Beverage Startups

7 Things To Know About Blue Marble

7 Things To Know About Blue MarbleBlue Marble is a family business providing a co-packaging service. Moreover, the company has 4 beverage lines from canned water to spirits. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Alan Miller – Founder, CEO and Planetary Ambassador at Blue Marble.

1. What is the story behind Blue Marble?

It’s a love story. When Danyelle and I started Blue Marble we were newly dating and the company was focused on full strength ready-to-drink cocktails. We now have 9 flavors of cocktails, 4 flavors of seltzer’s, gin, vodka, and water! We both started out in the medical industry servicing consumers with products. We never thought about starting a beverage company or building a factory. We simply wanted a great ready to drink cocktail to entertain our friends with. What we found was lots of sugar, watered down, artificial or simply bad tasting products. It was hard to find an enjoyable product that was clean and tasted great, thus we completely reinvented ourselves, learned everything about the RTD industry, completed lots of data analysis, and decided we could start something spectacular.

The name Blue Marble was a perfect fit for what Danyelle and I believe in. We like to work hard and play hard. We’re now engaged and planning to get married later this year. You can typically find us on our boat enjoying lots of different water sports. It’s sad to see the destruction happening to our beaches and oceans through single-use plastic. Blue Marble represents awareness, clean, and all-natural, just like our beverages. We were donating to charity organizations long before we were generating revenues.

Developing our beverage lines was quite the learning experience. We knew what we wanted and were involved in every aspect of every flavor – all 16!  We sought out looking for the best ingredients, hired PhDs to scale our formulations and ultimately had to build our own factory to meet our quality expectations and quantities.  There was so much more than we expected! The travel is so insane but we love it! As the faces of Blue Marble, we love being involved.

From working with our distributors, in 45 states, our clients like Disney and Legends, and with all of the amazing people backing Blue Marble’s success. I have always bootstrapped my own companies because I knew the industry and had relationships, this being new for us we raised 3 million dollars through strategic investors who helped us make connections.  Don’t get me wrong, people often ask “How do you guys do it, how can you spend 24/7 with someone and not kill each other”? Well, we definitely have our moments but usually, exhaustion is the cause but there is nothing we would rather be doing than creating Blue Marble together.

2. Blue Marble has 4 different beverage lines. Can you tell us more about each?

I guess you can say we are overachievers! We started with RTDs, added seltzer’s, water and gin and vodka. We already had what we needed to make each of them, so it came down to developing the branding around each.

Blue Marble’s RTD line is simply in a league of its own.  We use real fruit concentrates, and never any preservatives. They all are dye and gluten-free and are all-natural.  Our Bloody Mary was voted World’s Best Ready to Drink Cocktail – and you will know when you try it. Everyone asks “Which is your favorite?” I say it is kind of like having kids… they are all my favorite.  We chose a perfect pour 200 ml (6.8 oz) can because a lot of our business is on-premise, such as cruise ships, arenas, amusement parks, and golf courses. RTDs are definitely the hardest to develop and scale. We had to develop our own water and blend up all of our own spirits including vodka, rum, and tequila.

Our spiked seltzer line is simply better than what’s on the market because it’s made with our premium vodka, not beer malt or beer sugars as they are disguised as. It is shocking that consumers really don’t know what’s in their seltzer. That’s something we are changing! Much like our RTDs, our seltzer’s are all-natural, gluten-free and taste amazing. They have been coined “the White Claw Killers”.

Our vodka and gin are badass! The bottles are unique and scream premium. Put one on a lighted bar and you will see the earth (the blue marble) light up. I love vodka and what we put into making ours makes it incredibly smooth, its the first one I can actually enjoy on the rocks, the same holds true with our gin. I love seeing people smile when they take their first sip!

Canned water may sound silly but when we see the destruction from single-use plastic it’s a natural product for us to offer.  Our benchmark was Fiji and I am happy to say that when blind taste-tested, people prefer Blue Marble. We want to bring awareness and what better way to do it than offer our Blue Marble Pure Love Canned Water!

7 Things To Know About Blue Marble3. It must be hard to compete in such different categories. What makes Blue Marble beverage products differ in the market?

There is nothing I love better than beating the big companies at their own game – I am used to doing this my entire career.  Consumers are smart and savvy – they know quality when they see and taste it and that is what makes us different. If you want the best Blue Marble is the way to go. Passion it was is driving Blue Marble and we have a great love story of loving each other, our planet and our consumers.

4. The beverage industry is pretty challenging. What are the biggest difficulties you have faced so far?

Definitely navigating the distribution network.  A yes in the industry definitely doesn’t mean yes or guaranteed success. Just because you get signed with a distributor doesn’t mean they are going to push your product. It takes feet in the street, marketing, incentive support and lots of money.  Every state requires its own support.

5. Blue Marbles provides a co-packing service as well. Can you tell us more about it?

Blue Marble Productions, Inc (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc), centrally located in Indianapolis, IN., the crossroads of America.  I was approached by several companies to make their products for them. The word had gotten out! We knew how to make complex products. Now we make medical products, kombucha, sparkling fruit juices for grade schools, wellness drinks and even canned water for a famous actor. We are growing our canning facility to almost 200,000 square feet with multiple canning lines this spring and am happy to say some of the biggest companies in the world are trusting us with their products.

I am a nerd at heart and love innovation and you see lots of that in our factory. I built it with virgin eyes and a clean sheet of paper. I didn’t allow the words “Well that’s how it’s always been done…” affect my vision of building a state-of-the-art facility that runs SAP and is full of robotics and world-class teams. The best part is I get to utilize profits from our co-packing efforts and drive them directly into our Blue Marble line.

6. Every milestone is very important. What would you say is the biggest achievement for Blue Marble so far?

There have been many but one of the most exciting achievements included our integration in Disney’s resorts, water parks, cruise line, and a private island. Signing with the biggest distributors like SGWS, Fenway and Empire have definitely helped propel the company and receiving countless gold medals for our product line gave us the assurance that we did it! It takes lots of money to make it all work. We were able to sell all of our Series A stock at $1 per share – something everyone said was impossible as we had 150 million authorized shares – thus putting a pre-revenue on the company at $150,000,000. Not only did we sell out of the stock but we remained as majority owners.

7 Things To Know About Blue Marble7. What advice would you have given yourself before you started out in the beverage business?

Lots!! The biggest thing is trusting yourself and accepting mistakes, learning, and getting stronger. In retrospect, I would have raised all of the money upfronts which would have accelerated the company quicker. I also think I should have trusted my business instinct a little more and industry types a little less. It is a difficult industry to navigate and there are lots of hands reaching into your pocket, just be prepared with a great product, a business plan as money is not enough. It takes guts, passion, and love!

For more information visit Blue Marble’s website.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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