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May 25, 2021

Bill Moses had a gut feeling.

Having made his mark in non-alcoholic beverages as the co-founder and former CEO of probiotic drink and kombucha brand KeVita, Moses saw an opportunity to re-imagine the beverage alcohol space via a better-for-you platform of products. Shortly before the sale of KeVita to Pepsico in 2016, one that netted over $230 million, he launched Fermented Sciences, a platform dedicated to developing and launching “innovative fermented beverage brands to transform the alcohol industry.”

In February of 2018, the company introduced its first brand, Flying Embers, which debuted with a line of organic hard kombucha. Flying Embers quickly emerged as a leading player in the burgeoning space and has since launched several other beverage lines, including hard seltzer, beer infused with functional ingredients and a recently introduced Champagne-style product called Kombucha Bubbly. Amid a growing portfolio and surging sales -- less than a year in, Flying Embers hard seltzer is among the top brands in the category -- Moses is motivated by the momentum he sees for better-for-you alcoholic drinks. He’ll note, however, that maintaining the company’s pace requires an intense focus and thoughtful strategy, each of which he outlined in an interview featured in this episode.

As part of our conversation, Moses spoke about his vision for Fermented Sciences within the context of macro trends that are shaping the food and beverage industry, how the company most effectively allocates resources across its product lines and why having “the least polarizing liquid” is a key to its innovation strategy. He also compared raising capital for Kevita and Fermented Sciences, why personal relationships with distribution partners are critical to the success of Flying Embers and the importance of finding balance amid an intense drive to win.

Show notes: 

0:46: It’s An UnCANNy Resemblance. Plus, New Products Galore And A Slim Jim Smackdown -- The hosts chatted about the benefits of BevNET and NOSH’s upcoming Boot Camp and Virtually Live events and why a fast-growing “social tonic” brand introduced an “uncannabated” product line. They also praised several new products, including an avocado hummus, cookie bites, enhanced water and a cauliflower-based veggie burger. They also snapped into Slim Jims.

18:01: Interview: Bill Moses, Founder/CEO, Fermented Sciences -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Moses for an expansive interview that began with an examination of the entrepreneur’s work schedule, which includes several board and advisory commitments. Moses also explained why Fermented Sciences has raised $50 million to date, how his experience with Kevita shaped his perspective on capital needs and how he analyzed the opportunity for hard kombucha. Later, he discussed the company's approach to new product development, particularly as it relates to traditional categories, how Flying Embers is managing a category leading brand and one that’s playing in a hot and highly competitive space and why it’s focusing on a “Power of the Pair” strategy at retail. Moses also spoke about the importance of recruiting the best talent, the elements of a winning culture and hinted that Fermented Sciences might not be his last rodeo.

Brands in this episode: Flying Embers, KeVita, Cann, Hope Foods, Post Meridiem, Nature’s Heart, Dr Praeger’s, Theo Chocolate, Chiki Chiki Boom Boom, Esse Water, Shine Water, Ayoba, Slim Jim, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Koia, Iconic Protein, Vive Organic, Wilde Brands