionally unorthodox, growth strategy that has prioritized strong unit economics and profitability. Eddie describes the approach as one in which the company has been “willing to be more patient to be less wrong.”
Last year, Uncle Nearest Ventures – the investment arm of Uncle Nearest Whiskey focused on funding minority-founded, owned and led spirit companies – acquired a $5 million stake in Hella Cocktail Co. In a press release, Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver praised Simeon, Pinkard and Ludwig, who are of Mexican, African American and Jewish descent, respectively, for “bootstrapp[ing] this brand for a decade, never compromising on quality or messaging.”
In this episode, Simeon chronicles the company’s development, from the early days of blending bitters in his Brooklyn apartment to why the brand’s first retailer was a furniture store to the synergistic relationship with Uncle Nearest and how Hella’s three-founder team has been its backbone through it all.
In this Episode
|0:44: Interview: Eddie Simeon, Co-Founder, Hella Cocktail Co. – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Simeon at Expo West 2023, where the entrepreneur spoke about how he met co-founders Tobin Ludwig and Jomaree Pinkard and how their collective passion for DIY projects and video production and an “entrepreneurial seizure” spawned Hella Cocktail Co. He also explained how they leaned on each other’s skill sets to launch the brand, why they named the company “Hella,” the evolution of its package design and why they have long embraced the idea of “you don’t want to be on a long road to a small house.” Later, he explained why Hella was a cash flow business for its first seven years, how embracing self-learning helped the company land business deals with Delta Airlines and TGIF, insights from managing a diverse channel strategy, why Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver loved investing in a brand with three founders and why he’s bullish on using fractional resources to fill staffing needs.|