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BevNet Live: Slow Build and Capital Efficiency Are Bywords In Today’s Constrained Environment

Beverage Business INSIGHTS:

Recently concluded BevNet Live conference, in focusing on entrepreneurial end of bev biz, is naturally ebullient setting. But even the cockeyed optimists these days seem to be reciting go-slow mantra, arguing it’s important to grow region by region, channel by channel, rather than undertaking capital-burning landgrabs in financial environment still marked by austerity. “No shortcuts,” warned former Coke exec Udaiyan Jatar, now running Atlanta-based consultancy Blue Earth Network, in typical remark from podium. “Those who take a slow, organic route often are greater successes.”

Certainly, those representing capital side were emphatic on that point. There’s more money than ever before out there, assured Partnership Capital Growth Advisors’ Brent Knudsen, “but people have gotten really smart and profitability really does matter,” regardless of economic environment. First Beverage Capital’s Bill Anderson offered 2 key lessons. First, “you can’t spend your way to prosperity.” Don’t fall for ruse that ebidta doesn’t matter, that it’s all about growth. Second, Bill wants to see “comprehensive, well-thought-out distribution plan.” That seldom means national landgrab – more likely “own your (core) market and go deep. We’re not a big fan of going thin and wide.” First Beverage’s key bev investment, Activate, tho well funded, has adopted region-by-region approach that only has brand in western states so far. Go-slow approach didn’t stop India’s Tata from making significant commitment a few weeks ago.