SOFI Founder Receives $130k from Shark Tank Investors

Tommy Maclean pictured with his product SOFI Spritz

Tommy Maclean pictured with his product SOFI Spritz

Those that tuned into reality TV series Shark Tank on Channel TEN last night would have seen the familiar face of SOFI Spritz founder, Tommy Maclean.

The entrepreneur, who started SOFI from his Bondi living room less than two years ago, stood before the Sharks to ask them for $130k investment for 10 per cent of his business. After several rounds of gruelling questions, Maclean had impressed the Sharks so much so that four out of the five put forward their offers.

In the end, Maclean decided to go with a joint offer from internet pioneer, Steve Baxter, and veterinary surgeon and founder and former CEO of Greencross, Glen Richards. Steve and Glen both put forward $65k for 5 per cent of the business each.

Maclean told drinks bulletin that the experience was “ridiculously nerve-wracking,” but that hasn’t stopped him from recommending the show to other start-up beverage companies.

SOFI Spritz was launched in December 2014 through a crowdfunding campaign. From one local stockist and the Bondi Farmers Markets, Maclean and his business partner Simon Gilbert quickly grew to 1,200+ stockists nationwide. Since then, the brand has doubled in size every six months.

Maclean is the brains behind the business, while Gilbert, a fifth generation master winemaker, is responsible for developing the flavour of the beverage, which heroes all-natural, Australian ingredients. The original low calorie/sugar spritzer is made using fresh blood orange, South Australian riesling, sparkling water and a dash of bitters. SOFI is now also available in Lemon & Elderflower.

Maclean has begun working with Steve and Glen, who together will be focusing on the new flavour as well as developing some European-inspired cocktail recipes. Maclean said that they are also working on new packaging and potentially another crowdsourcing campaign.

“It’s been great to bring on board the discipline of very experienced professional investors and in particular those with experience with start-ups. We’re also confident that the show will bring significant publicity for us, and the right type of publicity,” Maclean explained. “It shows that we’re an Australian made, Australian owned product; we’re not like every other product on shelves that’s owned by one big global company.”

Steve Baxter told drinks bulletin, “SOFI Spritz has come a long way from their humble beginning at farmers markets and a few select spots in Bondi. That’s testament to the great team Tommy has managed to assemble.

“With Dan Murphy’s, BWS and many other outlets selling the product, I’m hopeful that SOFI Spritz can become a category leader in the future.”


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