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Exploring Life & Business with Matt McGinnis of Big Thirst

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt McGinnis.

Hi Matt, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
When I was in college, my girlfriend won an all-expense-paid trip to Europe, and she chose to take me as her guest. We flew first class, stayed in grand hotels, and traveled in luxury on the Orient Express. On the train, we sipped elegant Bordeaux wine and vintage Champagne as we rode through the Swiss Alps. I fell in love with wine right then and there.

After college, I toiled away in various marketing positions in the non-profit world and then in technology, all the while cultivating my love affair with wine. I even worked part-time at a winery on the weekends in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. When we moved to Texas, I decided to pursue my love for wine, beer, and distilled spirits by blogging and freelance writing. As a writer, I was able to tell the stories of people who were actually making these magical liquids. I found it to be absolutely fascinating. And I wanted to learn more. The best way to do that was through formal education.

I studied for various industry exams and achieved certification such as Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits, and Wine & Spirits Education Trust III. With the connections made as a freelance writer and a deep base of knowledge in the industry achieved through years of study, I decided it was time to leave tech marketing behind.

In 2014 I launched a marketing agency dedicated to helping food and beverage companies tell their stories. Earlier this year, Big Thirst Marketing celebrated its seventh anniversary. During that time, our marketing team became trusted advisors to many of our clients. They began turning to us for strategic counsel far beyond the realm of marketing. In 2020 we introduced a consulting firm dedicated to helping distilleries get started, grow, and enter new markets. Big Thirst Consulting is now actively serving about a dozen distilleries around the country.

Clearly, the world changed in 2020. Like all businesses, Big Thirst Marketing and Big Thirst Consulting had to work hard to provide value to our beverage clients when all bars, restaurants, and tasting rooms were closed. During the beginning of the pandemic quarantine, we hatch the concept for starting our new e-commerce platform. We launched Big Thirst, Inc. on October 6, 2021.

While Big Thirst is an e-commerce start-up, it is already gaining incredible traction because it is founded by passionate beverage industry veterans and is powered by our distribution and sales consultancy, Big Thirst Consulting, and a full-service marketing agency, Big Thirst Marketing. Because we have tirelessly explored ways to help our clients to reach new customers, expand into new markets, and sell more spirits over the past several years, it was a natural extension for us to build an e-commerce platform to further accelerate sales for spirits brands.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Being an entrepreneur is never easy. Big Thirst Marketing has been extremely successful in many measures: We have been profitable since day one, we have had steady revenue growth for many years of our operation, we have been able to attract and retain very talented team members, and we have had long-term relationships with excellent clients. Achieving stellar results for our clients that helps them improve their business is definitely the success measure that we care about most.

There have been bumps along the way. Unfortunately, we have had clients who have filed for bankruptcy and left us high and dry with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices. We were also significantly battered by the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic in 2020.

Learning to survive and thrive in the face of financial challenges has made the business stronger. More importantly, the challenges of 2020 also led us to improve how we operate, offer new digital marketing services, and was the instigator for the launch of Big Thirst, Inc. in October 2021.

We’ve been impressed with Big Thirst, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Big Thirst is a complete e-commerce platform that accelerates sales of alcohol for spirits brands and distilleries. Big Thirst gives spirits brands access to new markets with an online shopping solution, marketing services, distribution management, and analytics to effectively sell products online to consumers. It is a one-stop-shop to pave the way to profitable growth for spirits brands.

Big Thirst turns websites into an e-commerce engine with the Big Cart shopping cart built-in, maintaining the brand’s look throughout a seamless purchase experience. With the shopping cart integrated into a spirits brand’s website, it provides a streamlined process that maintains consumer confidence, reduces cart abandonment, and increases sales. All transactions made through Big Cart are processed through the three-tier system with orders fulfilled by a network of retail partners. Purchases are supported by the Big Success customer support team.

Because Big Thirst e-commerce is powered by Big Thirst Consulting and Big Thirst Marketing, it is the only company in the spirits industry to provide an end-to-end consulting, online sales, and marketing solution to help spirits brands to succeed — from recipe development to final sale. The Big Thirst team is intimately involved with the spirits industry and keenly focused on providing the right solutions for emerging craft spirits brands to find a new route to market.

One of our biggest differentiators as an e-commerce platform for distilled spirits is our data analytics. Before launching Big Thirst e-commerce, our marketing team has been managing digital marketing to drive online sales for distilleries. This gives us deep insight into exactly the kind of business insights that are needed to be successful. We developed our Big Data business intelligence dashboard so our customers can make better-informed sales and marketing decisions with the most insightful analytics on the market. We combine essential information into customizable and digestible charts so distilleries can attract and keep customers for increased sales. There is nothing else like this on the market.

While we are a new company, we have onboarded several clients right away in time for them to take advantage of e-commerce sales during the busy holiday sales period. We have met with dozens of distilleries and brands eager to sell their spirits across the country using our platform in our first few weeks of operation. We’re meeting the needs of this eager audience with a commitment to onboarding new clients on our platform in 14 days or fewer.

We are looking forward to working with more distilleries around the country and overseas.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
Austin is a great place to do business. The community spirit and friendly nature make it a great place to network. People are eager to help each other. The city has attracted a lot of great creative and entrepreneurial talent, which makes it easier to recruit top-notch people. There is a lot of positive energy for start-ups as well as for mature companies.

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Courtesy of Big Thirst

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