Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Pete Jokisch, Owner of Teakoe, located in Longmont, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We make better-for-you beverages more flavorful and approachable for people to live a natural lifestyle. Brewing organic, all-star ingredients that go big on flavor, we keep it refreshing and functional with just the right amount of fizz. We appeal to consumers wanting healthier, on-the-go options that are readily accessible and, most importantly, taste good. We target these individuals with an omnichannel approach and partner with aligned concepts (grocery, hotels, restaurants, etc.) to enhance the visibility of our product amongst our high-value customers.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Kansas City, played every sport possible, and always enjoyed competing. I was also in charge of coordinating uniforms (self-appointed) for the teams I played on, and that ignited my creative juices. Fueling my athletic endeavors, I used tea as a healthier catalyst and harnessed the inherent benefits to perform at my best. I attended Colorado State (Fort Collins), where I played lacrosse and studied business marketing and entrepreneurship. I then eventually played lacrosse professionally for the Colorado Mammoth here in Denver. As a backup goalie (aka target practice), you get a lot of time to think about what’s next!
Transitioning from athlete to entrepreneur, my competitive focus shifted towards building a business out of the products I was creating for myself. We originally launched with whole-leaf products and evolved from a farmer’s market darling to a food service staple, and it became a favorite among local chefs and restaurateurs. During my entrepreneurial journey, my personal life transformed, and fatherhood became my reason for existing. Still needing to balance the growth of the business with my family life, we saw an opportunity to create a better-for-you beverage that aligned with my lifestyle; hence Fizzy Tea was born.
My two little boys motivate me each day to set an example for how to work hard, work smart, work with people who enrich your life, and build something you can be proud of.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would have to be how we’ve responded to dire situations that should have put us out of business. There have been numerous events, some within our control and others outside, that tested our resolve and fortitude- and in those moments, you learn a lot about your personal drive, your team’s commitment, and the equity you’ve created with customers through your brand and products.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing I can speak to is really about the entrepreneurial journey side that isn’t promoted as much… when things get challenging (and they will), when you feel alone, when your confidence is shaken because you lost a big customer, or whatever the event is that makes you question your ability or second guess the new product you created, you have to be able to talk to your team, your advisors, and your friends about what you’re thinking. Do not EAT those feelings. They will build up and make it more and more challenging to lead your business. The more you can express your feelings about what you’re thinking about and why, the better equipped you’ll be to handle harder challenges in the future.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Understand your Positioning. Your business is defined by the opportunities you say no to. Be clear with your brand positioning, demographic, and HVC. Always filter opportunities through the alignment lens to ensure it fits the story you are trying to tell.
- Build Confidence in Yourself. Betting on yourself is the ultimate wager, so make sure you invest in yourself to build the confidence needed to persevere. From health and wellness to continued education and surrounding yourself with a support group (investors, friends, advisors).
- Focus on Productivity. Don’t mistake activity for productivity. Establishing “One Big Thing” each day helps you actually make progress on the business builders (things that move the company forward). When you have commitments outside of work (family, personal time, etc.), this is critical, so you handle priorities first and don’t allow distractions into other areas of life.
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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