Monday, January 28, 2013

Fre-Be fruit Wine

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Brian Haghighi the creative mind behind the “Revolutionary Wine for the Foodie in Us All” Fre-Be fruit wine.  Thank you for joining us today Brian!

No Prob, James.  Glad to be here.

Your project is interesting in many ways for me, could you give us a brief description of your product and the Kickstarter?  

Sure.  Most wine today is red wine or white wine.  Red wines are typically dry, bitter, and bold.  White wines are more fruit forward, acidic, and lighter.  While there’s variation between white wines and between red wines, that variation is pretty limiting, in fact, most people I think would be hard pressed to distinguish one white wine from another.  Fruit wine, on the other hand adds color to what otherwise would be a black and white world.  Since the wine is made from all those other fruits, instead of grapes, the character of those fruits get transferred into the wine.  So we have a wine world with much more variety, and dare I say, a product that is even better for you since many of the fruits used are super fruits.

You already create and distribute your wine to local distributors why do you need a Kickstarter?  

Whenever you are creating a new category for a product, customers don’t know that your product exists, so they’re not looking for it.  Kickstarter is first and foremost a way for us to create a narrative about the merits of fruit wine and help people understand where this product fits in the wine world.

I thought selling food was hard since no one can taste your product through the internet, but one of the lesser known limits on Kickstarter is that you cannot give alcohol away as a backer reward.  How hard is it to start a Kickstarter specifically for an alcoholic product without being able to sell it directly?  

The government does not make starting an alcohol related business easy.  So unfortunately many of the limits that we have in the real world exist in the virtual world to.  It is technically illegal to give away free alcohol and the governing bodies don’t see rewards as being paid for.  They see them as free gifts.  In other words, we have an inherent limit that other campaigns don’t have because we can’t really even offer our product as rewards.  Much of our support, then, has to come from our direct network of people who have tried our product.

What makes your wines so different?  I’ve seen fruit flavored wines before.

So our wines aren’t fruit “flavored”.  Our wines are handcrafted from fruits other than grapes.  So in other words, we take the whole fruit, adjust the levels of sugar, acid, and water, then ferment it into wine.  Everything readily available in the the market today is fruit flavored.  In other words, it’s artificial.  Ours is all natural.

I for one don’t imbibe much alcohol because I can always taste the alcohol directly more than the other flavor notes.  Does your wines actually produce a less “alcoholy” flavor?

ABSOLUTELY!  If you’re a foodie, you know that our taste buds have four major regions: sweet, tart, bitter, and salty.  The thing about alcohol is it’s more pronounced with you have bitter components whereas it’s less pronounced when you have acidity (tartness) and sugar. Traditional wine, in our view is way out of balance.  It’s too bitter and therefore unpleasant. Now I should mention, none of our wines are really that sweet, and if they do have sweetness it’s because that wine is balanced at that point.  Balanced is a juggling act of having the proper amounts of bitterness, sweetness, and tartness for it to be a pleasing drink.  The short answer: if you don’t like alcohol because of the way it tastes, you’ll fall in love with our product!

What proof/alcohol percentage are your wines?

Our wines range from 10-12%.  Which is around the ballpark for traditional wines.  We find that if we go too much over the 12% mark the alcohol becomes more pronounced, so we like to hover around there.

Do you use corks or some other seal for your wine bottles?  Why? Why use bottles versus the boxes?  

As far as packaging is concerned, there are marketing considerations as well as general practical considerations.  Bottled wine has a higher perceived value than boxed wine, regardless of what’s inside.  In the same way, when a wine is sealed with a cork and hood as opposed to a screw cap, it is seen as being worth more.  Practically speaking, we contract to a mobile bottling line to bottle our wine.  They don’t have the ability to screw tops or to do boxed wine.

What made you go into winemaking?  Why wine and not microbrewing or some other form of alcohol?

My brother and I who started this business weren’t into wine or beer before starting the business.  It was when we were introduced to fruit wine that we like the general concept which was very rebellious, challenging the status quo, the existing paradigm.  It takes a certain type of person to like the type of business where you are creating a new category.  We’re that type.

Is there any way for us to purchase your wines online?  Or will I have to swing by your winery next time I’m in Southern California?  

Oh gosh.  I’ll make sure to get the website store live by this weekend (1/27).  Stay-tuned!

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

We’ll be rolling out new engaging content throughout the campaign.  First and foremost, what was supposed to be our main video which does a great job at conveying how our product is a revolutionary product.  We’ll release some testimonials as well as some candid owner videos.  Most of it will be videos.  I view our backers as people who want help to become advocates.  I’m looking to equip them with the tools to easily share our campaign.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

We had two San Diego morning news segments before the launch of the campaign.  Most of our social network is on facebook, so that tends to be the hub of our efforts.  We also have a 3,000 distribution list of people whom we have encountered over the last 3 years so we’ll be progressively reaching out to them.  The first two weeks we’ll be tapping into our network mostly.  The last four weeks we’re being very strategic about getting some media attention around the campaign.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

The most successful campaign start out by tapping into an existing network first.  Build up that network before you want to launch a campaign.  Get people excited about what you’re doing and invite them into the story.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Just remember to always be open-minded and willing to question the view of the world that we’re socialized into.  There’s better things out there if we give ourselves the freedom to explore them!

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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