Pulp Culture fermented juice and the value of full spectrum
Please introduce yourself and your startup Pulp Culture to our readers!
My name is Mark McTavish, a juice loving Canadian who enjoys a healthy buzz. After moving to California I set off on a quest to craft the healthiest adult beverages on the planet. Having spent many years in the beverage and fitness industries, I endeavored to merge those two paths.
My name is Brendan Brazier, a devout vegan, endurance athlete and entrepreneur. I’ve co-founded Vega, Pulp Culture, and Fire Road and I work exclusively with socially responsible food & tech companies whose mandate is to fix our food system and reduce the environmental strain of food production.
Pulp Culture uses 100% raw, fresh juice that naturally ferments over three months (thank you, Mother Nature). Called “wild fermentation,” the result is a zero-additive, zero-sugar, bone-dry beverage with 6 billion naturally-occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV. The final touch is blending in fermented, nutrient-dense super fruits and performance-boostings botanical adaptogens.
How did you get the idea of Pulp Culture?
When I learned about fermented juice and the value of full spectrum (the full outcome of fermentation). Along with the alcohol, you get probiotics, B-vitamins, organic acids, and so on. So it just made perfect sense to take fermented juice and blend it with fermented super-fruits, providing all of the full spectrum benefits plus function-first botanical adaptogens. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. When I started learning more about the alcoholic beverage industry and learned there was nothing like Pulp Culture on the market it seemed like a simple and elegant solution to have a fermented, alcoholic beverage that’s actually good for you.
Why did you decide to start Pulp Culture?
Today’s consumer wants to do better in all aspects of their life. The idea of “better for you” is an emerging trend in the alcoholic beverage category, and the constant theme of such products involves a strategy of “less bad for you” (lower ABV, less sugar, etc). We thought to ourselves, “why can’t an adult beverage provide enhanced function and actually help you achieve your best?” Pulp Culture delivers an incredible buzz through formulations that are curated with optimal function in mind that complement each part of your day, from early morning to late evening.
What is the vision behind Pulp Culture?
For people to realize how healthy fermented food and, more specifically, fermented juice is. This really hasn’t been done before in the alcohol industry. We’ve created a new category that empowers you to feel clear and focused, removing the stigma (and the side effects) from enjoying an alcoholic beverage.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
With many years of experience behind us and a track record of building “better for you” brands, our go to market strategy was quite seamless. We offer a solution that is stand alone on the shelf, and there is plenty of demand out there. Our efforts have been catalyzed by fantastic support from our retail partners. There have been growing pains along the way, but we thrive on any discomfort because we know it fuels our evolution toward success.
Who is your target audience?
Anyone who wants to feel better, do better, and expect more from themselves. We’re designed for people who want to enjoy themselves with an alcoholic beverage, but don’t have time for hangovers or operating on anything less than 100%. Years ago when I was building a company and racing full-time, I stopped drinking because I thought there was no way that it would fit into my lifestyle or allow me to achieve the things that I wanted. Back then, I hadn’t discovered fermented juice. I was looking at alcohol in a very traditional way – beer, spirits – they take a toll on you. You get headaches, bloating, you wake up in the morning feeling below average, and I simply didn’t have time for that.
Pulp Culture is designed for people who are busy, goal-oriented, and health conscious. We see this manifesting in our DTC orders all the time, noticing affiliations like SpaceX and other forward-thinking companies amongst our core consumers.
What is the USP of your startup?
There is a long list of attributes that make Pulp Culture unique in the market, but we simplify it by labelling our products as “Full Spectrum.” This is a new category for alcoholic beverages that we’ve trademarked, and it’s designated for products that contain the entire spectrum of outcomes that are derived from natural fermentation. Such outcomes include live cultures (probiotics), organic acids, vitamins, nutrients, phytochemicals, and alcohol. Unfortunately for consumers, alcoholic beverages that are not “Full Spectrum” (which represents virtually the entire marketplace) are denatured and devoid of anything good for the body. Not to mention, they also come with a hefty social tax in the form of poor behavior and painful hangovers.
Can you describe your typical workday?
I typically get up around 6am, and start the day catching up on emails and enjoying breakfast with my kids. By 9am, I am sitting at the bar in our taproom enjoying my first beverage. I love to be at the venue, interacting with our team and hosting a variety of interesting folks for meetings throughout the day. Like most entrepreneurs, I wear many hats and love each of them. My “to do list” ranges from sales and marketing functions, to business development, production, HR, and more. There is not much that I would describe as typical in my workday, aside from a long list of items to get done while enjoying a cold beverage the whole way through!
Where do you see yourself and your startup Pulp Culture in five years?
I think we’ve really started a category and I expect it to become “a thing.” Put simple, it’s just another category of hard-pressed juice and we know brands will catch on and there will be competition, which we welcome with open arms. Just like Vega. We started 15 years ago and there was nothing else in the market that was plant-based (and wasn’t just soy), using different types of protein to get a high quality amino acid profile. But now, there are many products out there similar to (inspired by) Vega, and there’s room for all of us. I think this trajectory is really similar to what we’re forecasting for Pulp Culture. A lot more folks will get into the business because they’ll understand how beneficial it can be.
And of course, a lot of companies will start producing based on a rise in awareness and therefore demand. It’s up to us as innovators and entrepreneurs to come up with what people want before they know how to achieve it. In our case, they want to feel good, avoid a hangover, while maintaining their high-achieving lifestyle. We are seeking the benefit of paving the way and introducing the category, empowering people with the education and mission-driven solution. We’re not afraid of the competition that will come. It shows proof of concept, demand, and it’s a real movement. The rise of kombucha is a great example of this niche to mass potential for hard-pressed juice.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
1. Have a purpose – know why you’re creating this and what problem(s) you’re solving. Is it a problem people know they have or is it a problem people don’t even know they have yet? Both are fine, it’s just knowing what kind of education you’ll need to build around it in the latter case. The biggest competition we have is ignorance.
2. Be a resource in the industry. We talk about the notion of fermentation just as much as we tout our beverages. The more people know and the more educated they become, the more likely they are to drink Pulp Culture because the process is so simple, elegant, and natural.
3. Be ready for a long term commitment. With startups, a lot of your journey will be consumed by the build up and troubleshooting along the way – overcoming and problem solving things in real time. If you’re not ready to take risks and you’re not excited by problem solving, the startup life is not for you. There is a ton of uncertainty and dramatic highs and lows, but being okay with that uncertain reality and committed to what you’re doing is a one of the most important traits of a successful entrepreneur.
More information you will find here
Thank you Mark and Brendan for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.