How the Cannonborough Beverage Company is Bringing the "Craft" Back into Craft Soda with Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley

What happened to craft soda? What happened to using all-natural, sustainable, fresh, local ingredients? Why do soda companies create beverages with artificial ingredients and sweeteners that make you feel guilty or think twice to even drink them? This is what three friends from Charleston, South Carolina asked themselves. Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley created the Cannonborough Beverage Company as a way to bring the "craft" back into craft soda using small-batch processes that combine art and science in the soda-making process.

Back in January of 2016, Matthew of the Cannonborough Beverage Company reached out to me to let me know about the new products they created. Matt let me know that they are based in Charleston, SC, and utilize craft brewing techniques to produce a shelf stable sparkling beverage, made from fresh fruits and free from artificial ingredients or preservatives. He told me that he thinks their premium quality and commitment to all-natural ingredients makes their product a great fit at specialtysodas.com. They've seen a lot of success as both an interesting non-alcoholic option, as well as a convenient mixer for craft cocktails.

Based on this interaction, I decided to learn more about the company and I liked how they were doing something different. I decided to reach out to them so they can participate on the show. They have a very interesting story and teach us what it takes to start a beverage company that truly creates "craft" soda.

After watching this interview, please let us know what you learned and thought about the show in the comments section below. If you enjoyed this episode, please feel free to share it with others.

Cannonborough Beverage Company - Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley

Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley

Cannonborough Beverage Company

Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley are the founders of the Cannonborough Beverage Company.

Cannonborough sodas are a playful combination of fresh pressed juices, hand picked herbs, and fruits at the peak of ripeness. With help from farmers across the Southeast, CannonBev's flavors are constantly evolving within the window of seasonality. For each soda, a single fruit is selected, juiced, and paired with various aromatics to add complexity. Natural sweeteners, such as cane sugar and honey, are then delicately added to achieve a crisp balance of sweetness and acidity. Free from artificial preservatives, the mixture is force carbonated, and bottled in very small batches. The result is a unique sparkling beverage as interesting as it is refreshing.

The idea for creating fresh soda from natural ingredients came together in 2011 on a quiet street at the edge of Cannonborough. Mick, Matt and Brandon all grew up drinking soda, but wondered, what would soda be like if it grew up with us? Using the training they received in Charleston’s most creative bars and kitchens, they set out to create a culinary-minded beverage by replacing artificial ingredients with fresh produce and natural sweeteners. What started as a unique gift for friends and family quickly evolved into a refined product with the help of local farmers, chefs, and bartenders.

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Transcript


Javier: Hey there, beverage enthusiasts. My name is Javier Morquecho and I'm the founder of Specialty Sodas, one of the largest craft soda and specialty beverage retailers in the U.S., and this Specialty Sodas podcast, where ambitious entrepreneurs and leaders in the beverage industry come to share their story. My mission is to build a community within the beverage industry so that we can all meet and learn from one another, and connect for meaningful relationships.

Today, I'm joined by Mick Matricciano, Matt Fendley, and Brandon Wogamon of the Cannonborough Beverage Company, operating out of Charleston, South Carolina. Cannon Bev, or Cannon Bev Co, as it's called, makes one-of-a-kind small batch sodas that are a playful combination of fresh, pressed juices, hand-picked herbs, and fruits at the peak of ripeness.

Cannonborough sodas include flavors like Honey Basil, Ginger Beer, Grapefruit Elderflower, as well as Spiced Cranberry, Citrumelo and Hop, and Sorghum Thyme. Not to mention, limited edition, seasonal flavors. Hi guys. Thank you for being here today.

Mick: Hey.

Brandon: Thanks for having us.

Javier: So, for those of you out there who haven't heard of Cannonborough Beverages, can you tell us more about the company and what you guys stand for as a brand?

Mick: Yeah, absolutely. So, we started the company in 2012. We noticed that there was a lot of interesting things happening in craft beer, and spirits, and wine, and nothing really kind of craft book is happening in the non-alcoholic space. So we wanted to take a lot of those same ideas and tenets and bring them over to the non-alcoholic side. And soda was a natural choice.

It's a very fun drink, but we're kind of at a point where all the sodas that are available, people feel guilty about drinking. So we wanted to make a craft soda that you didn't have to feel guilty about drinking, using fresh herbs and fresh fruits and just kinda the best stuff we could get our hands on, using unique ingredients, and just kind of those same techniques.

Javier: Okay. So, in a recent video, you guys said something really powerful. You said, "It's fun to do what we do and that's the most important thing to us. No matter how big we get, we want to put craft back into soda." So what does this mean to you?

Brandon: Yeah, definitely. We try to have as much fun as we can at all times. We are three really good friends. And the people that we have working for us are people that we really trust and get along with, and are friends with. So we try to keep a real good environment around us. And I think that the side of putting craft back into soda, it just kind of, with our own take of bringing a really craftfullness into making a product that people see as a widely made product, a mass-produced, just putting craft back into that.

Javier: So, you guys grew up together. You knew each other since childhood. Can we just, each one of you, one-by-one, just introduce yourselves and say a little bit about your background, and how it was when you guys first met?

Mick: Yeah, absolutely. I'll start. I'm Mick, and Brandon and I have known each other since we were born, basically. Our parents were friends in college and we grew up, kind of our moms taking turns babysitting us. So we've been scheming for a very long time. I went to culinary school, cooked in Charleston for a brief period of time.

Then, started bartending in Charleston. And that's kind of where I picked up a lot of the interesting flavors, unique ingredients, that sort of thing. And then, from there, went on to start making soda with Brandon.

Javier: So Brandon, can you go? Just say a little bit about your background.

Brandon: Yeah, so, like Mick said, we grew up together, lifelong friends. He's known me for two years longer than I've known him. Me and Matt played soccer in high school together. Mick's dad was our coach.

Javier: Oh, okay.

Brandon: And so we grew up really, really close. I started working in restaurants when I was, like, 16, and worked from every job from washing dishes, bus, to in the kitchen, serving tables, running food, and bartending. And have really seen the whole restaurant side of things. And then, me and Mick started bartending together, and then we started making soda.

Javier: Okay, Matt, how about you? If your background...

Matt: I went to high school with these guys, and that's sort of [inaudible 00:05:34] maybe people before that. Like he said, Mick's dad coached our soccer team. That's how I met them and started being really good friends with Mick. And me and Mick always wanted to start a business together, and we sort of, through work experiences and school, sort of stumbled upon making soda [inaudible 00:05:58] to Brandon, also to reconnect with him. And the rest is history.

Javier: And so, you guys already knew before you started it that you wanted to start a business, you just didn't know what to start?

Mick: Yeah, exactly. I had played around with a lot of different ideas, you know, food truck type things, things that we could start up pretty easy and test out. And, you know, we thought there was a lot of food trucks in Charleston popping up at the time, and we thought it made sense to do something that was complementary to food trucks as opposed to just kind of going right in and competing, if that makes sense. So beverages were kind of the natural choice.

Javier: So, were you guys...? So, before 2012, so in 2011 and before that, were you guys making your own ginger beer and crafting your own sodas?

Mick: Yeah. Matt and I actually, a little after high school, played around with a lot of that. I think it was more the science side of it that we were interested in, just kind of how do things get carbonated? We learned about natural carbonation. We fermented our own ginger beers and they were terrible. They were really bad. But we learned a lot since then and they're not so bad anymore.

Javier: Wait, so what was so bad about them? What were you guys doing that didn't make it so...

Mick: They weren't balanced at all. It was basically just ginger, water, and sugar at the time, and yeast. We were using really low-quality yeast, like baker's yeast or bread yeast you just get in the store, instant yeast kind of stuff, and lots of off flavors. And we really just did it in our closets. Yeah. I think it was a day or two away from becoming alcohol at that point. It was pretty funky stuff. But it was fun. It was a good learning experience.

Javier: So then, one day, you guys saw a blog post about a group in Brooklyn, New York who were selling beverages at their flea market. Can you talk about that, and how did that change your guys' perspective?

Mick: Yeah, absolutely. I think, for us, seeing that, it seemed like such a cool idea and something so unique. And we thought, you know, when we first saw it, it was like, "Man, I wish we had that here." And, you know, it kind of dawned on us, "Well, why don't we just do that here?" We have such great produce in Charleston. We have such great access to all this stuff. Why can't we showcase some of those unique ingredients that we're growing here?

Javier: And so, yeah, like you said, you grew up in Charleston. It's known for its local produce, its fruits, its farmer's market community. There's a strong farm-to-table movement there, from what I see. So, how did this impact you and your philosophy for wanting to start the company at about this time?

Mick: Yeah, I think, for us, working in restaurants in Charleston, we picked a lot of that stuff up because there's a lot of emphasis and importance put on where you're getting your ingredients. And that kind of carried over to us and just was kind of a natural progression. We saw how much it benefitted the community, how much it benefitted, you know, guests going to the restaurants. They enjoyed seeing these things. The quality of the food was so much better. And so it just made sense to carry that over to what we were doing.

Javier: And so you guys were already working in restaurants and bartending, and you already had the culinary background. Like, Mick, you graduated from culinary school. And Matt and Brandon, you guys have culinary backgrounds, too, or?

Brandon: Just as much as the restaurants that we've worked in. Mick is the one with the real culinary background.

Javier: Okay. So, yeah, and you guys were playing around, making ginger beers, crafting your own drinks, you're growing up in the community where everyone has local produce, you want to start a business, and you're coming up with ideas, and then you see another company who's doing exactly what you want to do in another location. What was the turning point for you? When did you guys say, "Okay, let's do this?"

