A special thanks to Entrepreneur Magazine for making me aware of this brand and innovation story. I enjoy stories of entrepreneurs who build business and brands from scratch. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a vodka produced in Austin Texas. It is the first legal distillery in Texas. Tito’s Handmade Vodka was founded by Bert “Tito” Beveridge who was a geologist who had found his way into the mortgage business. Tito starting making flavored vodka to share with his friends as holiday gifts. In 1992, he was at a party and a stranger came up to him and said “Hey you’re the vodka guy” and Tito said no I am the mortgage guy. He started thinking that may be he needed to start selling his flavored vodkas.
He started talking to liquor store owners and asked them if they would buy his flavored vodkas. They told him no, but said if he could make a vodka smooth enough to drink straight then they would be interested. Tito went out and purchased every product on the market and started trying to learn how to distill vodka. Tito began experimenting with different vodkas until he developed a product that tasted better than existing products.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is made in small batches in an old-fashioned pot and distilled six times. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is made from yellow corn, instead of the more commonly used wheat or potatoes, resulting in a mildly sweet aftertaste.
When he first started his business, Tito was not successful obtaining financing. The banks said he would never get permits as there had never been a legal distillery in Texas. He went on to build a one man distillery and production still and began making vodka. This is a great example of a lean startup. He would make some vodka sell it and them come back and make some more vodka.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka has won several awards including a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Wine Enthusiast Magazine awarded Tito’s a score of 95, a very high score for vodka. “Tito’s Handmade Vodka” is an example of a brand that been built by developing a great product that generates “Word of Mouth” marketing. The product speaks for itself.
Bert has an engaging friendly personality that comes through in the design and imagery on his website. He is a regular guy with a great smile. What you see is what you get. Consumers trust brands that are authentic and have appealing personalities.
Have you tasted Tito’s Homemade Vodka?