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1,000 Entrepreneurs: David Taylor

Our third profile covers the founder of DizziBrands

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Nov 27, 2019
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For a man like David Taylor, work does not revolve around a nine-to-five schedule. Instead, work comes in the form of the next big idea to bring to market. As a serial entrepreneur, Taylor has constantly been plagued by the desire to create new business ventures and improve industries.

He has opened seven bars and restaurants, created an electric vehicle company, started a crowdfunding platform and even developed a technology platform that implemented augmented reality for the likes of Pizza Hut and the Denver Broncos. It is quite the list, but that is what happens for a man that has worked for himself since age 23.

As a man that has made and lost millions, the world of entrepreneurship and creativity is a passion. Taylor’s most recent venture can be found throughout Texas. Named DizziBrands, the company has found a way to infuse alcohol into frozen desserts like ice cream, sorbets and pops. Now this may not seem like a new concept for some, but these frozen treats come packing a punch. Each treat contains a whopping 10% to 15% alcohol by volume content. That is double to triple the amount found in most beers and wines.

“It's literally the dumbest thing I have ever done in my entire life, as far as a business, but it is by far the most fun. I guarantee it will be the most successful thing I have ever done and we are just having a blast,” Taylor said.

The idea initially landed in Taylor’s lap while mentoring returning veterans. He met a veteran who had the idea of mating ice cream with alcohol. Knowing a good idea when he saw it, Taylor provided the capital needed to start the process of creating a business alongside this veteran. Unfortunately due to disagreements over business strategy and contradicting advice from another mentor, Taylor was forced to abandon the business venture as he could not continue providing capital.

Summing it up to another failed venture, Taylor began to look for other opportunities to pursue as he always had. His business partner had other ideas. “He wouldn’t let a dead dog lie,” Taylor said. They proceeded to hire multiple chefs, including a James Beard Foundation Award winner, to figure out how to create the perfect formula. All of them failed to create what Taylor wanted. He realized the artistic creation methods that were used by the chefs simply would not work.

“None of them really understood the science of molecular gastronomy and how you would marry it with mixology,” he said.

For the next several months, his wife’s kitchen was taken over in an attempt to understand the science behind mating frozen treats with alcohol. As alcohol does not generally freeze, this was quite the feat.Taylor studied every single aspect of the process and one day, alongside his attorney, stumbled upon the right formula. He described the success as coming from the almost anti-culinary approach he took to things.

“I didn’t know what not to do," Taylor said. "So a traditional chef would be that person who goes, ‘you know you have to put some sweet and put some savory and do these things and have it more of an art,’ when mine was more of a chemistry, so I had to go by numbers and go by the mathematics behind it.” 

Once he cracked the chemistry code for his products, the next problem was how to scale the business. They would need a commercial kitchen, customers to sell to and a branded product to sell in the first place. The goal of the product was always to sell business to business. Taylor never planned on selling the product directly to consumers, but each business must start somewhere.

After finding the perfect copacker to produce the frozen treats, Taylor began selling the products at baseball games for a minor league team based out of Frisco, Texas. Each Thursday night, DizziBrands would sell to around 2,000 people. Needless to say, the product sold quite well. A minor league basketball team was added as a venue to sell their products and sales continued on in a similar fashion. The next mission was to get the products into the hands of restaurants and bars.

The product “sells itself” according to Taylor. He is working at around a 95% success rate when bringing products into a new buyer. The easiest way to sell the product is to put it in the hands of the buyer. “I say, 'Do you like ice cream?' Usually the answer is yes. And then I say, 'Do you like alcohol?' And usually the answer is yes, and I quit selling right then and there,” Taylor said. In essence, the fastest way to make a sale is for the buyer to actually taste the product in front of him. Simply put a spoon in their mouth with no extra words required.

In all reality, for a buyer to be convinced, it does take a few more words than in the story above. Taylor spoke about having to overcome some objections to the product as it is not the cheapest on the market. Generally the debate would come down to how the product works with current inventory and the cost of the product for the buyer. This is where Taylor’s past experience as a restaurant and bar owner comes into play. He knows exactly what it takes to sell a product first hand and feels that it takes an exceptional restaurateur to make a claim that he cannot refute about his product. In general, the “profit significantly justifies the product” according to Taylor.

Selling the frozen treats to consumers was a whole different story. Initially, Taylor was only going to sell directly to businesses. This would allow him to focus on moving into different states and the complications that come with different liquor laws. However, after selling the desserts at multiple events and parties, he quickly realized there was a desire from their consumers that was not being met. They wanted a place to go and buy the frozen treats in bulk so that they could supply their own parties. Thus, the Taste Kitchen was born.

