When Eric Tecosky was running a Los Angeles bar in 2005, he ran into a familiar problem; someone had ordered a dirty martini, and while Tecosky had plenty of olives, he had run out of olive juice. As he cracked open a new jar of olives just to get the extra juice, inspiration struck. Tecosky realized that nobody bottled olive juice for use in martinis, and that the juice in jars of olives was typically low-quality. Thus, Dirty Sue bottled olive juice was born. Tecosky started with no distribution back then, but now he sells in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Caribbean.
Tecosky went behind the business plan with Business News Daily to talk about his initial inspiration and how he grew his business from a small Los Angeles startup to an international endeavor.
Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?
Eric Tecosky: Bars and consumers alike always had the same dilemma with regard to the dirty martini. They would run out of olive juice, while their olives would dry out and spoil. In the process of bottling olive juice to fill this void, I discovered that the "juice" in a standard jar of olives is pretty low-quality and really just meant to keep the olives from going bad. Dirty Sue changed that model. Dirty Sue is twice-filtered olive juice sourced from premium Spanish olives.
BND: How long have you been in business?
Tecosky: I started Dirty Sue in 2005 with no distribution. I slowly built that brand in L.A. and secured local distribution. Now, Dirty Sue is available all over the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia and the Caribbean.
BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If not, how did you lay the groundwork for your business?
Tecosky: There was nothing formal about the ideation of Dirty Sue. I was running a bar in L.A. and ran out of olive juice. Again. Dirty martinis are extremely popular, and it occurred to me that we always had at least one open jar of olives with no juice. After struggling to open another jar just to get the juice, I had the "lightbulb" moment: "How come nobody bottles olive juice?"
BND: How did you finance your endeavors, both initially and as your business grew?
Tecosky: In the beginning, I actually thought I could finance the startup with tips I made at the bar. It did not take long to realize I needed to bring some investors aboard if I wanted to give the business a shot.
BND: How much did you invest personally?
Tecosky: I put in about $20,000 before I had to reach out to investors.
BND: Is your business today what you originally envisioned at the outset, or has it changed significantly over time?
Tecosky: Getting to today has taken more different twists and turns than I could have imagined, but the actual business is exactly what I had in mind.
BND: What are some lessons you've learned? Is there anything you would've done differently?
Tecosky: Be prepared. You never really know the time line for your success. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be. I'm sure there are a few things I would change if I could rewrite history, but then someone would ask me the same question and there would be other things to change. Take your time and do what you think is best, and the rest will figure itself out.
BND: What were the most important factors that contributed to your success?
Tecosky: Develop a thick skin if you don't have it naturally. Every entrepreneur faces a ton of rejection no matter how good your idea is. You can never take any of it personally. My father always taught me to operate on the 9/10ths rule. Nine out of 10 times, someone will say no. So you should get happier — not angrier — with each "no," because you're getting closer to that "yes!"
BND: What are the next steps you want to take as a business owner? How do you see yourself achieving those goals?
Tecosky: I want to see Dirty Sue continue to grow and succeed until it achieves the Q-tips factor — the point when people stop ordering a generic dirty martini and just need to say, "Dirty Sue, please." The only way I know to make that happen is to keep growing the brand through our customers. It means a lot more for a customer to ask a bar or liquor store to carry Dirty Sue than it does for me to try and sell them on the idea.
BND: What is your best advice to someone with a great business idea who is ready to give it a shot?
Tecosky: If you really think you have a great idea, follow through. It's easy to have a good idea and do nothing with it. You want to be the guy or gal that takes the idea all the way to market. Whether you succeed or fail, you still achieved something that most people never will. You created something from nothing.