Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And joining me is Josh Landon, who years ago, looked around and said, you know what? There isn’t a brewing company. There isn’t a beer.
There isn’t a drink that really speaks to people like me. And by me, Josh, I’m assuming you meant surfers skaters, that California vibe.
Josh: Yeah, everybody that’s interested in those types of things. Right. Growing up, doing them. And, there’s the California person that the kind of big beer businesses portray and then there’s the real California person. Right. And I think, uh, and then I think there’s a little bit of a gap there.
Andrew: I wonder what the differences, but also I’ve got to tell you, Josh, I wonder why does it matter? Why can’t you just drink any one of the craft beers that’s out there? Who cares if they’re serving it to you or not? You’re I want to find out why that was the insight that led you to create this company that I’m looking at a wall street journal article from 2015, when the business was sold.
It was called Saint Archer brewing company of San Diego. It was sold to Miller-Coors they estimate, and they did really good calculation. They estimated you sold for more than $35 million. It was a lot more than they estimated. I want to find out how about how much more, how the sale went. And then I also want to find out about this new business.
I think this new book is, is going to be better than the last one, Ashlyn hard seltzer. I feel like there’s something in the hard seltzer space. That’s more in the spirit that you’re going after. And I feel like it’s a growing market, but I’m not Sure. on the outside. I want to learn from you and we’re going to do it.
Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first we’ll host your website, right? It’s called HostGator. I’ll tell you later why you should go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, if you’re doing any kind of content business, you shouldn’t just rely only on ads. Ads are great. I’m obviously getting paid for this ad right now, but if you sell directly to your audience, you’re going to have a better relationship with them.
And that’s where comes in. I’ll tell you later why you should go to dot com slash Mixergy. Josh, how much was the sale for? What do you feel comfortable saying today?
Josh: Um, almost three times that,
Andrew: It’s three times that,
Josh: yeah, so it was a little, it was a little off, you know, the deal was worth almost three times that right around there, right around there. Yeah. So, you know, they don’t know everything, you know, you can’t believe everything you read in the paper.
Andrew: you know what though they did, here’s the math that they did. They said, you know what? We think that they are selling 35,000 barrels a year. Is that was that one? Right?
Andrew: Okay. And then they said that craft brewers were valued at a thousand dollars. A barrel was there with the off on
Josh: like, uh, maybe for like a small brewery an hour outside of Detroit, maybe, but not for the craft beer, capital of the U S in San Diego with the. With the hottest craft beer brand in California. Like it’s a little bit more than that.
Andrew: You’re saying we are more special. And part of what makes us special is where we come from. Let me ask you this. Well, you know what let’s let’s understand why that.
matters. It goes back to a couple of friends of yours who got an offer to be one ambassadors or something. For, for an alcohol brand,
what would they doing?
Josh: They’re there on the pro tour of this pro surf tour. And, um, I just happened to be with them in Puerto Rico about 10 years ago, just kind of tagging along and, um, yeah, tequila brand approached them about investing in the business and being ambassadors for them. And I, you know, I kind of just thought that, you know, that wouldn’t be the best fit.
I think beer would, I think most folks are drinking a beer a day or a beer every six months or whatever it is. Most folks are consuming beer and it just fell in line a little bit more with them instead of a hard alcohol.
Andrew: because they were they drinking beer mostly.
Josh: Yeah, of course. Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think, I think it’s more likely that a pro athlete, I know it’s more likely for a pro athlete to drink a beer than it is a red bull that’s for damn sure.
Andrew: Okay. I wouldn’t have known. All
right. So then you then say, I’m going to do this. I’m you look around and you say there isn’t a beer that speaks to us. I’m going to do this. Why do you need a beer? This speaks to you? Why can’t you just go in and say, I’ll get, uh, any old IPA or any lager or anything that feels right to us and who cares?
Who makes it and who cares if they care about surfing?
Josh: Yeah, for sure. I think. I mean, I, yeah, I do. You know, I think growing up in the skateboarding and surfing and. You know, you know, everything about the brands that you’re representing as you’re kind of rolling down the street or, or you’re surfing and whatever you buy, and whatever kind of speaks to you is, is what you want to represent.
And growing up in a world without social media. And the only way you can, it’s kind of like Michael Jordan, right? You, he was my favorite basketball player. And the only way you could show folks that you’re a Michael Jordan fan, You know, if he could afford his sneakers or you’re, you’re wearing flight air, Jordan gear, right?
It’s the same, it’s the same thing. People they want to represent what they identify with. And I think there’s no different than when you’re at a barbecue and you bring a beer and you want people to know this is your favorite beer and why.
Andrew: Got it. You know what, so you’re saying just the holding the can, even if it’s the exact same beer as would be in someone else’s can, if it has that surfer vibe, that California spirit, the thing that you could relate to you don’t feel like a fraud for holding it in your hand with your friends, you feel more.
More like yourself, more like the person that you experienced that you want to be.
Josh: Yeah, I think it more just represents who you are, just like the, you know, and a lot of cases, people drive certain cars cause it best suits their lifestyle and, and what works for them. And you know, obviously the beer is not the same as, as whatever other beers are. Right. They’re all different. Um, some people love them.
Some people love Saint Archer. Some people hate Saint Archer. It’s like your favorite band. It’s a very, you know, Kind of their subjective opinion, but I think, I think, yeah, people, especially in today’s world where brands and, and, you know, people have opinions about everything. Everybody has an opinion about everything.
It’s like, why can’t you just go eat at X pizza place? Is it really that much different than the one down the street? And it’s like, well, no, but I like it more and I liked the vibe more and I liked it. Right? Like that’s yeah.
Andrew: I get what you’re talking about. Um, Specifically about pizza. I, I love specific types of pizza, but dammit, there’s a co-op over here. That’s a era’s Mandy on Valencia street and they got a nice vibe, you know, they all own, they, yeah, I get, I get the expenses. All Right.
