Winning in the store isn’t easy. To find the secret ingredients for growth, we set out to chat with execs who are manufacturing success at the store level. Here we spoke with Melissa Kalimov, COO of Rise Brewing Company, on what it took to grow her delicious nitro-brew coffee brand from small idea to shelf staple.
For more tips and strategies from other brand builders, check out our full interview series here!
Hey everybody i’m here at BevNET Live hanging out with Melissa from Rise Brewing. Melissa, what do you think of the show so far?
The show’s amazing. It’s just a really good group of people. The beverage industry is a really kind community.
Yeah absolutely, I feel the same way. It’s my first show, so it’s really exciting for me. So my first question for you is: how did you get your start in the industry?
Rise was founded about two years ago, and we just wanted to make really, really delicious-tasting coffee with healthy ingredients. So we make a nitro cold brew coffee. It’s made with fair trade, organic, Peruvian beans, cold brewed in spring water, and then condition infused with nitrogen. What the nitrogen does is it gives it a really creamy mouthfeel, gives it a longer shelf life, and I would say the flavor aspect is really impactful. It pushes out the oxygen - which is what makes coffee sour - and just lets the natural, chocolatey flavor of the bean come through. And that’s how we were founded.
We have a lemonade flavor as well and a blood orange flavor, and what I love about those is they also bring the tea-drinker and the energy drink-drinker into the market. That way when someone comes to me and they tell me they don’t drink coffee, of course my first instinct is still “Take a sip!” because ours is a little smoother, a little creamier than your average coffee, and we do convert a lot of non-coffee drinkers. And those flavors do allow us to serve the folks that do prefer tea or energy drinks.
Well that’s pretty awesome, to be able to cast such a wide net with a single product. And you actually have one of your products here.
I do, I only have our lemonade to show you. Unfortunately, all of the blacks were stolen from me by rabid caffeine-needing folks. This is our new slim can. We’re launching this in the Pacific Northwest on January 1. In the East Coast market we’ve had a slightly larger can. What we heard from people is that they wanted something a little more portable, and we think that this is the right amount of liquid so we’re excited.
Yeah I mean that's a great size for a show like this where people are on-the-go.
It’s also going to allow us to launch an ecommerce business, so all of you who have been harassing me, or - not harassing - kindly asking all over the country, we now have something that we can ship nationwide. That, to me, is the thing I’m most excited about.
That’s a good segue to my next question: what would you say has been the secret to your success so far?
First of all, I think success is a strong word. I think we’re trying to make a really, really delicious product. I think we really try to put the customer first. I think the most important thing you can do is make something that takes delicious and is good for you. So by remaining maniacally focused on taste and on healthy ingredients, I think that’s what is bringing us forward.
Excellent, so bringing me to my next question: what piece of advice would you give to someone that’s in the same position as you right now?
I mean, just a lot of hard work. Be friendly. Meet people. I think we just try to ask as many questions as we can and we just throw spaghetti at the wall. I think what’s interesting is some of the most innovative beverage companies are started by people who are outside of the industry. And I think just by being creative it brings you places. And then working really, really hard also brings you places. So work with good people, work hard and work kindly.
Bonus Question: What is your favorite product that’s currently on the market that you don’t make.
We have a partnership with Away Luggage, and we have a little cafe in their flagship in New York. It’s like a tech forward luggage - founded by Warren B. Parker, former Warren B. Parker execs, and it’s just an amazing piece of luggage that’s really well priced. Again, it’s people who are focused on “What does the customer need? What’s a really really good product that’s a quality piece that they’re gonna be able to take home with them?” Anyway, I think that they’ve done amazing work.
Dan MacDonald is a Content Marketing Journalist for Repsly, who enjoys writing and using creativity to solve problems. He is studying Economics at Tufts University, and is an offensive lineman on the Tufts Football team. In his free time, Dan enjoys playing the guitar and the piano, hiking, and watching sports.