The American-made Vodka gives meals to the hungry
Your next hangover could help fight hunger.
Every time you tip back a martini made with new startup label Simple Vodka, a meal will go to a someone in need. Buy a whole bottle for $27, that’s 20 meals served.
The genius idea to make people feel good about themselves just by going to Happy Hour was simple.
“We wanted to create a product that would give back and raise awareness, but as opposed to something people buy just because they felt bad about the cause, we wanted to create something that would allow them to have fun while consuming,” Danny Lafuente, co-founder of Simple Vodka, tells Moneyish.
It all started with a major buzz kill: One out of six people in the US don’t know where their next meal will come from. And 50 million Americans are struggling every day to put food on their plate.
The startup teams up with non profit organizations like Feeding America and No Kid Hungry in addition to local food banks in markets where bottles are sold like Miami, New York and other parts of South Florida.
“We thought that was a major problem. It wasn’t getting the attention it deserves,” says Lafuente.
The spirit is made sustainably from locally raised Russet potatoes — instead of wheat or corn, like most vodkas — and water in Idaho. Simple Vodka pays the money forward first to the food bank. The money donation is done at point of production, so technically when you buy the drink at a bar or liquor store the good deed has already been done. But buying more of it enables the company to keep producing and feeding. Lafuente says around 250 cases of vodka are sold a month for around $40,500, that’s a total of 30,000 meals served.
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“We knew we couldn’t be delivering these meals all ourselves, but we still wanted to accomplish this,” says Lafuente of partnering with major food banks. “We track how many meals we’re donating as rigorously as our bottom line.”
To get started, Simple Vodka raised $150,000 in October of 2015 which allowed them to start producing bottles and another $150,000 from investors a year later. The bottles recently started trickling into retail stores, restaurants and bars. Lafuente says 15% of their revenue goes to food banks.
The concept is similar to other mission-based companies like shoe brand TOMS and eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker with buy-one-give-one premises.
“People are looking for socially conscious products,” Lafuente recognizes.
Buying for a cause is becoming more popular with twenty-somethings. Nearly 40% of millennials are more likely to buy a product or service when their money supports a cause. And about 45% of millennials (compared to just 27% of non-millennials) believe they can contribute to a goal or mission they care about more easily through a company’s program than on their own, research shows.
The company is still new, but it has already gained attention from major restaurateurs like Tom Colicchio, who carries the vodka at some of his eateries.
“That was one of the easiest pitches. He is so passionate about food insecurity. We sat down, we said ‘here’s the product, here’s our mission.’ Before they even tasted the product they bought four cases,” says Lafuente.
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