What springs to your mind when you hear the words, boxed wine? Is it a busted-up cardboard box of Franzia? Whatever it is, it might not be pleasant or pretty, but that’s all about to change. Meet BeatBox Beverages, the brains behind the World’s Tastiest Portable Party Punch. BeatBox Beverages is removing the often negative stigma behind boxed wine and bringing new life to the wine market both in the way they approach their customers and also in the care they’ve taken to build a brand that’s proved itself worthy of its tastiest title.
When Justin Fenchel, CEO; Aimy Steadman, COO; and Brad Schultz, CXO decided to throw their hats into the ring and bet big on their idea, the team appeared on Shark Tank in 2014 and earned $1 million from venture capitalist and investor Mark Cuban. Check it out.
We had the pleasure of speaking to the BeatBox team and one of the co-founders Aimy Steadman, COO, to introduce them to our devoted, informed readers.
Before BeatBox began, it all started with an idea. While viewers of Shark Tank will certainly know your story, what came before the show?
BB: Drawn together by their love for music and the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin, Texas, the founders of BeatBox Beverages® always believed experiences are more fun when they are shared with friends. So began their journey to mix friends, fun, and flavor into something that could help everyone party beyond basic.
While in undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, founders Justin Fenchel, Aimy Steadman, Brad Schultz, Jason Schieck and Dan Singer began filling empty wine bags with their unique blend of Razzberry Lemonade and Vodka. It became such a hit, their peers began practically paying for them for drinks. When they began to officially sell the concoction, they found that they had to swap out vodka with wine, and soon after discovered they’d created the World’s Tastiest Portable Party Punch!
Boxed wine gets a bad rep. How is BeatBox making wine approachable, exciting, and most of all, new?
BB: BeatBox® is disrupting their category in two major ways. Firstly, by defining itself as a “party punch,” they’re offering a deliciously potent alternative to traditional wines, RTD, and malt beverages currently on the market. They’re speaking to that customer who is on the hunt for something more exciting than your typical box of Franzia.
Their focus on classic flavors with a kick also creates an unique flavor profile that removes common stigmas often associated with boxed wine. This, coupled with factors such as being gluten-, metal-, and glass-free allow BeatBox® products to be enjoyed by virtually anyone, anywhere.
BeatBox® is also cultivating a lifestyle around the brand through its various initiatives within the national music festival scene– a move many brands in their category have yet to make.
For example, this year they had the pleasure of sponsoring Wild Splash Festival in Clearwater, Florida and Euphoria Festival in Austin, TX, and are currently gearing up to sponsor Moonrise in Baltimore, MD and Float Fest in San Marcos, TX. As they continue to build a presence in this scene, their products are becoming the cocktail of choice for those invest in fun and believe a little more time, money, and energy is worth it if it creates an epic experience.
I’ve seen the Mixtapes around stores in Austin. Could you tell us a little bit about the decision to create single-serving boxes?
PP: Our core customers, distributors, and retailers all wanted a smaller, quicker way to experience the party punch. To satisfy this demand, we created MixTape® to fill this void and follow-up to our popular 5-liter “party-in-a-box” option.
MixTape® was also mandatory for getting into more events and music festivals since they wouldn’t be able to sell the larger box. As a result, during 2017 music festival season, BeatBox launched MixTape® and found its environmentally convenient factor was popular among festival attendees.
One of the best things about BeatBox’s Box, in our opinion, is that for its size, it is actually holds 7 bottles of wine. How did the team come to decide on the size of the original Box, and now, the size of the Mixtapes?
BB: BeatBox® was designed with potency and portability in mind. It was created to be the drink of choice that party heroes could conveniently bring to a pre-game or event and be able to cater to everyone in attendance. Hence, the size of the box was based off of being 100 percent easy to transport and party anywhere.
MixTape®’s design follows a similar story and was inspired by the portability of old walkmans and tape players. Just as easily as those devices could fit into your pocket and go anywhere with you, MixTapes® were designed to just the same thing. In essence, it’s “ pocket-size” portable party punch–with no glass and no metal. Plus it remains gluten free, low calorie, and low in sugar.
As a whole, millennials tend to base their wine choices on appealing labels, especially when branching out to try something new. Could you speak to the design of BeatBox Beverages?
BB: BeatBox® was created for those millennials in search of something bigger than a traditional wine. However, over time we realized it’s not solely for a millennial audience. It’s really for all that share the mindset of having fun experiences with their favorite people. This truth, coupled with the fact that music is the center of every great party is what brings BeatBox®’s design to life.
It’s designed for people who are ready to party and who are always up for the next party adventure–no matter their age. There are some in our audience simply on the hunt for the most deliciously efficient pregame drinking experience possible. For others, they bring BeatBox® to the party so they can help fuel the good times all night.
And then there are those who are all about drinking it to relax and chill in their backyard with friends. No matter the space, we wanted the packaging to be as bright, fun, and exciting as the moments shared while consuming are.
