Av Grewal is a lawyer by profession who received his education from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. When Av realized that he could make an enjoyable living as a purveyor of alcohol, he decided to put law to the side and pursue his entrepreneurial dream.
Fueled by his passion, ambition and excitement for creating a drink that people will love, Av has made his passions a reality that lead him from the predictable daily tasks of running a law office to an exciting life of entrepreneurship.
In 2018, CoCo Vodka found its start when Av Grewal and Mark Convery – a 15-plus year entrepreneur with experience starting multiple alcohol brands – partnered together. The tropical deliciousness of CoCo Vodka, and now CoCo Rum, enthusiastically promotes the fun, satisfying relaxation that you could previously only capture by flying to an island half way around the world. CoCo Vodka and CoCo Rum drinks are an exotic vacation in every can.
The co-founders enjoy sharing a product that helps people create moments that are too often drowned out amidst the chaotic times everyone is experiencing. As the company website says, “Good things start with CoCo!” – a tagline embodying life and labour.
Av’s 8 years of professional experience in the alcohol industry with additional 9 years of experience in the fields of direct sales, marketing, management, and administration provides him with excellent acuity to help run the operations. Av also owns and operates Spark Distribution, an alcohol distribution company in Alberta, Canada founded 3 years prior to the beginnings of CoCo Vodka.
When Av is not indulging in his business ventures, he enjoys quality moments with family and friends, listening to podcasts to feed his love of learning, networking, traveling the world, and is an avid sports fan. True to his realization that enjoyment can best be found by pursuing your passion, Av Grewal has discovered a winning formula to creating a fulfilling life.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Growing up my father and family members were in business. That entrepreneurial mentality was instilled from a young age. My family’s teaching inspired the motivation that I have carried to start my own brand, work to assure it’s growth, and see its success through.
When I connected again with Mark Convery, a man I have always meshed well with within our sales companies, we had an epiphany to make a ‘Vacation in a can’ – and CoCo Vodka and CoCo Rum was born.
How do you make money?
When people enjoy each other’s company while enjoying a few of our thoughtfully crafted beverages, we make money.
What has been your biggest struggle on your entrepreneurial journey?
My biggest struggles have been staying patient, and delegating. I am always eager to accomplish goals and attain results.
While listening to podcasts and interviews of many great entrepreneurs, I have learned two important principles to be a leader and overcome these struggles:
- One, the means is typically who, not how.
- Two, being present, and patient in the moment, provides opportunities to make better decisions with long term benefits.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
CoCo has seen revenue from the start, but progressively establishing CoCo as a well known alcohol brand it was essential to place profits directly back into CoCo. Mark and I have towering goals to see CoCo’s expansion and that won’t be possible if profits are pulled from the company.
What does your business do?
CoCo is a spirits based RTD’s (ready to drink) beverage formulated with real CoConut water and high grade ingredients selected for their quality.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Doubt is a natural occurrence when starting any serious venture. The alcohol industry is no exception. There are a lot of big names and industry giants in a very crowded field.
CoCo, being a smaller company, had fewer resources for rapid growth, so it took time to make and create public awareness. It also took quite a while – longer than expected – to find proper distribution.
We maintained a persistence and have a true belief in the CoCo brand and product. Mark and I took growing the CoCo brand ‘one sip at a time’. We made sure to find influencers, buyers, distributors, and investors who also believed in CoCo.
The feedback we received was tremendous and we saw a small win everyday. It is evident that persistence is key to what we do. Having a great, dedicated team with a common goal doesn’t hurt!
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Talking about CoCo to people with honest enthusiasm and being smart in the approach when doing so is one way we have generated consistent interest in the brand. Having people taste CoCo seems to be one of the best ways to promote the drink. Most who try CoCo Vodka love it!
Mark and I also like to make sure that we market ourselves the right way. People like to be in business with people they like. I suggest being yourself and being friendly. We work in the alcohol industry – it should be fun!
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
It might be a familiar situation with other start-up companies. Deciding who to hire as our first CoCo team member was fairly difficult. We weren’t sure if we were ready as a bootstrappedstartup to pay someone, but it was one of the best decisions we have made.
Our first team-member has proved to be a great asset to our organization and he’s very passionate about CoCo. He helps with laying the foundation of our company and a great team culture!
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Advancing CoCo as a business venture and promoting awareness of our drink, while getting results, has been the most satisfying moments of this journey! Hearing comments on CoCo’s great taste, getting a new distributor, getting listed in retail stores, reading published articles, etc are all indicators that CoCo is a company that people love.
Headways in our business growth show Mark and I that we’re doing something right!
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are excited about furthering the CoCo brand and putting the drink in as many hands as possible! We are excited to introduce new brands to the global market in the near future.
Also, Mark and I are actively positioning CoCo as an upcoming RTD category leader in alcohol industry. With the progress we make CoCo will be looking for great talented team members to grow with, work with, and have a good time with while we’re at it.
What business books have inspired you?
There are quite a handful of books that inspire me – to start Tony Robbins – Awaken the Giant Within and Art of War Sun Tzu are two books. Recently I haven’t been reading much.
Podcasts are my current favorite way to maintain inspiration and learn. How I Built This, a podcast of the experiences successful entrepreneurs encountered. It helps to learn from their journey.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
Not so recent, but something that’s stuck by me for a while now, A Shower Speaker for my bathroom, listen to podcasts while getting ready in the morning MasterClass, some great content on there, especially Chris Voss, Art of Negotiation.
How do successful companies, brands, and entrepreneurs find profitability in a world with similar products, services, and offerings?
Communicating, being honest and true, being intelligible, and showing quality.
Is there a phrase, mantra you live by?
“Positive Attitude creates the road to success” –A.G
Being positive will turn on all the lights on a scary and dark road, It’s what you do on that road that determines how far you’ll get.