When a Quest for a Healthy Lifestyle Turns into a Business
Milestones to Date:
|When Ian Ceppos gave up alcohol for a healthier lifestyle, he soon realized there weren’t many drink options in social settings. He was at his wit’s end with seltzer and lime when he was introduced to kombucha. Ian immediately fell in love with the fermented tea beverage and started home-brewing his own kombucha. Ian’s wife, Liz Ceppos, soon followed suit and became obsessed with the drink. They started sharing their kombucha with friends and family, and as they continued to receive great feedback, they thought they could make a business out of this. “We noticed that our area didn’t have kombucha on tap, and we wanted to fill that gap! We knew that our kombucha quality and taste had a definite place in the regional market,” explains Liz.
The timing couldn’t have been better to start a business; Liz was looking for a change in her career and wasn’t sure if she wanted to work for someone else. So, Liz started planning the business as Ian continued his full-time job and brewed the kombucha. Even though they did their research and tested recipes, Liz and Ian didn’t have industry experience or connections and needed guidance on launching a new business. Liz started working the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) in October 2016. Their business advisor Nelson Merchan connected Liz to others in the community and gave her business tools to help her get essential tasks done such as financial projections.
Nelson has been and continues to be a sounding board, providing constructive feedback and providing solutions to new challenges. Most importantly Liz explains that working with Nelson provided excellent accountability. “Being accountable to our adviser meant following through on important tasks that were not always enjoyable, but necessary. A prime example of this is financial projections. Being accountable for completing and presenting the projections to my adviser made me understand my business at an entirely deeper level.”
Liz and Ian officially launched Cross Culture Kombucha in January 2017. They started selling their kombucha on tap in May 2017 in 2 locations. A little over a year into their new venture, Cross Culture Kombucha is available on tap and in bottles at 44 locations. Thanks to happy customers, word of mouth, and directly getting out in public to share our product, they now have a constant flow of new account and partnership inquiries. Cross Culture Kombucha is in a position to expand, make larger investments, and to build a team.
Liz plans to continue to work with Nelson as she grows her business. “The CTSBDC provided guidance where I otherwise would have floundered looking for it!” Liz advises other Connecticut entrepreneurs to take advantage of working with CTSBDC. “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain in working with the CTSBDC!”