Some of the best ideas for starting a business involve simple products. They don’t require much money or a lot of time to explain what the company is selling.
Illustrating this point is the concept of ready-to-go frozen cocktails, like the ones created by Craig Cordes along with brothers Antonio and Sal LaMartina. They launched Cordina in 2007 with just the three founders operating in 2,000 square feet. With $350,000 of recent funding from angel investors and agreements with some major retailers, the company is moving up in 2012 to a new 75,000 square foot facility for its 126 employees.
The entrepreneurs admit that they had no experience and barely knew what they were doing by starting a business. They learned by talking to industry experts and slowly expanded the operation. All three of them kept their full-time jobs and worked on their new venture at night and on weekends. Lacking automation equipment, the trio filled and capped their drinks by hand.
In Cordina’s infancy, a drink distribution company turned down an agreement with the founders. So, they made arrangements with a small wine distributor. They agreed to handle all the promotional efforts as long as the distributor would provide the delivered product.
For two years, the Cordina trio worked on weekends giving out samples of their pre-mixed cocktails. Eventually, in 2009, the guys found themselves accepted at business incubator Idea Village in New Orleans. This is where the entrepreneurs pitched their business concept to investors. Consumers just freeze the pouches, then squeeze and enjoy. No ice or blender necessary for grabbing a frozen margarita.
The drink packs eventually gained traction in the market. Cordina now has an agreement with a major distribution company. Cordina drinks are available in five flavors and sold at Walmart in eight states and Walgreen’s nationwide, plus many grocery stores. After selling 150,000 units in the first year, Cordina is on target to sell 1.2 million cases in 2012. The startup has finally graduated to the big time with annual revenue of about $27 million.