Under The Hood: Alyse Borkan & Sam Naparstek From Rocco
Rocco Fridge
The world's smartest drinks fridge
Learn More
Used By
Top Brands
Air is the Creative Ops platform for visual assets, designed to send team productivity soaring. Organize your content, search through your files at lightspeed, and collaborate with your team.
Learn More

Under The Hood: Alyse Borkan & Sam Naparstek From Rocco

Tell us a bit about your background, how you decided to jump into entrepreneurship and the story behind starting Rocco.

Alyse Borkan: Sam and I spent a combined 15+ years at startups and grew up the ranks until we felt ready to start our own. While Sam was leading product at Away, he visited a number of fridge factories. Surprisingly, there are many manufacturing similarities between fridges and suitcases – they’re both big hollow pieces of metal. While he was there, he realized there hadn’t been innovation in the wine fridge category in decades. 

He’s a wine drinker himself but had never actually been able to get a wine fridge because they were too bulky and ugly for his NYC rental apartments, and he couldn’t renovate his kitchen to include one. He hired an industrial designer in Italy to rethink the wine fridge from the ground up but instead reimagine it to be functional while fitting in as a piece of furniture.

That’s when I met Sam after three different people insisted we should chat because of our complementary skill sets. There was just one problem: I don’t drink alcohol. With this in mind, we decided to make it an all-in-one drinks fridge to perfectly store ALL types of beverages. The rest is history. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced with designing and producing the “V1” of Rocco?

Alyse: Once Sam and I joined forces and knew we wanted to create a more inclusive drinks fridge than just storing wine, we were faced with a few major challenges: Most wine fridges don’t get as cold as a kitchen fridge but most of the drinks other than wine that we wanted to make sure fit in the fridge needed to be ice cold: beer, soda, seltzer, water, canned cocktails, kombucha, cold brew, etc. 

Rocco Fridge
Rocco Fridge

We also needed to design a shelving system that both perfectly stored bigger bottles and smaller cans lying down so our Sight System could read the labels. Wine fridges usually have racks with slots spaced out to hold bigger bottles, but we needed to figure out a way to fit soda bottles, seltzer cans, skinny RTD cocktails, and more. 

What’s something about building a hardware/physical product business that you didn’t expect to be true when you first started?

Alyse: Both Sam and I have worked in physical products for most of our careers, so there weren’t too many things we found surprising with Rocco. The one thing that was shocking was just how quickly people would want the fridge! I remember telling Sam before we launched that it would take a while before people actually pulled the trigger. 

Rocco Fridge

When you think about it, we were a new brand selling a product that is $1500 and it’s a real investment piece for someone’s home. They’ll have it for many, many years to come. We ended up selling out our initial inventory in just two weeks and have been on backorder ever since. We finally were able to exponentially increase our production (a bit harder to do with a product as complex as this) and we should be fully back in stock before the summer! 

Tell us about your tech stack and the tools you use for Rocco. Do you have any favorite tools? Any tools you can’t live without?

Alyse: One of our favorite tools for collaborating with each other and our outside partners is Air. Since so much of what we do is create compelling visuals of the product, we need a way to be able to easily visualize all of the assets ourselves!

Rocco Fridge

We’ve been on a content-creating spree to try to showcase all of the colors in all types of living rooms surrounded by all types of decor with all types of drinks. Air has been incredible at allowing us to really simply see and share all of that content effortlessly!

If you had to attribute your success so far down to one thing, what would you say it is?

Alyse: More than anything, we’ve heard from our customers that they’re so relieved there is finally a beautiful fridge that exists in the world for their drinks. 

Our unique product design combined with the homes we chose to showcase it in and the people we chose to show it off have created a compelling brand world that has never been seen before in the appliance category.