My Week of Leadership & Entrepreneurship @ Cornell and WSWA

My Week of Leadership & Entrepreneurship @ Cornell and WSWA

Celebration 15 logo

I’m really looking forward to next week’s Entrepreneurship @ Cornell University! The energy building up to this is incredible as I’ve begun to interact with my fellow speakers and attendees.

Right now I’m thinking about my topics and the most important take home value I can deliver to the students, entrepreneurs and attendees.

Before I get to Ithaca, I’m attending the 72nd Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) convention in Orlando, FL.  Since I’m launching a new brand project, it will give me an opportunity to further discuss packaging, branding, sourcing and overall strategy with some of the brightest leaders in the industry.  Last year at WSWA I kicked off the pre-launch of Sugar Skull Rum.

This is a cool brand that unfortunately got stopped in its tracks by certain partners before we could get beyond kickoff in a few markets.  Time will tell where it ends up, but the early response was terrific!  There are lessons in this one I will certainly share at Cornell.

Finally, although I rooted for Wisconsin at the Final NCAA game last week, I am looking forward to hearing Mike Krzyzewski- better known as “Coach K“- head of the legendary Duke University Blue Devils basketball squad, address our group on Monday morning.  Not a Duke fan generally, but definitely hold Coach K in high regard and interested in his message on leadership and winning.

Here’s an outline of my upcoming Cornell visit:Tech Entrepreneurship Roundtable Prgm image

Tuesday/Wednesday – participate in and speak at the Pillsbury Institute’s

Technology Entrepreneurship Roundtable, Chaired by: Mona Anita Olsen, Ph.D. Assistant Academic Director of The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, Visiting Assistant Professor of Management & Organizational Behavior, Cornell University

Center for Hospitality Res - Cornell

Mona Anita Olsen

I’m looking forward to my session with  Cornell classmate Joe Tagliente, President, Lenrock and a fellow YPO’r.  Our panel is called “Brand Activation Through Social & Mobile Apps and Development of A Social Mobile Company” The full program is here.

It will be catching up with fraternity brother (Sigma Nu)  Zach Shulman, who I found out after committing to my visit is Director of Entrepreneurship @Cornell!  Very cool!

Thursday/Friday are jam packed with the Entrepreneurship @Cornell Celebration.

 

In this I’m joining more than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty, and staff for two days of on-campus events including:

  • Symposia on a wide range of topics including family business, social entrepreneurship, health administration and more!
  • eLab Demo Day
  • New Business & Emerging Technologies Showcase
  • BIG Idea Competition and Cornell Venture Challenge finals
  • Recognition of the Student Business of the Year
  • Networking opportunities …and more!

    Celebration 15 logo

I have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Olsen’s class called:

Technology for Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship

a topic with which I am intimately familiar!

Following class, I’m participating on a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs in what is dubbed a

Slice of Insight Social at Celebration ’15

The the rest of the day includes a keynote by Jay Walker (one of America’s best-known business inventors and entrepreneurs, has founded multiple successful startup companies that today serve more than 75 million customers in 15 different industries) and the banquet with special guest Svante Myrick ’09, Ithaca Mayor

On Friday I’m joining two other entrepreneurs in a celebration talk:

CEN talk Cornell panel

In between all this I’m visiting the Viticulture and Oenology department, with Prof. Gavin Sacks to learn about what Cornell is up to in the wine world and also to see what we can do to tie them into our 11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) in Napa in June.

Finally, I’m paying a visit to the Friedman Wrestling center and Coach Rob Koll,  4 X NCAA champion Kyle Dake and first time champion Gabe Dean…  and later meeting up with my old wrestling coach and Athletic Director, Andy Noel... this will entail its own post after we meet up!

I look forward to writing about my experiences and all the interaction with new and old friends!  Cheers!

 

 

 

SUGAR SKULL RUM INVITES YOU TO LIVE… LOVE… AND CELEBRATE!

SUGAR SKULL RUM INVITES YOU TO LIVE… LOVE… AND CELEBRATE!

