Jordan Silbert and Ben Karlin have raised tens of millions of dollars to improve your drinking experience with a premium mixer that is proving to be a big hit.
During our time together on the Dealmakers Show Ben and Jordan shared with our podcast audience how they met at summer camp, and found their way to creating a new premium mixer brand. We talked about their experiences with taking the lean traditional approach to business versus raising equity to seize on bigger opportunities. Plus, their top advice for entrepreneurs starting businesses.
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Ben and Jordan met as kids in summer camp, and after taking their own journeys for a while ultimately came back together to grow their own business together.
Jordan was born in NY, on the Upper West Side. After attending Brown for college, he ended up moving out to California.
He found work in economic development with Sonoma County. He lived in a small cabin in the woods, with no shower inside. His landlord was known for hosting parties where he would roast goats, grew his own pot and made his own wine.
It was about as different from NYC as you could get, but the wine happened to be really good.
Jordan ended up going to San Francisco and having his first experiences in startups. One of them was acquired by Microsoft. Another went public.
He learned a lot from those days about how not to spend money from a lot of the startups in the boom of the time. He vowed to make sure every penny of his own business today is invested in the actual business, not just impressing people at parties.
Yet, he says that in retrospect one of most influential parts of being out there in California was the wine making. It was the confidence of seeing this guy out in the woods making some pretty incredible wine that made Jordan think, “If he can do it, so can I.”
Jordan even helped out, picking wild grapes, crushing them, and barrelling them. Yet, Jordan’s idea would be how to make a much better tonic water as a mixer for premium spirits.
When 9/11 hit Jordan was compelled to return to New York City. He packed up his things and drove back across the country.
He joined The Alliance for Downtown New York, in Manhattan to help out. He ended up being tasked with coming up with ideas for projects, getting funding, and implementing programs that would revitalize the area. He enjoyed a great three year ride there before he says everything got too political. While he was working at the Downtown Alliance, he hosted a night of drinks with friends on a warm summer night, and after a few too many gin and tonics with great gin and lousy tonic water, realized that there weren’t any quality mixers to match up to their spirits.
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