So the other thing I wonder is why you, Josh, I’m looking at your background.
Am I missing something? You don’t seem like a brewer. Were you doing this as a hobby? And maybe I didn’t know about it.
Josh: No. Yeah, no, not a brewer. And I didn’t know anybody in the beer business. I was a filmmaker.
Josh: documentary film.
Andrew: what’s the one that, um, that got you the award.
Josh: Multiple one, a lot of film festivals, but I think the one I made on the history of modern surfing called flow did really well about gosh, 15 years ago now. And, um, and then the one right after that on a gal named Tara Nikitas, who was a pro snowboarder in the early two thousands, both of those films did really well.
Andrew: Floated, especially while I’m not into surfer movies, but I knew about it. It was, it just, it broke out. How Did your life change after that?
Josh: Um, well, at that point, I mean, because of that, I was a working filmmaker, you know, like making, uh, making a living, making films is not easy. I don’t care what you’re making. You could be making features or commercials or documentaries or television shows. Right. If you’re, if you’re earning a living, making films, that’s, that’s a pretty, that’s a hard thing to do.
Um, so because of that, I was able to get financing for other films and then, you know, winning film festival. Um, I started making music videos and my manager was green day’s manager. Um, and you know, he knew all the labels and I was able to make some music videos. And then as I was really kind of getting going though I was doing it, you know, like I was, I was doing it and I had the idea for Saint Archer and left it all.
Andrew: Why? Why did you think that you could become a brewer?
Josh: Well, I wasn’t trying to be a brewer. Um, I knew that I could hire brewers, but I knew I could build a superior brand to the rest of the competitive landscape and craft beer
Andrew: How’d you know, that.
Andrew: Where did that confidence come from? You had experience creating brands, experience, curating a spirit in the movies and the music videos. no. you didn’t
Josh: not, not, really. Yeah, no, no. I just, um, It’s just not, I just felt like I could do better than them.
Andrew: Was it because you, you, you thought maybe I,
know the surfers they’ll become ambassadors. They’re looking for something that feels right to them.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah, I think I, and I knew, I mean, that’s a group, right? Like, you know, most of the folks that are buying the brand, don’t don’t have any idea that X skateboarder or surfer owns it with me. Right. Well, most of the you’re giving yourself too much credit. If you think everybody who walks into a Vons knows who owns the business.
Right. Um, but they do know great packaging and they do know what they can afford. So, if you can have a brand that looks great on the shelf and folks can afford it, generally you’ll do pretty well. It’s just, it’s really, really hard to get your brand to look great. Make great liquid and get yourself on the shelf.
Andrew: you thought I could make great liquid, That’s a solvable problem. I could find people. And you weren’t so snobby that you said it has to taste a specific way or else your focus was more about it has to be, has to have a certain vibe. It has to have a certain look, has to have a certain way of making
Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s, yeah, there’s, I mean, it needed to be good. It was three of the most generic beer styles going, right. We launched the brand with a blonde ale, a paleo and an IPA. So it was very generic. It wasn’t, you know, these, these, you know, crazy beers that everybody was making. But I do think, you know, the liquid is a big deal.
You could have the best brand in the world and if people take a sip of it and it sucks, then it doesn’t really matter.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So that’s table stakes. It’s the design. It’s the feel? It’s the brand that matters when, when you were looking around, how did you know, did you also think, you know, what the surfer and skater vibe is? The thing that’s going to sell? How did you know that you were. Well, I guess maybe as a filmmaker, you knew that this was going to be that there’s a big audience of people who maybe don’t do it, but admire or want the feel of that experience.
Is that right?
Josh: Yeah, I think everybody, I think, you know, California is a very attractive aesthetic, right? All over the country, all over the world, right, California. It on so many different levels, right? Not just surfing and skateboarding, Hollywood and music, and you know, all of the things that in just outdoors and easy go into the central coast and big Sur and San Francisco there, there’s a lot of different aesthetics in California that are attractive to a lot of folks.
Right. And if you can kind of represent a majority of those, I think it’s just like, does it make people buy it? Um, no. Does it give you a different point of view than everybody else? Yes. At the time, right now, now a lot of people have kind of emulated that. Um, but coming from skateboarding surfing, they’ve been doing that since the beginning of those industries.
Right? Like that’s,
Andrew: What do you get your confidence? Where’d you get the confidence that made you say, I think I could do this. Even as I asked you that question, there was this look on your face of, of course I could do this. I just knew I could do it. You’re a guy you told our producer, you try to be a surfer professional surfer.
Didn’t work out for you, right?
Andrew: Why didn’t that
Josh: Well, I mean, I didn’t really try. I mean, I knew earlier you just know, right. You
Andrew: why didn’t that knock your confidence? Why didn’t that make you say, oh, You know,
what? Look at all these people who are doing this thing that I can’t do. Just not who you are.
Josh: Yeah, man.
Andrew: What’d you get your confidence, your, your, your good looks as a kid.
Was it your parents? Was it just something
Josh: I think if anything, and I do think it’s like, there’s some things that are just your God-given personality, right? Where I, and I wouldn’t say it. I had this God-given confidence. I wouldn’t say that at all. I think, um, I think as you become successful, you gain more confidence, but I’ve never, I think the, probably the better way to put it would be.
I just, wasn’t scared that that fear mechanism in me doesn’t exist when it comes to business.
Andrew: Where does it exist? Family?
Josh: I mean, there’s, I have plenty of fears in my personal life.
Andrew: Can I ask you what, what one is? What’s one that
Josh: Yeah. I mean, everything from I’ve had everything from anxiety to. You know, mild depression to EV everything, the rollercoaster of. So I’ve had all of that stuff, right?
Like if I, if my, if my wife doesn’t call me back in 10 minutes, I think she was dead in a wreck. Right? Like that’s my first thought. So, but in business, you, you would have to say something pretty substantial to get me that route. Right. I, it just, it just doesn’t. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s bizarre.
