Bert Beveridge, the founder of Tito's Handmade Vodka, is appropriately named for a spirits entrepreneur.
The 55-year-old Texan, whose nickname is “Tito,” has earned a fortune with his eponymous vodka. His Austin, Texas-based company sold an estimated 45 million bottles of Tito's Handmade last year. It will likely sell about 58 million bottles this year, according to research firm Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Those numbers, and the continued high growth expected of Tito’s, have made the company more valuable than ever. Based on 2016 sales, it is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, and Beveridge, who owns the business outright, is a new member of The Forbes 400.
Beveridge took a winding path into the liquor trade, as detailed in a 2013 Forbes profile. He grew up in San Antonio, where he played polo and had aspirations of training horses for a living. By the time he enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, his plans had changed, and he majored in geology and geophysics.
After graduation he began a career in the oil and gas industry, which took him from Texas to Venezuela and Colombia. Next came a stint in the mortgage trade in the early 1990s. It was around that time that he started making flavored vodkas for friends as Christmas gifts.
When the real estate market collapsed later that decade, Beveridge found himself without clear direction. While watching late-night television one night, he encountered a motivational speaker who struck a chord with some trite advice: “Find the intersection of what you love to do and what you're good at.”
The vodka business was calling.
So Beveridge moved to open his own distillery, but the Texas authorities denied him a permit. He studied the state codebook, found a loophole and appealed. Soon after, the license was his.
With little cash to his name, he borrowed nearly $90,000 on 19 credit cards to get started. He slept on couches and floors to bootstrap the company while he worked to perfect the product.
In 2001, Beveridge got his big break. He entered his vodka in the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco—and won. That year he made his first profit, and sales kept climbing.
The rest is high-proof history.
By Noah Kirsch
October 17, 2017
Image Source: Tito's Story on Youtube
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