If you check out this week’s episode of “Shark Tank” on ABC, you’ll spot a company with Louisville ties, called BeatBox Beverages.
BeatBox was started by a group of business graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin. The company makes flavored wine that comes in a box shaped like a 1980s-style boom box.
Each five-liter box contains 34, five-ounce servings and comes in flavors including cranberry limeade, sweet tea, razzberry lemonade, and box a’rita
Louisville-based beverage consultant Flavorman helped the company develop the drinks. Flavorman founder and COO David Dafoe said the students came to the company a couple of years ago when they started BeatBox as a school project. The concept was not totally developed at the time.
“They knew they wanted to be wine-based. They didn’t know the exact flavors they wanted at the time”
Flavorman developed several flavors for BeatBox, and the students decided on the four mentioned above, he said.
They even stuck around town to compete in a couple of local entrepreneurial competitions, but Dafoe wasn’t sure exactly which ones.
Dafoe said Flavorman’s role in produce development might be mentioned on “Shark Tank.”
Flavorman, which offers consulting, education, beverage development and some limited-run bottling services, has been around since 1992.
It’s not uncommon for the company to work with startups, as 80 percent of its projects are billed at $20,000 or less, he said. The company works on an average of 80 beverage development projects each week.
But this is a slow time of year because of the upcoming holiday season when it’s tough for small companies to launch a new beverage, he said. Last week the company was working on about 52 projects.
UPDATE: After making their pitch on the show, the co-founders Justin Fenchel, Aimy Steadman, and Brad Schultz entered the Shark Tank looking for $250,000 in exchange for 10% equity in their company. They walked out with a $1-million deal with investor Mark Cuban, who traded the funds for a one-third share of the company. The investment and newly established partnership is set to help the company expand to nationwide distribution.
“You guys don’t sell wine, you sell fun.” – Mark Cuban to BeatBox co-founders, Justin, Aimy, and Brad.
It just goes to show that a great idea for a beverage, when perfectly executed, can have an even better payoff.
A version of this story, authored by David A. Mann, originally appeared on Louisville Business First.