Exclusive StartEngine Q&A Webinar With Founder, Jonathan Tourgee
Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Quri Vodka has received many interesting questions, some about our StartEngine campaign and others about our efforts to launch the first premium Peruvian Quinoa Vodka brand.
In our recent webinar, we took a deep dive to answer several questions from our investors to provide clarity regarding investor inquiries to provide deeper insight into Quri Vodka.
Where is your first shipment of product? Is it state-side already, or is it still in Peru?
“We have our e-commerce stores up and ready, and so the day those things hit we're, we're gonna be live, so we're good to go. I would say we're three, three weeks away from entering the market.”
Do you have US permits and licenses already for distribution? If not, when do you anticipate having those?
“We have everything we need. The US has quite a bit of regulations on alcohol, reasonably so. So our distillery is registered with the FDA and has FDA approvals. We also have our TTB COLA, which is the tobacco, alcohol, and firearms bureau. They can control the alcohol industry in the United States. We have our COLA, which is our certificate of label approval with the TBB.
“Lastly, we have our trademark and it’s currently in last review. It’s scheduled to be approved on July 20th.”
Your plan is to begin the rollout of your vodka in California. What made you choose the Californian market in particular?
“California, we believe, is better for our demographic. Quri is likely going to be sold slightly more towards women and those who politically lean left. Also, quinoa is a trending superfood that’s popular in California. Lastly, we feel our mission and vision—to support Peruvian women in the Andes will resonate the most with Californians.”
If customers are in New York City, will launching in SoCal versus Miami impact the availability for them to order a bottle?
“Not at all. SoCal will house our e-comm store, but we can ship to 41 states. A year or two ago it was illegal to sell online, but since the change in those regulations we’ll have no problems getting bottles to New York.
The only thing is you have to be 21 to accept the package. ”
Your Vodka is made out of quinoa. Are there any specific tasting notes that make Quri stand out? Are there any preferred cocktails that you think are most fitting for a quinoa-based vodka such as yours?
“I get this a lot from investors, and as an investor myself I understand you want to try before you buy. Though you can’t taste Quri before you invest, I will say Quri has won a lot of prestigious blind tasting contests. These judges have been judging contests for years and tasting the best vodkas in the world. The fact that Quri has won gold and silver medals at these contests says something:
2020 Silver Winner at the New York International Spirits Competition
2020 CWSA Best Value Gold Medal at the China Wine & Spirits Awards
2020 Silver Medal at the USA Spirits Ratings
For the tasting notes, you can definitely taste the quinoa. It’s got a nice nutty flavor that comes off with a touch of chocolate and citrus. I personally love it in a Negroni, but it mixes very well with traditional screwdrivers or cranberry juice.”
How does quinoa-based vodka differ from potato vodka?
“Most people believe that most vodkas are made from potatoes, but that’s actually not the case.
Potato vodka is pretty rare.
People believe vodka is primarily made from potatoes due to the history of vodka. When Napoleon went to Russia, he brought back Russian troops. They started making vodka from potatoes in France, because wheat was too expensive.
But today, a delicious potato vodka is very expensive to produce. That’s because potato vodka naturally has a lot of methanol and pectin that create a very harsh flavor. It requires distilleries almost double the amount of technology to remove it, thus good potato vodka is difficult and expensive to make.
So compared to potato vodka, Quri vodka is not only simpler to distill, but has a naturally smoother and nutter taste.”
There is a big brand of quinoa vodka on the market already. What is your differentiator and how do you plan on competing with them?
“I get this question a lot.
The brand is called Fair Quinoa Vodka. They are a French distillery and they import their quinoa from Bolivia.
Our big differentiation is our authenticity, farm-to-bottle ethos, and our story. I think consumers will appreciate that we work with our farmers directly and form deep relationships with them. We do everything in Peru while also giving back to Peru.
We’re a do-well by doing-good model, which I feel consumers want.
Plus, Fair Quinoa has a wide distribution, which proves there is a demand for quinoa vodka.”
What Volume of Product Can Your Single Family Farm Support Before You Need to Begin Planning for Contracting With Another Farm?
“I think that a lot of investors are a bit turned off by the idea that we do source all of our quinoa from one family farm. And they are, they are concerned about how, you know, our, our ability to secure our supply chain. But quinoa is a globally grown grain at this point.
My family farm can support our first two years of sales projections. But there are thousands of family farms in Peruvian valleys, and I will start working with them once we need to secure more grain. I always want to source the quinoa from the Peruvian Andes first.
The bottom line is I don’t anticipate a supply chain issue with quinoa.”
How Big is the Market Opportunity?
“The alcohol market is enormous. It is absolutely, breathtakingly enormous. It is one of the largest industries in the world, but let's focus on the US market. In the US alone liquor sales (not including beer and wine) are $90 billion a year! Vodka accounts for 33%, which is $30 billion.
That’s the total available market, but you can break it down further into the premium sector. Premium, craft vodka is 40% of sales, which makes sense as we’ve all seen craft breweries and distilleries explode in the last 10 years.
That’s because the market is just so big for alcohol. Even crums of that pie is still a fortune.”
When will the e-commerce side for Quri be up and running?
“Our e-commerce story is actually up.
Right now we’re just tasked with getting the product to the retailer.
How our model works is an order comes in on the ecommerce site, it goes to the retailer, then the retailer ships it out. We have to follow this flow because alcohol regulation in the US requires a distributor.
Again we’ve built this structure and all the pieces are in place, we are just waiting to launch the product to the US market.”
What legal risks do you anticipate with the distribution of your vodka?
“We have umbrella insurance that covers consumers goods if there’s a legal issue. On top of that we have all our legal permits.
So as long as I do what I’m supposed to do, which means I don’t sell directly to consumer (it has to go through a distributor and retailer, the US three-tiered system) then I don’t anticipate any legal problems there.
In terms of product liability (which means the vodka has a potential harmful contaminate), we have various safety measures in place. All our vodka is laboratory tested before bottling. I know exactly what’s in every batch of Quri vodka. Plus we remove a lot of acetone and methanol typically found in less-expensive liquors that are notorious for giving hangovers.”
What are your exit goals?
My ultimate goal is to work in the company for five years to help it scale, then join hands with a large corporation (one that anticipates buying Quri) for the next five years to scale it more. In the 10th year, I’d hope to exit.
What this means for investors in around five years you’d see a 50% of the upfront capital based on the value of the company, then in the final five years you would have a buyout.
How can investors get involved today?
Investors can become a shareholder in Quri Vodka through StartEngine.
If you’re still on the fence about joining our investor community or have more questions, please leave them in our comments section of our StartEngine page and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
Cheers everyone! Now go drink some vodka!