Interview: Alexis Beechen, CEO/Cofounder of The Drop – Single-Serve Canned Wine
Alexis Beechen is CEO and Cofounder of The Drop, a modern and innovative single-serve canned wine company that is rewriting the rules for what sells in the wine industry today. The Drop passes on corks and fancy vintages in favor of offering consumers simplified types of wine in on-the-go-friendly cans. Their millennial-slanted branding is Instagram gold and it resonates with the up-and-coming wine drinkers of today. Find out more about Alexis and how her perseverance and marketing expertise have made The Drop into a massive success!
Name: Alexis Beechen
Company: The Drop Wine
Job Title: CEO & Cofounder
Currently based in: New York, NY (but working on becoming bi-coastal!)
Originally from: Los Angeles, CA
Superpower: My ability to multitask would even make Oprah jealous!
Quote that you live by:
“Well behaved women rarely make history” – Dr. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
What inspired you to start your current venture?
I wanted to create a canned wine company that challenged the traditional wine industry. I am a huge wine lover, but I felt like it was losing its relevance in this on-the-go world. I was determined to build a wine brand that was modern, approachable and didn’t take itself too seriously.
What is your company doing to make history today?
The Drop is a product that rebels from the status quo for wine. Why can’t we drink canned wine that comes in an eco-friendly, single-serve size? Isn’t it more important to make the best wine possible for a great price, rather than focusing on vintages? Why can’t wine companies interface with their customers on social media, and talk about relatable things like Monday struggles and texting, while still being perceived as a fine wine? We have tackled all of these challenges and found that consumers have embraced us with open arms. We discovered that many consumers wanted their wine to have a little attitude and an authentic voice. They wanted their wine to be a more accurate reflection the world they live in.
What is one thing your company has accomplished that you are most proud of?
We expanded our distribution from one state to 20 states in less than two years of sales, despite having no distribution network in place when we launched. The vast majority of the ~800 locations we sell in are independent bars, restaurants and wine stores. We have been able to build a grassroots brand, and we’ve ultimately succeeded by having a delicious product and creating a single-serve canned wine that stands out from the crowd.
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
We are launching our e-commerce platform in March where we can sell and ship The Drop directly to your front door! We have a bunch of surprises in the works, but right now, we are thrilled to be launching our monthly canned wine subscription service. We have also developed a great line of branded merchandise that we are excited to sell alongside our great wines!
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
There is a major trend of consolidation in the alcohol industry. You may see a wide range of products on the shelf in your local wine shop or grocery store, but the vast majority of those brands are owned by only a few key industry players. This makes it really difficult for new, independent brands to find distribution and get their products in front of customers. While the internet is an amazing tool for helping small brands get discovered, startup spirits brands are still limited by many anachronistic laws that make it difficult – or even illegal – to sell alcoholic beverages across state lines without having a state-specific distributor in place.
What is a trend in your industry that you foresee becoming popular in the future?
Transparency – it is already a major trend in the food industry, but it hasn’t fully crossed over into the beverage industry yet. How often do you know where your beverages are sourced from? I believe that blockchain – the same technology that is making virtual currency possible – is going to transform the food and beverage industry by allowing customers to trace the origins of what they’re putting into their body.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job?
Sometimes when you’re first starting a business, you hear a ‘no’ and assume that it’s forever. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that if the person you’re pitching your product to says no – whether that person is a customer, supplier, or investor – that they’ll never change their mind. At a minimum, assuming every rejection is permanent can result in lost confidence; at the worst, this assumption could lead you to give up entirely on your dream. I would tell my younger self that ‘no’ is rarely forever. It usually just means that you have more work to do.
For example, when I first started selling wine, I hustled my way into getting a meeting with a major distributor who had the power to grow our business substantially if they chose to partner with us. However, I knew that this distributor heard pitches from hundreds of fledgling wine companies per year, and that they would only choose a select few of those brands to add to their portfolio.
Going into the meeting, I believed with my whole heart that The Drop was a great product. Our single-serve canned wine was a unique and innovative product with a delicious taste and awesome marketing and packaging. However, I had never sold wine before, so I hadn’t built up a lot of confidence yet in my brand or my ability to sell it.
The meeting went fine, but the distributor wasn’t convinced that this new format of wine in a can would be a success.
Looking back, he probably doubted whether or not I had the tenacity and confidence to make my brand into a success. He told me ‘no’, which shook my confidence even more. I went home and had a big ol’ glass of wine that night.
By the next day, I’d been able to take a step back and see the distributor’s ‘no’ in a different light. I decided that I would sell my canned wine into accounts on my own to prove to this distributor that my product and I had everything we needed to be successful.
Sure enough, after six months of pounding the pavement and personally opening over 50 accounts (and regularly emailing the distributor to make sure he was aware of every win), he sent me an email suggesting we meet again. After showing the distributor how much headway we had been able to make in the market since our last meeting, he agreed to work with us the following year.
What were you doing before your current role?
I’ve always worked in marketing – I love how it combines analysis, empathy, and creativity. Before founding The Drop Wine, I worked at various ad agencies in NY, managing brands like IKEA, Volvo and Dos Equis Beer. I eventually got the entrepreneurial itch and decided to get my MBA at Columbia. During a trip to Greece between the two years of business school, I brought a case of rosé on board our boat. It sparked my idea for The Drop, and the rest is history.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
Women, in particular, can be really hard on themselves. Sometimes we can be afraid to go after something, or even start working on something, unless we have the whole thing planned out ahead of time. I am so glad that I made the decision to jump in with both feet when I created The Drop. Allowing myself the freedom to figure things out as I went along was the best gift I could have ever given myself.
One of the #DropsOfWisdom we print on our canned wine is: “You don’t know what you don’t know, but neither do they.” I think this statement rings true for anyone who is willing to take risks in order to forge a new path.
Are there any great resources you have discovered that you would like to share?
The Point25 Initiative, founded by Venture Capitalist Alicia Syrett, matches promising female-led companies with amazing C-level Advisors for their advisory boards.
I am also a member of The Wing, a women-only coworking space. They currently only have three locations (all in NYC), but they are in the process of expanding to other cities. It doesn’t make sense for me to have a dedicated office because I travel frequently and my team is spread across the country, so The Wing is perfect for my lifestyle. They offer a beautiful and well-designed workspace with delicious and healthy snacks. Their community provides great opportunities to network with other inspiring and hardworking women.
Fun fact about yourself:
I’m a certified open water scuba diver with over 200 logged dives.
Email inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can connect with Alexis directly on LinkedIn.