Excerpted from forbes.com.
When they do in-store events, thousands of people show up. Bars and stores are falling over themselves to stock it.
When they drop new merch, it sells out immediately.
John Shahidi, President of Happy Dad and Full Send, said, “It’s so important for a creator to create a brand that is on brand for them. Nelk has Happy Dad because it’s on brand for them. If they came up with a chocolate chip cookie, it would do all right but it wouldn’t crush it because it wouldn’t be on brand. Happy Dad works because it’s a reflection of them.”
Big creators are creating brands that rival Fortune 500 companies. It’s smart. Brands are consistently looking for the next influencer or creator to partner with which inevitably creates instability and lack of security for talent to grow their personal businesses.
The only true way to build within the creator economy is to make the brands you want to represent and promote.
Prime, the beverage brand owned by Logan Paul and KSI, grossed $250 million last year. Mr. Beast Burger now operates more than 1,700 ghost kitchens and generated $110 million in 2022.
Alcohol brands take longer to build, than typical consumer brands, because it’s a more complex go to market strategy. You have a three-tiered system of alcohol distribution and individual state liquor laws to navigate.
Despite those challenges, Happy Dad has had incredible growth as an independent company, becoming the Top 5 seltzer brand in sales the last 52 weeks with Total Wine & More, nationwide, IRI data shows.
Happy Dad has sold over 2.6 million 12-packs in 2022 (up from 698,000 in 2021) and has become the most followed beer/seltzer on Instagram, amassing over 1 million followers.
Currently, they’re in 16 states and launching in 6 more this spring, adding: Ohio, Michigan,Wisconsin, Virginia, Missouri and Maryland/DC to the roster.
Partner, Kyle Forgeard said, “At the beginning of Nelk we were traveling across the country, visiting colleges, and people started to relate to us through our content. Later, we were offered alcohol deals but could see our influence and thought one day we could start our own. We knew if we created a beverage, that we genuinely enjoyed, then everyone else would love it too.”
Happy Dad’s mission was inspired to convert beer drinkers to hard seltzer while occupying a vacancy in a market that predominantly catered to female consumers.
Now that the vision was clear, they had to figure out how to actually make it: A lightly carbonated beverage that was low in sugar and carbs, gluten free, easy to drink and available in a regular 12 oz can instead of a skinny can. And it had to have incredible branding.
As serial entrepreneurs, the Shahidi brothers had relationships in the liquor industry that allowed them to efficiently develop the product.
John Shahidi said, “Twenty years ago, I started an alcohol company that failed. But we stayed friends with the manufacturer. And fifteen years later, I’m calling them and telling them, ‘Let’s do this again!’. We promised Kyle that we were going to make the best alcohol in the world. And we have great partners that can help us do that.”
That’s a great lesson for business people of all ages: Don’t burn bridges if a project fails. You never know when you will cross paths again.
Once the product was developed, it was ready to market, which was no issue when you combine the creative minds of Kyle Forgeard, SteveWillDoIt, and the Shahidi Brothers.
They wanted to create a logo, and branding, that was simple and timeless. They wanted the logo to look like something you’d see on an old beer truck from the 1960’s.
And the branding is working in a major way. At a recent event, they had a tattoo artist on-site offering free Happy Dad tattoos. A handful of people actually got them.
Happy Dad has also developed an extensive apparel line that topped $3 million in sales in 2022 and is planning to double that in 2023. Some, like their Bored Ape collection, have become a status symbol because of their limited supply.
Happy Dad is proving to be more than just a brand; it’s a lifestyle and culture. And that’s why people love it.
By leveraging their Full Send Podcast, the team has been able to directly introduce Happy Dad to influential guests, such as: Elon Musk and Post Malone. Strategic partnerships with Druski and Dustin Lynch have also excelled the brand’s expansion efforts into larger markets.
Their goal, in the next two years, is to be a top three hard seltzer brand in the U.S.
To get there, they need to grow their customer base beyond the Nelk Boys’s audience.
The most recent partnership announcement with Death Row Records and Snoop Dogg includes the newest Happy Dad flavor, grape, along with merchandise, available on the Happy Dad website and Amazon.
And there are more innovative collabs to come. So, watch out for them.
Happy Dad is a great example of betting on yourself and staying true to your brand. The Nelk Boys could have easily continued to do brand deals, sell their merch and make millions of dollars every year.
But they had the dream that every entrepreneur has: The desire to own something for themselves.
They created a great product, assembled an amazing team behind them and were able to give their audience a product that they actually wanted. And that’s why it’s been a success and will continue to grow for years to come.
Read the story on Forbes.com HERE.