February 2017
Vol 5 | Issue 109

Q&A with Robert Nistico

CEO of Splash Beverage Group

Principal Series:

Family Office Insights sits down with Robert Nistico of Splash Beverage Group to discuss his growing brand, his new products and how he plans to expand his business.

Family Office Insights is a voluntary, “opt-in” collaborative peer-to-peer community of single family offices, qualified investors and institutional investors. Join the community here www.familyofficeinsights.com

How did you get started in the beverage industry?

Totally by accident! After college, I was planning on focusing on finance. However, I was working at an Eckerd drugstore in Florida when Ernest Gallo and his entourage came in to sell me a Bartles & Jaymes display to justify their fishing trip. They ended up inviting me to dinner and talking me into coming to work.  That was the best decision I ever made; the beverage business is in my blood - I love it.

What is Splash Beverage Group?

We are a team of beverage experts with a tremendous track record of success in senior positions with brands such as RedBull, Gallo, Pepsi, EAS, DIAGEO, Muscle Milk, Nabisco, Bolt House Farms, Seagram, etc. Our Board includes former top executives of Barcardi, DIAGEO, Nestle, DuPont and Deloitte & Touche. Our distribution abilities and our relationships with the chains are second to none.

What was your most recent rollout?

Prior of Splash Beverage Group, my most recent rollout was the Marley Beverage Company, a licensing deal with Bob Marley’s family for tea and sodas. We took that business to $55 million in just under three years. 

How much capital are you looking to raise?

A minimum of $6 million and a maximum of $12 million. We can reach profitability with $6 million in a relatively short period of time. However, with the extra capital we can significantly increase top line revenue and ultimately profitability.

Who is your ideal investor?

High-net-worth individuals and family offices are ideal for this project. We are well past the venture capital stage as we have product on shelf and are in the early stages of revenue, but we’re not quite ready for traditional private equity as we still have some forward investment to deploy over the next 18 - 24 months.

What is your business model like?

Our business model is unique to the beverage space. We only deal with brands that have pre-existing brand awareness with positive consumer sentiment, or true category innovation. This is a tremendous advantage as it allows us to break through the clutter and leverage brand partners reach, such as the WWE with our isotonic sport drink, Tapout Performance. 

For example, John Cena who is the face of the WWE, has over 42 million social media followers. We will activate those consumers with a very specific strategic plan at the grocery and convenience chain level. One Tweet or Instagram from Mr. Cena and we drive foot traffic into those stores creating value as a vendor and brand equity with the consumer.

Our other key brand, SALT Flavored Tequila, is an excellent example of pure innovation.  We are the first line of flavored tequilas. Think of what flavors did for rum vodka and now brown spirits. Put simply, no one has done it for tequila yet. So we are coupling the hottest trend of flavors with tequila, the hottest spirits category.

What’s next for you and Splash Beverage?

We also own all things consumable for Prince Tennis.  We are in development for a line of electrolyte chews and beverages, which we can easily plug into the golf and tennis distribution Network. This will also open a channel to our other products, specifically Tapout.

I can't give you specifics, but we are in the process of working with a family (I might have mentioned earlier, but you didn't hear that from me!) on a line of Jamaican rum which we will plug into the cruise ship in duty-free channels.  So when Middle America comes back from their cruise, instead of bringing home a bottle of Bacardi, they most certainly would bring something unique to the region that has deep roots with consumers and ties to reggae music for the last 30 years.

What is your current strategy to grow your brand?

Primarily with strategic chain marketing programs. A good example is what I mentioned above … that one Tweet from Mr. Cena will drive foot traffic directly into our retail partner’s doors. We are in development with a fully integrated social media program with Korger that will geo-target WWE fans, John Cena fans and Kroger’s high impact isotonic consumers in specific geographic areas tied with display programs. This is a VERY effective approach.
In addition to having perfectly positioned brands and sound strategies, leveraging our team and its relationships which are second to none. From a management standpoint, our group has worked on key brands such as Red Bull, Diageo, Pepsi, Campbell's Nabisco and Coca-Cola, among others. This is a relationship business and our relationship with both retail and distribution are absolutely stellar. With good distribution capabilities, I can build any brand.

Finally, add in and activate our board of directors which is an outstanding assembly of key industry executives. We work with the president of Bacardi, the most recent president and chief Innovation officer for Diageo, the former president of Nestlé, a former and original partner with Deloitte & Touche, and the president of HR for DuPont. It's truly a “who's who” board of directors that I am very proud of.

Robert Nistico

Mr. Nistico has more than 24 years of experience in the beverage industry, including direct and indirect sales management, strategic brand marketing, operations and logistics. Mr. Robert Nistico currently serves as a Chief Executive Officer at Splash Beverage Group, Inc. He was formally the CEO and managing partner of Viva Beverages, LLC. Prior to Viva Beverages, Nistico was the 5th employee at Red Bull North America and, Inc. and served as Vice President of Field Marketing and SR Vice President/General Manager during his 11 years there. Mr. Nistico was instrumental in building the … Red Bull brand in North and Central America and the Caribbean from $0 revenues to $1.45 Billion in annual revenues. Earlier, he held the Brand Position of Regional Portfolio V.P and Division Manager for Diageo, General Sales Manager for Republic National and North Texas State Manager for The E & J Gallo Winery (and a variety of other management positions for those companies). He serves on the Board of Apollo Brands. He also serves as a Strategic Advisor of Transition Capital Partners, Ltd. Mr. Nistico holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado. For more information, please visit http://splashbeveragegroup.com/ or email Robert at robert@splashbeveragegroup.com.