Article: How This Fledgeling Ponte Vedra-Based Cocktail Mixer Company Landed A Deal With Walmart

Published on 06/27/2018 12:59 PM and last updated on 06/28/2018 03:03 AM

When Gwen Manto presented her company's product to a buyer last week, she was up against 450 other suppliers for 70 coveted spots. The 30-minute meeting was no ordinary pitch, though: it was to Walmart, and Manto succeeded in landing an in-the-works deal to get her product on Walmart shelves.

At Walmart's 5th annual open call for U.S. manufacturing on June 14, entrepreneurs all over the country pitched during meetings with Walmart buyers.The event is part of Walmart's 10-year, $250 billion commitment to American manufacturing.

Even getting to that stage is significant, because Manto's company, Mixallogy, was founded just a year and a half ago. Mixallogy sells powdered organic cocktail mixers in small pods able to be mixed and measured with shots of spirits.

"It was really fun because we have a super unique product," Manto said. "There are very few if none organic cocktail mixers. Ours have no added flavors, colors or preservatives. It's a clean, delicious product – little powder in a pod. They were captivated by it."

She said Walmart was impressed particularly with the product's healthy, unique angle and beautiful packaging. They deemed it sellable, and committed to launch Mixallogy products online immediately and in Walmart stores (the number of which is yet to be determined) by February 2019.

Mixallogy is based in Ponte Vedra Beach. Its first customer was in Jacksonville: local grocer Native Sun. Now with Walmart nailed down, other distributors are beginning to get in touch, Manto said.

Manto is no stranger to retail: before founding Mixallogy, she served as executive vice president of Sports Authority, Dick's Sporting Goods and Sears and as chief merchandising officer of Stein Mart in the early 2000's. After a short stint in New York City as an independent consultant, Manto returned to the First Coast to found Mixallogy.

So she knew what she needed to do to get Walmart's attention.

"The first thing we needed was to create a product that's proven," she said. "It starts with the right product, and understanding what makes us unique in the market. It's about being real."

Second was nailing down the supply chain and distribution capabilities, Manto said, and the third was the "on-the-go" nature of the Mixallogy products, which can be shaken and mixed anywhere. Manto said that her target audience is the health-conscious millennial woman, because the usual cocktail mixers can have between 30 and 40 grams of sugar and any number of preservatives. Mixallogy mixers have 10 grams of sugar and no preservatives, and a shelf life of two years.

Walmart buyer Kinna Thomas said that the most important thing for creators is to understand the market and how their product fits into it.

"We can focus on logistics and even the costing piece of it together," Thomas said. "But what we really look for is for the supplier to be an expert in the category. They have to be well informed in what's going on and committed to that process."

From here, growth is on the horizon, Manto said: more resources, more full-time hires, more connections – and more inventory, to fit the needs of retailers like Walmart.

"I'd love to have an airline, or maybe events with stadiums," Manto said. "We think hospitality could be good for us, because it's an on-the-go format. Any place you can serve alcohol is good for us."

Article: How This Fledgeling Ponte Vedra-Based Cocktail Mixer Company Landed A Deal With WalmartJacksonville Business Journal (Jacksonville, FL)
Dahlia Ghabour
June 20, 2018

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