Brandon: I think it was when we got into the Charleston farmer's market. Basically, we're making drinks up until that point and we went out on a limb and tried out for our local farmer's market. And they actually do, like, tasters come by and taste your product, and they actually vote you in. And we did that, not knowing what would come out of it. And actually got into the farmer's market. And I think that the real shifting point, like, "We have to do something now." And we get to what we want to do.

Javier: And so, when you guys were starting out, you were still working full-time jobs. So, you were making the beverages in the morning, working at night. How did that work out?

Brandon: Yeah, so we would actually make the product at the different places that we made it, the restaurants. We would have to make it while they were not there. And the only time to do that is, I mean, restaurants close from anywhere from 2:00 to 3:00. Sometimes the latest workers are getting out of there at 3:30, 4:00 in the morning. And so we would have to get there at 3:30, 4:00 in the morning and then work until opening again. So, basically, walking in as the last person's leaving and leaving whenever the first shift person's coming in.

Javier: So how did you get the idea to just use the location that you were already working at as your laboratory or your testing ground?

Mick: It was basically, hey, who would let us use their space.

Brandon: Yeah.

Mick: You know, we, by law, had to be in a certified, Department of Health approved kitchen. And so, we just kinda asked around and said, "Hey, will anybody let us use their space, you know, in your off hours?" And we had a couple people who were nice enough to let us use it, so we just kind of, whenever we could get at the time, let us use the space until we got to our own space.

Brandon: Yeah, and it's funny, also, that the two places, it was actually three, two business, three buildings. Social was a place that I was working and knew the owner. And then, Andolini's Pizza Shop, I knew the owner over there, and actually worked at that restaurant as well. So it was the really close, at the time, bosses of mine really lent out a hand for us. Really helped us out a lot.

Javier: And so, what was in it for them to help you? Did you have to pay them or why did they want to help you guys out?

Brandon: I think, in the very beginning, it was helping us get off our feet. We did pay for the spaces that we were in, but it was definitely helpful on their side for the amount that we had to pay.

Mick: Because this is kind of part of Charleston, the community itself was very supportive. So when new things pop up, people just want to see cool stuff happen so we were very supportive of those things.

Brandon: Yeah.

Javier: Okay, so, yeah, when you... Okay, so now, you guys, this was...all of this that we're talking about still happened prior to 2012? Because in 2012, you launched it and everything was ready to go or?

Mick: It was definitely a series of steps. I think 2012 we launched in the farmer's market. We were using restaurant kitchens to kind of make it. And then through 2012, just kind of slowly progressed and kind of got our feet. But it was definitely a progression, not really, like, a ready to go kind of thing.

Javier: Okay. So now you have your kitchen ready to go. Do you remember your first time in the farmer's market? Can you guys share the story of the very first day you were there?

Mick: Yeah, absolutely.

Brandon: Yeah.

Matt: The first time, the first two hours, the farmer's market starts at 8:00 in the morning, and we're just pumped. We're jacked and ready to go. And no one wants soda at 8:00 in the morning. So we made our first sale at, like, 9:30, and I was thinking, "What am I doing?"

Brandon: We're gonna make it up.

Matt: Then, from 9:30 on, we just got rushed and we had an awesome day. We were so excited. I remember I was, "Oh."

Javier: So you were thinking what are you doing here, why are you selling these beverages and no one wants them in the morning? Is that what your mindset was?

Matt: Yeah. I was just, "Why is no one buying this right now?"

Brandon: Yeah, we didn't know that there was, like, basically, in the morning, people are just out there with, like, coffee and breakfast foods. And then, maybe like 9:30, 10:00, 11:00, it starts picking up. And then you are at peak hours getting crushed. And I think we saw every bit of emotion that day, from, like, we're not selling anything. Why does everybody have coffee instead of soda?

Mick: I think we were also very, you know, we didn't sleep the night before, kinda getting ready for it, so I think that had a lot to do with it as well.

Brandon: Yeah, I remember I was getting tablecloths at, like, 3:30 in the morning. Yeah. [inaudible 00:15:25] the night before and everything leading into it was insane.

Javier: Once the people started buying and it started becoming the afternoon, you said it was a flood of people and they were just buying and buying? Just everyone was interested and they wanted to purchase?

Brandon: Yeah.

Mick: Yeah. I think, especially that first day, at that point in the Charleston farmer's market, there wasn't a lot of beverage options. As I mentioned earlier, we were kinda looking to do something that was complementary to food trucks. And so there wasn't a lot of interesting beverages. And so, you know, us showing up, people were like, "Oh, there's something interesting to drink," besides coffee or tea. And so once that kind of word got around, it was definitely a fast-moving day.

Javier: So what were you guys actually selling originally? Because you've gone through so many flavor combinations. What was there on the first day or the first time period?

Mick: We had ginger beer for sure. We had honey basil for sure. I want to say we had apple ginger honey.

Brandon: I think we did.

Matt: I think it was lemon mint and strawberry jalapeno.

Brandon: Matt would know way better than we do. Yeah. He's got a really good memory.

Javier: And so you guys said that what made you guys stand out is that you were just offering something that wasn't available there, right?

Brandon: Yeah, it was just something new. And a beverage with, like, fresh spices and fresh herbs was definitely intriguing.

Javier: And how...

Mick: There's a very strong... Sorry. There's a very strong cocktail culture in Charleston as well. I think it being on a Saturday, especially tourists or locals in town, maybe they had some really cool cocktails the night before and came to the farmer's market and were seeing a lot of the same flavor combinations and attention to detail. You know, it kind of was like an extension of that cocktail culture, but non-alcoholic.

Javier: And so how were you guys storing? Because you were storing and serving, you had it in kegs, right?

Mick: Right.

Javier: And at first, there was a story where you guys were inside your home and you were gonna pour the keg but then it exploded or something in the house, or what?

Mick: Yeah. So there's, on the kegs we were using at the time, there is a pin you can pull to let excess pressure out. And the keg was a little too full of foam, and we had shaken it up a little too much, and, you know, we said, "Okay, it's either this one or this one." And we pulled the wrong one and soda went all over the house.

Brandon: Anybody that's listening that has seen a Cornelius keg would understand the different pieces and what...when you would not pull on this tab, and we just pulled it at the wrong time, the worst of times, and completely drenched everybody.

Javier: And so how did you even know to put soda in a keg? That seems like a new idea. For you guys it was just obvious to do that, or what other options did you think of besides putting it into a keg.

Brandon: I think that it was the very first...

Matt: I think we might have been watching something from Brooklyn Soda Works.

Brandon: Maybe.

Matt: That might have been. I don't...honestly, I don't even remember why we put it...how we even knew to put it in a keg.

Brandon: It's just it's a large vessel, and we needed something that was cheap that push soda out.

Mick: The reason we used kegs originally is because, maybe you guys don't remember, but the reason we used it is because the only other thing we could think of that uses lots of, you know, gallons of liquid at a time is beer. Beer, they're carbonating large volumes of liquid. They're storing, they're transporting, they are just, you know, dispensing large quantities. They deal with a lot of the same hurdles that we do, there's just alcohol in their product.

So it just kinda made sense for us to follow in those footsteps, kind of. We had a bunch of friends who started out as home brewers and grew up to a nanobrewery, and a microbrewery, and we've seen how these guys take these...you know, what works, started out as 1-gallon batches and then now they're making, like, 500-gallon batches, and carbonating it, same type of thing. And so, for us, it was, "Well we have a product, a liquid that we want to carbonate, dispense, store, distribute. Let's just use those same tools and tricks." And so that's kind of how the whole thing started.

Javier: And so I want to take a side step here. I want to try one of your drinks. What is each of your favorite beverage, of the flavors that you guys have bottled here.

Mick: Yeah.

Brandon: Nice.

Mick: I think my favorite is the citrumelo and fresh hop, just because the citrumelo is this really cool fruit. We get it from a farm in Ridgeville, South Carolina. And it's actually a hybrid of lemon and bitter Chinese orange. And so in the '40s, there was a guy that hybridized them and basically created the citrumelo. And it's kind of been hidden for a long time, but this farm in Ridgeville is kind of growing it and bringing it back to the marketplace.

And so, we thought it was a really interesting fruit. It kind of tastes like a grapefruit or a lemon, kind of between, and it's got a really interesting aroma, super kind of almost tropical. So, and being slightly bitter like a grapefruit and a little more acidic like a lemon, we wanted to pair it with something really aromatic and interesting.

So we chose hops to pair it with, to add a little bit more to the bitterness, but we didn't want to overpower it so we, essentially, dry hopped it, made, like, a tea almost out of the hops. And we used a certain variety of hop that has more of those tropical flavors to kind of near some of it and contrast the other half.

Brandon: Yeah, it's the Citra hops, right?

Mick: Yeah, we use Citra hops for that. So that's a really fun one. I think it shows a lot of really cool techniques and it's only available, the crop is only available for, like, maybe two months out of the year, right at the end of fall, early winter so that one's, like, very, very limited release. We actually don't have any more of them this year so it'll be next year before anybody will be able to get it.

Javier: I think I purchased your final inventory of this, right? But, so how about you, Matt? What's your favorite one?

Matt: Out of those two, I really like the...out of any flavor?

Javier: Or any flavor. Like, it could be...or even the ones that you're not selling.

Matt: Geez, because I really like the grapefruit elderflower. That's also a fan favorite I think, and I could probably drink that every day for the rest of my life and I'd be set.

Javier: And so, why do you like that flavor, specifically?

Matt: It's really, really refreshing, to be honest. I don't know what it is about it, but I didn't expect a grapefruit flavor to be the most popular one that we made. But at the farmer's market, it just started to rush and we're on that bandwagon.

Javier: Brandon, how about you? What's your favorite?

Brandon: Yeah, I think that we could all say a little bit to this, but my favorite's always the one that we're, like, actively working on. But so right now, I think that we're about to be making a peach flavor. And we're going through a bunch of different trials on what exactly we're gonna do, but it generally turns out to be the one that we just released. Out of the flavors that we have always, honey basil is probably my favorite just due to mixability.

