Under The Hood: Max & Luke from Plink
Under The Hood with Luke (left) and Max (right) of Plink. Insights on pre-launch, launch, team & more 💥
Welcome Max & Luke! Tell me about the pre-launch phase for Plink. How did that go?
Plink was an idea I texted to a friend in the middle of the night many years ago: A low packaging drink, with low carbon emissions, low sugar & delivered by subscription. I just had no idea how to make it.
I was then introduced to Luke, who was a perfect co-founder. Our experience complemented each others’ quite well: My background is in forecasting and Luke’s is as a Kombucha brewer. Together we decided to give Plink a shot!
It then took us 2 years to go from foundation to launch. It took 100s of variations to get to our launch product. Before tablets we started formulating with powders.. We were sending dodgy powders across borders trying to make flavor decisions remotely. That was an incredible challenge.
Take me back to your mindset at the beginning: How committed were you? Was it a handshake agreement to get started on it?
So Luke and I are in our 30s and have families, so the decision to do this was quite weighted. And to add an extra layer of complexity, both of our jobs got whacked by COVID.
I was actually on my way towards making the leap into starting the business, but losing my job accelerated that. Once I made the decision to go for it, I moved from Jersey City to Vermont to lower my cost of living and I went all in.
Similar story for me. My job was killed by COVID. At the time I was living on a Dutch barge in London with my young kids. So we all moved to Sweden, which allowed us to get free childcare and a slightly cheaper cost of living than in London.
Right at the beginning, Max and I decided that Plink wasn't going to be a halfass project, we jumped in full-speed ahead.
Who else is a part of Plink?
I had been talking about starting this company for such a long time with 2 friends: Nick & Toby who represent a group called Ask Us for Ideas. They’re a creative matchmaker for notable D2C brands including Haus, RxBar, Faculty and others. That’s how we got connected to Ben Parker, Paul Austin, and Nick Marshall from Made Thought. They're outstanding creative partners and we loved their work on Brewdog.
You gathered a lot of hype leading up to launch: How did you do that? Any tactics?
We had a mysterious - yet completely badass - landing page that hinted at what we were developing, but we didn’t actually heavily push email capture. We just had other areas of focus that we felt would deliver more return.
Let’s shift to the launch: You were so successful at that: How did you do it?
We were fortunate to get connected to the right people. We leveraged the hell out of our network, with lots of help from Nick & Toby at Ask Us for Ideas. Those early conversations contributed to getting the support we needed from the community at launch.
Special shout out to Andrea at Snaxshot who helped us a full 13 months before launch; shout out to Thingtesting who showed us love in anticipation for our launch; and also shout out to Kristen LaFrance who also contributed a lot of wisdom to us along the way.
In addition to all that, we had also built up a list of people we admired, and hooked them up with free product with zero strings attached. Some of those individuals showed us support which further amplified our launch. Huge thanks to Potion PR who helped us coordinate a lot of these efforts. Juliana Goldman's team is fantastic..
Sounds like a few entities are supporting you at Plink: What’s the Avengers team makeup around Plink?
As mentioned Potion helps us on PR. Our website is built by the fantastic team at View Source. Fat Earth Media runs our email and paid efforts. Made Thought is behind the creative. And we also brought in help on tone of voice, working with the incredible Fern Diaz.
You’re only a month in, but any learnings on acquisition channels yet?
We’ve learned a bunch, especially on organic-social and influencer.
We had been developing a huge database with eco-conscious moms and dads, extreme sports athletes, travel bloggers etc, with a plan to get them to drive sales for us - but it just didn’t work. The huge barrier was our commission based model on a $22 pack product. It just wasn’t attractive (financially) for influencers.
So now, we’re re-engaging with a handful of creators to sponsor them more on an ongoing basis. Think more like a Nike x Michael Jordan partnership. We want to sponsor the right people and support them in the long run.
We’re also very excited to leverage our uniquely cheap sampling costs. You can’t fit cans and bottles in an envelope, but you can fit a six pack of Plink!
So what’s next at Plink: What’s the vision? What’s keeping you up at night?
I think for us to really succeed we need to further dial in on the positioning.
Plink was started to save the planet, to stop canning and bottling water and the wasteful impact of the beverage industry - all by rethinking how we drink. But we won’t be able to motivate the masses with such a daunting mission - we need to speak to immediate human needs.
Our challenge is similar to Allbirds’ challenge when selling sustainable shoes; “the world’s most comfortable shoe” was a lot more palatable and attractive than the eco-friendly proposition to everyday consumers.
If we can crack that - we’ll be well on our way to making a great impact in the industry.
Outside of that, we’re testing other interesting models. We’ve got some gorgeous dispensers coming that will make it easy for offices to stock up and dispense Plink. We’ve also got really exciting retail opportunities to take advantage of; and I’m particularly interested in offering “the world’s lightest six pack”. There's so much fun to be had with that.
Well good luck with that! We’ll be cheering you on :) Any final parting thoughts?
If anyone wants to reach out to us, hit us up on Twitter or LinkedIn and we'll happily hop on a call. I’ve been helped so much by the community and want to pay it forward. We're far from experts, but if can be of help - my lines are open.
Stay in touch Max & Luke, and long live Plink.