Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jake Pritzlaff, Co-Founder of Whalebird Kombucha, located in San Luis Obispo, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We're Whalebird Kombucha. We're passionate about making the best tasting Kombucha we possibly can with ethically sourced, high-quality ingredients and hopefully setting a new standard for how emerging companies can prioritize global health over profit.

Our customers today are health-conscious and fun-loving people from all backgrounds who want to drink something bubbly and delicious while out on life's daily adventure.

Tell us about yourself

Back in 2013, I was a young recent graduate looking for a project I could get behind something I could really sink my teeth into and believe in. One day I met Mike (my now partner) at a party. He invited me into his garage to show me his weird and dark fermentation chamber where he was making Kombucha. I took one sip, and a budding friendship and business relationship were born. The rest is history.

It's an amazing feeling that never really gets old when you see someone walking around with your product. Every time I see that it's a helpful reminder of how many lives are touched by the work I've put in - even if I'm not directly making the Kombucha anymore!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I feel that our biggest accomplishment as business owners has been to cultivate the team that we've been fortunate enough to have. It truly can't be understated how incredibly fulfilling it is to have a team around you that you trust and care about and that you know cares about you back.

We realized at some point along the way that although we make Kombucha and we love Kombucha, at the end of the day, that's just a drink. What's truly important is the community we make along the way.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Running a business is NOT easy. Growing up, we all go to school and, for the most part, know if we work hard and study, we can get an A. Nobody is passing out grades in business, and nobody is out there making sure the workload is reasonable.

When you create a business, you are literally manifesting something where there was once nothing, and that comes with a unique type of existential stress. Your mental stress management has to be really on point.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. For us, starting a business was a hilarious calculation of "what's the poorest we can possibly be for the longest possible amount of time while we're starting this thing?". Make sure your living expenses and obligations are as low as possible because you'll need a lot of time, energy, and money to make things happen.
  2. Don't reinvent the wheel: you're not the first person to start a business, and no matter how novel or innovative your idea is, there are parts of it that mirror existing businesses. Lift the pieces you can from existing organizations and partner with people who have done it before.
  3. Build in big buffers to your plans: If you think it'll take 6 months, budget out a year. If you think you need to raise $100k, raise $200k.

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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