And it's one of those flavors that you wouldn't think would be your favorite off the, like, right off the bat. But then, once you taste it, it's one of the most popular flavors we do.

Javier: Okay, so I'm gonna pick just one of the three at a random. I'll just pick this one. Oh, and it happens to be the citrumelo and hops.

Brandon: Yes.

Javier: All right. So, let me just look. The ingredients are water, pure cane sugar, citrumelo juice, whole leaf Citra hops. And the nutrition facts aren't listed here, but for some of the other ones, you're only using, like, for 6 ounces, 15 grams of sugar, or for 6 ounces, let's see, 17 grams of sugar. So it's really small amount of sugar, and there's no chemicals in these.

It's all pure ingredients. Can you talk more about that? Can you tell us more about, like using...what was the rationale for the ingredients that you're using? I don't see preservatives or caramel coloring and all that.

Mick: Yeah, it was very, very important to us to not add those things. You know, when we started, we were doing fresh soda by the glass in kegs. And when we release a retail product, we wanted it to have those same attributes. We didn't want to add any preservatives. We didn't want to add anything artificial whatsoever, no flavorings. It's very easy to kinda fall on the crutch of, "Oh, I want to add basil. I can just call a flavor house, and get basil flavor, and add it to it."

But I think you miss so much complexity when you don't use the actual ingredient. You know, you can get a pretty close approximation of those flavors, but there's so many little underlying elements to each of those ingredients that you don't have, that I think make a huge difference in the final product.

Javier: Okay. So I'm gonna just test it out real quick. And one thing that you guys mention is that it's important to smell it, right?

Mick: Yeah.

Javier: So talk about the...how does smell take any part in, how does the carbonation take part in the flavor?

Mick: Yeah, the carbonation, if you've ever had...well, let me put it... So, the CO2 being dissolved in it when the soda is poured, you know, it's all those bubbles kind of popping up, popping out. Those are carrying the aromatics of the soda up out of the glass.

Brandon: [inaudible 00:26:20]

Mick: Yeah. Like the aromatic oils, things like that. So that's why we do one aromatic ingredient with one fruit or kind of flavor ingredient, because it adds complexity, and without having... Since we have the bubbles, it carries those aromatics a lot more dramatically than if it was a still, flat drink.

Javier: Okay.

Brandon: On the nose of that one would be a lot of, obviously, hop aromas, citrus, but like lemon zest.

Javier: Mm-hmm.

Brandon: Those kind of notes.

Javier: That's exactly what I...

Brandon: [inaudible 00:26:53] up through the oils in the hops that are in there.

Javier: Yeah, it does start out with like a grapefruit, almost, yeah, lemon zest, and then a hoppy smell at the end. I'll just... Yeah, it's good. It's not too sweet, which is what I don't like, the drinks being too sweet either way, and it tastes like you're just drinking juice, fresh, pressed juice with sparkling water.

Mick: Absolutely. That's exactly what we're kinda going for.

Brandon: I think the goal is to make sure that it's not too anything. A lot of sodas or beverages, in general, are either, like, too dry, or too sweet, or too strong, or too anything. We try to find the balance in all those different places.

Mick: Balance is the key.

Javier: Yes.

Brandon: Yeah. We just want it to be perfect.

Javier: How do you get the right balance of the sweetness...

Mick: Lots of tests.

Javier: Huh?

Mick: Lots of testing, for sure.

Javier: So let's take this for...let's take the citrumelo and hop, for example.

Mick: Right.

Javier: Walk through the process of formulating the recipe, to meeting the farmers or getting the ingredients, and timeframes. So, let's start from the beginning. When did you...how did you even start with the idea of citrumelo and hop?

Mick: So, first things first is finding fruit. We release seasonal flavors, you know, pretty regularly, especially in kegs. We release one new seasonal flavor every month. And kinda the first step is finding a unique ingredient. So getting in touch with farmers, getting in touch with, you know, supplier, getting in touch with everybody we can to kinda say, "Hey, what's out there right now that people maybe aren't using or aren't being used in a beverage or that sort of thing?"

And so we got word of Cypress Hill Farm. They were growing citrumeloes and we had no idea what they were so we got our hands on some. And just started, you know, taste the fruit by itself, juice it, try, you know, different levels of dilution. Just kind of play with it all we can to find what we think is a really good balance with just the fruit itself. And in that process, we kinda get ideas for different aromatics.

Do we want to use a hard spice? Do we want to use a fresh herb? Do we want to use, you know, a unique sweetening agent? Whatever that may be. Just kind of throwing around ideas. And when you have that single fruit flavor, you can kinda taste it and say, "Okay, what's this missing?" And in that specific example, the citrumelo, it was really delicious, really tart, and, you know, easy drinking, but it wasn't very complex.

And so by adding the hops...we tried a couple different herbs as well, and I think that we also look at the seasonality. You know, maybe in the fall, late fall, early winter, we're probably not gonna use something like mint, but hops made sense because they have preservative qualities to them and a lot of, you know, beer is made during that kind of harvest season time, and store it for the winter. So it was kinda carrying over those ideas. Hops made, you know.

So once we decided we wanted to use hops, Brandon sat down for about two days and he got hops at every temperature within, like, five degrees, and then specific times in, like, two-minute intervals, and had about 30 samples of hop water. And we tasted each one and said, "Okay, this one is probably gonna be too bitter for it. This one doesn't have enough aromatics." And then kind of just narrowing it down, and then testing each of those.

So very, very methodical process to find the highest extraction of aromatics while kinda leaving some of the bitterness behind. So that's kind of the steps that we take is breaking down each ingredient into the different approaches and then kind of finding what fits with each ingredient.

Javier: So, this is really important, because this is where you're bringing craft back into soda. I feel that you're experimenting, you're trying the hops at different temperatures, you're putting different levels of sweeteners, testing out the concentration levels. You said it only takes two days, but from the idea to, say, "Okay, here is the final version," how long does that take you?

Brandon: It could be...I would say a general start to finish seasonal that we've never made before, it's generally about a two-week process. And that goes from the day that we sit down and we say, "What are we making?" We find out what's in season. We find, we get that thing, taste it, figure out what, at least theoretically, what direction we want to move in, and maybe come up with two or three, like, modifiers or herbs and spices.

And then, go and start testing. And that can take a couple days. And then, source the amount that you need. And then, source the herb or spice that you're using. I'd say two weeks is about [inaudible 00:32:30].

Mick: Yeah, two weeks is a good average. I think there's also some flavors that just come together really naturally and really easily, and they take a few days. And then there's some that we've been working on for two years and still haven't quite, you know, figured out yet. Stuff like we've been working on a watermelon soda and that one we've just been having a lot of trouble with, so it kinda just depends, each one. But I think two weeks is definitely a good average.

Javier: So what is your hardest part?

Mick: Hardest part. Hardest part.

Brandon: Of the entire process?

Javier: Of the two-week phase of...yeah, what's the most challenging when coming up with a new formula?

Mick: Making a decision is probably the hardest. Like, say, okay, we're done. We're walking way. This is the right answer. That's kinda the hardest part because you can always just tweak it forever and never be happy. So saying, "Okay, this is as good as it's gonna get. We're at the point of diminishing returns. We're good." I think that's the hardest part.

Javier: And so once you have a formula, let's say with this citrumelo and hops, you have, let's say, two or three different versions that you like. It's difficult to see which one is the final version, but because you're at farmer's markets, do you release samples of your different versions and do taste tests to see what the customers like better of the different varieties?

Mick: Absolutely. Yeah, that's been the biggest benefit to taking the farmer's market route, is having that test market and being able to put a flavor out and say, you know, "What do you think?" And not even put it out there like we're testing it, just sell it as normal and say, you know, what are people's reactions? Is this flavor selling? Is it not? Are people liking it? And we give out samples at the market as well.

So, people ask for a sample, you know, gauging their reaction on this flavor. Did they go for grapefruit, like, "One more," or did they want to try the new one? That sort of thing. It's just even a flavor people are interested in. That's where it's great to have that test market there.

Javier: And so, I understand that, yeah, when you're testing it with the customers you get the immediate feedback and you get an idea of, "Okay, what does this local market like?" But how do you convey the message of something that...let me go onto the sorghum thyme. So, this is really popular in the region where you guys are at, but the sorghum, specifically, and that's a sweetener that you guys are using, how can you translate flavor and smell to an audience that's never heard of or even tasted these ingredients outside of the South region.

Mick: I think there's two key points to that is to build trust. You know, people that have tried our other flavors hopefully like them. And if they do, they would trust us to try something interesting. With all of our flavors, we try to pair something you're familiar with with something you might not be familiar with. For example, you know, in the grapefruit and elderflower, everybody knows grapefruit. Maybe not as many people know grapefruit.

Or, other way around. Everyone's had grapefruit. Maybe not everybody knows elderflower. So we kind of hope to build trust in that way so that when there is a new ingredient, you know, you would trust that we've handled it the most appropriate way, we've respected that ingredient, and kind of showcased it the best we could. And on the other side, is the flavor descriptions on the bottles. I think that translating what those ingredients are to people, kind of explaining where they come from, and the actual flavor notes on the bottle give a little bit of...

So, in the example of sorghum thyme, sorghum, the sorghum that we're getting, we're sourcing from a family farm in Tennessee, really high-quality, they've owned it for generations. They're using traditional methods to extract it. Really, really, really high-quality sorghum. And so, because of that, when we dilute it at the level we dilute it at, it actually ends up tasting like apples.

And so you may see sorghum and go, "I don't even know what sorghum is," but on the bottle it says, you know, "Sorghum tastes kinda like apples in this specific example." And so, I think those two things: building trust and [inaudible 00:37:06] flavor descriptions.

