Sran Spirits was founded by brothers Andy and Sonny Sran in the summer of 2019. Inspired by their father, who used to distill spirits of his own in his native India, the Sran brothers continue his legacy today by developing and releasing
high-quality, premier spirits for the world to enjoy. Andy is a graduate of U.C. Santa Barbara where he majored in Economics and double-minored in Business Writing & Entrepreneurship. He also studied Business Management and Organizational Leadership at the London School of Economics. At U.C. Santa Barbara, Andy was a founding member and elected treasurer of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and was involved in a number of career-oriented organizations. Over the course of his career, Andy has worked in a variety of different industry sectors, allowing him to bring a breadth of experience to Sran Spirits. These sectors include retail management, finance, venture capital, and various technology start-ups. Most recently, Andy worked for over two years as a consultant in the ERP software space and currently works for a large real estate private equity firm in Downtown Los Angeles.
Sonny is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was honorably discharged after four years of active duty service. During his enlistment, he completed three combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (1x) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2x). Upon his discharge, he attended Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in Political Science and was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Sonny worked in the hospitality industry as a promotions
manager and director of client relationships for two of the top hospitality groups in the greater Phoenix area. Sonny currently works in the tech industry in Scottsdale, where he has accelerated his career in sales and marketing. He began his career as a Business Development Representative, and received multiple accelerated promotions to where he now works in a senior management capacity, overseeing and running a large team.
Where did the idea for Sran Spirits come from?
While Daru Whiskey is actually the name of our first product, our parent company is actually Sran Spirits. I (Andy) was driving home one day late at night when the idea of starting our own whiskey hit me on the highway, purely out of the blue. I gave Sonny a ring right away, we talked through it, and we got to work that very same night. We had a compelling story and an idea for a phenomenal product. The rest is history and here we are now, with Daru available now for pre-order. We’re also in the midst of planning future products as well (a premium vodka, an organic tequila, and potentially a hard seltzer are currently in the works!)
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Something unique about us is that our business was curated while we both work 9-5 jobs. While it can be difficult being in different states, we’ve had to find creative ways to work around our normal jobs and geographic barriers to make our vision a reality. Our day begins early at around 5AM with us both starting off the day by working out. That is usually followed up by a morning call where we are able to talk through action-items on the day and general strategy for the day. After work, however, our evenings tend to vary depending on the day of the week. There are days where we have scheduled evening calls with some of our business partners, and there are other days where we grind through our to-do lists late into the night. Our weekends are typically dedicated strictly to working on our whiskey with almost no other commitments. We both feed on each other’s energy and that helps boost productivity. We both can’t remember a day where we did not move the needle forward in some way, shape, or form. Every day consists of incremental progress at the bare minimum, with big strides being made each month.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Once we come up with an idea, we always like to run it by each other. This gives us a chance to play devil’s advocate and poke holes at the idea. This allows us to fully refine the idea. We basically do a SWOT analysis: we identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Once we have done that and feel that it is a viable idea, we will put an action plan in place that includes additional research and action items we can both work on simultaneously. From there, it is all about execution. Our small ideas generally roll up into larger, more broadly-strategic ideas that fit in with our grand vision of where we feel Sran Spirits will be in one year, two years, ten years, etc.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Although COVID-19 and the current state of the world does not excite us, it’s at least a little reassuring to know that difficult and uncertain times often bring mass innovation and an opportunity to make the world a better place. Good things come out of hard times. Most of the world’s most beloved companies were started during a recession (Netflix, Airbnb, Facebook, Microsoft, and so many others), and countless others found their niche to thrive in adversity. In our current time where COVID-19 is changing the way we think about just about everything, it will be very interesting to see the innovation that comes about as a result as we all adapt to a new society. We are already seeing innovations happening and it will be very interesting to see companies adapt to what may very well be a new reality for years to come.