you probably love our industry as much as I do. It's a people business. One of my favorite times of the year is Bar Convent Berlin. That's where I meet most of my favorite Drinks Builders from around the world but there's a but. Yes, contacts are not enough. We don't pay rent and mortgages with hugs and kisses from fellow Industry friends.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions for people starting in the industry. Most people think it's gonna be enough to have a big black book of contacts. But that only gets you somewhere. You soon hit a glass ceiling. Even worse, it misleads you, not making you focus on building solid foundations. It makes you rely on tailwind instead of legwork.
I learned it the hard way. When I left my last Senior Director role four years ago to launch MAFFEO DRINKS, I thought I had super contacts. Most of the Vice Presidents and Managing Directors I had worked with loved me. I had contacts all around the world. They knew what I could deliver to them. Easy peasy, I thought. I would have landed loads of consulting contracts in a few months. The Drinks Industry was waiting for MAFFEO DRINKS. No, they weren't, I soon realized when I woke up from my sweet dreams. (Not even mentioning that, six months later, Covid hit, On-trade closed and we know the story well).
I wanna share with you what I've learned through the years. What I've changed and what you can learn from my journey.
Too many friends, too little space on the shelf
You may think you have many friends in the industry. Lots of hugs and kisses may be misleading. The problem is, they also have many friends. There's not enough space on the shelf for friends. They probably already have a friend in your category, with similar value, taste profile, etc. They may bring you in for a while but you need more than that to build a brand sustainably.