Sam Madani is the co-founder and CEO of BOMANI Cold Buzz, an alcohol-infused cold brew coffee brand. Born and raised in California to Iranian immigrants, a great deal of Sam’s motivation comes from witnessing the challenges his parents have successfully overcome. This drive combined with his insatiable desire to learn makes Sam a natural entrepreneur.
After graduating from the University of Southern California, he moved to New York to work in investment banking. With long workdays leading into happy hour with colleagues or friends, he soon realized there was a glaring gap in the market for a delicious beverage that encompassed both natural caffeine and low-carb alcohol.
Returning often to the idea of creating a better-for-you alcoholic beverage alternative, Sam began to conduct research around the idea of marrying cold brew coffee and alcohol from sugar cane, two of the fastest growing categories in the beverage industry – later resigning from his full time job to pursue his vision of BOMANI Cold Buzz with his now business partners Amin Anjedani and Kai Drewry.
Launching BOMANI in March 2020, Sam and the BOMANI team are quickly redefining the RTD beverage space through the creation of an entirely new product category, defined by BOMANI’s top-quality ingredients, and best-in-class flavor, and innovative branding.
As a natural-born leader and as charismatic as they come, Sam has enjoyed building meaningful relationships within the industry, which is evident in BOMANI’s immediate success. Throughout the development of BOMANI, he learned that his purpose in life is to find solutions for others that allow them to live passionately without sacrificing other aspects of their lives.
Where did the idea for BOMANI Cold Buzz come from?
We came up with the idea for BOMANI Cold Buzz when we were working countless hours in our high-intensity finance jobs in New York City. Trying to find energy after a long week of work, we’d enjoy our alcohol with coffee or other caffeinated chasers. We saw that a lot of our friends did the same, and that’s when we decided that all of us deserved something better than high-calorie espresso martinis or shots chased with synthetic energy drinks. Something that was healthier, more convenient, and delicious. Then came the idea: alcohol-infused cold brew coffee! At 5.7% ABV and ½ a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine, we’re proud to say that BOMANI is only 110 calories, 0g sugar, and 0g carbs. BOMANI is also gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, vegan, and Kosher. The name BOMANI itself means “to have purpose” – we chose this name because we believe that people deserve to be able to work towards their purpose without sacrificing their social life or their physical health.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Well first of all, one trait of entrepreneurship that I really enjoy is that there is no such thing as a typical day – each day brings with it a host of opportunities and challenges, some of which were totally unpredictable. One of the best pieces of advice I believe we’ve ever received is from my mom, Shirin Behzadi, who taught us that a successful, healthy business isn’t one with a good plan; a successful, healthy business is one that can adapt and pivot quickly. To make sure we remain agile and nimble, we build systems to deal with situations that come our way. We begin each day with a call in the morning where each person addresses two things: (1) the problem they’re trying to solve in the overall business, (2) what success looks like that day. To stay focused, we track our most important goals with “Scoreboards,” which measure everything, including the number of new accounts we’ve sold into, the number of menu placements we’ve earned, overall sales (of course), and much more.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is the billion dollar question! We begin the execution process with a “green-lighting” session, where we set aside 30 minutes for open brainstorming where zero criticism is allowed. From there, we have a “red-lighting” session where we point out potential hurdles in each of the ideas that we just came up with. Finally, we create a project log where each task in the project has a deadline and only one owner, which empowers us to hold ourselves accountable.
What’s one trend that excites you?
