Video: Visit with Bonadea Drinks

Video Part I:

Video Part II:

The “Ethnic Beverage” label can cut both ways for a start-up: while it implies the upside of an immediate audience and an easy-to-understand focus, it also often limits retailers’ perceptions of the breadth of a product’s appeal.
In the case of Bonadea, a line of authentic Mexican style aguas frescas, co-founder Arnold Ventura is trying to use ethnic to his advantage while limiting the down side.  While Ventura and his business partner, Jose Domene, are relying on their Mexican heritage to carefully select and formulate the flavors that make up the Bonadea line, they are being careful to avoid what they deride as “Fiesta Fun” – things like mariachi bands on their label.
To that end, the Bonadea approach seems calculated and clever, blending authenticity and chic design into a single package.  The company’s bet is that consumers will be open to trying new and exotic flavors, but not at the expense of holding a bottle that’s corny and clichéd.  At least one major retailer, Whole Foods Market, has bought in, with the product getting shelf space in their home market of Southern California.
With Whole Foods on board, the company’s focal point has been going deep in its own backyard on a shoestring budget.  This approach is certainly not for a lack of potential partners – as a Southern California company with two Stanford MBAs (who also have investment banking experience) at the helm, Bonadea probably won’t have a hard time finding investors willing to hear the story behind the brand.  Instead – and probably wisely so – Ventura and Domene are trying to create traction in the hopes of a strong strategic partner taking interest in the brand. 
In this video, I sat down with Arnold Ventura to discuss a variety of topics, including how the brand got its start, Bonadea’s go-to-market strategy, the money raising process, and some of the lessons he has learned starting up a beverage company.