Welcome to the Hops & Spirits Friday Five, where we ask five questions to interesting people in the alcohol world.
This week’s spotlight is on True Cubes co-founder Doug Allan. While earning his MBA, Doug co-founded a successful wine packaging company with two classmates. Stacked Wines, a patented single-serve wine package, was a revolutionary package that gained national distribution and press. Doug has also workedwith wine brands such as Chateau Montelena Winery, Seghesio Family Vineyard, Kendall-Jackson, La Crema and many others. Bringing innovations to life–from ideation to market success–is Doug’s knack. He is excited to do so once again with True Cubes with founder and designer John Baumbach.
1) What drove you all to create True Cubes?
My business partner (John Baumbach) lives in Los Angeles and he was tired of getting little “floaties”* from his tap water that he used to make his ice cubes, especially when he was using the cubes for his good whiskies. That sent us on a five-year journey that led to designing the best clear ice cube tray in the world. *Floaties is a technical term (not really, obviously) for the dissolved solids that are in every tap water (and most bottled waters) such as magnesium, manganese, silica, chlorine, lead, and others. Our tray filters all of that out leaving the cube with almost pure H20 and aesthetically clear and beautiful.
2) How long did it take to develop and perfect True Cubes?
It took us about three years to develop and perfect it, then another 2 years to get momentum behind the brand before we saw any major success in the market.
3) You’ve (Doug) been involved in the adult beverage world for a while, particularly wine. What’s that been like for you?
It is not at all as romantic as you would think but it is as dynamic as you would think. It is a highly competitive space, with a lot of regulation, with almost endless iterations on styles, varieties, price points, etc…all of that adds up to an industry that keeps me busy. Never a dull moment with a lot of rewarding elements especially when you taste something new or something someone has spent their entire career perfecting.
4) You and John also want to be mentors and share your experience with others. Why is that?
We love the process of engineering/designing new products (John) and also seeing them come to life and become profitable (Doug). We are a dynamic team that has experience in product development, marketing, e-commerce, patents, sales, and all aspects of developing a successful company. That is nothing new… Our twist is that we want to inspire and show new entrepreneurs how to successfully start a business without leaving their day job. (Hint: have a “church and state” philosophy.) We have a formula and tips for a path to achieving success with a new brand that starts as a side hustle.
5) What’s the most enjoyable part of your work?
Easiest question so far…great cocktails and wine, of course! The more rational answer is that I enjoy the autonomy and the responsibility that comes with the territory of owning and operating your own start up. If you don’t do it (or think of it), no one else will. So, you learn very quickly how to become an accountant, supply chain manager, legal department, copywriter, photographer, etc… Obviously, there are roles that can and should be outsourced but even with those, you do not have area experts on staff to advise so it all falls on the founder’s shoulders, especially at the very beginning. And, that is fun to be. To put a new spin on an old idiom… a jack of all trades and master of many.