Jul 19, 2022
When prominent beverage investor and entrepreneur Clayton Christopher calls your brand “a winner,” you’re probably doing a few things right. And in the case of Onda, a premium tequila seltzer brand, the description seems spot on.
Christopher’s praise came after he joined as a board member and equity shareholder in 2021 as part of a $5 million Series A funding round. At the time, he noted “the potential of the category, the positioning of the brand and the strength of the team” as key reasons for his investment.
Packaged in bright orange 12 oz. slim cans, Onda is made from a blend of blanco tequila, sparkling water and real fruit juice. Available in eight flavors, each can contains 5% ABV, 100 calories and no added sugar. Last year, Onda expanded distribution to over 10,000 retail accounts in 31 states, including Publix, Total Wine, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, Safeway, Albertsons and BevMo. Onda achieved over 700% growth in 2021 and emerged as the third-best selling brand of tequila-based seltzers, according to Nielsen data.
In June, Onda announced a $12.5 million growth round led by existing investors, including Christopher, investment firm Aria Growth Partners, venture platform 25madison and several high-profile athletes, musicians and entertainers.
In an interview featured in this episode, Onda co-founder and CEO Noah Gray talked about Onda’s origins as a “trade up” concept and how a confluence of premium ingredients and striking package design have resulted in strong consumer trial and repurchase. He also explained what up-and-down-the-street sales informed the team about effective retailing and merchandising and how he landed meetings with and won over high-profile investors, including Christopher and former President & CEO of Moët Hennessy Jim Clerkin.
0:42: Interview: Noah Gray, Co-Founder & CEO, Onda – Gray spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about his unexpected career in the beverage alcohol business, how a recent tweet encapsulates Onda’s genesis, aligning liquid and package harmoniously and why the products are positioned as an affordable luxury. He also discussed how, disrupted by the onset of the pandemic, Onda pivoted its retail launch strategy to door-to-door sales model, and the importance of optimizing merchandising in driving velocity. Later, Gray explained how Onda assesses a growing pool of tequila seltzer brands, attracting industry veterans to a young company and how the team determined capital needs and the most effective ways to deploy new funding.