Andrew: I get it. Like, if business goes away, my life doesn’t go away. I’ll still, you felt comfortable that you could still make a living. You could still take care of your family.
Josh: Yeah. I mean, my identity doesn’t cut and this is not overnight, but like my identity doesn’t come from the success I’ve had in business,
Andrew: you will you tell me, will you tell me a little bit about the depression? Just so I feel like you’re a real person and not we’re projecting an invincibility that can possibly exist.
Josh: Yeah. I mean, I definitely have not that, um, I think, you know, anxiety and depression, I think a lot of it comes from the up and downs of this life. Right. In a lot of ways. And I I’ve always had it in me. It was always there. And I think, um, you know, and I’m the worst when I’m not busy. Right. And because my head just keeps going.
And then, you know, I get, uh, you know, you get OCD, I get OCD and I need to be busy all the time. Not as much as I used to. And now I’ve kinda like gotten a hold of it through meditation and different things like that. I’ve really helped me.
Andrew: So you’re saying if you don’t have anything to channel your energy towards, is that what leads to a sense of
Josh: yeah. And I just, I think just, um, anxiety. Right. Like, I, I need to like kind of keep moving forward and, you know, doing things.
And, um, it was always there though. It was there as a kid, you know, or I would, um, I remember distinctly as a kid having being anxious and, and, um, you know, it was never an outward thing though. I hadn’t talked to anybody about it. It wasn’t like it is now right where it’s, um, I was an only child and both my parents worked and, um, so I was by myself a lot.
Which is which honestly is probably where a lot of the entrepreneurial mindset comes in. You know, like I was, I was an only child middle-class parents, you know, like not, not wealthy by any means. Um, never was poor, but like, we didn’t have, you know, I didn’t have all this crazy stuff growing up as a kid.
And I was by myself a lot. So I had to figure out things for myself.
Andrew: Oh, and so you’re saying, look, if I could figure things out for myself earlier than other kids would, or maybe if I had a brother or sister, I would, then you get the sense of resourcefulness as an adult. It just carries through.
Josh: Yeah, I was just, I’m kind of confident figuring things out on my own. You know, I was a horrible student. Um, horrible.
Andrew: you. So it didn’t influence you, your self perception wasn’t influenced because you didn’t need to be a great student. No.
Josh: No, not, not in my mind. I knew that I would never do anything with school. You know, I’ve only wanted to be three things in my life and, and, um, the first one was a sportscaster and needed to go to school for that. Um, being a filmmaker, I felt like I knew how to make films. I knew I could tell stories and I aesthetically knew what I wanted things to look like.
And then as a business owner now, entrepreneur, I feel like going to school to be an entrepreneur is ridiculous.
Andrew: Where did the name Saint Archer Bruin come from? Why was it that?
Josh: I wanted to name my son Archer and my, my wife wanted to do Becca.
Andrew: Okay. So you said I’ve got this name in my back pocket,
Andrew: why Saint Archer?
Josh: Yeah, I just through saying there, just, just, just to mix it up a little bit and had a nice little ring to it,
Andrew: I would have thought that was more of like a Boston brewing company, you know, where they’re really into the Catholic church in that
Andrew: No. So then you had your name, it was meaningful to you. You needed to come up with what next, the vibe for it, or to find the
Josh: Yeah, the artwork, the artwork, which I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do. Yeah. Um, fortunately for me, I I’ve worked with the same artists through every brand over the last 10 years. Um, Pete Bastin and we, we, we have a great connection and we’ve built all these brands together and, um,
Andrew: What’s the brand that you build. What’s the work that you did with him before on branding?
Josh: Saint Archer was first.
Andrew: Oh, that was it.
Josh: and we’ve created what a seven, eight brands together now. Um, and so instead of we, we, you know, we have a pretty good idea of, of what each other is looking for. And, um, you know, he’s a great designer and I have a pretty damn good idea going into a brand. What I want it to look like.
Andrew: I said the design, I’m looking at it over the years here in Google image search. It’s got a good design, but how do you get it into stores? I wonder if maybe things have changed. Because when I started doing these interviews, if I talked to a brewer, it was always about how great the beer was going to be and how painful it was to get it into stores they would drive in, but they could, they’re not even allowed to sell.
They would just constantly trying to sell it to someone who would sell. Right.
Josh: Yeah. I mean, traditionally, yes, it’s, it’s, it’s very, very challenging to get your product on the shelf. It, for anything, beer to food and beverage in general, whatever, whatever you’re doing to get your product to a grocery store is very challenging. And, um, you know, for me, I was able to acquire the top talent, um, in the beer business and, uh, You know, really, probably one of the defining moments was hiring Jeff Hanson as our vice president of sales.
And Jeff speaking of Boston, beer came from Boston beer and, um, you know, it was a VP of sales of a local brand here in San Diego. And, um, you know, Jeff had the relationships and the know-how of how to get things into the grocery stores and.
Andrew: did he get into the grocery stores?
Josh: Well, you kind of go through the process, you know, who their buyers are and when you walk in with Saint Archer and, um, it looks different and it has this, you know, marketing following through, through all these different folks, it’s, it’s a different story.
It’s not like focused on making a strawberry wheat ale, right. It’s focused on, um, the brand and, and having people know about your brand before they get into the store, it was just a completely different approach. And I think they weren’t used to that and they enjoyed the packaging.
Andrew: Let me see how you got there. So you came up with the design, you found a brewer made beer that you liked, that you loved, that you were willing to put your brand on.
Josh: yeah. First I raised $3 million.
Andrew: You told our producer, you got it from friends and family had, did you have friends and family who had $3 million when you said you didn’t grow up in this well-off family?
Josh: Yeah. It’s I don’t know, man. You know, looking back, I I’ve, I, I, you know, asked everybody. And, uh, you know, you, you, you talked to one person that would lead you to another and leads you to another and need you to do another. And, uh, you know, this is, you know, 2011, 12, uh, this is coming off the recession, you know, that the housing crash and, you know, money wasn’t that available for folks.
