Launching Hella Cocktail

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Growing up in the inner city of New York, Pinkard knew it would take a special driving force of curiosity, autonomy and community to reach success, and his way of doing that was through entrepreneurship. In the early 2000s, Pinkard joined co-founders Tobin Ludwig and Eddie Simeon in the journey of building a successful business in the food and beverage industry. Their company, Hella Cocktail, serves bars, restaurants, hotels and airlines with its line of bitters, mixers, and carbonated aperitifs.

“Fundamentally, entrepreneurship is about the ability to recognize, analyze an opportunity and consistently capture that opportunity’s value,” Pinkard said. “I recognized that our business’s success or failure would rest with us, and I viewed this responsibility not as a burden but instead as a marker of freedom.”

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However, just because Pinkard had a positive outlook and a tenacious drive doesn’t mean his entrepreneurial journey was seamless. In 2012, the Hella Cocktail co-creators faced two major challenges: They lacked funding and access to networks, and they were relatively new to the food, beverage and hospitality industry.

As a solution, Pinkard and his business partners bootstrapped their startup with $2,500 from a credit card and some minimal bank account savings. They worked other full-time jobs in the beginning, and they reinvested every dollar of profit into increasing production. They finally made enough profit to start paying themselves and go full time in 2015.

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