2 Women-Owned Beverage Startups Set for Market

Tanisha Robinson and Kathryn Dougherty are gearing up for individual beverage releases. Photos courtesy of Fahlgren Mortine and Spritz Sparkling Tea.

Two women-owned startups are set to bring something different to the Central Ohio beverage market.

Tanisha Robinson, of BrewDog notoriety, has announced her departure as chief disruption officer in pursuit of her latest venture, W*nder – an all-natural, sparkling beverage infused with vitamins and CBD said to provide energy and focus. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the hemp plant.

The sparkling water will be infused with natural flavors, vitamins, and 20mg of CBD, amounting to 0% THC.

W*nder will eventually be available online and in four flavors: the Breakfast Club, a blood orange, mint, and ginger formulation; Born to Run, which is comprised of lemon and rosemary; Fast Times, made up of cucumber, mint, and lime; and Night Moves, a blueberry and basil formulation.

Robinson served as BrewDog USA’s first CEO from 2017 to March of this year. She says her later role as chief disruptor led her to conclude that CBD “is one of the biggest opportunities in the beverage industry in a generation.”

“It’s where I want to invest my time and energy,” said Robinson, in a press release. “I’m also excited to build this business in Columbus.”

W*nder also comes with a social mission of investing in entrepreneurs from communities that have been disproportionately discriminated against by the legal system’s selective prohibition of cannabis. W*nder’s “420 Rule” will take 4.20% of profits and invest in entrepreneurs from these communities.

“With a lot of money currently flowing in both in CBD and THC – many already-wealthy people are going to make a lot of money, while an unequal number of black and brown people in the industry have suffered excessive legal consequences,” said Robinson. “It is hard for people of color to raise capital to start businesses, and my hope is that W*nder can help some of these companies get off the ground. I deeply believe that if we want to change communities, we have to start from within.”

Another beverage startup hitting the market in December is non-alcoholic sparkling tea Spritz.

Spritz founder Kathryn Dougherty is a 10-year veteran in corporate America who noticed a gap in the beverage market for non-alcoholic beverage alternative that offered health benefits, in flavors that appealed to women. Her work at Johnson & Johnson, in particular, gave her the experience in finance, marketing, sales, and new product development that would help inform her transition from idea to full-on product set for market.

Dougherty worked with Louisville-based food and beverage consultant Flavorman on the technical side of Spritz’s development. She worked with the company to create a product that was tea-based while simultaneously vegan-friendly, natural, low-calorie, and moderately carbonated. The process of refining the product, as well as getting feedback from various demographics, took about a year.

The product then went into shelf-life testing and larger-scale market research with quantitative concept testing. A 200-person survey explained the concept and product, and asked their likelihood to try Spritz given certain claims and packaging, where they expected to see the product, how much they would be willing to pay, among other questions.

Other research geared toward the product’s target demographic of women and female athletes requested feedback on the end product, including the carbonation, aroma, color, sweetness, fruitiness, aftertaste, and earthiness of the product, as well as purchase likelihood.

Locally, Dougherty had help from the Women’s Small Business Accelerator, whose Inspired Entrepreneur Program helped her write her business plan, commercialization strategy, and brainstorm ways to finance her business from a capital standpoint. She also worked with the EDGE Innovation Hub and Rev1 Ventures, the latter of which helped assist with market research and concept tests in its Customer Learning Lab.

“Columbus has been amazing. I get to work with other local beverage companies like Watershed Distillery, Simple Times Mixers, and we’ve got great support from retailers and fitness studios, and salons and spas,” said Dougherty, “So Columbus as a geographic market has been an incredible place to nurture a company in its infancy.”

Spritz will hit the market with two flavors: a dragon fruit, guava, and mango-flavored hibiscus tea, and a green tea infused with pomegranate, peach, and lemon. The teas are now available for pre-order on Spritz’s website. Central Ohio retailers to offer Spritz include REBoL, Townhall, North High Brewing, Haven Collective and Friendship Fitness.

For more information on W*nder, visit www.wnderallday.com.

For more information on Spritz, visit www.spritztea.com.