Javier: So, one thing on here, which is what you said, you're working with local farmers. This one happens to be the Muddy Sorghum Mill in Tennessee. And you put it right on the label that this is where you're getting your product. So, there's two things that I see that are really important. One, you're working with people who are local. The other one you mentioned, Ridge Hill Farm, right?

Mick: Cypress Hill Farm, yeah.

Javier: What is it? Which one?

Mick: Cypress Hill Farm.

Javier: Oh, yeah. So the Cypress Hill Farm in Ridge Mill, and you put Muddy Pond in Tennessee. So, you're working with the local community and you're transparent about where you're getting your ingredients. Those are two really big things. Can you talk more about the transparency and working with your local community?

Mick: Yeah. As far as the transparency goes, I think it's very important to us. Like, we're seeking out the best ingredients we can possibly find, and so we want to celebrate the people that are producing those ingredients. We think what Cypress Hill and what Muddy Pond are doing is awesome, and we think it's such a great resource for people.

And it also, you know, kind of promotes what they're doing and says, "You know, if you're looking for sorghum, this is the place to get sorghum. If you want to get citrumelo in the area, this is the place to get citrumelo." And kind of encouraging them, hopefully generating interest in what they're doing so they can continue to do it, and it makes them want to continue doing what they're doing.

Javier: Yeah, and I think that says a lot about your brand. And like you said, building trust, building relationships. And you said meeting the famers personally where you're sourcing your ingredients, that they're putting as much love and care into their product that you're putting into creating your product. So it's a win-win for everybody.

Mick: And, when you get to meet the person that made the strawberries you know, or blueberries, or whatever, that you're using, and you see how much care they put into it, it makes...kind of encourages you to do the best that you can because you want to, you know, pay respect to that. You want to take it further. You don't want to put out a bad product. They put so much work up until this point, you want to continue that.

Javier: Yeah. And so, going back to the farmer's markets, you guys would wear white aprons and call yourselves Soda Jerks. Can you tell us what soda jerks are and why you're so proud of calling yourselves the Jerks?

Brandon: Yeah, so soda jerk is classically somebody who would dispense the concoctions made by, like, pharmacists in soda shops. And they were, I think it was a very playful term in that the people that were doing the term, the job of jerk, was probably a young male that was just full of energy and able to work a crowd when it came to being behind a bar. I think that we see ourselves in a lot of the same ways, just being playful, and putting out, in the end, what the customer wants.

Mick: And technically, the term soda jerk came from the motion. They would mix syrups in the pharmacy to make sodas, seltzers, that sort of thing. And they had a soda dispensing arm, and you would jerk it forward and then jerk it back to mix it up, and that would dispense the soda onto the syrup and make the beverage. And so that jerking motion, that's where they got their name soda jerk. And we just kinda thought it was playful and fun to say, "Oh, we're jerks." You know, and kinda carry that, in both ways.

Javier: And carrying the tradition of the craft, right?

Brandon: [inaudible 00:41:07]

Javier: Carrying the tradition of the craft to what you're doing today when a lot of the soda-making process is industrialized and manufactured, and using, yeah, flavoring agents and chemicals. You guys are doing each batch by hand, correct? And you're still doing it.

Mick: That's right.

Brandon: Yep.

Javier: So, I want to talk about that in a little bit, but at the farmer's markets, you guys were getting publicity almost right away, it seems like, within months. And I feel that that had a snowball effect. Why do you think it was so popular to share your story?

Mick: Well, one, we're in Charleston, South Carolina, which is definitely under a microscope of sorts. There's a lot of attention on Charleston right now, and so I think we've benefitted from that pretty greatly. We're definitely fortunate for that. Secondly, you know, we had been kind of in the restaurant industry. So I was a bartender at the time. Brandon was working behind a bar at the time. And so you got to meet a lot of people.

And we were very excited about what we were doing, so we'd tell everybody, "Hey, you gotta get to the farmer's market. You gotta come to the farmer's market. I started a soda company. This is really fun." And eventually, you run into people who want to tell the story, or have us have to tell a story in some ways, and we met some people from a local magazine and they said, "Oh, this sounds really cool. We want to write about you guys."

We did a really fun photo shoot for that, and that kind of took off and got more attention, and more attention. And it's kind of been an interesting thing, I think, to see how that's grown as, you know, we take those opportunities and try to make the most of them. And that certainly helped that situation.

Javier: Do you feel that your initial publicity and...do you think that's what helped you grow the most?

Mick: I think the publicity certainly helped, but I think just waking up every day, going to the farmer's market, people being aware of where we were gonna be, when we were gonna be there, you know, even when we were exhausted and had worked the whole week before we were always there kind of just grinding away. And I think you just are in front of enough people for long enough that people start to remember you and start to say, "Oh, we should go have some soda."

And I think that also being moving to having kegs in restaurants, that helped a lot, too, because now we're at the farmer's market, but you can get it on tap at a handful of restaurants around town. That really helped. And just being open to doing, you know, events, and charity events, and kind of any opportunity that we could take to showcase our soda, we would take it. It's just kind of how we've always been, is get in front of as much people as we possibly can. I think that's what's really helped.

Brandon: It comes down to, like, just, like Mick was saying, we'd show up in the farmer's market every single time, at the same exact time. I think it's all about creating trust and repeating things, making sure that the customers that you're serving know what to expect from you and get it every time. I think that that's been one of the biggest things for us.

Javier: So it's showing up every single day.

Brandon: [inaudible 00:44:40]. Say that again.

Javier: Oh, showing up every single day, and being consistent, and being present, and just putting in the hard work that...

Brandon: Yeah, and attentive, and listening to what the customers are saying. It's giving them something to trust in.

Javier: And so, about this time, you needed to work with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Environmental Control. What did you need to do with these agencies?

Brandon: So, in the very beginning, working out of restaurants and working with the farmer's market, it was widely known that if you have a food product, you have to deal with...you have to have a DHEC certified kitchen. And so we started working with DHEC, and they do a lot with the retail, like farmer's market style stuff. And there was a long, I would call it a mix-up, but it wasn't really.

There was not very many...there wasn't a single agency that knew exactly how to regulate what we were doing. And so there was a big learning curve that we needed to go on in figuring out those.

Mick: So, the Department of Agriculture dealt with fresh, you know, produced products. And the Department of Health dealt with specifically carbonated products. So there was a little bit of overlap between the two, and so there was about a six-month period where we didn't know exactly who to defer to. Some of the rules were a little bit different.

And so, you know, the first, I would say the first almost nine months was just finding one authority that the other would defer to so we could just deal directly with them. So that was definitely a big hurdle, but eventually we got through that and it's been great since then.

Javier: Did you need to get approvals or licensing from them before you went to the farmer's market? Or it was after?

Brandon: It was once we started actually selling. So it was April 7th was, I imagine that we probably were certified maybe a week before the 7th of 2012, in April.

Javier: And so you also got the juice hazard analysis and control point.

Mick: Yeah.

Javier: Why was that one necessary?

Mick: I think that was we knew Department of Health, there was a lot of...it's a new product, and I think that, especially in this area, no one really knew exactly how to regulate it. So, we would kind of find information, conflicting information, and say, "Hey, I think it's supposed to be this way. We should be able to do this based on this." And they would say, "Oh, I don't think that's true. Maybe you should check on this. Is there anybody [inaudible 00:47:19] you can find?"

And so, we found that juice has a certification and said, "If we go get the certification and we connect you with the authority that provided this certification, would that allow us a little bit more leeway? Would that allow us...would you take into consideration the concerns that we have?" And he said, "Yeah."

So we went out and took the class, came back, and were able to kind of have a little bit more factual basis for a lot of the things that we wanted to do and a lot of the concerns that we had. We were able to move forward a lot faster.

Brandon: Yeah, came back confident in the whole process as to what we were doing was for [inaudible 00:47:59] and moving forward, we knew exactly what we needed to do.

Mick: And the biggest thing, I think, as fun as it is to make flavors and to make soda, things like that, it's still a food product and there's a lot of concerns with that, handling material properly, and we don't ever want to make anyone sick, ever, so we take really, really great lengths to make sure the processes that we have are safe and compliant, things like that. So it just made sense for us to go there and make sure we knew everything we needed to know to produce this product.

Javier: And so, you guys bootstrapped 100% of this business while working full-time. So how do you handle the finances, and how do you...you didn't get any funding. How did that work out?

Mick: Matt, [inaudible 00:48:50].

Matt: Yeah, I would say mostly by the seat of our pants. We were very, very tired.

Mick: If it were up to me and Brandon, we probably wouldn't have made it as far. Matt's the one that's always like, "Pump the brakes."

Brandon: Yeah. You can't spend that much money.

Matt: I think one thing that I'll do is we sort of...we kept our jobs so we could pump the company sort of that way. All the profits of the company were put back into the company. It was a huge sacrifice, but we sort of worked really hard to do that, and that's why we were gonna keep our jobs. That was paying the bills for us, and then everything covers [inaudible 00:49:30].

Javier: So, yeah, Matt, tell us about a time when, you know, there was something really important you guys wanted to do with the business, but the financing, you didn't have enough profits and there was a conflict there. How do you handle situations where you may to spend the money to expand and grow, but you don't have that in the savings? Like, what's the balance that you work on?

Matt: That's a really interesting question. We just had to get really creative. We wanted to sort of expand the wholesale part of our business. There was a lot of equipment that we needed. So we started talking to breweries about how they did it. And became friends with one that's close by here called [inaudible 00:50:18] Beer Growing.

And we asked them if we could rent space from them, and they had a lot of equipment and the space and the infrastructure that we needed to sort of get ourselves off our feet. And we went in there at night, and sort of took the next step in our business and got our product into the kegs, started selling those.

