Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits – Co-Owner – Ryan Widuch

by | Jul 5, 2022 | liqour store

Please provide us suitable title for interview.

Mandatory Questions –

  • Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

My name is Ryan Widuch and I am the President and co-owner of Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits. We operate two locations in Minnesota, in the city of White Bear Lake and the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis. At Elevated we strive to provide top service, selection, and expertise while offering arguably the state’s widest selection of craft beer.

  • Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

My entrepreneurial journey began after school when I moved to Chicago to work at the Chicago Mercantile exchange in the fall of 2003. In 2005 I began working for a small prop trading firm called Gator Trading Partners and mostly traded energy futures until 2012 when I decided put some of the capital that I had accumulated to work by starting up Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits with my friend and co-owner, Tom Boland.

  • What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

When we opened Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits the goal was to offer a hybrid model between a full service liquor store and a craft beer specialty store. Tom and I had been home brewing as a hobby for a few years and decided against opening a brewery and instead pivoted to the retail side of the business. We felt we could offer more than what currently existed in the market and were able to find a great location to realize that vision.

  • What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

When embarking on a new entrepreneurial journey it is very important to fully assess all of the risks involved and have a very good understanding of the market place you are entering. Be prepared to do whatever is necessary to get your company through the start up phase. Long hours, cost minimizations, and a flexible mindset is crucial to navigating the early days f your business. And, of course, be sure that you are well capitalized. Even a successful and rapidly growing company needs plenty of capital to keep up with tax obligations and growth costs.

  • What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

In my experience the three most important skills of a successful entrepreneur are leadership, cash flow management, and vision.

  • How many hours do you work a day on average?

In the early days it is not uncommon to work for 80+ hours per week getting your business going. Once your business is established it’s possible to scale those hours back considerably, but being a business owner is a lifestyle and you’re likely always going to somewhat aware/focused on your business in varying degrees throughout the day.

  • To what do you most attribute your success?

I attribute most of my success to being humble enough to ask questions, learn from mistakes, and find inspiration in the success and failures of those around me.

  • How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

In our business I’ve found that word of mouth has been our most effective form of marketing. Taking care of the customer, providing a top-notch retail environment (service, selection, organization/cleanliness), and providing competitive pricing have been the best way to achieve that goal.

  • Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

My business partner Tom and I brought 20% of our funding to that table and the remainder was funded through an SBA Express loan. After shopping our business model to a single bank to start we soon realized that the better approach was to present to a number of different banks, of which we received interest/approval from about three. This approach allowed to have more options and establish better terms for the SBA loan.

  • What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Be honest with yourself. Do your best to understand investments that you are getting into, but be willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake or your analysis was off. It’s okay to fail and move on. You’ll always have learned something that you can apply to the next venture if you do.

  • Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Over the next five years we intend to strategically add more brick in mortar retail stores as it makes sense, but our current focus is on continuing to scale our e-commerce. This has been our main source of growth over the past three years and we expect that trend to continue.

  • Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Some of the businesses that I admire the most right now are companies that are building on and around bitcoin. From miners that are revolutionizing the energy space and incentivizing more efficient and clean processes to payment companies that are streamlining exchange and reducing costs for merchants, consumers, and remittances. These companies are building the foundation to help fix many of the problems our world is facing today.

Recommended Questions –

  • How important have good employees been to your success?

Good employees have been pivotal tour success because many of them our customer-facing and represent us directly on the retail floor. Our operations and management teams are key as well as they set the tone and maintain our protocols and keep us profitable.

  • How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

I only stick with an idea as long as it holds up against criticism. If the idea proves to have a lot of holes then I will cut swiftly. If it withstands criticism, despite popular opinion, I will stick with an idea indefinitely.

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