It’s beginning to be “crunch time” for UpDog! Tea and juice have been ordered, the bottles are all set to ship, and we are getting ready to order our new labels (designed by Chelsea Bellomy.) We are really excited to debut our new look, and also reveal where we will be selling UpDog around Winston Salem. My new challenge is the kegs. We are going to be using one-time use kegs from PETainer. You don’t have to clean them since they’re one-time use, and they’re recyclable, giving them a lower carbon footprint than a traditional metal keg (it takes gallons of water and sanitizer to clean a traditional keg.) I have a sample keg from the company, but I am waiting for them to send me a coupler so I can test out the keg myself by making carbonated water. Everything is moving along nicely so far!
For the last few weeks, I have been working pretty independently on this business, but my partner and I have delegated different tasks that we have assigned ourselves for the summer. We work with an app called Asana that organizes our tasks and keeps us on track. Because Lauren is in Colorado for the summer, we FaceTime and talk on the phone often to keep each other updated on the progress of our business. UpDog Kombucha got it’s start last January after I wrote an article for Spoon WFU about how to brew your own kombucha. As for growing pains, we are going through them now. I just ordered the minimum amount (8,100 units) of 12 oz clear glass beer bottles. Because this is only 2 pallets and not a truckload, I have had to organize my own freight coming from Minnesota. I ordered caps to go with these bottles, and one case of caps is 10,000 units. However, the minimum order of caps is 3 cases (30,000 caps.) This is obviously an issue, since we don’t need 30,000 caps for 8,100 bottles. So, we must order one case and pay the $75 fee for not ordering the minimum amount of cases. These are only some of the challenges I have faced in the last few weeks. Aside from dealing with these challenges, I have been meeting with small businesses in Winston Salem, trying to get our product into stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. Almost everyone I have met with (~15 businesses) is on board to sell our kombucha either in a bottle or a keg. Exciting things are happening for UpDog!
Because my summer internship is my own company, I am in a unique situation. I don’t have a supervisor delegating my tasks, which means I have to choose my priorities for the company wisely. This summer, I am responsible for navigating logistical challenges in our business, and also meeting with businesses in Winston Salem to get our product in the door. I am not yet in Winston Salem (I will be moving back in two days) but I am already working on tasks that need to be completed before production can begin. So far, I have signed the contract for the commercial kitchen and paid the rent for the first month. I have contacted a packaging distributor and working on getting a quote for 8,100 clear beer bottles with twist off beer crowns. Additionally, I have been in contact with an insurance broker and received a quote for property and liability insurance, and I have also been in contact with a wholesale tea distributor. On July 1st, I am going to be meeting with local label makers in Winston Salem. On top of this, I have created a spreadsheet of monthly expenses, and I have discovered that many of our larger expenses are one-time expenditures, which is quite a relief for us as a new business. Our biggest expense will be the bottles. Our previous bottles from SKS packaging were about $0.77/bottle. We are now transitioning to using bottles supplied by Gamer Packaging, and these bottles will be $0.14/bottle. Because these are beer bottles with twist off beer crowns, we do not have to add an extra expense of tamper-proof shrink bands to go around the caps.
Having these logistical affairs in order is crucial to our business so we can start production in the beginning of August. Once we move into the commercial kitchen on August 1st, we will be certified by the NCDA and can then begin selling wholesale kombucha to businesses. Right now, we are trying to shift our business model from mostly bottles to mostly kegs. Although kegs are somewhat expensive to buy, it’s much easier than filling hundreds of bottles without an automatic filling line.
I’m interested to see the challenges presented in the next few weeks, and excited to see what businesses I can bring on board to sell UpDog Kombucha.