Selling from brick-and-mortar locations not only put the product directly in the consumers' hands, it provided a unique way to grow the business that Taylor had not expected. Only operating on weekdays, the Taste Kitchen produces unique seasonal flavors for customers to try out and keeps backstock of the traditional rotation of flavors. On top of the direct-to-consumer sales, it operates as a distribution center for the frozen treats. Frozen products are difficult to efficiently distribute. Adding in alcohol further complicates the issue as the temperature of the product must be regulated perfectly.

The Taste Kitchen acts as a hub for moving the product throughout Texas, yet even remaining in the state means a large amount of miles to cover. This is where Taylor’s plans for expansion come into play. Come 2020, DizziBrands is planning on opening six new stores throughout the state. This will allow for product to be stored and distributed effectively throughout the state with much higher efficiency on top of putting the product in front of more new faces. Once the legality of moving into new states is navigated, these stores will allow for products to be moved both east and west efficiently as well.

Operating and selling in a single state makes for an easy monopoly on the market, but moving across the country brings in other big names. Taylor is well aware that there are other competitors in the world of frozen treats. However, these competitors are not seen as a threat by Taylor. Instead, he is grateful for what they are doing to the market. Their names and history bring legitimacy to the market as a whole and further expand the customer base. Taylor also has a hand up on his competition that no other brand can match.

DizziBrands desserts have, by far, the highest alcohol by volume products of any other ice cream or frozen treat currently on the market. Peaking out just below 16% alcohol by volume, Taylor’s products blow the competition out of the water. According to Taylor, the highest alcohol by volume of any competitor is well below the lowest of any product he makes. The product not only has the flavor of alcohol, it truly packs a punch.

Taylor has without a doubt created a product that he can be proud of, yet his pride lies more with the brand and the team that he surrounds himself with. He claims that the team is the best he has ever created. Each person is in the role that plays to their exact strengths and this allows him to focus on his passion; marketing the company and expanding its current markets. Taylor is able to focus on the big picture thanks to the team he has built. They are “absolutely organized” and “well structured” in his own words.

There are people working for the company that are in things for an equity piece at the end as well Taylor said. He himself has not taken a salary from the company since it was founded. The people working alongside him understand they can find a “big win” at the end rather than taking a small steady income during the process.

Adding to this the branding for the product is claimed perfection. Taylor believes the company is not limited in any demographic it can reach. The products it makes have a flavor that will suit anyone from any background. The imagery and design the team has created gives them absolute freedom to develop any product they want for any market. They have “finessed” themselves into their position. “Things are very blue sky right now,” Taylor said.

While the future of the company seems limitless, Taylor started it with the intent to sell down the road. This will be done for the absolute benefit of the people that work alongside him. He knows he has created a desirable product, yet he is self-claimed to be stingy with the product he has created. He has turned down numerous offers of funding as the goal is to only work with people that fit both the company and the business plan. Taylor said the knowledge from his past ventures dictates who he partners with.

“You would laugh at how many times a day we get asked to go on Shark Tank,” he added.

Instead, the company plans to grow naturally. It will continue to do everything in its power to find success, yet it is going to be on its own terms. Funding comes from people who believe in the company and not those looking to throw money at a new venture. The “beauty of the business,” as Taylor calls it, is that they can do everything naturally until the perfect buyer comes knocking at their door.

Question and answer

GuruFocus: Are there any regrets or mistakes that you have made so far?

Taylor: You know, I’m going to be honest and say no. I mean this has been one of those where it's been such a pleasure. We haven’t been doing this long enough to where we will find those regrets and when we cross the chasm, I’m sure there will be plenty, but at the moment it has been absolutely organized. It's been well structured. It's been, like, every time we needed something, it's been there. There has not been one of those moments of, "Man, I wish I would’ve done that."

GuruFocus: What are you most grateful for at this point in your life?

Taylor: You know, I think I’m grateful the most that I have found a partner that I can share everything with. Which is my wife. I think without her I probably wouldn’t have the same drive or determination to do as much as fast as I have done because she just deserves all of this. She has given me so many resources and tools as far as just being there and taking care of the kids and doing a lot of things that I don’t get time to do, so I would say she is probably what I’m most grateful for.

Taylor's keys to successful entrepreneurship

Don’t quit your day job:

Follow passion, but do it after work. Let someone else pay for medical expenses and your house. Wait until your side job is making more money than your day job to fully commit to it. This will allow you to remain in a steady state in life that is survivable. Creating a business takes a massive amount of money and time. It will undoubtedly consume other parts of your life. Make sure that you fully understand what you are getting into and seek out the advice of mentors to illuminate challenges that you may not foresee.

Always try to learn:

Taylor finds for himself that reading generally takes away from time to be productive. Instead, he uses Audible to listen to books, but they are never fiction. He recommends always having a purpose and trying to learn from the content you are consuming. Look for things that will motivate change in your life and understand why things matter. Limit the amount of things that are not productive and do not foster growth. At the same time, if you need that release from your work find something to escape into. Just limit how much time you let it take.

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