Today we’d like to introduce you to Carlos M Soto.
Carlos M, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since moving from Costa Rica to California to attend college, I have been a huge fan of 100% de agave tequila. But it was not until late 2015, during my senior year of college, that my relationship with tequila became more serious. That’s when I was given an assignment that included a challenge: “Think of a business idea that has nothing to do with technology.”
The assignment challenged me to go back to a more “rustic” business model. Following a night out, the answer was pretty straightforward. Nothing gets more rustic than tequila. After the pitch, I became fixated with the idea of tequila – as a way to bring people together while being a viable business. So at age 22, I booked a plane ticket to Jalisco, Mexico, and met with several distilleries down in Tequila. The vision: To create something different.
By graduation day, I had recruited my good friend Michael who is now Nosotros’ CFO. We had a bottle, a label, a formula taste-tested and ready to go, and most importantly, a name that encompassed the spirit and the social experiment we all call drinking… Nosotros. With a name, we believed in and a couple of loans later, Mike and I found ourselves back in Tequila when, on October 31st, 2016, we initiated our first small batch production of 168 cases – which amounted to 2016 bottles. Nosotros Tequila was a reality.
The first few months were tough. Between importation, permits, and all the craziness of alcohol regulations, we couldn’t hit shelves until January 2017. Like every industry, there’s a steep learning curve we had to climb, and the spirits industry is still very much controlled by a pay-to-play mentality. Luckily, we were able to find our niche in the craft and artisan bar/restaurant spheres of West LA. This quality-based niche is a perfect fit for us, and to this day we are still a self-distributed brand.
By this point, our friend and partner Ryan had joined our team, and with his help, we were able to secure some of our first few menu placements. These provided some stability to the business, but it wasn’t until April 2017 that everything changed. Without knowing much about the industry, we decided to send our Tequila Blanco to the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. This competition is basically the Oscars for spirits. We sent in our application with the little money we didn’t use for production. Not only did we win the Double- Gold, top of the line award, but we also won the “Best Tequila” of the competition. Suddenly, we – the new kids on the block – had the World’s Best Tasting Tequila.
We proved that our artisan process is a signature of quality. This wild journey is a combination of sweat and serendipity.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not a smooth road. For starters, we’re in a very competitive market dominated by a pay to play mentality. In addition, there are many businesses that more than the quality of their products they focus strictly on the bottom line, so as a premium product it’s always tricky getting their attention.
There are also many other struggles in terms of financing, management, legalities behind the liquor industry, politics, supply chain, agave prices. At a micro level, our day to day is problem-solving. It’s at the macro level where things get enjoyable.
Nosotros Tequila – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We make an all natural premium tequila that is a blend of highland and lowland agaves. This creates a super unique flavor profile that has won many awards.
We are soon to launch a Mezcal too! We are a company ran by very young people, with a very different approach to business.
We have a social contribution platform where 1% of all of our revenue goes to an NGO called Waves for Water. They focus on bringing clean drinking water to communities in need throughout the world. The idea is that as we scale, we will continue to grow that number substantially at eventually reach the 5% of revenue mark.
We are proud of every aspect of our business, but the culture is what really stands out.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Honestly, every day there is much pride in going into the office. This started in the floor of an apartment, with not much cash and a dream. There’s been several moments, all equally important at that point in time. Our first taster, our first production, our first sale, our first employee, our first ‘big order”, our second first “big order”.. the list just keeps going.
- Nosotros Tequila Blanco 30-36
- Nosotros Tequila Reposado 35-42
- Website: www.nosotrostequila.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/nosotrostequila
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nosotrostequila/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/nosotrostequila