Bartesian: Cocktails at the Push of a Button
Our society is rife with innovation. We see new products coming out everyday that make daily tasks easier and simplify complicated processes. There are apps to deliver our food, machines to simplify the coffee making process, appliances that perfect our foods, and now there’s a product that can make quality cocktails at the push of a button– the Bartesian. Pod systems are becoming increasingly popular because of the ease of use and superior functionality and quality. However, there has not yet been a pod system for alcohol. Bartesian is the solution to that problem. Bartesian has just elevated the level of drinks you can make at home. No need to wait for bars to get your fancy drinks – you can now have them with the push of a button. Becka Borody, Director of Marketing & Sales for Bartesian, was able to answer a few of my questions regarding this new innovative product.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Bartesian?
A. A friend was out of town on a business trip and came back to her hotel and really wanted a cocktail; unfortunately, the hotel she was at didn’t have a bar, so she went up to her room where she had a fully stocked minibar with the little liquor bottles and some pop but nothing to make a cocktail. She looked over at the coffee machine in the room and thought “wouldn’t it be nice to have that for cocktails?” – that was the light bulb moment. She then talked to Jason and Bryan about it and because they’re engineers, they wanted to jump right in and design it. The friend decided to pursue her career instead of this idea, so Jason and Bryan ran with it and after a couple of prototypes and a lot of customer validation, Bartesian was born.
Q. Would you equate Bartesian as a Keurig for cocktails?
A. We wouldn’t (mostly because we’re not allowed), but a lot of people do. It just makes sense, people understand how a Keurig works – you put in a coffee pod and the machine brews you a single cup of coffee. Bartesian is very similar: insert your capsule (which contains all non-alcoholic liquid ingredients), select your strength, and let the machine do the rest. Being the “Keurig of cocktails” makes sense since the mixing and single serve aspects are the same. But lately Keurig has come under some pressure for their pods not being recyclable and the environmental impact that has had. We knew we wanted to be as sustainable as possible with our capsules, so they’re recyclable!
Q. How do you see society accepting another “pod system?”
A. I think people trust the pod system because of the variety of machines already available within the beverage industry, so they trust the technology and the quality. The only major problem people have is surrounding the sustainability of these machines and their environmental impact, so consumers are definitely more aware of which products are recyclable. To put it into context, to make our 6 drinks that we’re launching with, people would need over 20 bottles of juices, bitters and liqueurs, some of which can and cannot be recycled. With us, you just need your four basic spirits and the capsules (which are recyclable)! Can you tell we’re really proud of that??) – so I think our target customer markets appreciate the ease and convenience as well as the capsules’ recyclable nature.
Q. What do people appreciate about Bartesian?
A. From market validation, we’ve learned that people love the convenience of being able to make quality cocktails at the push of a button. When you’re entertaining at home or at the cottage, you don’t want to be consumed by making everyone their favo(u)rite (we’re Canadian, we stick in ‘u’ in places you guys don’t!) cocktail, so this allows you to be the host/hostess with the most and still enjoy your get-together! It’s fun, intuitive and easy to use, and the drinks taste great! We worked with a lead mixologist who crafted each drink as if she were making them for you in her home! Other people have mentioned they like how quickly Bartesian mixes drinks – you can serve 5 different cocktails in a minute. Easy, tastes great, and a fun gadget to have!
Q. What have you learned from creating this new product?
A. We’ve learned first and foremost to do a lot of customer validation and research because at the end of the day those are the people that will actually buy the product. A lot of startups are consumed with creating what they think is cool without testing the market first, and when they go out to crowdfund or get investment, no one wants it because they didn’t check that they were actually solving a problem for anyone. So we’ve met with a lot of people, held a lot of tastings and really gotten to know what our market is looking for in a home cocktail machine. It was through customer discovery that we found out people wanted to be able to select their strength – it’s an amazing feature to have and something we may not have thought of on our own without customer feedback.
Q. What has been the hardest part about creating and marketing the Bartesian?
A. Bryan and Jason spent four months in China at HAX, the world’s premier hardware accelerator, building and designing Bartesian. When they first went, the company actually had a completely different name, but while working through problems, they discovered that the name wasn’t really on brand. MaxMixology was more of a “cheap and cheery” name, it seemed to bring up thoughts of powdered pods and something that you’d find in a college dorm room, next to a hot plate, and a first year textbook. What we were really shooting for was something a little bit higher end, reaching consumers who enjoy quality cocktails and beautifully designed gadgets. So we went through a rebrand, which was challenging at the time because some people loved MaxMixology a lot and Bartesian is sometimes hard to explain and pronounce. But the rebrand made sense and the marketing has been so much easier now with the name because it allows us to explain the story.
Q. What is your best advice for young and new entrepreneurs?
A. It’s hard work to bring something to market, and it requires a lot of determination, long nights/days/months and sacrifice. It’s fun to come up with ideas but bringing them from ideas to products is hard work. So first, you have to love your idea and have a strong passion for it because it becomes your life, and it’ll make you laugh, cry, mad, rage and bring you more joy than you through possible, but it is all consuming and you should definitely want that.
Second, you have to find people you can work with and that have different skills. Finding people who complement your skill set and make the company better is key, also people who you’d have a drink with at the end of a bad day – you’re all sleeping, eating and breathing the company – so it’s important to respect and like each other.
Third, find mentors! We’ve had great success partially because we’ve had amazing accelerator programs and mentors through the University of Waterloo, Laurier and HAX. Finding a mentor or a team of mentors who will allow you to bounce ideas off of them and offer real world examples of their startups has been invaluable to us.