Brandon: Yeah, without investing in the building that we needed, we just kept getting, I guess...thinking really long and hard about we can save money without getting our own building.

Javier: And so...

Brandon: [inaudible 00:50:53]

Javier: So how do...

Matt: [inaudible 00:50:56] period when working with [inaudible 00:50:58], we had 50 accounts and enough money to sort of, "Hey, we can actually do this." And we were, I'd say [inaudible 00:51:08] facility, kind of down the street from them, so that was pretty cool.

Javier: Yeah, so I want to talk about that. You guys, in the facility right now, you guys got this in 2014, right?

Mick: Right.

Javier: So, at that point, you had been able to save enough to produce everything in-house. And what point do you say that you can't work a second job? At what point do you need to just go full-time into Cannonborough?

Mick: Yeah, that's a good question.

Brandon: I think it was the easiest for me to move in. The last job that I held before I was full-time with us was at a pizza shop, which happened to be the same pizza shop that we were working out of. And it was easy because all I was doing there was, like, running pizzas out, washing dishes, and thinking about the business. So it was a really...once I was ready to go in full-time, it was really easy transition.

The job didn't entail much, and I would say that it was a little more difficult on their sides to go from a job that they'd either had for a long time or have a really high position at. So mine was easy.

Mick: Yeah. I think it's always a tough thing to say, you know, what makes sense to go full-time? And I think having the security of the business performing where it needs to, it's kind of, I think, a comfort level for each individual person. Like, where are you comfortable? Are you comfortable eating Ramen for a solid year? If so, go for it now. If not, it's kind of a balance of the sooner you start doing your business full-time, the faster your business is gonna grow, the better it's gonna do.

But, are you gonna be able to support yourself from that business? That's really the question. You know, when your business first starts out, you're probably not gonna be making enough money. You know, you imagine, "Oh, I have my own business." There's growing pains that take place in those first few years, and you've got to get through those. So it's just a level of where you're comfortable, I think.

Javier: The same for you, Matt? When did you feel it was right, at the right moment? Did all of you go full-time at the same time or each one individually?

Mick: Individually.

Matt: I would say that it was just sort of a realization that if some of us weren't going full-time, that it was gonna affect where we want the business to be, or was [inaudible 00:53:49] change what we wanted it to be, I guess.

Brandon: [inaudible 00:53:53]

Matt: I just gotta push ahead and do what I gotta do, and hopefully it happens. Yeah, it's like...

Brandon: Hopefully, you nailed the switch time.

Matt: Yeah.

Brandon: As in, how much longer do I need to be working and making money, and then, "Oh, my God. I'm going to keel over." And then, make the switch, and then hope you made the right decision.

Matt: I was sort of lucky. I had a really great boss at [inaudible 00:54:17], little [inaudible 00:54:19] place that I was working at. Like he was...I'd be like, "Yeah, I'm quitting now. My business is doing really well." And then, like a month later, I'm like...

Brandon: [inaudible 00:54:28]

Matt: ..."I may come in to work in a couple days, if that's cool." And then like, "Yeah, I'll probably be quitting again." And like, that's...

Javier: Wait, so you quit and then you went more, like, two months later?

Matt: Yeah. I did that probably, like, two or three times.

Brandon: [inaudible 00:54:46]

Matt: And his name is Nick Key and he's very, really, really supportive and definitely, like, people like that, sort of, [inaudible 00:54:55] is you don't really care about them, but he is probably, in those early years, just as responsible for our success as any of the three of us.

Brandon: This is true, yeah.

Javier: Yeah, going back, you said, into influential and supportive. Is there any other people who were really supportive for you guys starting out? It seems like everybody was supportive.

Matt: Yes.

Mick: There's a lot. Yeah, absolutely.

Matt: There are so many that I'm gonna...we're gonna leave some out, I know that.

Javier: Yeah.

Matt: [inaudible 00:55:25]

Brandon: Of course, our families have been extremely supportive. And I mean, I think a big shout-out goes to [inaudible 00:55:34]. There's a guy that we know that has a beverage brand of his own, Bittermilk, and Joe and Mary [inaudible 00:55:44] have been huge. We used to work for them at the [inaudible 00:55:47]. And now we're, like, 30 seconds from their building, and they've got a production facility down the street.

And kind of just bounce ideas off each other all the time. The breweries around Charleston, I can't say enough about the brewing community in Charleston. We've seen other brewing communities and I think that there's a lot of competition in a lot of markets. And I think there's definitely a competitive market in Charleston, but everybody is willing to lay down and help everybody else. It's really nice around here. Local breweries in Charleston have been great.

Javier: And so you guys started working with Rafa Distributing as well as another, Artisan Beverage Group?

Brandon: Yep.

Javier: How is that working out and how did you choose these distributors and groups to work with?

Mick: So we used to...

Brandon: You gonna take it?

Mick: Yeah. That's a great question. I think it's tough to decide the right distributor to go with, especially when you're a small brand because you don't really have much weight, you know? You've got to work for everything you get from distributors. We were very, very lucky with Rafa Distributing. They are...with our product, because it's in kegs, it fits in with craft beer and that sort of thing.

We decided to go with beer distributors to distribute our product, and we got really lucky with Rafa. They are incredible, incredible, small distributor in the state of South Carolina that just deals with very, very high-end beers. And it was a really great fit, because they're used to selling interesting, unique products that they don't have very much of, so they're highly allocated and that sort of thing. So it was a perfect fit, and they're a great crew.

They're a small team just like us. And they've done a lot to kind of put us out there in South Carolina. And so, in the last months, we've expanded to Georgia, east Tennessee, and North Carolina as well. And so we're just kinda getting to know those distributors as well. And it was a tough decision to go with the distributors that we chose to go with, but ultimately, made some great choices, met some really great people, they have great teams, and we're excited about continuing those relationships and learning more from them as we grow.

Javier: And Artisan is helping you expand outside of South Carolina?

Mick: That's right.

Brandon: Yep, and then Charlotte and surrounding area.

Mick: They are in Charlotte. They're very similar to Rafa in that they're a high-end craft beer distributor in the Charlotte area, North Carolina.

Javier: And you reached out to them or they reached out to you? How did you make the connection?

Brandon: I think, a lot of the times, it works either way. I think that Artisan reached out to us. Our Rafa, I was actually at a customer of ours. I was at a bar watching a soccer game and started to talking to a guy that, now, happens to be the rep for us here in Charleston with Rafa Distributing. He was like, "I gotta get your number and we've got to talk to you. I think that we should carry your products."

And it's cool, because, like, the companies that we work with are, like, we can actually call our sales rep and we can say, "Hey, how are things going? Are you having any issues? What might they be? And then, maybe, I can give you some of my experience." But we can really talk to them personally like that. And I think that's how it really needs to be for a product like ours that's new to market.

Javier: And so what is one of the biggest challenges trying to communicate through the distributor sales reps to get you into a location when that location has so many other sales reps and distributors trying to get the product into their spot? How do you communicate that?

Brandon: Is it how do we deal with...?

Javier: So, getting new clients and working with the sales reps from the distributors so that they convey your message to a larger, like, let's say, expanding outside of South Carolina? So that you're not personally talking to the new location, but the distributors are doing that for you.

Brandon: Oh, absolutely. Good point. There definitely needs to be a...you have to spend enough time with the people that are selling your products for them to understand what you would say. And then, really, just understand the product.

Mick: Ultimately, they're balancing so many different products that to...you really have to be there and develop a relationship with your distributors to, you know, incentivize them to put your product. I think if it's just a brand without any personal backing behind it, you know, they see tons of those every month. And so, going there, meeting them, doing ridealongs, going into the accounts with people, showing them, for our product especially, there's...we've kind of developed a way to introduce the product and specific points to get excited about.

You know, for example, in restaurants, it's a great mixer. It, on tap, does really, really well for a lot of different reasons. It's a high-quality non-alcoholic option and it's a great mixer, like we said. It's high-volume and high-quality as far as cocktails go. And these are things that might not be apparent at first if you just happened to get a PDF in an email. But, when you actually get to spend time with the reps, they see how you communicate with, you know, potential customers and accounts, and that kind of rubs off and they're able to sell a lot easier.

Javier: Do you think that because your beverages are so different from everything else out there on the market that that helps, or it hinders your ability to get into these new locations?

Mick: I think there's, like, I would say, like, 20% of the accounts it helps. They are kinda on the cutting edge. They're excited about new things. They're excited about unique things, and they want to utilize them. But I think the vast majority of accounts just, you know, for a number of reasons, kinda just have a plan that's working for them and they don't want to rock the boat too much because they're doing well or that sort of thing.

You know, saying, "Hey, I want you to take a beer off tap and put a fresh soda on tap," shocks a lot of people. "Why would I do that? That doesn't make any sense." So that's where a lot of those informational things come in handy. And showing them that it drives cocktail sales, and that makes the tap more valuable to the restaurant, those sort of things, they go a long way. And if reps don't have that information, then it's a much, more difficult sell.

Brandon: Definitely. I think the positionship from somebody that doesn't know that they want it yet until they say yes, is once they figure out how it can work for them. So it's obviously a different product and they taste it and they like it. And it doesn't actually trigger until you can tell them how it can help their cocktails and their non-alcoholic options. And make a bar that's doing really high-quality beverages, make them faster.

And a place that's [inaudible 01:03:22] may not be, like, at the top, having really high-end cocktails coming out without having to take any more time doing it. So once it appeals to that, that's when the shift goes.

Mick: There's a critical mass, as well, over an area. It's tough at first, but the more accounts that you gain, the easier it is to get to other accounts because people have seen it around town and say, "Oh, yeah. I think I've seen that." And that's kind of a door open there. So once you kind of hit that critical mass, it becomes a lot easier to grow [inaudible 01:03:54].

