The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen. -- Robert L. Schwartz
Starting and maintaining a business is one of the most risky, yet rewarding things you can do in life. There's no one I admire more than an entrepreneur passionate about their product, whatever it may be. When I spoke with Jason Rotta, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloud Nine Spirits, I couldn't help but to feel his enthusiasm about the launch of Cloud Nine Spirits' radiate through the phone. While he is not the founder, Jason has been working with Cloud Nine Spirits almost since inception. We discussed how and why Cloud Nine was created, and its imminent product launch.
Will Drink For Travel: Hi, Jason. Thanks for taking the time to talk with Will Drink For Travel. How did Cloud Nine get its start?
Jason R.: Cloud Nine Spirits started a year and a half ago when our CEO, Blake Belluschi, moved to Vegas. In college, we messed around with our own home brewed beer and always talked about how awesome it would be to make a living off brewing (Beer in general. Who doesn’t like beer?). Once Blake moved to Vegas, he learned that legislation had recently passed allowing distilleries to operate in Nevada.
The laws that were replaced had not been changed since prohibition. In light of the fact that Las Vegas (Sin City) is fueled by beverage alcohol , nightlife, and gambling (Sin Industries; they go hand-in-hand), he saw this as an opportunity to start Cloud Nine Spirits and take a shot at competing with the major producers and other craft distilleries. Fast-forward a year, Blake needed help to get the venture moving faster as he could only do so much in one day. Over the next six months, he brought on the rest of the team, each one of us bringing a different expertise and focus.
WDFT: The spirits game is very competitive. What made you guys want to start your own spirits company?
Jason R.: We are pursuing the distillery for a couple reasons. Numero uno, we all share a common goal, which is we all want to work for ourselves. We don’t see ourselves working behind a desk all day as all of us are more hands-on and active (nothing is more rewarding than a hard day's’ work, especially making spirits); we don’t mind getting our hands dirty so long as we are having a good time doing it.
WDFT: Working with friends can be tough. How have you guys overcome that?
Jason R.: Some say that it isn’t a good idea to go into business with friends because you run the risk of ruining friendships due to difficult business decisions. However, we don’t see this as an issue because we share similar mindsets, respect each other, and understand that work needs to be put in to make this a success. We know that there will be sometimes that call for us to put our friendships aside and work as business partners; however, this is something we are prepared to do. As long as there is a cold drink to be consumed after the business decisions are made, we will remain friends, and remain happy.
WDFT: So when can we expect to see the product on the shelf?
Jason R.: Our flagship product, DEITY Vodka, is an organic, non-GMO, and Gluten-Free, ultra-premium vodka. Our goal is to have the product on shelves between January and March of 2016. Production of our other products will depend on how well DEITY performs. Our goal is to begin production of Seven Sands Gin in 2017 (Earlier if things go well), followed by Area 51 Agave Spirit in 2018 and High and Dry Whiskey in 2019. All of our products will be organic, and non-GMO; Gluten-free where possible.
WDFT: What's in the future for Cloud Nine Spirits?
Jason R.: Our plan is to start off big enough so that we can easily achieve our production numbers, meet sales, and keep our distributor happy. Essentially, we aim to compete with the macro spirits producers on a micro level, i.e. Las Vegas. The ability to personally connect with a brand of vodka, gin, or whiskey, because it is made locally, is something that we want to show consumers is possible. Additionally, the quality of spirits that craft distilleries can produce is limitless; with plenty of room left for creativity and innovation. All of which Cloud Nine Spirits hopes to bring to the Las Vegas Valley (and beyond).
I love supporting small businesses and look forward to seeing Deity on a shelf near me soon! Check out more about their products here. Cheers!