Think about working a just lately launched start-up, doing properly, and offering an awesome product to glad prospects whereas watching the constructive opinions roll in. After 5 months, issues are grooving, and the long run appears to be like shiny. The work is tough, however you’ve got an awesome workforce plugging alongside and making the dream work.
However then a extremely contagious airborne virus shuts down your goal marketplace for an indefinite period of time.
Now, in case you occur to be within the occasion and hospitality trade, that’s what precisely occurred, as 2020 felt like hitting an iceberg when you go over a waterfall in your already burning vessel. Weddings, reunions, events, conferences, and different massive occasions had been canceled, both out of precaution or state mandates. Some areas that depend on these sorts of occasions, like Southern California, noticed a cascading and devastating financial impact as ancillary companies noticed their orders canceled with gross sales nowhere in sight.
Los Angeles-based Eliqs was doing an awesome job creating personalized beverage cans full of premium beer, wine, and different alcoholic drinks. The agency solely offered in bigger portions for particular events and occasions. However as massive gatherings had been prohibited whereas COVID raged on, Eliqs founder Max Berg was instantly on the helm of a enterprise with no seemingly foreseeable path ahead, until he and the workforce may make a profitable pivot, and quick.
“As soon as COVID hit, that basically modified who we might be as a enterprise, and it actually threw a wrench in our enterprise mannequin,” Max says.
With no time to spare and quick on choices, Eliqs determined to make a drastic change, of venture to save lots of the enterprise from the consequences of COVID-19 by serving a completely completely different market. Requests for small orders of customized cans had trickled in, however with the business-to-business mannequin going properly, it did not warrant as a lot consideration. Furthermore, promoting and transport small orders to plenty of individuals would require important modifications to their operations.
“We had to determine the place we will focus and pivoted to launching what’s now our direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform the place we have now preset designs obtainable on the market on our web site, versus promoting to a lot bigger sorts of company occasions,” Max says.
“April by the top of 2020 was actually centered on DTC gross sales. We centered on distinctive, occasion-specific designs, digital advertising and marketing, and partnerships with designers with established followings to launch merchandise that may cater to completely different individuals,” he provides.
Eliqs’ shift in enterprise takes the agency’s core competencies—high quality alcoholic drinks and customised can designs—to thoroughly new markets and segments they weren’t addressing absolutely. As a substitute of creating cans for commerce reveals, Eliqs discovered itself engaged on collaborations with media personalities and types, promoting tailor-made cans meant to be gifted, in addition to holiday-themed cans that would get consumed at residence.
“We began with an influencer group’s Friday beers as our first huge partnership,” Max says.” We launched a beer with them to have a good time their one-millionth follower.”
“Since then, we have a whole lot of inbound curiosity from manufacturers, different content material creators, and podcasts. For us, all of those completely different potential companions have their distinctive viewers bases they cater to. So, we’re not centered on one specifically however moderately see an entire wealth of alternative as a result of there are such a lot of area of interest audiences. However the one widespread product component that does appear to latch on is alcohol, beer, wine. Everybody appears to get excited by that, particularly if it comprises a design that speaks to them.”
It isn’t simply streamers and podcasters trying to Elqis either. This previous Halloween, Eliqs teamed up with Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project and launched a set of Hocus Pocus-themed canned wines.
Protecting Elqis going by the pandemic would take greater than a brand new market and gross sales technique. Along with creating a brand new DTC ordering web site with engaging designs and self-customization, operational modifications had been wanted throughout the board.
“We went from doing 15 orders of 500 cans a month to 200 orders of 12 cans every in per week,” Max says. “Simply dramatically completely different from an operational standpoint. We did not have the packing containers, we did not have tape, we did not have individuals within the warehouse that would put the cans into the packing containers, and we did not have a approach of printing out slips for the person orders. We would have liked to determine distribution companions for last-mile logistics, ensuring the packing containers that we had been transport in weren’t getting crushed,” he says.
In the end, the human issue performed a big half in Eliqs’ COVID resilience, with Berg crediting his workforce’s skill to satisfy this seemingly unfathomable problem with aplomb. Max explains his workforce assembled to rise to the unprecedented problem, particularly after seeing that the brand new enterprise mannequin can work. Elqis had already gained inroads in collaboration and special-edition cans, beginning with COVID-themed cans to help the WHO and freelance designers hurting for work as a result of pandemic.
“It was like, what can we launch subsequent?” he asks. “Who can we work with subsequent? How can we make this greater? That went from our interns who had been initially engaged on enterprise growth for company gross sales to the designers we will work with and herald to collaborate with our [internal] workforce. It was a rallying cry. We would have liked to make this work as a result of we have seen that it could possibly work,” Berg mentioned.
Not that Elqis wasn’t already going to be up towards it, however Max suspects he was an early sufferer of COVID-19 and was actually sick and at-home with one thing simply because the enterprise implications of the pandemic began to land a flurry of combos on his firm. On the time of this writing, he was nonetheless ready on antibody check outcomes for a definitive reply.
“I had gotten actually, actually sick the primary week of March, simply because it looks as if shit [started to] hit the fan,” he says. “I used to be out of fee for a month. I did not go away my condo. We began to suppose, if occasions go away, what can we do? The day the NBA suspended its season, emails got here in from all of our upcoming occasions, saying they had been canceled. Our income projections actually went to zero in a single day, and I believed we had been carried out,” Berg somberly recounts.
“It was intense.”
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