If there's one thing Nicolas Duvernois wants entrepreneurs to know, it's that success is a marathon, not a sprint.
It's a piece of advice the founder and CEO of Pur Vodka & Romeo's Gin knows very well. It took him four years to sell his first bottle but now the Quebec-based entrepreneur is expanding his business internationally.
Duvernois started his company in his early 20s and without enough money to pay his rent. "I just had a great idea, an amazing product but no money to market it," he says.
SAQ, the Crown corporation responsible for the sale of alcohol in Quebec, initially refused to sell his vodka, leaving him to start from scratch. He wanted to know if his brew was actually any good, so he entered his booze to the Vodka Masters' competition.
Duvernois remember the first Tuesday of December 2009. That's the day he heard back from the competition.
"We were just named "World's Best Vodka" even before selling a single bottle," he explains.
The SAQ called to congratulate him on his win a few days later and started selling his vodka in stores shortly after.
"Everything is a risk," he says. "To eat a carrot is a risk — you can swallow it and just die. If you think about all the risk when you start a business, you'll never make it happen."
Duvernois took another risk six years after the launch of his vodka line when he brought Romeo's Gin to market — a project he describes as a movement. Each bottle is embellished with designs from different artists in an attempt to "democratize urban art," he says.
It's a passion project, Duvernois says, adding that enthusiasm plays a key role in success.
"I don't like when people launch a product to launch a product. It's not my style. I have to be passionate about what I do."
For more from Nicolas Duvernois, check out the video above.
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