And, you know, I it’s, it’s crazy looking back to
Andrew: Who gave you the bulk of it
Josh: It was a lot of different people. There was one investor. Um, his name is Frank Foster. He, he runs a fund up in Montecito, but he invested personally with his family. Um, Frank put in a lot that I was not expecting and that kind of turned the tide of the whole res
Andrew: And I’m imagining what drew him to you was the, not just the vision for the brand and, and the beer, but the people that you brought on, did you have a brewer already at that point?
Andrew: You didn’t. So then what was it that he liked? What was it that he invested in?
Josh: I mean, I think if you know, Frank was on the phone or, or anybody was listening or whatever, I think Frank would say, we believe in Josh to make it happen too. We believe that he’ll make a great beer
Andrew: why did they think that you could do it? What do you think you, you had about you.
Josh: Uh, I think the confidence I knew I would get it done. I knew I was going to build a brewery and I knew it was going to be successful. Um, I never had any doubts, not, not any,
Andrew: You do have this intensity of this chill vibe to you, but also this intensity in your eyes and the duality of that is really interesting. You know what I’m talking about?
Josh: I do.
Josh: I’m an intense guy, but I’m not, I mean, but I’m not, but I would love to just, you know, have a cocktail too and, and relax at the
Andrew: yeah. No, the duality is usually not something that you find in a single
Josh: when it comes to business. I, when it comes to business, the, my competitive nature is almost detrimental.
Andrew: What do you mean? How does it become almost detrimental?
Josh: Well, I think it’s, it’s all consuming, right? Um, I think there’s people that want to win. And then I think there’s people that want to win by any means necessary. And then I think there’s people that want to win and they don’t just want to win. They want to beat you to the end at everything at all times.
Andrew: Is that you,
Andrew: so you want to, you don’t just want to be in the store. You want the end cap. You don’t just want to be, in the store and the end cap you want all of their locations.
Josh: want all of it and I want everyone to go out of business in the
Andrew: You do. Wow. I wouldn’t have thought that doesn’t seem like a, like a New York chill thing. I mean, it’s California chill thing. All right. So then. Let me ask you this in the wine business, you could get somebody else’s wine, put it in your bottle and
Andrew: Why didn’t
you do that in the beer? didn’t You do that in beer
Josh: because it’s not authentic. Right. It’s like somebody else’s making your beer. It’s not people, people and myself included. Like, I want to go to the bar. I want to know what it’s all about. I want to know that you’re making it all and you’re doing it. Like, this is your thing.
Not that you’re just like paying for some case from some brewery in Anaheim and you’re picking it up then that doesn’t do anything for me. And if it doesn’t do anything for me, then how could I tell, you know, the, the customers to enjoy
Andrew: Don’t take this the wrong way, but this is another thing I’m noticing about you when it comes to talking about the beer, it’s it comes back to the brand. Again, it’s not because I had to have it. The blonde Dale be exactly this way. Just like the thing that I remember. No, it’s because this is the spirit that we want to communicate.
We want people to, okay. I see that you then raise it?
You start brewing. What is there, are there challenges in selling to stores directly or is it just to bars directly? I’m trying to remember actually what the laws are and I know they differ from state to
Josh: Um, yeah, no, I think it’s, it’s, it’s hard to get into distribution, right? It’s it’s hard to acquire an a D a distributor to sell your product at retail. Right. It’s hard to get it in. It’s hard to get retail to authorize it, but it’s also hard to get convinced a distributor to bring it there for you. Right.
Cause they want to put brands on their truck that are going to sell. Right. That’s the efficiency of it. So those two things are really hard. Um, and luckily for, for me, stone distributing, um, believed in me before we even had any beer and they, they, we signed with them as our distributor in Southern California from day one.
Andrew: Got it. All right. And so again, it just comes back to people seeing the you’re willing to that you will do it.
Andrew: to show them that you’ll do it? I think about like my friend, Noah Kagan, he he’s very concerned and caring for people. If he works with you, he’s going to care about you. He cares about the numbers tremendously.
It’ll kill you. It’ll rip your throat out if he has to. I feel, but at the same time he lovingly like give it to you in a box. But he shows it from the beginning that he has this move where he’ll send you a gift. If you, if you mentioned something, Josh in passing, he’ll remember it. And a gift will show up at your door.
Somehow. Do you have a style that shows people before your product is ready? Who you’re going to be as a CEO? What your product’s going to be, how you’re going to deliver and fight? No. you don’t have a way of doing that. No.
Josh: No. I mean, for me, I think you kinda, um, you know, I’m not a networker. Right. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t do. I’m not good in those situations. I don’t even really like raising capital. I hate it actually. Um, I don’t like asking people for money. Um, and I think in a lot of ways, a lot of the folks that are trying to raise capital or it’s kind of a used car salesman type deal.
And for me, it was especially with Saint Archer. It was a necessity for livelihood. You know, I just moved my family to San Diego. My, my daughter was three and a half and my oldest son was six months old. And, um, I had no fucking choice. That’s a win.
Andrew: All right. So then, but, okay. I get that intensity. You then had to start marketing. Did you then partner up with your surfer and skate, skating friends?
Josh: Yeah. They all invested into the business. Um, so when we were launching the brand with the brand was built through Instagram,
Andrew: Yeah. What was the Instagram,
marketing? Apparently you were in charge of that
Josh: uh, I’ve been in charge of it for every brand we’ve ever done.
Andrew: So right now, when I go to your Instagram at Ashland hard seltzer or your current business, that’s you managing it.
Josh: It is.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So what did you do in the early days on Instagram?
