May 3, 2020
In this episode, I interview David Vitale, the founder, and director of sales and marketing at New World Whiskey Distillery Pty Ltd (previously Starward Distillery), the makers of Starward whiskey. David left a distilling career in Tasmania and started the business in Melbourne around 2007 amidst the global financial crisis. Breaking many traditions in the nascent 15-year-old craft distilling industry, it took him three years to raise all the funds he needed to set up the distillery and get production underway.
It was clear the business model was for a quality sub-100 dollar bottle of whiskey that lives in the sharing cabinet of a whiskey drinker, and it launched at $75 in 2013 when all Australian whiskeys were double the price. In that first year they sold less than 2,700 bottles and in 2020 will move more than 120,000 bottles. With enough stock going into casks each year, they have a close to $22 Million excise tax bill per annum. David moved the business from 1 full-time employee in 2007 to now 35, and with production capacity about to expand again, David highly values the key team members he brought along the journey starting with his first hire who is still there ten years after production began.
Funding from investors and selling whiskey investment casks helped get the business through fast growth, tough times, and be well-positioned for the world’s largest alcohol company with 18,000 sales reps in the US alone, to invest in late 2015. That bluechip investment helped them move to larger premises, increase production ten-fold, and get serious about export. David believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is letting go, and the advice he would give himself on day one is, “Keep going. It’s going to take a lot longer than you think, but you should still do it”
This Cast Covers:
Music from https://filmmusic.io "Cold Funk" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/