How America’s #1 Wine Brand was Built with Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey

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I can’t tell you how excited I was when Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey said yes to the Pass the Secret Sauce podcast. If you don’t recognize their names, you probably recognize what they founded, what they created. And we’re going to get into some of how they created this in this episode. 

Bonnie and Michael are the founders of Barefoot wines, which today is one of the, if not THE most recognized, and most popular bottles of wine in the US. The  incredible story about how they started this basically from nothing. I can’t even tell you how much fun I had talking to both of them. In addition to that, Bonnie and Michael are New York Times bestselling authors. The newest projects that they have right now is that they’re founders of Business Audio Theatre. They call it BAT. And again, we get into a little bit about what that actually is in this episode. And they’ve actually given us access to some of the footage from their own productions. If you have any interest in building huge mega brands, there are learnings from this episode that you can take away with that.

In this episode we discuss:

  • They discuss their first jobs when they were younger  [5:38]
  • Inspiration for creating  Barefoot Wines  [8:11]
  • Getting ideas for their brand from blue collar workers  [10:01]
  • How Bonnie’s body part ended up on the largest wine brand in the world  [11:22]
  • Bringing Barefoot wine to market  [14:06]
  • Excerpt from their book: The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand  [14:25]
  • Being rejected by a distributor  [16:27]
  • How donating their wines in the early stages  increased their sales  [18:58]
  • Spreading themselves too thin when scaling their business  [21:03]
  • Selling the business and advice for others wanting to sell their business [24:42]
  • Types of clients that would benefit from their consulting firm  [32:46]
  • What they look for in a client  [34:07]
  • Why they started  Business Audio Theater [36:52]
  • Get a free chapter from their audiobook [41:27]

Quotable Quotes

  • It was not following a passion, it was following an opportunity passionately. 
  • When you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re broke, you’re very humble and you tend to ask a lot of questions. And because you’re not from the industry, you don’t ask industry people that turned out to be a big strength of ours.

Links to sources and tools

  • Listen to the first chapter of their book -The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand – here

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