Chloe Bergson and Alison Evans have made mixology as easy as brewing a cup of tea.
The cofounders of Sayso, which makes dehydrated mixers that can be quickly steeped to create craft cocktails, are rolling their products out in retail stores on both coasts and eyeing expansion to more retail venues and other channels as well.
Its mixes are packaged in compostable sachets that can be steeped in cold water for three minutes, then combined with alcohol to create drinks such as the Skinny Spicy Margarita and the Rosemary Honey Moscow Mule.
The two cofounders met at Harvard Business School and became friends, with a shared passion for entrepreneurship and the food and beverage industry. They enrolled together in a Harvard program called Startup Bootcamp, in which they proposed the idea for dehydrated mixers. Their original plan called for ingredients in Mason jars, which would steep overnight, but through focus groups they learned that consumers wanted a faster solution.
“They did like that you could see the all-natural ingredients and that they were low-sugar and better for you, and we realized that if you ground up those ingredients you could reduce the infusion time,” said Evans.
Thus the first-of-its kind concept of dehydrated mixers sold in tea bags was born.
Bergson and Evans originally tried making the formulations themselves, but quickly realized that task was better left in the hands of professionals. They hired an outside expert, and continued to assemble the products by hand before they realized they could not keep up with strong consumer demand for the product, which they sold through their website. They soon found a co-packer with tea-packaging know-how.
“That was probably the biggest challenge we have had so far,” said Bergson, noting that they needed to find a manufacturer that was both willing to take a chance on an unproven product and had the expertise to produce the mixers to their specifications.
Sayso has had its products on the market now for about a year and a half, and is growing with a retail presence in several supermarkets and specialty grocery stores in the New York area, including ShopRite, Citarella, Gopuff, Gourmet Garage, and Fairway, and in Southern California in Bristol Farms. It is gearing up for its first national expansion with Sprouts Farmers Market in January.
It also recently introduced new, more sustainable packaging, and debuted two new flavors—the Espresso Martini and the Hibiscus Cosmopolitan.
The company is also ramping up its first paid marketing effort, and seeking to work with online influencers in the markets where it is rolling out in retail. Its target market is primarily women aged 21 to about 45, with above-average household incomes and an interest in better-for-you products. Although 75 percent of Sayso’s customers are female, the company does hold some appeal among men, especially for its Old Fashioned dehydrated mixer product, they said.
Bergson and Evans also have their sights set beyond grocery retail, and they plan to eventually expand into hospitality venues such as airlines and cruise ships. The products’ lightweight format, which provides an advantage in its ecommerce business, could also help the company gain distribution in these venues, said Bergson.