Catching Lightning in a Bottle

Hear from Braxton Brewing Company’s Co-Founder and CEO Jake Rouse on the conception and creation of VIVE Punch Hard Seltzer amidst pandemic uncertainty.

“I wanted to Introduce VIVE PUNCH Hard Seltzer with a bit of a story … As a Founder, there are very few times in your entrepreneurial path that you catch lightning in a bottle. I’m talking about the time when in your gut you know what you’re working with is bigger than you imagined. That feeling is unlike anything in the world. The introduction of VIVE in 2018 was one of those times. We were so sure that the market needed and wanted a less sweet – real fruit-tasting hard seltzer by a local provider that we took a massive leap of faith and almost literally bet the company on its success.

I’m truly glad we did – what happened next was incredible – VIVE jumped to a Top 5 Seltzer brand in the Midwest and we had our first chance to evolve from a traditional brewery to more of a beverage company that could expand beyond our wildest dreams.

Then COVID hit – and I quite literally watched the wind beneath the sails of VIVE deflate albeit slowly. Our goal to build the brand through Professional Sports was literally canceled. Out of necessity, every available dollar was (rightfully) taken out of the product line and placed into sustaining our overall business. It was scary, hell it still is. As amazing the feeling is to watch your rocket ship take off, it’s equally as disappointing when it craters back to earth. There were countless days during that time I questioned everything. Why did we enter into hard seltzer? Why not play it safe? Countless days I wanted to quit. Days where I’d ask myself why when you were so close to achieving what you’ve been working so hard for, a once-in-a-century event had to hit. But to be honest looking back, the experience taught me a lot.

It taught me first and foremost that the team around you is far more important than the tasks they complete each day, and it reminded me how we built VIVE in the first place – a grassroots effort driven by the customer. So what did we do? Well, like in the early days, we sat in a conference room and fought over the general direction of the brand. We agreed something big needed to change but struggled to really articulate what. We researched, read about trends in other beverages, and then we talked to our customers. What we found were three things that seem so obvious now that allowed us to rally the team together.

Over the past 4 months, our team has been working tirelessly to develop and launch VIVE PUNCH. It’s been hands down the most rewarding project I’ve ever worked on. Never in our history have we had the combination of incredible packaging, brand marketing, and liquid come together. PUNCH is different, it’s nostalgic, and it’s one of a kind – something that’s incredibly difficult to do in a world where 100 new seltzer brands will launch between March and September.

So, if you’ve made it this far in my recount of the past year, I have one ask of you. While I know you may love Truly, White Claw, or Bud Light Seltzer. Or you may have disliked VIVE in the past, give VIVE PUNCH a try. Go out this week and pick up a Variety 12 – share it with your friends and family and let me know what you think. I do believe we may have been given an opportunity to strike lightning in a bottle once more, and I trust if we do the results will be fantastic. Enjoy a seltzer as bold as you!”

-Jake Rouse

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