This is probably an obvious answer given that BOMANI is alcohol-infused cold brew coffee, but I’m extremely excited about the growth in the hard coffee category. Beverage Industry Magazine reported 11,000% year-over-year growth recently! Additionally, in a related space, I’m excited to see the growth in what industry experts are calling “customer customizability.” In other words, customers are statistically more attracted to products that they can personalize. The reason I’m excited to see this trend is because we intentionally designed BOMANI to be versatile – it’s delicious out of the can, over ice, with cream & sugar, or as part of a cocktail. We’ve seen firsthand how much fun our customers have when they make BOMANI in all its different formats!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I insist on surrounding myself with people who are more talented than I am at something. Echoing Confucius, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Whether it’s being better at distribution logistics, creative content, accounting, ingredient sourcing, or having a better understanding of a specific market, I’m proud to say that everyone on our team at BOMANI is smarter than me at something that they do. Because this is a habit, it spans larger than just our full-time team – our Advisors and Investors are incredible people and value-add resources for BOMANI because we specifically sought out individuals and teams who were smarter and more experienced than we were at something that’s valuable for BOMANI.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If it isn’t moving the needle today and if it isn’t mission critical this week, it’s okay to just leave it on your to-do list and get to it when you get to it. By giving yourself permission to prioritize and focus on the most important project, you’ll be happier and more successful.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
a) Graduation is Kanye West’s best album. Everyone seems to argue over College Dropout, Late Registration, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it really isn’t up for discussion. Graduation is it.
b) On a more professional note, I believe it’s totally okay to have a “cluttered desk.” I know there’s that old saying that a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind, but I sharply disagree. If there’s clutter on your desk because you’re too busy directing your attention to the most important tasks, then you’re actually doing the right thing. One of the few people I’ve heard of who openly agrees is Einstein, who brilliantly questioned, “if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I regularly make it a point to take a step back and look at the big picture of the business so that I can identify the little things that make a big difference. In other words, I intentionally clear my mind of the tasks at hand and carve time out of my calendar to approach the business as though I were an outsider looking in. This way, I can hone in on the most critical levers that we can pull as a business to achieve our goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One extremely effective strategy that’s helped us is that we build systems that can pivot and adapt. Like I mentioned above, it’s a fundamental pillar of our business that we want to be able to adjust our tactics as needed to navigate the choppy waters that exist in the life of a startup. Given the fact that we launched in 2020 literally two weeks before shelter-in-place, it won’t come as a surprise to say that this pillar of our business is a major reason that we survived and thrived!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we first had the idea of BOMANI, we had the idea that we would approach smaller manufacturers to see if they’d be willing to take on our innovative new beverage. We were shocked to see so many of these potential partners shut us down without even giving us a chance – some of them even belittled us for having the audacity to visit their facility! This is one of those moments where I’m exceptionally thankful for our team – we remained optimistic and resilient, and through a combination of a lot of hard work and some strategic networking, we earned a contract with one of the largest manufacturers and flavorists in the world!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think it would be really cool to have an app available users to go find cocktails based on ingredients they like. For example, I could type in “coffee” and “rum” as my ingredients and the app would recommend a handful of local bars and restaurants that serve cocktails that have both. In this example, the app would recommend a handful of bars in Northern CA that are offering cocktails like the BOMANI Peanut Butter Horchata.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I filled up my car with a tank of gas to drive on a 4 hour round trip to see my mom for her birthday. People who know me well know how much I look up to my mother. She moved to the US at 17 and put herself through college by working in a gas station. Fast forward to today – she’s a wildly successful entrepreneur and an incredibly empowering force to be around. Not to mention, we did have a really tasty chocolate birthday cake for dessert.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Monday.com is incredible. We use it for all of our project logs. You can create line items that work together to solve a goal, complete with an owner per line item and a due date. Trust me, that’s just scratching the surface of this tool!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This book is required reading at BOMANI – our new team members get a copy on their first day. I love The Power of Habit because it acts almost as an operations manual for your brain. We all have habits that we practice daily totally unconsciously – now imagine harnessing the power of your mind to applying healthy, productive habits. It really is a gamechanger!
What is your favorite quote?
“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is a chance for me to rise” – Kobe Bryant. I wrote an entire blog about the implications of this quote and how relevant it has been in the life of BOMANI. In a year filled with uncertainty, negative news, and an ever-changing retail landscape, we managed to succeed and grow. We found opportunities to invest time and resources in the retailers who would give us a shot. We found opportunities to recruit and empower new team members who shared our vision and would help us grow the company. We repeatedly rose to the occasion – and we continue to rise to the occasion – which is why we are proud to say that only 15 months since launching BOMANI, we’re already in 1,000 doors including Whole Foods, Ralph’s, Safeway, Stater Bros., Gelson’s, and more; we raised a $3.5m capital round towards the end of 2020, and most importantly, we are growing exponentially month over month.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.