Josh: Um, I mean, it was different than it is now. You could actually build a brand through Instagram and not pay any money. And not have to pay, you know, all the fees they want to do now because you know, they changed the algorithms and that kind of thing. So when you have, you know, however many millions of followers that all the guys and gals that, that own the business with us had, you know, I would send them, you know, I would send them pictures to post and videos and the films that we were making and all, and they would be able, they would just post them.
Andrew: Got it. Got it. You’re helping them fit. You’re giving them images to post. They get a benefit from obviously improving the business that they’re investing in. But also it’s a credibility boost to say I’m investing in this business. I am not just a guy who you’re watching surf. right.
Andrew: helps all the way around.
I should take a moment. Just talk about my first sponsor. I’m going to say it very quickly. People cause you know who my first sponsor is. I usually do these very persuasive things, Josh, but I’m so intensely in this conversation. I can’t back away and do my sales pitch. So instead I’m going to say, y’all know it.
HostGator’s who host my website. They should host your site. If you want the lowest price, they have go to hostgator.com/mixergy. You started buying ads on Instagram also. How did, how did you manage that? Are you the type of person who’s like checking out spreadsheets? Who’s constantly trying to tweak. No, you
Josh: Um, I enjoy, I mean the business end, I enjoy all that. Um, I also enjoy making larger films and, and everything else in between. I enjoy going over the P and L’s with, with our leadership group and sales team. And, um, I enjoy every aspect of the business other than raising guys. Aye. Aye. Aye. Um, unfortunately that falls under my job description.
Um, but yeah, I enjoy every aspect of business.
Andrew: What was the hardest part of Archer brewing? I want to, I want to continue to talk about the sale and then talk about what you’re up to now with Ashland.
Josh: Yeah, I think the hardest thing was just learning how to be a leader. You know, I think, um, you know, I was a water polo coach when I was a kid. Um, and I, I equated a lot like coaching, you know, I think if I have more of a desire to be a teacher, I probably would have been a water polo coach. Um, I really love coaching and
Andrew: did you learn from doing that?
Josh: what did I.
Andrew: Yeah. Do you remember some of the things that you learned from teaching water polo?
Josh: Yeah, I think the biggest thing was just, you can’t talk to everybody the same way and really running and leading a businesses at the same exact thing. Right? There’s some people that I can call and say, the fuck just happened. Right? There’s some people I can call and say, Hey, why don’t we think about trying it this way?
Right. And, and really that’s coaching, right. It’s just coaching and, and it’s, um, motivating and leading and, and, um, you know, it’s, it’s the same exact thing. So I’ve always enjoyed being the leader and coaching. And I think when I was raising money, I’m, I w I’ve always been good at articulating the vision that I’m trying to achieve.
Right. And I think people understand that and they understood it with Saint Archer and they understand it with all the business I’ve created since.
Andrew: do you, how did you express it then with Saint Archer?
Josh: Gosh, that was a while ago now. But I think, I think for me it was exactly everything we’ve talked about, that there really hadn’t been a brand that was a brand, you know, you were walking into the grocery stores and you’re purchasing Sierra Nevada or Boston beer or stone or whoever it was. And I didn’t know anything about those businesses.
There was no reason why I was buying it. That’s why I didn’t even believe they were as successful as they were, because I didn’t know anything about them. I couldn’t believe that there was, they were spending no money in marketing and you’re telling me that people walk into the store, they buy a $10, six pack for no reason other than that’s what’s on the shelf.
Andrew: Is that really why they make that decision?
Josh: Yeah. I mean, w how many advertisements have you ever seen for Sierra Nevada?
Andrew: Interesting. None. You know, who I think about, I think about what’s his name cook from the Boston brewing company. Um, he used, yeah, Jim
cook used to buy bunch of ads. He had a book, he was a, he was a celebrity. He made himself personality. But other than that, I don’t. And so what I’ve noticed is people go to the local beer.
So if it’s log Anita here in San Francisco, or what’s the other one? There’s another one. That’s right here in the city. Um,
Josh: That’s I’ve heard
Josh: anchor steam or any of that. Right. So like, let’s think of, so even anchor outside of San Francisco, what are they doing in all the other states? They’re in nothing.
Andrew: And is that really It, that I don’t sell. So that’s what it.
Josh: But if you think about, then you take it a step further. If you, I mean, I could really like bore you to death, but if you really take it a step further and you, now you’re going to do this. When you go home, you open up your refrigerator or your pantry, and I would ask you, why do you buy the crackers or milk or peanut butter or whatever it is you buy, why do you buy it all?
Why do you buy that milk? Are they really speaking to you outside of the grocery store? They’re not, you’re looking at the carton. You’re saying, can I afford this? And is this healthy for me?
Andrew: With beer, something else happens. I, I think for the most part it’s are they saying the right words that my wife likes, Which is like cage free, cruelty free, or what’s the, you know, that type of thing. And then, but with beer, it seems to be either they’re going to say where the most IPA of all of them or the most, whatever it is, right.
The darkest of the dark beer, the most IPA, or some random whacked out packaging of something RAs Buton on the thing. Right.
Josh: is ridiculous, right?
Andrew: Right. You’re right there. Isn’t this sense of any connection to the beer anymore? Even the local craft brews, um, except for whatever city you’re in, you want to try the local thing that was made down the block, but, and so that’s what you realize.
And you said there’s a vibe here. There’s a spirit here that we could embody into this and Yeah.
Josh: Yeah, but it’s more like taking a page out of the clothing companies, books, right? Like you, you know, if you have, um, Paul Rodriguez, who’s a professional skateboarder. If you have Paul Rodriguez on Instagram to his million followers, drinking a beer saying I own this. I’m really proud of this. That influences a lot of people.
Right. Like, that’s a, that’s a big deal. So if you, and then when, and then digging a step further, you look at the packaging and go, this is like clean and easy to understand, and it looks cool. Right. Or at least to us, it looks cool. Right. Um, that matters. And I think now people are focusing on that a little bit more, but, um, back then 10 years ago, nobody was.
