Sech’s Sells, College Students Introduce Malt Beverage to the Market

Let’s just get this out of the way…it’s pronounced exactly how you think it is. Little did the Germans know that their word for six would become the brand name of a new malt beverage aimed at quenching college students’ thirst.

Jokes with the beverage’s name are abundant, never get old and really represent the not-afraid-to-go-for-it attitude of its makers – a group of Ohio State University and Ohio University students.

“Sex sells; let’s cut to the chase; let’s do it,” says Co-Founder & VP of Marketing Gabriele Galli. “But we don’t want it to be raunchy.”

Galli went to high school with Co-Founder Shea Wilson, who met the third Sech’s creator, Mason Estep at OU. Estep and Wilson had started another business during college, using funds leftover to start Sech’s. They looped OSU student Galli in, but it was really a convenience store owner at OU that pushed the trio toward the beverage. He said if they made it, he would sell it.

Estep was the one who coined the name. He took a German class in high school and thought it would be amusing to start a drink with Sech’s as the name. But beyond the attention-grabbing moniker, the drink capitalizes on a trend in the beverage industry – cocktails in a can. The group noticed the immediate popularity of drinks like Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita that was one of the top new beverages when it was released. Sech’s aims to take that product type to a new audience.

“We thought it would sell great in a college demographic,” Estep says. 

What Sech’s offers college students is a 24 oz, eight percent alcohol ‘Bombacious Berry’ flavored malt beverage that will soon sell for $1.95 a pop.

The price point is specially designed for a college student’s pocket. They knew that whatever booze was the cheapest is what makes it to the party, often sacrificing flavor in the process.

“What we wanted to do was make an affordable product that tasted great,” Galli says. 

The Bombacious Berry flavor is a play on a Shirley Temple. The founders worked with 12 different flavor houses to find the winning taste, then with its manufacturer in Wisconsin to level out the alcohol percentage. Being college students themselves, they approached it with the mentality of if we like it, other students (21+ of course) would as well.

The comparisons to once-banned Four Loko run rampant.

“Four Loko was made with the purpose of getting you the most alcohol percentage you could,” Galli explains, saying that the quality and flavor is what differentiates their offering. 

“Just because it has high alcohol percentage doesn’t mean it has to be a low-quality experience,” Estep adds. 

The brand began distribution in December of 2015 and is gaining traction at OSU and OU, racking up convenience stores and bars with Sech’s for sale. It has been a process over a year in the making. Alcohol is an industry with many regulations, which Wilson spent much time learning. The research paid off as they gained approval on their label the first time around (but did drive to Washington, D.C. to make it happen because they felt the process was taking too long).

“If we learn about the industry, it’s going to be easier for us to do our next flavor,” he says. 

The next flavor is already in the works – a Morning Sech’s Mimosa. They’re going for a day-drinking, perfect for a tailgate type of product. Ohio-wide Sech’s is also on the agenda, as the group plans for a strategic growth across the state, taking aim at other colleges and universities.

In the case of Sech’s, being young entrepreneurs has actually been to their advantage. They’ve found a loyal, supportive group in their peers. And well, only college students could get away with that name.

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