Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with CC DesRosiers, Co-Founder and CEO of Troop, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm CC, founder, and CEO of Troop. I started Troop to give people a better way to socialize and a better drink to do it with - a damn good cocktail. At Troop, we believe in quality over quantity, full-flavored over watered down. Think of us as all the good flavors and feelings of your favorite neighborhood bar packaged in a can. Troop makes full flavor, full strength, ready-to-drink cocktails that are both portable and proper. Crafted with spirits, fresh-squeezed juices, herbs, and botanicals, Troop is a cocktail without compromise in single serving size (10% ABV in 200mL cans). Available in five distinct serves - Vodka Lemonade, Tequila Paloma, Rum Mojito, Bourbon Smash, and Gin Spritz - our cocktails are designed for a new class of drinkers who care about savoring sips and time with the people that matter most, their Troop.
Troop's customers are the real ones. The sippers and savorers. The small-talk rejectors and conversation relishers. Those who don't measure fun in shots or calories but in belly laughs and how much fun they had. A new class of drinkers who won't settle for anything less than absolutely delicious.
They want to bring authenticity and adventure to the party, so they show up with Troop instead of seltzer, wine, or beer. They're trading up to spirit-based cocktails for a number of reasons, including higher-quality flavor, a more premium drink, and because they prefer their spirit-of-choice as an alcohol base.
Tell us about yourself
I have always found myself drawn to the food and beverage industry. Specifically, I was intrigued by the ways in which something as simple as a cocktail could bring people together, shaping and elevating how we gather with our community. As a consumer myself, I didn't fit into the world of dark bars and loud clubs and saw a real need to create something special for those who still want to enjoy a quality cocktail with friends. So I set out with the closest of my Troop, my husband Reed, to build a beverage brand that encourages people to be exactly who they are and create their own social environment without always relying on bars.
On top of that, I noticed that consumers are trading up across all categories - from snack foods to skincare to cleaning supplies - and now (finally) alcohol. They're looking for a drink that tastes great, is made with high-quality ingredients, but doesn't wreck their health and wellness goals. Our cocktails provide them with the perfect option. Each drink is gluten-free, has only 125 calories and 3g of added sugar, and is made by a socially responsible brand that promotes a positive drinking culture and gives back with each drink sold.
I'm motivated to build a brand that changes what it means to drink. At Troop, we are transparent about the real ingredients in our drinks, give a portion of our revenue back to nonprofits, and do it all sustainably. We're mission-driven with a clean label, making drinks using the best possible ingredients while making a difference. We're helping the world to rediscover feel-good fun. More hangouts, fewer hangovers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been attracting such an incredible team. We have brought on industry veterans who truly believe in the brand that we're creating and the unique space we've carved out in the ready-to-drink segment. It has been awesome to work with them and see the progress we can make when we get the right people behind it.
Another huge accomplishment was getting into Whole Foods Market very early on. We've been building our business with them over the past two years, and it's been incredible to grow from just a few stores in Northern California to all stores throughout the state.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the biggest challenge I'm facing as a business owner is being a woman in a male-dominated industry. It's been hard to be taken seriously by the people who control this industry - be it buyers, distributors, or investors. I am trying to represent a segment of consumers that is drastically underrepresented in distribution and retail. I spend my time trying to prove it to people who don't take me, or any woman, seriously.
Another big challenge I've faced is breaking into conventional grocery and mass retail. I have spent the last two years preaching the gospel of real ingredients and spirits because I know that's what consumers want. I'm searching for a big-time retail partner who shares our vision and is deeply in touch with consumer needs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Meet people in your industry: Meeting people in the alcohol industry has been so incredibly important for me as an entrepreneur, especially since I had no prior experience in it before starting Troop. Whether you're an industry expert or brand new to it all, it's so helpful to get to know other people in your industry, compare notes, and share challenges.
- Meet entrepreneurs in other industries: Meeting other entrepreneurs and creating a solid community has been incredibly helpful. Even if these individuals are from separate industries, you'll find that you face many of the same challenges as an entrepreneur building a business. This community has served as an invaluable support system for me - especially as you face new opportunities like scaling, hiring, inventory planning, marketing, e-commerce, and the list goes on and on!
- Stay true to the brand you've built: As you hire people and bring on investors, there will be many more voices at the table. While having more hands on deck and thoughts on where to take the company can be massively helpful, you also want to ensure that you're staying true to why you started the company in the first place. I have a notebook where I wrote down the reasons why I started Troop at the very beginning. I come back to this notebook time and time again if I feel like I'm steering away from it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Troop is currently available in CA and TX markets, and we're expanding to a few new states this year - follow us on Instagram (@drinktroop) to see where we're coming next! You can also order our cocktails on our website (www.drinktroop.com) - we deliver to most states in the US!
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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