Hi I wanted to share that Sugar Skull Rum is now available in select markets through my company Taliera. Here is the Sugar Skull announcement..

 

SSR bottle lineup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUGAR SKULL RUM INVITES YOU TO LIVE… LOVE… AND CELEBRATE!
Brand new Rum sets sights on super-premium segment

Scottsdale, Arizona (October 6, 2014) … Cocktail lovers, it’s time to raise a glass! Sugar Skull Rum, a meticulously-crafted super-premium Rum made from fine Caribbean sugar cane molasses, is coming to a celebration near you.

“The premium and super-premium spirits categories have been growing consistently for most of the past two decades, outpacing the spirits market in general,” said J. Smoke Wallin, CEO, Taliera, LLC, exclusive global sales, marketing and distribution agent for Sugar Skull Rum. “Despite its size, the Rum category has yet to produce a break-out brand in the $25-30 price category. Sugar Skull Rum will be that brand.”

Sugar Skull Rum (SRP $27.99, 750ml) is an artisan Rum, made from the very best sugar cane molasses carefully sourced from growers’ farms throughout the Caribbean and South America. Our Rum is produced at partner distilleries in the Caribbean Islands, who use four-column stills to produce a clean and crisp base Rum, before it is brought into the U.S., where it is filtered, blended and flavored with natural ingredients to produce Sugar Skull’s unique taste.

Simply delicious and endlessly versatile, Sugar Skull Rum cuts across traditional product categories and will appeal to anyone who loves a great cocktail and a fun time. “It is a true crossover spirit that can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks or mixed in a number of innovative and traditional cocktails,” says Wallin.

At launch, the Sugar Skull Rum portfolio includes Tribal Original, Mystic Vanilla, Native Coconut, Madagascar Wild Berry and Hellfire Cinnamon flavors.

The brand’s distinctive name and packaging honor the Dia de los Muertos. Often mis-understood as a slightly morbid relative of Halloween, the ‘Day of the Dead’ is a convergence of European Catholic and ancient Aztec traditions that celebrate those who have left this world but mean so much to the people they touched.

“Sugar Skull Rum was founded on the principle that life should be celebrated and is at its best when we celebrate those who are important to us,” said Wallin. “We like being a part of what – and who – people love, so if there is a great time to be had, Sugar Skull Rum will be there. Join us!”

Sugar Skull Rum is initially available in Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida, with a selective rollout planned in additional major markets in early 2015.

About Taliera, LLC.
Taliera was founded in 2006 by beverage industry leader J. Smoke Wallin to incubate, acquire, and grow new and existing brands by combining core brand building expertise, relationships and capabilities with leading edge technologies and innovative business approaches. Taliera is the exclusive global sales, marketing and distribution agent for Sugar Skull Rum.

Sugar Skull Rum created by a group of serial entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who dared to ask the question: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, when?”

J. Smoke Wallin heads this team of leaders in the ice cream, beverage, sports, entertainment and hospitality industries, who have combined their expertise to create one of the finest super premium spirits to hit the back bar.

Sugar Skull is a celebration of life. It is the life we live, the lives we touch and those that have touched us. We celebrate them all. Live. Love. Celebrate. How do you celebrate? Sugar Skull Rum.

Media samples and hi-res images are available upon request.
Contact Laura Peet, PeetCom, Inc., lbptalk@aol.com, (917) 860-6285.

Sugar Skull Rum Launches – National Rum Day 2014

Sugar Skull Rum Launches – National Rum Day 2014

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We launched Sugar Skull Rum just in time for National Rum Day (August 16) in AZ and NV. I am very excited by the incredible opportunity to lead this great brand and company from inception to game changer in the industry. I have received so many congratulations from so many friends and associates in and outside the industry. I am very appreciative for the well wishes and thought I’d share a bit of the back story on the brand and why we believe it is a true game changer. What do we mean when we talk about “Celebrating Life”?

