The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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40  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2014 HOT SHOT E ach month we team up with the beverage industry recruiting and staffing experts at BevForce and chat with one of their Movers & Shakers to get a behind-the-scenes insight on the job search process, the beverage industry's most innovative companies and the executives who drive them. This month, we chatted with Anshuman Vohra, founder of Bulldog Gin. What attracted you to building Bulldog and what inspired you from the start? My career originally started at JP Morgan, where I handled mergers and acquisitions. Working with entre- preneurs and seeing their ideas come to life really inspired me to live the "American Dream." It was this inspira- tion that left me disillusioned with the monotony of banking and increased my desire to form a company of my own. One Friday afternoon, my colleagues and I were out for a three-Martini lunch (all Martinis and no lunch to be exact), and as I sipped my gin and tonic, my colleagues poked fun and called me old fashioned. I then challenged their "cranberry vodkas" with the bartender on staff, and he wasted no time in crush- ing my ego—he told me that he hadn't made a single gin cocktail all week. I began to wonder, where did gin go wrong? Why are there only two bottles of gin on the bar verses the 20 bottles of vodka? Later that day, I went back to the office and began researching gin consumption and the apparent decline thereof. I knew two things: gin had an image problem (old and stodgy) as well as a taste problem (heavy juniper note—far harsher than vodka, and higher alcohol content). It was clear to me that the category was missing a young, modern, bold gin—with unimpeachable quality and unparalleled taste. I made it my mission to solve this problem. The next few years consisted of me working tireless days at the bank and endless nights/weekends on my business plan. My number one goal was to pro- duce a product and a liquid that would defy the gin category. Instead of focusing on the heavy juniper note, I wanted to focus on creating a smooth and mixable gin with exotic botanicals to comple- ment the juniper. In order to combat the traditional Queen Victoria image that other brands seemed to play so much, our namesake is drawn from my child- hood hero: Sir Winston Churchill—the original "British Bulldog"—who happens to be as defiant, confident and rebellious as they come. When all was said and done, I left banking in late 2006 to run Bulldog fulltime. Some said I was crazy to leave banking at a "good" time (my parents included), but the risk is certainly worth the reward! What advice would you give someone that is building a company? • Begin with the end in mind. Make sure you're clear about the vision. • You must get the word out about your product. Do not rely on the "if you build it they will come" model. • Be sure to raise enough money upfront. It's always better to have more than not enough when start- ing a company. • You must be very focused and real- istic about what you can and can't accomplish with limited resources. • Always be both your own fiercest critic and cheerleader. • You have to be relentless (which often means working nights and weekends when your friends are out having a good time) and resolutely focused on realizing your vision. • Do as much preparation as possible prior to quitting your day job (I raised money, developed the brand, found office space, etc. prior to quitting my job)—this will allow you to focus on other important parts of business development while de-risking the venture as a whole. What do you look for when hiring for your team? I look for people with passion for anything in life (sports, reading, hobbies, etc.) who can parlay that passion into their work at Bulldog. Bulldog is a young brand with a lot of personality and we need to see these exact aspects in our hires. I like people who are both street smart and hungry to succeed. Motivation and willingness to go above and beyond are non-negotiable. What has been the most memo- rable moment since launching? The day we announced our global distribution deal with Gruppo Campari in January 2014. This partnership allowed my dream to take another giant leap forward. With the help of our dear friends at Campari, we are now that much closer to getting Bulldog on every bar in the world! Anshuman Vohra FOUNDER, BULLDOG GIN Anshuman Vohra, founder of Bulldog Gin. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BULLDOG GIN

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