Andrew: Why’d you sell the business.
Josh: I wanted to see how well I wanted the shareholders to make money, but I wanted to see how I would feel. I wanted to know if I would, if I’m doing it, you know, when you have a life-changing financial event, you got to know, am I doing this for the money, or am I really doing this for another reason? And for me, um, I found out that I didn’t do it for the money.
I do it for the competition and disruption. And so when that was done, um, you know, you kind of, then when you partner with someone, you want to partner with someone that wants to compete and disrupt as much as you do. And if they don’t, then it’s probably not a match made in heaven.
Andrew: You imagined I’m fierce. They’re bigger. I have this determination they want in on this. They want this spirit. That’s what they’re buying. They’re going to get it everywhere. This is going to be their indie brand. And what happened?
Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, to cause his credit, you know, they hadn’t purchased the brand since blue moon, um, 22 years prior. So I think there was a bit of just a learning curve. And, um, I think for us, it just, you know, there were some decisions that were made that, that, um, I think ultimately they thought they were doing the right thing.
Um, and you know, they weren’t really from the small craft world, so it wasn’t as like obvious, um, to them as it was to me that it was not the right thing.
Andrew: What was, what was it? You, you felt like, I think we’re going to be, we’re going to be considered to them, but you felt like They, didn’t do a great job with this, with the post acquisition company, because.
Josh: I think, I think the biggest thing was they want to align a brand that they purchased with their distributor network. Right. Um, their distributor network, you know, Saint Archer was built in the bar. There’s some distributors that are great at servicing the restaurants and bars. There’s some distributors that are great at serving the grocery stores and liquor stores.
Right? Well, when you take the, the fastest growing business craft beer business in California, in the bars, and you put them with a distributor ship that doesn’t focus on that you’re in big trouble and that’s what happened. I mean, it really killed the business overnight.
Andrew: Because they, I see, you know, what I never thought about it, but I don’t see Miller. I don’t see cores in bars, but it could be that the bars that I’m going
Andrew: see blue moon though.
Josh: They’re just like, it’s just, you know, we were in the craft bars, right? Like we were, you know, we had a massive draft presence all up and down California. And I think specifically in Southern California. And if you, if you take away. The distributor that got you in there, and then you have a distributor that’s not focused on that anymore.
It, it completely changes the business. And then when the numbers do this, then the other courses, opinion changes of the brand and the performance of the brand and like how the brand would do outside of its home market. So it was like, It, it, it, it, it was just like a perfect storm of, of it just not really working out.
And for me, it was too emotional for me to have a front row seat to that.
Josh: all because the brands don’t know.
Andrew: Oh, I S I Still see it. Um, I’m on their site, uh, on one of these tabs. What was, um, let’s just wrap it up with this. What was it like the day of the sale? Do you remember, was there one moment where you felt like, all right, I crossed the finish line on here for second. I could be really happy. No, there wasn’t.
Josh: One moment,
Andrew: How long did it take you before you decided to start another company?
Josh: 24 hours.
Andrew: It’s 24 hours after what?
Josh: the sales Saint Archer.
I had villager. I had villager. in my head. Um, and
Andrew: what’s village.
Josh: villager goods was a organic coconut water and organic kids juice called little villager,
Andrew: Ah, okay.
Josh: which has now been, that is no longer. And it is now village or spirits, which is a canned cocktail that comes out in about a month.
Andrew: Oh, I see village go. Coconut water on Amazon. This was also the first thing you created was that it wasn’t hard selling.
Josh: No. And then I’ve started three other businesses before Ashlyn.
Andrew: Got it. I see what happened to the others. It looks like people are well, no, you can’t buy villager coconut water
anymore on Amazon.
Josh: But I, um, I’m a co-founder of an alcohol distribution business here in San Diego called scout. Um, and then I, I’m a co-founder of a brewery called Harlan brewery here in San Diego, and then also Claxton sellers, which is a wine business. In addition to now, obviously Ashlyn and villager spirits,
Andrew: Alright, Ashlyn did seems like the vision was we’re going to create a hard seltzer with more interesting flavors. Is that it?
Josh: um, sort of, sort of, I wanted to have a hard time seltzer that tasted like LaCroix that I was, you know, we’re all drinking, you know, 700,000 of those things every day. Um, I wanted a hard seltzer that didn’t have that kind of aftertaste to it that maybe some of the others. Um, it just wasn’t attractive to me, you know, the taste of truly doesn’t appeal to me.
Um, obviously it does to others, but it doesn’t to me. And so I wanted something that was lighter and we created that. Um, it’s really a lightly flavored, no sugar, 5% alcohol hard seltzer.
Andrew: Why hard seltzer.
Why, why, why? I don’t know. I guess I feel, I don’t know the space. is. it? What’s the growth of hard seltzer. I know that for a while there, it was, it was blowing up,
Andrew: checked. It still is. What’s the growth on it
Josh: I mean, well, over a hundred percent it’s triple digits.
Andrew: year to year.
Andrew: Wow. Okay.
Josh: Yeah. So it’s still, it’s still doing well. There’s more brands in the category now, but, um, you know, for me, I just saw that’s what everyone was drinking. You know, it was, it was going that way. And there was really only white clon truly.
And I had thought in the summer of 2019, Hey, you know, an independent craft version of this makes a lot of sense. Um, and we were drinking white wine. You know, like it was showing up everywhere. I was. And generally when I’m, when that’s happening and I’m drinking it, I started thinking, well, I’ll just do one of these.
And I, I like hard seltzer because there’s no barrier to understanding what it is. Right. Like you get it. It’s hard. Seltzer water. Got it. Like there’s no, whereas, you know, brand categories like hard come Boucher. I don’t like that. There’s a lot of folks in this country that say, what the fuck is kombu.
Right. Never heard of it. It’s too expensive. It has to be refrigerated. I don’t like any of those things,
Andrew: Right, right. And it is more approachable even then than beer. I imagined because with beer, you have to understand, do I like a lager? Do I like an ale? Do, do I even know what it is?