Javier: And are you working, using your social media accounts, or working with potential customers that they ask the restaurant or the new accounts...or they're requesting that these companies carry your beverages?

Mick: Yeah, that's definitely been...social media has been great for us in that regard, because there are people who follow it and say, "Oh, this is perfect for..." Basically, by making posts that show how to use the product, whether it is, you know, interesting ways that restaurants are using it, or, you know cocktails that restaurants have put together for it.

Just kind of showcasing the product, how it works from, an end consumer, somebody that buys a retail bottle or the restaurant itself, when somebody, you know, is just checking their social media and sees, "Oh, man. That sounds like a great cocktail. I want to make that," whether it's a bar owner or a retail customer, that drives a lot of that interest as well.

And we definitely have people from all over the country saying, "Hey, I own a small coffee shop. I saw your soda. How do I get it?" That sort of thing, and that's been awesome. It's a great feeling to see those things.

Brandon: Well, the thing I think, when it comes to social media things that we've done, me and Mick went on a sales trip together, and Mick reached out to social media and said, "Hey, we're going here. We're gonna be doing sales for the next couple days." And basically just reached out to our community and said, "Where should we go?" And it just started lighting up and we had a good trip, a really, really successful trip.

Mick: It was great to be able to walk into a potential new account and say, "Hey, we have a new product. We think it would be a good fit and our social media followers said that this would be a good place and do want to see it here." So that kind of opens the door as well.

Javier: Yeah. And so, what kind of success have new accounts seen once they switch over to Cannonborough?

Mick: It's been good. We're still...as far as outside of South Carolina we're still relatively young in these other areas, so we're still getting a lot of information back from them. It's, at most, been, I think, less than a month in Georgia and maybe two or three months in North Carolina, something like that.

Brandon: [inaudible 01:06:11]

Mick: Yeah, it's maybe around two months. So we're still learning a lot of that, but the response has been great so far. It's fun to have people in other areas say, "Oh, you're finally here," that sort of thing. Like, the Charlotte area, for example, we had a lot of people that would say, "Oh, please come to Charlotte." [inaudible 01:06:29] we got there, kind of a response, it felt really good to go into those new areas where you don't feel like you really know anybody, but to kind of have that little bit of a base built up.

Javier: And so, yeah, back in the early days, you were filling up refillable growlers and then you eventually moved over to the current...the 750 milliliter bottles, and you got the pasteurization process to...how did you guys get it pasteurized and how did you guys end up bottling in this format, sealing it, keeping the carbonation in there?

Mick: Yeah, so first off, the growlers, those were actually kind of a stepping stone for us. We didn't have the money to buy the equipment that we needed to produce the 750 bottles, so for us, you know, people said, "I want to take this home. Is there any way to get bottles? Can I take it home?" We didn't so, you know, we looked again to the craft beer industry and a lot of breweries, you know, they don't have the equipment to bottle or can, so they sell growlers.

And so it made sense for us to just buy a growler, brand it, and if you want to take it home, here's a growler you can have, and it's a nice bottle. That's where things...so it's kind of a stepping stone between bottles and just selling it straight by the glass. And it allowed us to kind of expand further. People would have that bottle in their home, the growler, and people would ask about it, and that sort of thing, word of mouth, that helped out a lot, too.

And that allowed us to have an additional revenue stream to help us save up for bottling faster. With bottling, the ideal goal is to get it into single serve portions, but the equipment was, again, outside of our price range. And so the 750s were kind of another stepping stone to say, "Okay, well, it's gonna have to all be manual processes. We can't afford automatic equipment. So let's go to 750 milliliters because we can produce way more of them in a shorter period of time."

So there's less man hours being used to produce, you know, these higher volume units. And basically, when we were designing the way that our soda operation worked, we looked at how these automated pieces of equipment worked, and just simplified them to make them all manual. So for example, our counterpressure bottle filler, it works entirely manually, we cap them manually.

The pasteurization was a way to extend the shelf-life of the product without having preservatives or any kind of artificial ingredients. It's kind of a...you don't really see that method with soda ever. And it allows us...essentially, if we didn't pasteurize and we put the bottles on a shelf, they would last about a week on the shelf and they would explode. So we definitely don't want that. So pasteurization allows us to go beyond that.

The pasteurization unit that we wanted to get was, again, outside of our price range so Brandon essentially broke down exactly how the pasteurizer worked and, using some resources online, built his own pasteurizer using water pumps, a kind of insulated tank, and a hot water heater. You can explain that pretty good.

Brandon: Yeah, I mean, I think you did a good job. It's just a...like Mick said, it's all the pieces that were in the higher end pasteurizer, just simplified. And I knew that I could build it a lot cheaper. And so now we have a fully functional, always getting better piece of equipment that we love.

Javier: And it seems like a lot of the steps along the way you had to build your own equipment, right?

Brandon: Yeah, I think that's just how it is, especially in this field. There's a lot of things that are specifically meant for beer, and specifically meant for wine, and specifically meant for these other things, and we find ourselves in a not very...there's not a lot of companies out there that need the things that we need. So the companies that make those products just haven't made them for us yet. It's just not a thing.

Mick: I think, too, we were developing the next step of the plan. We start with what's the ideal. Here, if we had all the money in the world, here's what it would look like. And then, the realization that we don't, so how can we have that same result but without that really, really nice look. If that makes sense. And so as we grow, we get better and better equipment.

You know, things are better and smoother now than they've ever been, and a year from now, they'll be better and smoother than they were a year ago, if that makes sense. Just kind of continuing to grow, but taking measured steps, not running straight into them. Taking out a bunch of loans and buying a bunch of equipment, and being kind of in deep water. We're just kind of slowing wading out, making methodical steps.

Brandon: Yeah, proving concepts and making sure that everything makes sense.

Javier: I like that you're taking pieces of what would have been an automated process and breaking it down to the components and doing it manually, so that you understand how it works, and so that it works just for you. And then, eventually, you'll scale it up to...

Brandon: Exactly. And now, we know, like, at the very base...like, we built our own machine. Like, we understand everything that we're doing so fully. And I think that's what you have to do if you're gonna go into business for yourself. You have to just take it like it's your...nobody else is gonna learn this stuff for you, and you have to know it in and out. And it definitely gives us a good insight to how all the equipment works [inaudible 01:12:41].

Javier: And so, you guys know the processes really well through trial and error. Are you documenting and systematizing all this information or you just have it in memory?

Brandon: I think some of it's in memory. A lot of it's in...we have some notebooks from whenever we first started and [inaudible 01:13:03]. So a few notebooks of experiments that we've done, flavors maybe, things that we want or wish to have. Or, things that I'm actively building right now. Just kind of keep logs in the book. But so we've recorded a lot of stuff. At this point, it's like looking back through, it's like, "Ugh, I remember when I thought that way. I remember when I was that dumb." But you kinda see the progression of yourself looking back through these books.

Javier: And so, somewhere, you guys said that you can read all the books, you can read the how-tos on how to do something, but it doesn't work for what you guys are trying to do so you go a different process. And it looks like that's what you're doing every step along the way.

Brandon: Yeah.

Mick: Yeah. Yeah, the how-to books are great and we definitely read as many as we could possibly get our hands on, but at the end of the day, just diving in sometimes, and just getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn. It's best to have that base knowledge.

Matt: We like how-to books. We like reading. We're always asking people. We're like, "Hey, you guys do something a little similar to this. How did you do this?" That's the most...that's been [inaudible 01:14:14] effective for us.

Brandon: Yeah, I always say that we could write the book on how to not make soda a lot simpler than we could just tell somebody how to do it. As in what we do is derived from a lot of trial and error, and it just seems to work in this way. Just keep on learning. Because, I mean, we're not gonna stop making mistakes, but it's just learning it and making sure that we know that, and are humble to it.

Javier: Yeah, and that would be an interesting book, how to not make soda.

Brandon: Really long, long book. A lot of commas and run-on sentences.

Javier: No, that'd be interesting for people who are just starting out and you can help the process for other people. But going back to the shelf-life, how long is the shelf-life for these? Because this one says 2017.

Mick: Yeah.

Brandon: That means that it was made one year prior to that date.

Javier: So just about...oh, one-year shelf-life you're saying, right?

Mick: Yeah, exactly.

Javier: Okay, and so that's good to know, because some bottling, they say it was born on a certain date, and then the best buy date is another one. So we know it was made one year prior to the date.

Mick: Exactly.

Brandon: Yep.

Javier: So we know how fresh it is. And if it goes beyond the best buy date, would you still recommend drinking it or no?

Mick: I would not recommend drinking it, only because it's not gonna hurt you, but it's not as good as it could or should be. And we did a lot of...the first two years, we did extensive shelf-life testing, just to kind of see when do these flavors start to drop off? And you just lose so much of the aromatics and the awesome delicate flavors that we really want to be there, that, you know, if you were to taste it, it might be as exciting, especially if it was your first time trying it. You might not be that impressed, and we want people to really get to experience all the hard work that goes into the soda.

Brandon: It's like the acidity becomes less sharp. The fresh flavors become a little bit dull. And that's just not the way we want anybody to experience us for the first time.

Javier: And so, just going back on the side. You guys started your website in 2012, and it was as a blog. And then you recently, this year, changed over to Shopify, and now you're selling these 750 milliliter bottles online. How is that working out for you guys?

Mick: It's been great. I think the initial website we had was great and we loved it, but it didn't have a lot of functionalities. And just having three guys, two of which, at the time, were still working almost full-time, it was hard to keep up with the blog format. We weren't generating content as much as we probably should have been. And so, simplifying the website in that way and now that we have shelf-stable bottles, because at the time when we had the WordPress website, we couldn't ship a product because it was so cost prohibitive.

