Pisco is a South American beverage distilled from fermented grape juice using specific grape varietals. It has been produced exclusively in Peru and Chile for centuries. One company SUYO Pisco is trying to bring the beverage to the United States in a major way.
As part of Cat Footwear’s Collaboration with Startup To Storefront Podcast celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Startup host Diego Torres-Palma had the opportunity to sit down with SUYO Pisco founder Alex Hildebrandt to share the company’s story. He touched where the idea for the brand came from, how Pisco ties into his Peruvian heritage, and what he’s doing to create more awareness for his brand and the Pisco category in the US.
Read a few excerpts from their conversation below and follow both Cat Footwear (@catfootwear) and Startup to Storefront on IG (@startuptostorefront) for the opportunity to win a pair of our ProRush Speed Fx shoes in your size.
Diego: Today we’re talking to Alex from Suyo Pisco thanks for joining us. For people who don’t know, what is SUYO Pisco?
Suyo Pisco is a brand of Pisco which is a spirit that is relatively unknown today particularly in the U.S. It’s a spirit that comes from Peru and it’s a denomination of origin spirit so if you think tequila Cognac Champagne that type of thing. We launched the brand recently and we’re here trying to introduce Americans to it so we can help grow the category together.
Diego: How did the Idea to start Suyo emerge?
Alex: Myself and my business partner Ian, who was a friend of mine for several years and started this venture together. Neither one of us came from this space, we came from completely different worlds. We always kind of had this dream for many years about how we can sort of build a bridge between our home country of Peru and the US. There are a lot of products that come to mind when you think of how to do this. You have some really really great products like like quinoa, like potatoes, avocados – things that are native to Peru that foreigners have kind of come and found in Peru. Our country is by definition the most biodiverse country in the world, so we have these really amazing products but we haven’t commercialized them well. They’ve had a lot of success outside of Peru, but it’s been a non-peruvian doing it. We want to show that we as Peruvians have something that we are very passionate about and we want to make it successful globally and sort of get the credit for it too as Peruvians.
So we were tossing around ideas for years when we were still working our corporate jobs and truthfully it sort of just hit us one day. I was down visiting my family most of my family still lives in Peru and Ian had moved back to Lima already we were sitting out on a on a patio in Lima which is the capital city where we’re both from and it seemed like the idea kind of smacked us in the face as we were drinking capitanis. We thought well what about Pisco we’ve we’ve been drinking this our adult like entire adult lives.
Diego: You have a bunch of alcohol that has already made it so how do you go about penetrating the market and getting people & distributors to understand this is an option, while at the same time making them like really really value teaching the customer something new?
Alex: Therein lies the challenge in a sense. Our biggest challenge I think is is our greatest opportunity as well and that’s the fact that it’s such an unknown category. So you walk into a bar you ask them or a liquor store, whatever the case may be, you ask them about Pisco and you get these these blank stares what like “what are you talking about?, so there’s a lot of education required.
At the same time, I think there’s this Intrigue about Pisco that it’s something new and you see some light bulbs.
It’s kind of like, ” Well I haven’t heard of this, “Why aren’t people drinking this?”, so that’s one of the many things that keeps me motivated and inspires me every single day. You’re absolutely right there’s limited mindshare there’s and we can say there’s limited shelf space but then why is there shelf space for 25 or 30 different Tequilas and you know 15 or 20 mezcal? I envision a world where it’s a long game to spread awareness no doubt. This isn’t something that will take some time to grow. It’s [The Pisco Category] not going to be incredibly commercially successful in the next three three to five years.
Diego: What kind of things are you doing to make sure that they understand fully what you’re trying to achieve infringing Pisco to market?
Alex: We’re still pretty early in the game, so we haven’t had a chance to do as much education with the distributors as we would like. It starts off with with a call with everyone in the market that we’re in. So lets take California for instance. We just started selling in California last month and the month before that we had a call with every single sales rep in California with our distributor. We spent an hour with them telling them about who we are, what we do & what is the Pisco category in general and then what makes us unique within that Pisco category and then we provide materials also so that they can carry around with them they can hand them out to accounts they can have sort of cheat sheets as they’re talking to to accounts and and give them little sample bottles but education is I mean absolutely a number one what probably is the the biggest challenge that’s why I mentioned there’s kind of two it’s education and then it’s getting distribution those education for us is paramount though because we’re a relatively unknown category.
To see the full interview with SUYO Pisco head over to Startup To Storefront’s Youtube Page here.