Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Austin Pittman, Co-Founder of Blue Norther, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Blue Norther is a craft Ranch Water and Hard Seltzer brand from South Austin. We’re the first seltzer crafted for craft beer drinkers who enjoy the bold flavor, depth of character, and aroma in their beverages. Our biggest fans range in age from UT students to 25-35 Millenials to empty nesters. They shop at grocery stores like H-E-B and Whole Foods and visit craft beer bars like Bangers and The Loose Screw. We also run Texas’ only seltzer tasting room about 10 minutes South of Downtown Austin and serve many private rental customers.
Tell us about yourself
My background is varied, from marine biology to healthcare consulting to enterprise software. While preparing to earn my MBA from Dartmouth Tuck, I noticed a huge gap in seltzer: low-quality products with the poor taste that don’t serve the craft market. I jumped in to create a better seltzer that I would genuinely love to drink! The joy I see from our customers and the great community we’ve built keep me grinding every single day to make this dream a bigger reality. As a brand, we believe that live music is Austin’s heart and soul, and we support the artists and nonprofits that keep it alive.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We’re currently launching a Ranch Water that celebrates Tex-Max culture through Mexican-inspired design and flavors. It’s a truly beautiful and delicious product, and working with our whole team to bring it to market is what I’m most proud of this year. We have opportunities that we’ve never had before and a lot of runways to build a bigger, better brand around this product.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Accountability for all of the employees who trust you with their livelihood and the investors and partners who trust you with their hard-earned capital. These people believe in you and spend their life working to help you make a dream into reality - and you have to be on all day, every day, to try to live up to their belief. It’s a great honor and a great responsibility.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make damn sure you’re creating something that is TRULY differentiated in the market.
- Win your core customers, really win them deeply, before expanding.
- Build a business that can last by creating products with healthy margins and investing efficiently - don’t listen to the crowd and overspend on marketing before you prove product-market fit with your core customers.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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