When Justin Fenchel, Aimy Steadman and Brad Schultz stepped onto the presenters’ stage of ABC’s “Shark Tank” back in 2014, the trio highlighted how their company BeatBox Beverages was more than another wine in a box. In the episode, the millennial co-founders showcased their passion not just for an innovative beverage solution that connects with younger legal-drinking-age consumers.
Approximately five years later, the Austin, Texas-based company is taking that energetic spirit and blending it with a collection of veteran leadership as it embarks on its latest venture — rebranding the company as Future Proof, a next-generation beverage company.
“By definition, Future Proof means to be forward-thinking and create brands or products that are unlikely to become obsolete.” Schultz says. “The name speaks to the heart of what we’re building here, and that’s to create meaningful brands that are here to stay.”
The transition to Future Proof roughly can be traced back two years ago when the company engineered a single serving product to accompany its 3- and 5-liter offerings. This lead to a decision to exit the wine and spirits wholesale network and instead partner with beer wholesalers.
“We transitioned to the beer wholesalers in 2017, and it was working very well and we wound up bringing in Mark [King] as president of the company from Austin Eastciders in 2018,” Fenchel says. “Right away, he looked at what we were doing and said ‘hey you guys have a really cool, disruptive product that will work as a non-beer solution to the beer wholesaler network.’”
In his role, King, a founder of Austin Eastciders, was hearing from beer wholesalers about the positive effect BeatBox Party Punch as was having on their business and that they wanted more innovation.
“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, but beer wholesalers really thought of anything that’s not traditional beer as the enemy and an impediment to growth. Now we’re seeing beer wholesalers looking for solutions to grow their business,” King says. “That’s kind of where we come in. We provide a solution for them that’s outside of traditional beer.”
This feedback from wholesale partners was a welcomed motivator for the founders. “That was really eye-opening as millennials and entrepreneurs were always thinking bigger and wanting to do these disruptive things; we finally had the team and investor base with the people and the excitement from the wholesalers to go out and do this,” Fenchel says. “We presented it to the board and they were super excited about it and wanted to support it. At that point, we not only became just a one-trick pony with our BeatBox Party Punch but now getting into some of these high growth categories outside of core beer.”
The company now features a host of industry veterans across various beverage manufacturer operations, including Vice President Jeff Chassner from Sweetwater Brewing; Vice President of National Accounts Jeff McNally, who previously worked at MillerCoors; Cindy Crowell, a former co-founder of Deep Eddy, for the operations department; Hanna Swanson for trade marketing, who previously worked at Tito’s Handmade Vodka; and Nick Greeninger to captain partnerships and was a former co-founder of Saint Archer.
With an amalgamation of veteran wisdom and young entrepreneurial energy, Future Proof is forging ahead to deliver beverage alcohol products that wholesalers, retailers, and consumers are demanding.
“I think that Justin, Aimy, and Brad provide key insight into the consumer to make these brands come alive. Combine that with a team that’s capable of working with partners to get product out into the marketplace,” King says.
Adding to that recent success, Future Proof is launching this month two new product lines. The first, Brizzy, a line of innovative seltzer cocktails that combines two mega beverage trends into one product. And soon, Corkless Canned Wine. A travel inspired canned-wine line with an environmental charity tie in.
Available in Strawberry Rosé, Mixed Berry Mojito, Watermelon Mule and Blood Orange Mimosa, Brizzy initially is packaged in 12-ounce aluminum cans in six- and 12-pack variety packs. The company is looking to add 19.2-ounce single-serve cans in 2020. The rollout will be in select states of Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas, Michigan, Kansas and Ohio.
With a portion of the proceeds going to One Tree Planted, Cørkless is a California-sourced wine that will be available in Bubbly Rosé, Bubbly Pinot Grigio and Bubbly Red in select markets. BI