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Apr 6, 2021

During the most challenging moments in his company’s development, Ryan Close, the founder and CEO of Bartesian, a maker of innovative counter-top machines that produce premium cocktails on demand, would repeat the same mantra: “Let’s move this thing yard by yard, look up every few yards and see where we are.” Seven years after its debut, Bartesian is now galloping in full stride. 

The fast-growing company generated a 975% increase in revenue in 2020 amid a pandemic that saw a boom in at-home drinking occasions and came on the heels of the brand’s inclusion in Oprah Winfrey’s acclaimed Favorite Things of 2019 list. Following its breakout year, Bartesian today announced the completion of a $20 million Series A funding round led by venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue and that actress Mila Kunis has joined the company’s advisory board. 

Similar to a Keurig coffee machine, Bartesian uses capsules that contain pre-blended liquid mixers. At the push of a button, the machine blends the mixers with base spirits that are preloaded into the unit to create a variety of high quality cocktails. According to Close, the company has hundreds of thousands of customers that have purchased the machine and buy its capsules on a regular basis.

Bartesian is backed by several high-profile investment partners, including Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and spirits conglomerate Beam Suntory, along with Cleveland Avenue, all participating in a 2019 funding round that raised $6 million.

In an interview included in this episode, Close spoke about how he identified the potential for an automated cocktail machine, mapping out a strategy that encompasses appliance technology, mixology and marketing, identifying the most important attributes of the brand and why he says that he’s not trying to put bars out of business.  

0:45: Shroomin’ On A Friday Afternoon. Plus, Expo West Galleries (Sans Expo). -- The podcast’s hosts riffed on recent photo galleries on BevNET and NOSH that featured dozens of new products introduced over the past month, discussed a boom in mushroom-centric brands and highlighted several snacks and drinks that they munched and sipped on over the past couple weeks.

23:02: Interview: Ryan Close, Founder/CEO, Bartesian -- Close spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about what inspired him to launch Bartesian, why overconfidence was helpful early on, why B2B sales were key to the company’s initial funding strategy and the partnership that provided critical working capital during its first few years. He also discussed how the deal with Beam Suntory came together, how Bartesian communicates long-term value to its customers, how he assesses opportunities to scale and why he views competition as important to the company’s growth.

Brands in this episode: Recess, Honest Tea, Eat The Change, Beyond Meat, Earth & Star, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, Shroomi, Shroom Shot, Four Sigmatic, Riff, GoodSport, Casamera Club, CANN, Local Roots, Elenita, Cafe Spice, Bohana, Lundberg Family Farms, Ithaca Hummus, Hendrick’s Gin, Amass Spirits, Sound Sparkling, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark