Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #35 – Sharelle Klaus of Dry Soda

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While many restaurants offer dozens of wines, beers and mixed drinks, there are few non-alcoholic options on the menu. Former dot-com entrepreneur and self-described foodie Sharelle Klaus was fed up with her lack of beverage options during the time she was pregnant with her four children. She decided to create the first line of “culinary sodas,” which are less sweet and more sophisticated than sodas like Coke or Pepsi. Based in Seattle, Sharelle’s now peddling her soda all across the country and already has traction in several markets.

Show notes:

1:45 Entrepreneurial streak as a child

  • “My dream was to get into politics.”
  • “It was going to be too slow.”

3:45 Consulted on privatizing airports

  • “It didn’t really take.”

5:15 Had two children

5:30 Getting into the internet business

  • “At that time the Internet didn’t have much, I remember it was like Yahoo and porno sites.”
  • Founded PlanetSquid in 1999.
  • “The bubble burst, and do did ours.”
  • “I knew that I would never, ever, start a company again that didn’t have a clear revenue stream.”

8:30 After the bubble

11:15 Going into the beverage industry

  • “I was able to break a lot of rules… because I didn’t know any better.”
  • “I’m building a brand here.”
  • “Sometimes I say it’s good to be a dumb blond.”

13:30 Coming up with the idea for Dry Soda

  • “I go out to eat a lot, but I also have four children, and because of that it’s really been half my life I haven’t been able to drink alcohol.”
  • “We want Dry to be an event.”

15:30 Executing on the idea and starting Dry Soda

  • “I just tapped into everyone I know.”
  • “I did at least a thousand tests on each flavor.”
  • Sharelle’s lab was “was probably a thousand dollars total.”
  • “Chefs love it.”
  • “I was trying to do all of this for what at the time I thought was going to be $50,000.”
  • “We’ve ended up being able to capitalize the company with $100,000.”

25:30 Launching the company

  • “Within four weeks it was in like 30 of the top restaurants of Seattle.”
  • After not being able to find a distributor, “I went myself into all the high end restaurants.”

29:00 Current state of Dry Soda

  • Full West Coast distribution.
  • Sold 24,000 bottles.
  • “We don’t skew as female as I thought we would.”
  • “We should be nation wide in the next 12 months.”

38:30 The market

  • “There’s a great new market and it’s called the adult soda market.”

39:30 Funding

  • Oversubscribed for first round of $750,000.

44:00 Team

  • “Everybody comes with some great beverage experiences but not so much that they’re jaded.”

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