The Drop Rosé


“We have no time for tradition, but we still follow the rules.”  This is what you will see when you first go to The Drop’s website, and this is just the age confirmation area to make sure you are 21 before entering.

It’s catchy and you wouldn’t be surprised if you knew that this company’s founder, Alexis Beechen, is from an impressive pedigree of top ad agencies and has worked on campaigns you have heard of for big beer brands. Her co-founder Mike Emmanuel has both experiences in beverage distribution and startups having worked his way into a Sales Director role at Trunk Club (acquired by Nordstrom) from when they were just a small team of 20.

The Drop doesn’t just want to change the canned beverage game, it wants to re-imagine the wine status-quo as a whole with a better product in an entirely new way.  I sat down with Alexis and Mike to understand why they think this is possible, what drives them, and to get the scoop on The Drop.

Alexis: The idea came about summer of 2014 on a trip with friends between two years of graduate school, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life but knowing that I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and have my own brand and own company coming from advertising where I was growing other people’s brands.

Alexis found on this trip that everyone loved rosé but there was a glaring market gap in consumer relativity to the wine and, like a soothsayer, could see there would be a big demand for rosé. She decided to apply to the Columbia startup lab.

Alexis: I applied a month late they just squeezed me in.  An hour after I interviewed I found out I had got in and decided that it was a sign and it was time to do this full time and that was just over a year ago.

Todd: So you’ve been bootstrapping?

Alexis: Totally bootstrapped, we’re still bootstrapping. When I knew we were about to launch and knew this actually was going to happen, I needed to find the right person to take this crazy journey with me. Mike is a seasoned sales vet in every sense of the word and had both startup and alcohol experience, and is a hard working guy, so I figured this is the person to jump into the deep end with. 

With mutual friends as a reference point and a common, this partnership was formed. These two have turned nothing into something in a very short time span. There was no company just a little over a year ago. Running their company is no piece of cake especially when starting from scratch.

Alexis: Every hour counts and every dollar counts, so you can’t really to phone it in.

Mike: And, it is sad to see the intern season coming to an end.

Alexis: (laughs) We had two interns that were like B level executives basically.

Todd: I always feel like interns can do a lot of work if you let them.

Full disclosure here, Mike and I are from the same hometown and have known each other since high school. 

The Drop Rosé

Todd: So I remember when Mike was sitting around with our friends and he was like “I’m partnering with a canned rosé company” and some of us were like…are you kidding me, canned rosé?  I’m sure there was a lot of haterade that came along with The Drop as a side beverage maybe?  Did you guys encounter a lot of that?

Mike: Well for me being in my early thirties and seeing a product like canned rosé, and to be honest I didn’t see an actual finished product in my first or even second meeting with Alexis, but just hearing about the game plan and who we were targeting is what really sold me on the idea. I say that because if you walk into a liquor store or wine shop with $15 or $20 in your pocket and you want to drink something good, it’s very intimidating.  It’s like the whole entire world is glass bottles and I think, to paraphrase what Alexis said if you can have something that’s a little bit different and grabs the attention of our 21-35 demographic or older it’s going to make a splash in the shop, or in the store chain.  It was the overall idea that we are going to make a difference in the world, that’s what really gets me excited. I want to do something that’s going to go against the status quo. You can have a great idea, but it’s the juice inside that counts, from the product to the packaging. That’s what’s selling it.

Alexis: If you look at where craft beer was ten or twenty years ago and see how far things have shifted, high-quality beer is now in cans we see that as something that can really translate to the wine world.

The Drop Rosé

Todd: It seems like you guys are really trying to maintain a high-quality standard so that means you must have had some fun doing some tasting.  What was that like?

Alexis: Yes, it was fun but it’s always a little bit stressful because a lot rides on it.  It wasn’t just us.  We actually held focus groups to make sure that we were including our target consumer into those decisions.

Todd:  It must have been interesting getting people's opinions.

Alexis: One thing about being in alcohol is that people definitely speak their mind.  At one point I think I had about 50 bottles of rosé on my desk and people thought I was crazy.

This was a big part of the process. Eventually, Mike and Alexis did find a wine that worked.  The Drop blend is sourced from a family vineyard in Lodi, California where the winemaker worked hand-in-hand with Alexis and Mike to create the perfect blend for a can. Until there packaged product arrived they would drink wine out of soda cans to make sure that it tasted right. They described it as very “It’s Always Sunny Philadelphia” like.

Mike: One of my favorite things that has happened a few times is when I show up to a wine shop or to a bar on a sales call, the buyer or sommelier will almost want to not like it. They look at me and I can tell they are thinking that in five minutes Mike is going to be out of here. They expect to not like it.  It’s a really nice feeling when their dismissive energy goes away because they actually really do like it.  The next thing you know they are pleasantly surprised and ready to do business with us.

hey explained to me that while this phenomenon of converting naysayers does happen, they have had some really strong believers from the beginning like Bottlerocket and Earl’s Beer and Cheese.  Like any person giving up a highly lucrative career for a relatively untested educated hypothesis, they had people that guided and encouraged them.  These are the people Mike and Alexis chose to listen to.  In some cases, it was the early accounts that just understood the concept from the get-go.  In other cases it was people like Christy Frank (famed wine retailer) or just a close friend named Rob (Alexis’s friend from business school) who gave them the encouragement needed to push forward, averting them from giving up on this uphill climb.

Their name The Drop, while admittedly ripe with double entendres, is derived from the moment in surfing when you “drop” into a wave.  It’s the walk on water moment that you work your ass off for when all the sudden you are on the top of a wave and feel like you are on top of the world. Since launching The Drop has garnered 260 million unpaid media impressions, have sold into more than sixty accounts with distribution across 12 states, are launching another product (a canned red wine) in the fall, and they are just getting started.  In twelve months of business that’s something worth raising a can too.

 

They explained to me that while this phenomenon of converting naysayers does happen, they have had some really strong believers from the beginning like Bottlerocket and Earl’s Beer and Cheese.  Like any person giving up a highly lucrative career for a relatively untested educated hypothesis, they had people that guided and encouraged them.  These are the people Mike and Alexis chose to listen to.  In some cases, it was the early accounts that just understood the concept from the get-go.  In other cases it was people like Christy Frank (famed wine retailer) or just a close friend named Rob (Alexis’s friend from business school) who gave them the encouragement needed to push forward, averting them from giving up on this uphill climb.

Their name The Drop, while admittedly ripe with double entendres, is derived from the moment in surfing when you “drop” into a wave.  It’s the walk on water moment that you work your ass off for when all the sudden you are on the top of a wave and feel like you are on top of the world. Since launching The Drop has garnered 260 million unpaid media impressions, have sold into more than sixty accounts with distribution across 12 states, are launching another product (a canned red wine) in the fall, and they are just getting started.  In twelve months of business that’s something worth raising a can too.