It was glass. It was heavy. It had to be kept cold. So, it would have cost, you know, $50 to $60 to ship it an hour away. So we just decided not to, and we decided to focus on getting a shelf-stable product that we could ship at room temperature. And once we had that product, we really wanted an e-commerce portion of the website. And Shopify just made it really easy for us to execute that ourselves, you know, throw up some pictures and kind of generate the content, and it's ready to go for you. And it's been very smooth, really great experience, and I really like Shopify, personally.

Javier: And so what kind of response have you been getting from customers? Are you getting purchases from certain parts of the world or certain parts of the country that you're like, "Whoa, how did they hear about Cannonborough?"

Mick: Yeah, absolutely. It's always a fun thing to see, you know, different parts of, like... You know, obviously, the continental U.S., when we first started out, getting an order from, like, Texas, [inaudible 01:18:34], or Chicago, or New York and it's like, "How are these people hearing about it?" And then, Hawaii, and you know...

Brandon: New Zealand.

Mick: New Zealand. All sorts of crazy places. And it just never gets old. Every time we get an order, it's kind of exciting because somebody new is getting to try it, that we otherwise would have no contact with in the world. And it's just kind of fun to have that connection. And I think focusing on the press that we've gotten, we've kind of been getting some really good press lately with "Southern Living" and "Garden [inaudible 01:19:09]," and that sort of thing. And that's opened it up a lot. And every time we get a piece of press like that, there's definitely a bump in traffic, and that's really great.

Javier: And are you...so you have...you're currently selling the kegs to restaurants through the distributors, you have the shelf-stable versions that are going into supermarkets, you're selling at the farmer's market, you have the online that you guys just set up this year. How do you know which one to focus on?

Brandon: I think it's creating a plan beforehand, and knowing what you're trying to get to. And then, using the what you're doing now as a means to getting there in the shortest amount of time. So everything is equally as important. I know Matt has...I know you've got your own thoughts on that.

Mick: Yeah, I just think it's definitely something we're still learning, kind of how to prioritize, when to prioritize, resources we'll need, that sort of thing, and kind of figuring it out as we go.

Matt: Yeah, we sort of...this is the first year we sort of hired some friends and family, and decide where to put them to sort of maximize our time to do what we do best. It's been helpful, but it's also a [inaudible 01:20:32] at the same time to manage that.

Javier: So what are your plans? Because, yeah, Brandon was saying it depends on your plans. So what are your plans in the next few years, short-term?

Mick: Yeah, short-term. We are expanding, kind of regionally. We're in a few states, so supporting those states is a huge priority to us, growing within those regions, and simultaneously putting together a kind of plan of action for getting to single-serve size. That's kind of where we've always wanted to be. That's where it makes the most sense for the product. And I think it's where we could see the most growth.

So, you know, kind of that same approach. We have an idea what the ideal situation would be like, and it's finding the realistic situation. How can we get there as fast as possible without, you know, sacrificing too much of anything? Whether it's time, the business itself, capital, that sort of thing.

Javier: And recently, you guys were picked up by Whole Foods market. And what's the process to get into Whole Foods? You reached out to them, they reached out to you? Was there a testing and sampling phase, and then after that they decided to go into one store in Mount Pleasant or did they open up with multiple stores? What was that process like?

Brandon: Yeah, so I think it starts out with your first one. You just have to...in our local area is probably your easiest place to get into. But we just kept showing up over and over and over, talking to them about what they could put on the shelf or, I think, our very first Whole Foods experience was a keg on tap in, like, their food area, which is huge. And that was before we even had a bottle for the shelves.

And so, it's getting in there, getting in front of the people that are the grocery buyer and, for us, there's a lot of leeway between where beverages go in the non-alcoholic beverages in the alcoholic side. So it's making big contacts with the grocery buyer and the beer buyer. And then, from there, just becoming good friends with, like, regional Whole Foods and keeping yourself relevant in the system. And, you have to do lots of tastings.

Mick: Lots of tastings.

Brandon: Lots and lots of tastings. That's what they want, and it helps the product move, and it looks good for you, and you get to meet customers in different areas. So it's really good for the business overall being part of the Whole Foods systems.

Mick: It's kind of a continuation of the farmer's market. The farmer's market was a great place to test the flavors themselves. And Whole Foods tastings are a great way to get in the head of the average consumer who are there, talking about it, tasting them all the products, selling them on it. But you also can get a grasp of if my product was just on the shelf by itself, you know, what are people's reactions? Is it jumping out to them? Is it getting lost in the mix? Is it in a good spot on the shelf? There's so much you can learn from that, that they're very valuable to do.

Javier: So what is one thing that you learned about being next to so many other products? How do you stand out on the shelf?

Brandon: I think first, it starts out with the packaging. We got kind of vibrant colors that we believe help it stand out on the shelf.

Mick: Unique size, I think it's interesting, too, and unique ingredients. And I think it's something, this is the first, you know, round of packaging work we've done, so I think we've learned a ton from it. I think kind of one of the things that we're interested in now is sort of how to stand out a little bit further, whether it's shelf [inaudible 01:24:37] or neck size or things like that, there's ways to kind of stand out a little bit more and help explain the product.

Because as great as the flavor descriptions are on the bottle, if people walk by without even looking at it, then they're not doing very...you know, they're not doing as much good as they could. So taking that extra step to get people excited who are just walking by it on the aisle.

Javier: And also, you were recently featured on the ABC "Southern Charm" show and they were comparing your honey basil with a bourbon. And I've seen a lot more mixing element, using your beverages as mixers a lot more. So are you guys actively promoting your products more now as mixers, now that you have shelf-stable version, than you were in the past?

Mick: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the reasons for that is it is a great mixer, and it's something that we always considered when developing flavors, is their mixability, because they are on tap at restaurants and that's a huge side of it. And, people are always looking for interesting mixers and I think if, you know, we can become a popular mixer for those people, then all the better.

And the other side of that is because we're not in single serve, it's not a bottle that you would buy and just drink yourself. It's a shareable portion, and so whether you're sharing it just to drink non-alcoholic or as a mixer, it just makes sense to kind of put that out there as this is something to share, to use multiple times. It's not meant to be consumed by a single person in one sitting. It's meant to be shared.

So we've kind of tried to do everything we could with the packaging and the size of the format to kind of trade on that. I think by emphasizing cocktails, it does help push that a little bit further.

Javier: Mm-hmm. And so, based on our conversation, based on the amount of time that you've been around, four years, to an outside observer it looks like you guys are an overnight success. Like, it seems like everything that you've worked on has been a success every single step of the way. Was it really smooth sailing or what were the struggles that you faced?

Brandon: I wish that we could say that it was just smooth, silky smooth.

Mick: It's awesome to hear that that's what it seems like, but that definitely wasn't the case. It's been a lot of long nights, a lot of, you know, long days, putting in the time. And I think that's just kind of how it happens, because you're working so long under the radar that when you finally kind of pop up, even just for a second, as a blip, it's like, "Oh, where did this come from?"

But I'm sure there's a lot of businesses that have been in that situation, you know, five, six years to reach some level of success and, you know, feel...people see it as an overnight success but I think that for anyone out there that has their own business, don't ever get discouraged because, you know, it took us four years to even be where we are now. And, you know, as you've witnessed, we have a long way to go. So it's definitely a long grind.

Brandon: We talked to other business owners in the, like, in the past we were asked, we were always asked, like, "Does it get any easier?" Because you just seem like you're out of breath all the time. And I think that the general consensus is that it does not get any easier, that the problems just get...

Mick: They scale with the business.

Brandon: Yeah. So I think that at first, what we've been wrapping our heads around a lot lately, is how to be fully functional as a completely, like...not be overwhelmed by an overwhelming amount of work. And it's feeling comfortable knowing that there is an overwhelming amount of work that you have to do, and that you're just gonna make it through something. Just being comfortable with that is a good step to take. Making sure that you're fit to go through.

Mick: It's just looking at each hurdle as, "All right, let me just figure this out and, you know, then I'll get to the next one." But it definitely, there's ups and downs with anything. But it was a huge, huge learning curve for us the entire time.

Javier: Was there ever a time for any of you guys that you felt like maybe it's just too much or maybe you're doing something wrong, and you want to just give up on the business?

Mick: I think absolutely, for all of us, there was. I think that if you don't have that feeling at any point in your business, then you're not pushing yourself as hard as you probably should be.

Brandon: Yeah, like, we work a lot better in extreme pressure situations. Like, even if you might not think that we're ready to make this step, putting yourself in a pressure situation will generally get the best out of you, or else it could have been bad and that would have been it. You know what I mean? It's taking a risk. But I think that we operate really well when it comes to pressure situations.

And going back to the original question, I know that each one of us have bene there. I think that's the best thing about starting a business with somebody else is that there's three of us. We can always...like, two people can never be in the dump, because it's real easy to pull the third in. But if there's one person that's not doing that, like, not having the greatest a day, then you're basically just not allowed to have that day as well. But you can't have...two people cannot be down at the same time.

Mick: [inaudible 01:30:32] other guys that really step it up. But we try to kinda help each other out and we understand that we're gonna have bad days, and it's gonna be tough sometimes, and sometimes it's gonna be harder for others for different situations, so we just kinda take that into consideration. And being friends for as long as we've been friends certainly helps that.

You know, we've kind of been through everything already so it's easy to say, "Hey, you're screwing up, or you're doing great, or hey, we're gonna get through this," that sort of thing. But, you know, it's fun having [inaudible 01:31:05].

Brandon: Yeah, we can really tell each other straight to our faces what's going on and agree to [inaudible 01:31:12] about it. If I'm doing something stupid, it just gets called out.

Javier: So what drives you to push forward? What's your higher purpose and your higher mission when things are getting really tough, and you're really under a lot of pressure?

