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May 2016

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Be Free Beverages

by Cara Hayes (edited by Becca Longhenry)

Be Free Beverages: Lindsey Outhous, Joe Straub, Allison Zeppuhar(Pictured, L-R: Lindsey Outhous (Marketing & Finance), Joe Straub (Biotechnology, '16), Allison Zeppuhar (Computer Information Systems)

Dealing with Type 1 Diabetes can be frustrating, but Allison Zeppuhar (Computer Information Systems) decided she was going to make it easier for herself. She had always wanted to try Straw-ber-itas and Mike’s Hard beverages, but since she could not find the carbohydrate counts for these drinks, they were unsafe for her to drink. After listening to an inspirational speech in her management class, however, she thought, “Why not make it myself?” It was then that she joined forces with Joe Straub (Biotechnology, ’16) and Lindsey Outhous (Marketing & Finance), and Be Free Beverages came into existence. All three members of the team participated in planning the business during their COB 300 class, and continue to apply the knowledge they gained from that experience to their business.

This MadInc team is working toward selling low calorie, low carbohydrate alcoholic malt beverages to distributors for sale in stores and restaurants. They are currently developing a hard lemonade that will have around 130 calories, only 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 6% ABV. Allison, Joe, and Lindsey have had a few bad batches of the lemonade in early trials, but they continue to work hard. Producing bad batches of their beverage can be frustrating because each batch of lemonade takes two weeks to ferment, but this experience has only encouraged them to purchase more carboys and run multiple trials simultaneously. The three students believe that, as entrepreneurs, their only real failure would be giving up completely, and that is not something they see themselves doing.

MadInc has connected the Be Free Beverages team with a network of likeminded students also trying to start a business. The other teams in the MadInc cohort have been encouraging and helpful throughout the process. The program has also connected them with alumni and professors that have provided necessary tools and connections that would have been much harder to obtain outside of MadInc.

As a team, Allison, Joe, and Lindsey define success as being able to work together to create something that will have a positive impact on those around them. In the next five years, they plan to have their products in grocery stores, and restaurants, and bars in Virginia and other states along the East Coast. They also plan to offer a variety of flavors of low calorie, low carbohydrate alcoholic beverages, as well as sugar-free non-alcoholic mixers.

Follow Be Free Beverages on Facebook and Twitter.