How important is it to BeatBox that the wines are drinkable for all, even those with gluten allergies and those who tend to stay away from higher calorie drinks?
BB: BeatBox® exists for party heroes everywhere and that means creating a product that meets the needs of every single member of this diverse audience. Whether you’re watching your calorie intake, trying to keep your sugar intake low, battling celiac disease, or just don’t like the bloat you can get with gluten, this doesn’t mean the party has to stop. BeatBox® simply wants to provides a deliciously potent party companion for as many people as possible.
Could you speak to BeatBox’s relationship to music in Austin, the live music capital of the world?
BB: The founders of BeatBox were brought together by their love and appreciation for the music scene of Austin. While in business school, they would attend concerts together and this experience is what mainly inspired them to create the brand in the first place. As BeatBox grew, so did their connections to the bars and venues where these concerts are held. Their relationships with the alcohol/music community were authentic and unwavering in support, and this in turn gave the brand adequate presence across the scene.
In Texas especially, spending time near the water is necessary to surviving summer. Could you speak to the decision to make BeatBox summer-friendly?
BB: BeatBox® was designed 100 percent with Texas in mind. Boxed wine was already a super popular drink on the river because everyone could share without making a mess. However, we knew people were in search of a better tasting alternative. BeatBox®’s bag is designed with floating in mind, which comes in handy when spending summers on the river.
Party-goers are able to easily pass along to friends, all while remaining inside their tube. This same river culture is another reason packaging was meant to be environmentally friendly–by being glass and metal free, customers can focus on enjoying the moment rather than making sure they are following rules.
Where can we find BeatBox Beverages?
BB: BeatBox® is sold nationwide and has presence in major markets such as Texas and California, in stores such as Kroger, Safeway, WalMart, and BevMo. MixTapes® are now found in over 650 stores in California, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, and West Virginia. Chains include 7-11 (CA, FL, TX) , H-E-B (TX), Spec’s (TX) Wal-Mart (TX), Stripes (TX) and Sheetz (WV).
Customers can also find MixTapes® and BeatBoxes® using our store locator by selecting the desired product under search filters on our website.
Where are your favorite places to take your BeatBoxes?
BB: We mean it when we say we’re Portable Party Punch. We specifically designed our packaging so you could take it virtually anywhere.
Whether it’s a lazy day on the river in San Marcos, a tailgate at UT, catching some tunes at Blues on the Green at Zilker Park, or hiking the Green Belt, we specifically designed both the BeatBox® and the MixTape® to be ready to go with you on whatever party adventure awaits. Both are metal and glass free–meaning you’ll be able to throw it in your backpack for a safe, unbreakable journey.
Do you have any additions you recommend to putting your own spin on BBs, or any recipes you love using BeatBoxes in? Also, what’s a Beatboxiscle?
BB: One of the most popular recipes at the moment is BeatBox® and Pineapple. It’s equal parts pineapple juice mixed with equal parts your favorite BeatBox® flavor, simply served over ice.
Another popular recipe is “Prosecco Punch,” which is equal parts BeatBox® and Prosecco. It’s perfect for brunch!
BeatBoxicles are a really fun summer treat that involves simply freezing your BeatBox®, then cutting the corner to be able to squeeze into cups. We also see our customers putting it in sno cone machines and margarita machines. The alcohol content won’t allow the liquid to fully freeze, so the result is a super refreshing alcoholic slushie, snow cone, or frozen BeatBox®!
Sometimes we see people also throw in some extra Sonic ice, too. The cool thing about our audience is [that] they approach everything with a creative eye so we’re always surprised with what they come up with in their quest to #BeatBoring!
Did any of the original team members have experience crafting cocktails prior to starting BeatBox?
Aimy Steadman, COO: Only as consumers! The original founders all have entrepreneurial experience but are new to alcohol industry. We’ve brought on a ton of industry experts to help us continue to engineer the perfect recipe and navigate the industry.
How many recipe tests did it take to get the original BeatBox flavors just right, and how did the team decide on those foundational flavors?
Aimy Steadman, COO: We bought every juice, soda, and mixer you could think of and tested it out with more than 500 people in the Austin area over the course of 6 months or so. The flavor that was the most popular was our pool-side go-to: Raspberry Lemonade mix with vodka. This is the basis for the original flavor. We’ve expanded our flavors since our initial launch based on customer feedback.
11.1% ABV is amazingly high–you’re definitely getting the bang for your buck with BeatBoxes. How did the team find the right balance between buzz and flavor?
Aimy Steadman, COO: We knew the range we needed to be in to replace homemade punch at parties and landed on the magic number through taste testing several options. The 11.1% was the perfect balance at being deliciously potent.
Check out your local grocery store if you live in the states listed above, and consider moving to one that carries BeatBox if not! You’ll never look at boxed wine the same way ever again.