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think a habit we both share that has made us more productive is still continuing to learn as much information as we can and being as involved as we can in every aspect of our business. We’re also DIY-ers in that we believe knowledge truly is power and there is so much information out there available to us that we are able to take in and benefit from. We have had so many takeaways from reading various books, articles, and listening to podcasts that we are then able to share from each other. We always have our hands in each aspect of the business: whether it’s web design, legal matters, creative design, social media marketing, brand relationships/partnerships, PR, etc., we always learn as much as we can about every single thing that we’re doing and we feel that really drives productivity in the long-term. At the same time though, we know when to outsource something if it’s a task that is simply not worth our time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start earlier, and that applies to everything: starting a business, fitness, investing, etc. We wish we would’ve started Daru earlier! If you’re on the fence about taking the plunge on something, start now. You’ll thank yourself in a year. As far as investing is concerned, Warren Buffet has a famous quote: The best time to invest was ten years ago. The second best time is NOW. It’s always better to start earlier, no matter what it is.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Daru Whiskey will be one of the top whiskies in the world one day and Sran Spirits will be an international spirits conglomerate . While we think that’s true, others might not… yet!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Push yourself. You can push yourself physically in the gym over and over again and you will yield results. In a business context, you can push yourself mentally and take in the vast knowledge that is out there to be better informed. We always push ourselves in any way that we can and that is how we have gotten to where we are today.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Connecting with people. Businesses don’t function without people. We have been able to connect with people to find answers to questions we did not know when first entering the industry. We have connected with a few of our peers and turned them into business partners because we know they bring a ton of value to our end-goal. Be conversational, do not be afraid to ask for help, and most importantly, cherish and nurture the friendships that you currently have! We would have never been able to tell you twelve years ago that two of Sonny’s friends from high school would be partners in our company today!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We have a specific example we can point to. Although it’s not a direct failure on our end, it was a major obstacle to overcome. We had secured a contract with a vendor who was going to provide bottling and packaging services to us. The price offered was substantially lower than the competition when we were price-searching, and we had a great rapport with the vendor and ownership. Weeks later, there was a dispute amongst the co-owners of the vendor and our contract got lost in the midst of it all, which basically resulted in a dissolution of the vendor. We both got together and found a new vendor in under two weeks after weeks and weeks of calls and emails. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to get the same services at the phenomenal price we had before, but we searched far and wide and finally someone all the way in San Diego who did it for even cheaper AND better with better technology. Motto of the story: don’t give up and broaden your horizon. You never know what’s out there and things always happen for a reason!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Become a consultant for up-and-coming alcohol brands, or the F&B industry in general. This industry can be quite confusing, and is riddled with complex laws that vary state-by-state (and in some cases even county-by-county city-by-city!. You can talk to ten different people and ask them all the same questions, and you’d get ten different answers. The regulations and litigation is confusing and it’s hard finding someone that knows all the answers. It may be something we do on the side as we figure things out, and while the market is definitely niche, F&B compliance (outside of alcohol) definitely has demand.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Sonny: it was spent rescuing a kitten from the Humane Society. Hard to beat giving an animal a home for that small price and having a furry companion!
Andy: although it’s more than $100, AirPods have been a tremendous investment. Great for conference calls, multitasking, and amazing for working out!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The entire Google Suite of products (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, etc). With both of us being in different states, real-time collaboration is absolutely critical. This gets the job done and it’s so nice being able to look at the same thing in real-time together, along with the ability to see past versions and edit histories. It’s also nice that Google Suite is cloud-based, so there’s never a need to really download anything. We also love Zoom. Zoom calls have been amazing, especially since we are located in different states; the audio quality is great and the interface is smooth and super easy and intuitive to use! Microsoft’s ToDo app is also nice. We have a shared list that we use to track what needs to get done.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success At Work And In Life by Shawn Anchor. This book will change the way you communicate with others and will certainly help in your day-to-day!
What is your favorite quote?
“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” – Mark Cuban.
- Control your process and be involved in every single aspect of your business. Build your general business skills/toolbox and be as informed as possible – you will make better decisions and ultimately, you will save money by being in the weeds!
- Knowledge is truly power. Learn as much as you can about as much as you can. Doors can and will open up that you never even knew existed.
- Start now. If you have an idea, start now. If you want to get in shape, start now. If you want to invest, start now. Take the plunge. Your future self will thank you!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.