Innovation Versus Imitation
What Do You Do When a Multi-Billion Dollar Company Rips Off Your Startup?
When we say we came from humble beginnings, we mean it. BeatBox started as a party favor for our closest friends and family – with nights spent hand-gluing boxes and long days pounding the pavement, self-distributing our bag-in-box party punch to whoever would believe in our vision. After securing investment on Shark Tank by Mark Cuban, we were given the green light to go all-in on our goal of bringing BeatBox to the masses.
Once we hit our stride with BeatBox, we set our sights on a new and rapidly growing sector of the beverage industry – hard seltzers. Bringing that same spirit of innovation, we conceived of Brizzy in August of 2018, and by September of 2019, we had developed an entirely unique product, Seltzer Cocktails. In true Austin spirit, we teamed up with local mixologist Terance Robson to create a carefully curated alternative to sugar-laden mixed drinks, combining the balanced flavor of a craft cocktail with the light nutritionals of a canned seltzer.
We all know Austin, Texas is a hotspot for entrepreneurial innovation; it’s why we are so fortunate to call it home. It doesn’t take much effort to look around and find the inspiration needed to consistently push the limits. With early support from local partners such as H-E-B, Whole Foods, Favor, and industry influencers alike, our vision of bringing Austin their very own unique happy hour go-to was off to a booming start.
Nevertheless, what would any underdog story be without the seemingly insurmountable obstacle? After a successful launch, wholesalers and retailer partners began expressing concerns about the likelihood of consumer confusion when news of Molson Coors’ upcoming hard seltzer offering, Vizzy, began circulating. While the similarity between the two brand names is immediately apparent, it’s important to note that Vizzy also exists in the same beverage category, it possesses similar packaging, a nearly duplicate logo, and their distribution channels appear to be identical.
Now let’s be clear, we are all about welcoming competition; after all, it’s the thrill of competing that spurs the innovation we thrive on. However, we pride ourselves on standing out and leading thought in spaces where tradition runs deep. Much to our surprise, Molson Coors conceded having reviewed our website and even acknowledged our Brizzy products were first to the market, but decided to use the confusingly-similar name Vizzy anyway. Molson Coors gave us no choice to oppose their plans to infringe on the Brizzy trademark
This isn’t the first time a multi-billion dollar conglomerate has attempted to squeeze out a smaller, independent brand and it won’t be the last. Brizzy Seltzer Cocktail is a true startup, with a roster of just over 18 employees nationally – so while we certainly can’t outspend companies like Molson Coors, we have a duty to defend our trademark. With the support of our tastemaking city, the early rallying of local partners and the DIY spirit of the great 512, we have all the tools we need to persevere.
No matter what happens, we’ll never stop innovating.
The Future Proof Team