What is your full name, title, and business name?
Russell Pinto, Founder, Wild Ohio Brewing
Follow Wild Ohio Brewing on social: Facebook | Instagram

How did the idea for your business come about?
We used to make kombucha non-alcoholic beverages but because of secondary fermentation there was always 1% alcohol in the beverage and it had to go in the beer and wine section. In beer and wine it is difficult to get shelf space for the low ABV beers and that’s how the product was born.

What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
Due to lack of funding I actually shut the business down in January 2017 and decided to walk away from it. Then customers started messaging on social media how much they liked the product so I decided to restart with a different business model of contract brewing.

What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
I enjoy entrepreneurship because it is the joy of creativity. You create a product put it on the shelf and then see if people will buy it. It is the satisfaction of creating something from scratch and watching it grow.

What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
Columbus is a great city to start a business. It is located in Central Ohio and is the crossroads of the east and west coasts. If a product does well in Columbus then it will do 3X better in other states.

What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
Believe in your idea. Never invest your own money or use the equity in your home to start a business. Start alone and don’t hire anyone until you have money to pay yourself. First pay yourself before you pay others.

What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
That is a tough life. You work for next to nothing or without pay till the idea starts to make money.

What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
Cash flow and paying the bills

Wild Ohio is now in Target, Meijer, Kroger and Giant Eagle.

Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
I don’t delegate enough to my employees. Some tasks like meeting corporate buyers I prefer to do myself even though it involves travel, as a wrong slip of the tongue could mean losing a chain account.

What was you biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
Borrowing from shark banks to make employee payroll. I ended up closing down the brewery and walking away from the business. I restarted with contract brewing and just myself as the only employee in the company.

What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
Social Media. It exposes the product to a lot of people. However not being great at Social Media I delegated it to an outside agency.

When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
After I got in to the chain accounts – Target, Meijer, Kroger, Giant Eagle.

What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
I took an existing product that was losing $20,000 a month changed the name, packaging, pricing structure, took a smaller profit margin, reduced the price to be inline with other products and this caused sales to increase.

What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out? 
Initially I thought that I would build a brewery but the day to day running of a brewery requires a lot of cash flow. I shut it down went to contract brewing and decided to build strong retail sales before ever building a brewery again.

What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Improving the taste of our beers. We have hired a flavor consultant to improve the flavors of our beers so that it satisfies all the senses when you drink it.

What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Social media and beer festivals. Beer festivals let you interact directly with customers to see their reactions about the product.

Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
Social Media Agency. I don’t have the time to do posts on Social media. People think Social Media is easy as all that you have to post a bunch of pictures and its done. Social media is lot of hard work and requires a strategy and it can take up the entire day.

What’s your most productive time of the day to work? And least?
Most productive is early mornings and weekends. Least productive is at night.

How many cups of coffee do you drink daily?
LOL. 8 to 10. If not coffee then Coca Cola. Need the caffeine.

If you had one hour of free time what would you do (get more specific than “hang out with family”)?
Alone time. After spending all day dealing with problems I like an hour of alone time to read or watch sports.

Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
My mother-in-law and wife.

Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
I would like it to be a national brand selling in all states and possibly going international in Europe and especially Asia.

If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
Ohio State Fair.