Punch.club Wants to Build a Community Around Cocktails and Spirits

Many startups are born out of garages, incubators and university campuses, but Punch.Club was born out of a bar. It all started in 2017, when a scientist and bartender were enjoying a round of specialty drinks: black tea-infused Tom Collins. They wished for a service that would allow them to enjoy the beverage on-the-go or in the park. A business idea began to brew. They pow-wowed in a tiny studio above a bar to bootstrap and begin work on their startup idea. 

Cofounder and CEO Kristjan-Walter Kask along with head mixologist Mihkel Kahn and team began turning to infusion techniques to encapsulate all the flavors in a bottle. Their objective was to create innovative recipes that pack an experience for its customers.

Soon their leadership team grew to seven, including Joosep Raudsepp. As partner and CMO at Estonia-based Punch.Club, the full-stack marketer with expertise in digital marketing was tasked with turning the bar room concept into a successful startup. Says Raudsepp, “Our goal is to be the most innovative drinks brand in the Nordics and we aim to achieve this by creating inspiring drinks that are produced sustainably.” In addition to a direct-to-consumer website, Punch.Club, they have a B2B arm via their proprietary cocktail technology. This business model will enable them to grow sustainably and maximize revenue over time. 

But in a crowded beverage market, it’s all about branding. Having worked on successful marketing campaigns for some of the biggest players in Northern Europe, Raudsepp and his colleagues also had to help build a community. Here he explains the key ingredients for a successful cocktail startup: 

You were founded in 2017 then relaunched in 2021, what was the biggest challenge your business has faced?  

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, we had to basically do a crazy pivot in order to keep afloat. It ended up doubling our YOY growth and got us nominated as the best innovators in our country’s biggest and most important business awards competition. When the lockdown began, approximately 70% of our customers (hotels, bars, club, festivals, etc) were closed. We needed a plan, fast. We sat down and started to calculate our runway, meanwhile looking at our big stock of pure spirits. Instead of being depressed we said ‘stuff it, hand sanitizer here we come.’

How did your team pivot amid the chaos? 

In just a week we reorganized our entire production process and managed to become the first company in our country who got the “special” governmental license to start producing sanitizer.

The demand was so huge our old website crashed, we had to hire an extra team to focus on shipping. Tons of free media coverage and primetime news came about. We became the poster company for “breaking the crisis.” Although our core products are drinks and cocktails, we still successfully sell and even export sanitizers. Our entire government, from the prime minister to president, are constantly seen with our sanitizers in their pockets at press conferences.

Share a rewarding moment in your startup journey. 

We have gotten tons of international awards and accolades for our products, from the most prestigious tasting competitions to highly appraised design awards. This has been quite flattering and also an indication that our efforts have been noticed and that we’re heading toward the right direction.

Given your early success, what’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?   

Act now, (over)think later. 

Of course this is not universal and doesn’t apply to all circumstances, but in many cases it is useful to get started, even if you are not 100% sure of the destination. Just go, you’ll figure stuff out along the way and most likely the ideas you had initially will change anyway. So no need to hatch the perfect plan, or overthink stuff. Just select good companions and hit the road.

Your website plays a huge role in your business. Why choose .Club for your web domain? 

.Club serves as a reference of like minded people, with shared values and shared joys. Together is better than alone, and .club has a nice collective feel.