Olé Cocktail Co.’s founders are classic entrepreneurs, and classic entrepreneurs love to ask questions. In their pursuit of answers, a new product just might come into being. In Olé’s case, that product was Canada’s first premium tequila-based cocktail in a can.
“We were just so curious why there weren’t any tequila canned drinks using real ingredients. We thought, ‘Why can’t we make a drink using real ingredients?’ No sugar was a trend in mixed canned drinks, but why couldn’t we use real organic agave nectar and get tequila from Mexico?”
They quickly found out the reason: “Because it’s really expensive, that’s why! But we really felt there would be a market for this, that there was a good opportunity ahead of us.”
Olé’s summer 2021 launch went “better than expected”, and after that, the team started the meticulous, measured work of building a company without a bottomless budget. “When a big corporation rolls out a product like this, there are huge signs and case stacks in the liquor store, but we didn’t have that kind of money. Instead, we had to be creative.”
Getting creative meant building engagement from day one. And engagement is only possible when you’re truly customer-focused.
“A lot of entrepreneurs are just like, ‘I want to do this! Me, me me!’ But people do have to want what you’re selling. So, we always followed consumer trends. We ran focus groups. We shared with friends. From the start, we tried to really listen to people. When you’re listening, those people feel like they’re part of what you’re doing.”
To continue building this engagement, the team leveraged social media savvy picked up from years of entrepreneurship. They built social media accounts around strategies of involving people. For example, they would regularly allow customers to vote on different products.
Olé Cocktail was fortunate to have this strong grassroots fanbase from the get-go because challenges to this new company were fast and furious. Launching a new company in the middle of a global pandemic is difficult; but launching a liquor company under the same circumstances is brutal.
“Everyone told us not to do alcohol; that it’s too hard, that the margins are too slim. We had no idea! We had huge supply chain issues. The tequila procurement from Mexico took such a long time. Finding facilities to work in was hard. Every year, there are so many new liquor companies starting up, and it’s hard to get partners to work with you until they can see that you’re moving product.”
Fortunately, one key partnership was less fraught: the one they formed with Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC). “Working with a packaging supplier for our trays and packs that honours timelines is imperative for us. GLBC is really good at predicting things like paper shortages, so they don’t over-promise or overestimate how quickly something can be done. And their customer service is very good. It sounds weird but a lot of companies in their industry don’t seem to really care about the companies they work with at all, but GLBC really does.”
The summer of 2022 was an excellent one for Olé. That’s when the company really started to “gain strong momentum.” Seeing people enjoy their cocktails in different venues was personally gratifying. And producing their millionth can early in the year was a strong indicator that the team’s ambitions were paying off.
“Even though we’re new, we are committed to staying ahead of things. Innovation is already part of what we do. We have created four SKUs, including the first tequila mix pack in Canada”
What a year one. Here’s to Olé Cocktail Co! We hope to package many more of their brilliant innovations.