From Bartenders to Business Owners

Category: Entrepreneurship Startup Success stories

Have you ever been out hiking, fishing, or camping, and had a craving for a premium cocktail, but didn’t want to lug around the heavy ingredients? If that's the case, BarCountry is the company for you! The owners Mathieu and Kole are adventurers themselves, so they know packs are tight on space. All you need is a flask of your desired alcohol, some water, and one of their dehydrated cocktail mixers to enjoy your drink of choice at the end of a grueling day.

Down the Path to Success

For Kole and Mathieu, it was a long process to get to where they are today. They both have different educational and professional backgrounds and came to Alberta from other provinces. When they met as bartenders in Calgary, they combined their knowledge of making great cocktails with their passion for the outdoors and started their own company.

Neither of them have a background in food chemistry, so they had to discover if creating a product like this was even possible. In early 2016 they started their research and product development phase, and reached out to us for help building their business plan and doing market research to validate their idea. They’ve also found ATB to be a great support throughout their startup journey, offering them banking services and the opportunity to run a successful crowdfunding campaign on BoostR. BarCountry is now also a part of ATB's accelerator program: ATB X.

Raise the Bar

After creating something new from scratch and trying some really disgusting stuff along the way, Kole and Mathieu were successful in getting a delicious product to market. In March 2017, they launched their first few mixers – for an old fashioned, Caesar, or margarita. It has been a challenge to get consumer buy-in for the product as just putting it on the shelves isn’t enough with a new, innovative, and unfamiliar product. The guys have been hustling and attending markets and tradeshows to offer samples and educate their customers. Now just 6 months after their initial launch, Kole and Mathieu are meeting their sales goals and have a few local stores carrying their product. They are creating a buzz around the product, and word of mouth is a huge tool.


Sampling some products

 “It will never be perfect the first time. There is a lot of work that needs to be done continuously to be where you want to be.”

Mathieu and Kole have become many things over the past year and a half: food scientists, salesmen, and most importantly entrepreneurs living their dream. They’ve learned a lot during that time, and have some great tips to share with anyone hoping to be successful in business:

  • Stick to your vision. When you are starting a new product or company, you are the one with the vision. You are the one who knows where you want your business to be. Getting external help is great; they will give you some valuable knowledge, but at the end of the day, you are the one who is going to be making the decisions.

  • Learn from other businesses. Reaching out for help to grow what you have in mind is definitely worth it.

  • Buckle up. It is not always easy, but it is rewarding like you’ve never experienced. It’s a lot of work and effort, and it’s not going to happen overnight, unless you are very lucky. In the end, it’s worth it.

More Fun Ahead

Six months after starting to sell their product, Kole and Mathieu still consider themselves to be in the soft-launch phase. Their plans over the next year include expanding their cocktail variety and taking the product to mass market. For a product like theirs they know they need volume to make money, so will continue to educate their customers and plan to target liquor stores and outdoor stores for their big launch in early 2018.

Until then, check them out on social media to keep updated on where they’ll be so you can give their mixers a try!   

 

Ready to get started?

If you are looking for one-on-one support for your startup, give our Business Advisors a call at 1-800-272-9675 or email askus@businesslink.ca. You can also visit our events and webinars pages for upcoming activities!

About the Author

Kari Morton

Kari Morton

Senior Business Advisor, Business Link

Kari helps clients find answers to their burning business questions on a daily basis. She enjoys putting her broad range of interests and experience to work for Alberta’s entrepreneurs. One of her main passions is market research and she greatly enjoys jumping down rabbit holes to help clients find information. She also enjoys assisting with projects to ensure that Business Link runs like a well-oiled machine. When Kari isn’t out enjoying theatre arts or exploring the world, you’ll find her with her nose in the latest novel, or volunteer teaching ESL. Her dream business would be a bookstore, with a twist!

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