Josh: and it’s easy. It’s gluten free. There’s no sugar like. Right. It’s kind of like a canned cocktail. I think beer is super easy, right? When you, when you get into these crazy craft beers and all these people are making, but when you, you, when you think about like the base of the domestic beer, right.
But bud light cores, cores, light the Mexican lager businesses. It’s easy to understand, but he gets it right. But hard seltzer. There’s no explaining to do
Andrew: So then I saw this article, uh, from where is it? It was like a trade magazine that said that you and your celebrity friends were all launching this business together. It seems like you went back to the same playbook. You said I’m going to get the people whose reputation will help. Right.
Josh: Yeah. We just got a lot of folks outside of one, you know, a lot of the people’s skaters and surfers. You’re pigeonholing who you’re talking to. So when you have. Now you have those same people, but you also have professional athletes and actors and country music stars and social media influencers.
You kind of have you’re speaking to all walks of life. Now.
Andrew: How does it work now when you’re partnering up with them, do you, do you ask for a signed agreement about how many posts stayed put up or what else they do?
Josh: don’t, I don’t cause their investors and I don’t do that. Just like I don’t work with our agents.
Andrew: So it’s just you going out, getting them as investors, suggesting things for them to post on social media, if they
Josh: And there are actually a part of it. Like they’re putting money into the business. So they’re a part of the business
Andrew: Yeah. But I’m an investor in some businesses that I don’t put enough time into. I think I need to be, I need to be invited to do it sometimes to know what’s necessary.
Andrew: you do that?
Josh: A hundred percent.
Andrew: you talked to
Josh: I just feel like if you’re investing in the business and you want it to do well, why would you not be doing what I need you to do?
Andrew: Yeah. Plus I feel like we need to know what fits, so I’m not just PR I’m not just promoting what I think makes sense. Maybe it’s not, maybe it’s not in line with what you have in mind. You know what I
Josh: Yeah. I mean, I think they, they, the overall concept, they wouldn’t have invested if they didn’t want to be a part of a hard seltzer business. So that would be, you know, and then like promoting something that you’re drinking. That’s the thing is with everybody who’s involved, it’s authentic, right? Like Jared Goff and Cody Bellinger are really drinking hard seltzer.
Right? It’s not, it’s not fake. It’s not like you’re asking them to post their favorite paper towel. Right. Like they, they they’re really, they’re really a part of it and they’re really consuming the category. So they figure why not consume a brand that I own.
Andrew: I’m looking at the design of this. It doesn’t feel very California to me though. Obviously it says CA right at the top, it feels very much like a, almost like a health food brand. If does that make sense?
Josh: Yeah. Good. Good. That means that, that, yeah, that means it’ll appeal. I mean, this was probably the hardest brand that I’ve ever had to design. Because you’re trying to speak to everybody, right? Beer is more masculine and it’s a more male dominated consumer. And, um, you know, you can get away with that hard seltzer.
Everybody’s drinking it, young, old male, female, rich, poor black, white, everybody’s drinking it. Right. Um, so you got to really appeal to everybody in a can and that’s not easy to do.
Andrew: Yeah. I don’t even know how I got in my head that it’s low calorie. I must’ve seen it somewhere there. My right.
Um, what’s the new thing that you’re coming out with?
Josh: Um, it’s a can, yeah. Can cocktail, um, you know, kind of a less sugar, like lower calorie, less, uh, cocktail then what’s funny is I w I almost made Ashland at camp. Um, I liked the canned cocktail. I like everything about it. I just wasn’t sure if people really gonna do it, they were really going to replace their favorite gin and tonic concoction with just cracking.
You can importing it over ice. I just wasn’t sure folks were going to do that. And then COVID happened and convenience now is everything for people. They would rather crack open a tequila margarita can instead of buying all of the ingredients to make a margarita.
Andrew: I’m surprised I would have thought that they’d have more time and be willing to do that. No.
Josh: Oh, that’s why the can con I mean, the ready to drink cocktails is the fastest growing alcohol category in the U S as not even
Andrew: that really
Andrew: for years,
Josh: because people just don’t, they just want to, they just want to make it easy on themselves.
Andrew: because all alcohol has gone up over the last year or so?
Josh: I mean, alcohol has gone bananas.
Josh: It really has, but it’s one of those things where, you know, no matter what’s going on, I think coming out of, um, 2008 and, you know, figuring out, you know, making movies, um, you know, what are those things that you could do that would PR I know a lot of people that lost everything through 2008 and, you know, alcohol is kind of one of those things that no matter what’s going on, people are drinking booze.
I mean in what, you know, it’s like, we just went through this awful pandemic and alcohol goes through the roof, you know, I’m not sure, like in what scenario would alcohol not be something people would want to consume?
Andrew: Right. When you’re excited, you drink it when you’re not, you know, what’s, the scenario is when we, and other experiences start to take over, I’m about to interview an entrepreneur. Who’s got not about w Lee lining it up. He is doing like these psychedelic trips remotely. He’s allowed to now sell that, you know, and there are people who prefer not to drink and instead would want non-alcoholic drinks and then have experiences like that.
Josh: Yeah. I think that’s a small group. Right. And there’s a lot of stigmas that go along with that, you know, like we’re having a beer, having a cocktail, nobody thinks anything of it. Um, and it’s easy and it’s cheap. It’s, it’s easy. And it’s kind of a staple of people’s lifestyles, whether you consume a lot of it or a little, I’m not a huge stress.
Um, but you know, I don’t think alcohol ever go away
Andrew: So let’s analyze this. Why are you here? Why did, how did you end up here? It seems like part of it is this intent, this intensity, this, this self belief that you could do it without it’s unflappable, right?
