This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Josh Landon. You may not have heard of Josh and his holding company, Wings and Arrow. But you’ve certainly heard of his products such as Ashland Hard Seltzer, Voyage Hard Lemonade, and several others.
Josh is a serial entrepreneur. He sold his first business, St. Archer, to Coors for over $100 million and built Wings & Arrow’s portfolio to millions in revenue from the ground up. In fact, he was given a hefty offer from Anheuser-Busch after only 11 months of building Ashland Hard Seltzer, but he decided to hold on and keep growing the brand.
Through it all, Josh hasn’t compromised his passion for his craft and mission to create unparalleled products for customers. I'm excited to unpack his journey and his lessons lessons learned on the way.
Josh took an unconventional path to becoming an entrepreneur. He started out as a filmmaker and still is. He still does all the film for the brands. He was documentary filmmaker making surf films. He won a number of film festivals and was a working filmmaker.
How did you go from film making to building St. Archer and selling it?
- As with any business, it started with an idea.
- Josh was on surf trip in Puerto Rico with some of his surf buddies and a Tequila brand approached them about investing in the business and being an ambassador.
- He didn’t think it was a good idea and thought a better idea was to do it with craft beer because of its popularity.
- That’s when the lightbulb went off the produce a beer that is part of the surf/skate lifestyle that has come from them.
- There was never an authentic brand from the people that made up the pro-surfers, snowboarders, skaters, etc.
- He decided to do it and worked with many of the greats in the industry that could be ambassadors.
- But he knew nothing about the business or brewing beer.
- He knew he could build a brand and that is what he set out to do.
- He didn’t go to college or have a degree.
- He didn’t even know what a capital raise was.
- He bootstrapped and did it and figured it out and focused on what was in his control.
What are you doing different from your experience with St. Archer with Ashland? Anything you learned that made it easier?
- He sold St. Archer to take the brand national, but it was also to see how he would move on and what could come next after getting the financial windfall.
- He could have stayed at St. Archer/Coors, but he realized that he was motivated by more than the job and security of the money – he was an entrepreneur.
- He is driven to complete at the highest level with his businesses and knew that he could not do that at Coors.
At the 13 min mark, Josh talks about the life of the entrepreneur and putting his family through everything over the years.
You’ve raised $50+ million with no venture money and giving up big chunks of the business?
- Raising money comes down to an ability that is not really a learned trade.
- You have to authentically tell the story/vision of the brand/company you are creating, and people buy into it.
- There is no step by step to raise money.
- A lot of it is personality, but also circumstance.
At the 17 min mark, Josh talks about when he made the decision to go all in on St. Archer and move from Ventura to San Diego with his family. He had nothing and had to win and that was part of the story and why people invested. He was all in and had to make it happen.
What have you learned about building a successful brand and community?
- With St. Archer, he created the brand that he wanted to see and be a part of.
- What has worked is having celebrities as investors, but active in the company and brand. They don’t just buy in and go away.
- If he is going to have them invest in it, then they need to be a part of it.
- Build a brand that people want to be a part of…if he likes it, he wife, and his friends/business partners – then it is a go.
- Beware of overanalyzing. Create the brand you want, articulate the vision, and pour yourself into it.
- Then, hire the best and allow them to go what they do best in building and sharing the brand and company.
- Focus on what you do well and don’t do what you suck at!
How do you market and sell it once you’ve built the brand?
- That is where the talent comes in.
- Get experience in this area.
- Josh describes the beer business and how it works to make sales. It’s great to listen.
- You need to know your customer.
- You need to know where they are.
- You need to be there when they are ready.
- The majority of the money is spent on sales folks and get the brand in stores.
Did anything from your time as a filmmaker cross over to help you as an entrepreneur?
- As an independent filmmaker, you are doing everything. It is entrepreneurial.
- You have to figure it out from scratch and then have to make it, produce, get into distribution and get people to see it.
- Each film is its own brand and business in essence.
What has surprised you most on your entrepreneur journey to date?
- How hard it is.
- Not just the work, but emotional challenge.
- You have to deal with everything and constantly be “on.”
- It is a different type of pressure.
- It is tough to keep your personality in the middle.
Best Quote: Create the brand you want to see and be a part of...
Josh's Misfit 3:
Straight hard work…especially when you don’t want to.
Humility. No matter how successful you get, keep yourself in check. Nothing ruins businesses more than ego. Self-care.
Take time for yourself and take care of yourself mentally and physically. You must perform at the highest level.
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