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Back Story:

Sugar Skull Rum Company was founded by a group of serial entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who dared to ask the question: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, when?” in a business dominated by international conglomerates and multi-generational family businesses. The liquor giants, both the manufacturers and distributors have all the advantages that come with scale and entrenched interests; money, power, regulations and people drive this advantage (you know you who are friends). So what makes the Sugar Skull team think we can play in the big leagues without any of these advantages?

As a co-Founder and CEO, my view is, “Ideas matter. When the time is right, if one can put the right people together, they can accomplish anything with the right idea.   Sugar Skull Rum is that right idea at the right time.”

A while back, a bunch of my friends were sitting around sipping various cocktails, enjoying fine cigars and most of all each other’s company. The conversation spanned technology, politics, exotic travel, past loves lost, and family. As the evening went on, memories were created among friends from different worlds while discussing those people who came before us and meant a lot to who each of us are today, but are no longer with us. One of the group pointed out that those lost people, who we celebrate, are really with us always.

“You know, that is really what “El Día de los Meurtos” “The Day of the Dead” is all about. You see, for thousands of years many people have celebrated their loved ones in different ways. With the “Day of the Dead” you have convergence of European Catholic traditions with the ancient Aztec traditions. It really is all about celebrating those who have left this world but mean so much to the people they touched.”

As the night wore on, the discussion led to how each of us celebrated the lives of our loved ones lost. The idea of a “celebration” among the living, in honor of those that came before and have left us, resonated throughout the group. In thinking about the beautiful tributes put together all over, we all agreed the iconic Sugar Skulls really bring to life the feelings of honoring those gone.

One of us pointed out, “you know, what sugar is made from don’t you?… sugar cane.   That is exactly what is in this drink”… he held up his sipping rum to the firelight… “a toast… to our loved ones lost, let us celebrate what they mean to us and let us live each day fully” Our group toasted…. here here… here here…   It was a magical night and I know it touched me deeply.

From that night on, the idea would not leave any of us. We soon decided, a beverage that brought together the ideas of that evening, celebrating life today and those who have past, would bring a piece of the magic feeling everyone had that night. These friends had experience in consumer products, the beverage industry, motor racing and hospitality. Some were very successfully in the ice cream business and had made their names in creative flavors. After almost two years of scouring the world for the best rums and many many nights and days of hard work (J) in judging these amazingly diverse products, a new brand was born. Sugar Skull Rum.

Founded on the principle that life should be celebrated and it is at its best when we celebrate those who where impactful in our lives. Sugar Skull Rum is a meticulously crafted super premium rum brand that looks at the world a little bit differently.   The Company takes the approach of a lean start-up by working smart and playing hard we are bringing a new brand into a tough competitive market by thinking differently. Sugar Skull Rum while a young company is deploying breakthrough marketing to reach consumers in memorable ways. The team is highly motivated to bring our message and brand to thirsty consumers everyone who like us, want the best in life and are willing to take the road less traveled.

Join us in making the Rum Revolution a reality.

Join The Rum Revolution

About Sugar Skull Rum Company:

Sugar Skull is a celebration of life. It is the life we live, the lives we touch and those that have touched us. We celebrate them all. Live. Love. Celebrate. How do you celebrate?

Created by leaders in the ice cream, beverage, sports, entertainment and hospitality industries, Sugar Skull Rum Company makes a meticulously crafted super premium rum blend that looks at the world a little bit differently. Sugar Skull is made from with the very best sugar cane molasses carefully sourced from growers’ farms throughout the Caribbean and South America. Sugar Skull Rum is carefully handcrafted in the beautiful Caribbean islands at our partner distilleries. We use 4-column stills to produce a clean and crisp base rum before filtering and blending to our proprietary recipe to produce Sugar Skull’s unique taste profile. Welcome to the best tasting Rum in the world.

Sugar Skull Rum is being launched in select markets in 2014. Look for our Tribal Silver, Mystic Vanilla, Native Coconut, Madagascar Wild Berry and Hellfire Cinnamon at select accounts in AZ, CA and NV.

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