Josh: Okay. Yeah. I mean, I, I mean, um, I think alcohol is just the, like I said, I’m not a big deal. But I think alcohol, the business of alcohol best suits my personality. Um, I can be, um, very aggressive with business and want to go really fast and push really hard. You can have that same mentality in, you know, non-alcoholic beverages and you just can’t go that fast.
Right? The industry is not set up that way. It’s just not, whereas with alcohol, you can go up and down the street and sell your brand. You can go just knock on bars, doors. You cannot do that with a non-alcoholic
Andrew: you can come in with a new Coca-Cola and say, come sample. If they’re not in the interest, they’re not interested in sampling, but bars and even the local whole foods is willing to experiment with
Josh: Yeah. The, the regional grocery stores go. Yeah, sure. What’s funny is for alcohol, they have regional buyers. For non-alcoholic beverages and food, you have to go to the national buyers. Right. And they only meet once a year. So there is no, you can’t go fast and be a gret. You just can’t. So alcohol, I, I think most folks probably are not as aggressive as I am and, and what I have, and I mean, from idea to Ashley being in the store was five months.
Andrew: Wow. And not being in one store with multiple stores. From what I see.
Josh: Yeah, it went crazy kind of right away. But, you know, because of the success I’ve had, I’ve been able to hire the best people, you know, like that’s the biggest thing. I know what I’m awful at and I know what I’m great at and the stuff that I’m awful at, which is a ton of things. Um, I just hire the best.
Andrew: All right. That’s another thing that keeps coming up that you weren’t going to brew the beer yourself, or have any strong opinions about it. You’re just going to hire someone who could do it really well. You weren’t going to be able to get into the stores. You were going to hire the best people to do it, and the way you hire the best is the what, what’s your thing.
It’s not constant networking.
Josh: they just believe in the business that I’m building and I’m just reach out to people cold. I still do it.
Andrew: And it’s the it’s this whole like Clint Eastwood conversation style that you’ve got, right.
Josh: Yeah. I think it’s, it’s, it’s very blunt and it’s, it’s very clear what my goals are and, um, And I think if people are a lot, have I been turned down? Sure. I mean, not very often, but I’ve been turned down so it’s some people just don’t align with what I want to do.
Andrew: The other part is, um, you pick these categories that are growing. That’s why I think that, that now you’re going to have a bigger success than you are than before, because actual seltzer is picking up on this really this growth industry, right. Where people are looking to try new seltzers it’s growing right.
Before to some degree that’s still is going there still is in your favor because craft brews were still craft. Beer was still very, uh, was still big and growing. Okay.
So that’s another thing that you grab onto that I think we can learn from the other one is this attention to brand this care about brand that everything comes back to brand even about whether people can come in and see how you brew it’s about brand, right.
Andrew: What else am I missing? Let’s let’s close it out with one last one. Your son is going to listen to this maybe in 20 years, or how about this? Your great grandson in a hundred years has this interview as a chip in his head and wants to see where do I come from? What’s the one thing that’s part of my DNA that I can’t lose sight of.
What else do we want to make sure to put in there?
Josh: I mean, I think the biggest thing for me has probably just been like sacrifice and hard work and like willing to do whatever it takes. I think a lot of people say that when they’re not faced with having to do whatever it takes.
Andrew: the hardest thing you had to do to that was a sacrifice or what’s one example of a sacrifice he had over there.
Josh: I would say, you know, the first two years, or the first two years when we lived here was the worst two years of our marriage. And I doing with my wife since I was 15 and both we’re both 42 now. And she went through, she went through at all, you know?
Andrew: So what was it like? What do you mean where you couldn’t? I hear your dog. It’s fine. What was it like? What was going on that threatened the relationship?
Josh: yeah, I think you moved to a new community, you know, um, And I’m building a new business and it’s, you know, you gotta, you, you have these situations where you don’t want to leave, right? Like she’s upset. You have little kids, you’re spending a lot of time at work, you know, there there’s a
Andrew: Ah, you bringing her to this new community. She doesn’t know anybody. And then you’re basically dumping her there while you’re going off to work endlessly.
Josh: Do you want me to
Andrew: see that. No, I think we’re fine. I liked the dog in the background. I dig it. What dog do you have? What type of dog?
Josh: It’s a bulldog.
Andrew: All right. Makes sense.
Josh: just gone. I don’t even know. I haven’t seen anything else. I don’t even know what’s going on. Um,
Andrew: some light. Maybe there was a car that passed through. Let’s close it out with this. I was, I was telling you before the interview started, that I wanted to ask about the tattoos. It was one that I was trying to read before we started, because they’re words on your right arm. What does it say?
Josh: Uh, well, my son, uh, my ma I want on the inside of my arm. My mom, my mom, this says follow your dreams. And my mom used to write when she would pack my lunch in elementary school, she would write on the napkin. She would write me the note and say, love mom. Hey. Um, I actually think, you know, my mom was a big part of, uh, my confidence in a lot of ways, right?
Like when she would say, you know, you can do anything that I want. I actually believe that. You know, like I believe her, like I thought, like, I mean, I didn’t think I was going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Right. Uh, I’m not 6, 4, 2 25, but, um, you know, I actually believed her that I could like pretty much do whatever I set my mind to.
And she always had confidence in me that, um, you know, I would, I would be all right. She would always tell me that, like, I’m not worried about you. And so, and I, you know, I, yeah. Yeah.
Andrew: All right. It’s Ashland hard seltzer. Now, every time that I see it in a store, see it online. See, it mentioned anywhere. I’m just going to remember you that intense look in your eye and this story. Thanks for being on.
Josh: thanks for having me.
Andrew: Cool and to member full. I know I said I was going to do an ad for you. We’re obviously not going to charge you for it.
The audience will get the benefit of my member full ad in the next interview, but I will thank HostGator. My sponsor. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. When you need a hosting company, you too, Josh, we need a hosting company. They give you a great deal.
Josh: I do who doesn’t.
Andrew: Thanks. Bye everyone.