Meet Justin Fenchel and Brad Schultz, two of the minds behind Austin’s BeatBox Beverages.
By Andy East
If you think partying cannot jump-start your career, just talk to Justin Fenchel and Brad Schultz of BeatBox Beverages, who have turned an observation at parties into a thriving business.
“We were seeing boxed wine at parties all the time, but we didn’t really know why we were seeing it,” says Fenchel, co-founder of BeatBox Beverages. “It was boring. It wasn’t marketed to us. We felt there was an opportunity there to recreate the boxed-wine experience.”
In 2011, Fenchel and Schultz teamed up with fellow co-founders Aimy Steadman, Jason Schieck and Daniel Singer to develop a new kind of mixed drink for millennials. In March 2013, they launched BeatBox Beverages and secured their first retail deal with the Che vron station on Riverside Drive and Congress Avenue.
“It’s a party in a box,” Schultz says. “We took the concept of boxed wine and instead of going the route of regular wine, we made fun mixed drinks out of it. The idea is that it’s all you need for a party. You don’t need mixers. You don’t even need cups. You can drink it right out of the bag if you wanted.”
“Boxed wine is really convenient, especially for people in Austin,” Fenchel adds. “They’re going on boats, to the rivers, the lake, pool parties, tailgates and all of these outdoor places where glass bottles are really discouraged or even not allowed.”
The mixed drinks are 11.1 percent alcohol by volume and come in a 5-liter box, the equivalent of seven bottles of wine. BeatBox offers several flavors, including Cranberry Limeade, Blue Razzberry Lemonade and Box A’Rita, a lemon-lime margarita cocktail. The company has grown quickly. By the end of 2013, BeatBox had expanded to 60 locations and amassed $ 53,000 in sales. The business has shown no signs of slowing, generating more than $235,000 in sales in its first 14 months, half of which came in the last quarter.
Currently, the party drink is available at nearly 150 stores throughout Texas, including 30 H-E-B stores and 45 Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods locations. As business has increased, the company’s momentum has recently carried the co-founders into the national spotlight. In October, Fenchel, Schultz and Steadman appeared on Shark Tank, an ABC reality series featuring up -and-coming entrepreneurs. The party-drink makers impressed the panel of “sharks,” securing a $1 million investment from billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Schultz and Fenchel describe the experience as surreal.
“To have someone like Mark Cuban, who is an entrepreneur’s idol, say that this is a great idea and I’ll give you $1 million to do it is just the ultimate validation,” Schultz says.
In the three weeks since the show aired, BeatBox has had more than $80,000 in sales. Fenchel says they plan to use Cuban’s investment to increase inventory and expand into new markets.
“Our goal by the spring and summer of next year,” Fenchel says, “is that as warm-weather states get ready for pool season, lake season and boat season that we’re available for them.”
Launched in 2013, BeatBox Beverages offers several flavors of ready-made wine cocktails. Each box contains 5 liters—the equivalent of seven bottles of wine. BeatBox is available at H-E-B, Spec’s and many other Austin retailers. Check out the BeatBox Beverages iTunes app that streams music from DJs and allows users to locate stores that sell BeatBox in-house and online.