Mick: You know, we've been working on it for this long. We've put so much time and energy into it already, it would be foolish to just walk away from that when it got tough. And I think that if we were the kind of people that walk away in that situation, then I don't think we would be where we are now. So, it's just kind of the drive of we said we were gonna do this, how far we can push this thing, and, you know, you can always find the fun in it at the end of the day. So it's just kind of keeping that perspective.

Javier: And so, what have you personally had to sacrifice in your life for the last four years for the sake of Cannonborough?

Mick: A lot of sleep.

Brandon: Yeah, a lot of sleep, a lot of cash.

Mick: Yeah. A lot of fun.

Brandon: Yeah.

Mick: A lot of [inaudible 01:32:30] sacrifice, especially in the early days. It was very tough to say, "I can't go out this weekend. I can't have fun with anybody." And you definitely lose friendships as well. You know, when you say no to plans every time, people stop calling, you know. And that's just the nature of it. You have to sacrifice that if this is really what you want. You've gotta put everything into it and, you know, we don't blame anybody for that. It's just the nature of humans. But it's something that we had to sacrifice.

Brandon: You can't really go out every night and run a business. And I think that's the very first thing, when we started working, like, full-time was just changing your lifestyle from being in the restaurant industry. It's a lot of late nights. We were all living in the same house and working restaurant jobs. And so we were out late a lot. And then, just making, now I've got a responsibility and if I don't do it, then it's my job. If I don't do it, then it's not gonna get done or these guys will have to do it for me. Just whipping yourself into shape real quick.

Javier: And so, I'm about to close the interview. We're ending the near...near the end. And before I do that, I'm gonna ask you a couple of quick round of questions. But first, let me just say, you guys started out with just three of you, and now you're in a facility, and I've seen some people walk back and forth. How many people are working with you now?

Brandon: So we've got my brother, Justin. Justin, say hey.

Justin: Hey.

Brandon: Yep, he's cleaning kegs right now. Mick's sister Amanda is working on some, like, scales material right now. We've got Matt [inaudible 01:34:32] that works in markets for us. And a girl in Columbia that does Columbian markets.

Matt: And my girlfriend.

Mick: Yep.

Matt: And she does farmer's markets as well.

Brandon: All key players.

Javier: You're bringing your family to help, and your close friends to help you grow the business, right?

Brandon: Yeah.

Javier: Okay. So now, let me just go through a quick, final round of questions. So what's been the most rewarding thing for you in your entrepreneurial journey?

Mick: [inaudible 01:35:08]

Brandon: [inaudible 01:35:09]

Mick: I think, off the top of my head, my gut reaction is seeing somebody buy that soda, drink the soda, and really, really enjoy it is still one of my favorite things in the world. Whether it's at an event, or a farmer's market, just suddenly be like, "You made this? This is really good." That's the coolest thing in the world.

Brandon: I was gonna say that I think the most rewarding for me is knowing that you can do a lot more than you think. Your brain can go a lot farther than you think. You can retain a lot...

Mick: Your body can, too.

Brandon: Yeah, your body can go a lot longer, and you can retain a lot more information than you think you can. Constantly to a base of knowledge.

Javier: How about you, Matt? What's the most rewarding thing?

Matt: I would say achieving a new goal, like getting it in kegs or in bottles, and then seeing other people will be really happy, like your customers, your key accounts, and the people that helped you get rolling [inaudible 01:36:16] sort of awesome.

Javier: Okay. And so, why does Cannonborough exist and what would people be missing out on if there was no Cannonborough?

Brandon: The world's freshest soda. People would be missing out on us at the market every Saturday, experimental soda flavors.

Mick: I think that people would be missing out on the idea that you can make a product in large quantities that is very, very high quality. There's no reason that you have to settle for a garbage product, honestly. And not to say that any other product is garbage, but you don't have to drink straight sugar. You can drink...you can treat yourself to something interesting and delicious that is all natural. And at least in our area, that doesn't really exist outside of what we're doing.

Javier: And so, who do you admire in the beverage industry and who would you like to see as a guest on the Specialty Sodas podcast to hear their story?

Mick: Oh, man. That's a good question.

Brandon: I always gotta give a shout-out to Joe [inaudible 01:37:46]. Joe and Mary Elena [inaudible 01:37:48] help out a lot.

Mick: [inaudible 01:37:51] of Jack Rudy is also, he's helped us out a bunch. We admire what he's done with his brand a lot. And I think...

Brandon: Sloppy Beer Brewing?

Mick: Yeah. I think Q Tonic is somebody that I'd like to see on the show, especially. They've done really cool stuff. We have similar origins of somebody saying, "Hey, I want something better. There isn't something better available," and building a really successful brand out of it.

Javier: So the Q Tonic Water, the Q Tonic brand. Okay. I'll reach out to them.

Mick: [inaudible 01:38:28]

Brandon: I'd say Motto. He's a Matcha green tea.

Mick: [inaudible 01:38:33] Matcha tea.

Brandon: Yeah. And their beverage is incredible.

Javier: It's called Motto Macha Green Tea?

Brandon: M-O-T-T-O.

Javier: Okay. And what kind of things would you want to learn from these people?

Mick: Definitely how to grow smart. I would be interested to kind of hear what they had to say about scaling their businesses and the approaches that they took. Because they're very much different from ours, but I think that there's still a lot we can learn from them.

Javier: Okay. And if you can go back in time and give yourself advice when you were just starting out, what would you tell yourselves?

Matt: I would say, "Ask anybody you need to anything you want to know. Don't be afraid about it. Just do it. And if you look like an idiot or they don't answer you [inaudible 01:39:26], just ask someone else if they don't answer."

Brandon: Yeah.

Matt: That would be the best advice I could give.

Mick: That was great advice.

Brandon: I would say, "Pay attention in math class," would be a big one.

Mick: Because we got a lot of numbers.

Javier: Pay attention to Matt's advice, did you say?

Brandon: No, I said...

Matt: That's really good, too.

Brandon: That's what I meant by that. But pay attention in math class.

Javier: Oh, in math class. Okay.

Brandon: Yeah. No, Matt just happens to also be really good with numbers. So it's correct both ways. My goal is to be better than Matt with numbers.

Javier: How about...

Matt: [inaudible 01:40:03]

Javier: How about you, Mick? If you have yourself one piece of advice, what would you...

Mick: Sleep more. Get as much sleep as you can when you're younger, because you're not gonna get more.

Matt: We're still trying to catch up.

Mick: Still trying to catch up. I think, kind of echoing Matt's advice, is don't be afraid to ask questions. And as much as, especially when you're starting out, you feel like you have to, you know, be a certain level of professional as far as the brand. You know, obviously, you should be professional and stuff at all times, but you feel like you have to portray that you've got it all together. But I think asking for help is super important.

People do want to help you. Everybody who is farther than you are remembers when they were at your size, and they want to help you. Anyone that comes to us with advice, we're happy to help, even if it's a crap soda company. We're happy to help anyone that has any kind of questions because there's so much to learn and kind of [inaudible 01:41:09].

Javier: Yeah. So, what is the biggest challenge you face today and if you overcome that, what success will you see?

Brandon: Oh, man. Inventory space.

Mick: Yeah. Growing pains, for sure, is the biggest challenges. Having the right equipment, having the right resources...

Brandon: Having enough kegs.

Mick: Yeah.

Brandon: I would say...I know that you have your own set of answer to this, but it's having the right amount of inventory at any given time is a very, very difficult thing to nail on the head. Having exactly, like, enough bottles or enough caps, or every other little thing that would go into the product, and having it all there at the exact same time right when you need it. And not too much of it. You're not spending way too much money on things you're not using.

Mick: I think having enough time to produce the product, market the product, and sell the product. You know, there's limited people. It's just that way, generally, as well.

Javier: Brandon, you said Matt had some different ideas about what the challenges are.

Matt: Yeah, I would say, you ask me, my biggest challenge is capital, and managing that, and yeah. That would be...

Brandon: If there was always just more cash.

Matt: Yeah. Using the best you got with limited resources.

Javier: Okay. And so, what does success mean for you?

Brandon: For me, it means each time we try to scale up in a specific way, it's making sure that the product turns out the same way as it was before, using the same ingredients. And if the product isn't getting better, then it's not working.

Javier: All right. So, what is the one lasting impression or message you want people to know about Cannonborough Beverage Company?

Brandon: That we're here if anybody has any questions about how to start a beverage brand. We're still learning every day, but we've learned a few things. So if anybody had any questions, they could definitely feel free to send them our way.

Javier: If anyone wants to reach out to you, or learn more about your company, or try your products, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Mick: You can email any of us. Our email addresses are our first name at cannonbevco.com. So Brandon, Mick, or Matt at cannonbevco.com. Just directly, and we're happy to reach out.

Javier: Okay. So, once again, this is Mick Matricciano, Matt Fendley, and Brandon Wogamon. They're the founders of Cannonborough Beverage Company, operating out of Charleston, South Carolina. Cannon Bev makes one-of-a-kind small batch beverages using fresh, all-natural fruits and hand-picked herbs and aromatics. Cannonborough Beverage is doing something really special in the industry right now.

So they're bringing the craft back into craft soda. So, thank you guys for being here and thank you, everyone, for being a part of the Specialty Sodas podcast. Bye for now.

Mick: Thank you.

Brandon: Thank you.

Mick: Thank you.

Javier: All right, thank you, guys.

Mick: Yeah.

Brandon: See you, man.

Javier: Okay, see you.

The Specialty Sodas Podcast

August 24, 2016
Episode #7
Hi! I'm Javier. I interview entrepreneurs, corporate executives & thought leaders so you can learn how to start, grow and scale your business. I want to share valuable insights with you and actionable steps that you can implement in your business today.