Ryan Hanson

Ryan Hanson of Surely: A Refreshing Twist on Non-Alcoholic Wine and Drinking in Dry January

In this hangover-free episode, Elizabeth welcomes Ryan Hanson, the CEO and founder of Surely, a non-alcoholic drink that breaks away from convention by prioritizing transparency in its making process and ingredients. Ryan talks more about the non-alcoholic wine movement and how Surely stands apart from its high-sugar counterparts, along with what it was like building a brand in such a new space.

Beyond the beverage realm, Ryan imparts some great wisdom on staying present in life, explores the health advantages of reducing alcohol intake, and reflects on the challenges and tips for those interested in starting off 2024 sober. At the end of the episode, Ryan gives a sneak peek of the exciting products Surely has in store for its audience this year and beyond. Cheers!

Use code: PURELY15 at checkout for a 15% discount.

We've never been anti-alcohol, we just want to be pro more choices for people.
- Ryan Hanson

 

Listen now:

 

Podcast transcript below:

Elizabeth Stein 00:00
Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.
This week's guest is Ryan Hanson, founder and CEO of Surely. During an extended break from drinking, Ryan was disappointed with the lack of quality, non-alcoholic wine options available. Inspired to create a non-alcoholic drink that could pair great with food and good company, Ryan launched early in late 2020. In this episode, we chat about Ryan's health and the entrepreneurial journey that inspired him to launch the brand. We discussed the trend of non-alcoholic wine and how Surely is doing things differently than its high-sugar counterparts. The health benefits of abstaining from alcohol include improved sleep, mood, and energy, the challenges of building brand awareness and educating customers about nonalcoholic wine, tips to do your own dry January, and some of Ryan's favorite ways to feel his best. Keep listening to learn more. And if you want to try Surely, you can use code PURELY15 for 15% off at drinksurely.com. Enjoy.
It's officially oatmeal season and I'm so excited to share that you can find our Purely Elizabeth oatmeal products at select Walmart stores, just in time to get cozy with a warming breakfast. You can find our blueberry flax, oatmeal multipacks, and dark chocolate chunk oatmeal cups in the cereal aisle. Out gluten-free instant oatmeals are made with organic oats combined with five super food grades and seeds for delicious taste and texture. Our packs and cups make for an easy breakfast, snack, or dessert. And they're also perfect to take on the go. Click the Store Locator in the show notes to find a Walmart store near you. Happy oatmeal season and happy shopping.
Ryan, welcome to the podcast. I am so excited about this conversation today and to share all that you're doing with our community.
Ryan Hanson 02:24
Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure.
Elizabeth Stein 02:27
So, let's start at the beginning of your personal wellness journey and really what inspired you to start Surely.
Ryan Hanson 02:35
Yeah, I think for me personal wellness journey was one of those things that I didn't think about a lot. You just go through life, you're young and healthy. I was active and played a bunch of sports, it wasn't something I had to think about, and I felt like I needed to make specific decisions to get the output I wanted. Then you get towards the end of college or starting to begin your career. And one of my early inspirations was somebody I grew up with. He was in the military. And I think I was home from college. It was maybe a junior year. He was talking about, “Hey, everybody in the military is they're doing paleo. They're super into CrossFit.” These are just things that I had never heard of. This is back probably, for me, in the 2010 timeline, just to give some perspective. He was somebody that I looked up to, somebody that I'm still really close with today. And I think he gave me The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf's book. And it was like that's what everybody's reading. That's what everybody's getting into. That was the first time the light bulb came on in terms of like, oh, this stuff matters, especially as you get older, it matters more. And if you're also thinking about how to optimize my health to optimize my career, or my life, or my happiness, all this stuff matters. So got introduced that way. Then I went hard into it. I went hardcore paleo and started CrossFit. Then you started to see the results. Then you're like, okay, I'm not seeing the cause and effect here. And it's having a positive experience. I think that was the beginning of my journey into health and wellness at the time. I was in college, and I ended up just taking a job as a finance major, working at a bank, and doing the classic corporate finance career to start. But I knew I always wanted to be an entrepreneur at some point. I was never really big into following the rules. And I think I just saw myself in these corporate settings and being like, I just don't know there's going to be a forever thing for me. I think it's a great place to learn foundational skills get mentors and learn on somebody else's dime to start for a little bit. But I think I always knew I wanted to get into the startup world, being an entrepreneur. So the early part of my career, I was in corporate finance, lasted for five, or six years. I was living with that same friend who introduced me to paleo on CrossFit in Dallas, in between trying to make a career move. I connected with somebody who I co-founded Surely with, Justin Mares, who had previously founded Kettle & Fire Bone Broth. He had a company Perfect Keto at the time. I just hit him up on AngelList. He responded directly back to me. It was like, “Hey, you're in Dallas? I'm in Austin.” He had just moved there.
Elizabeth Stein 05:23
And what was your point of reaching out to him?
Ryan Hanson 05:26
I was trying to get hired at Perfect Keto. That was in between careers. I was like, okay, I'm done with this corporate finance thing. Back with my friend, who started me on this personal health and wellness journey. We're sitting there like, “Hey, what's your next move? What are you going to do? You're here in Dallas, where do you want to live?” It's like, Austin seems like a cool place. I visited him in Austin. We lived there once before. So I checked out some spots in Austin and some job opportunities in Austin. Justin got back to me pretty quickly. And just serendipitously, I drove down there. We connected. We're the same age and have a lot in common. And it was just one of those Right Place Right Time. I know a little bit about Paleo. Keto was the next big wave of how to optimize your health trend. It just all came together. I got hired there pretty quickly after that interview and helped those guys scale that company for two and a half years. I became the president of Perfect Keto the last year. So it was like the whole team was reporting to me. I think that was the last thing I needed to check the box for myself in terms of like, “Hey, I'm ready to run a business on my own.” I'm doing that right now. I think the founder challenge is different and unique in its way. But I felt ready for it. And Justin was a great partner and being like, “Yeah, you're ready for it. I'm here to support you. Let's cope on something together.” So that's the short/long version of how that wellness journey turned into just starting Surely.
Elizabeth Stein 06:56
Love it. So he's encouraging you to start something together. What was the idea? Initially, were there a bunch of ideas? Or you knew you wanted to go into nonalcoholic wine?
Ryan Hanson 07:10
Yeah, we were talking about a lot of different ideas, probably throughout 8 to 12 months. I think for us, I'm somebody who cut back my drinking significantly. I took a full three years off. And now, I rarely drink. It was part of that personal frustration.
Elizabeth Stein 07:27
What was the catalyst for you to take those three years off?
Ryan Hanson 07:31
Yeah, I think it just wasn't serving me anymore. I think I'm also somebody who's just really sensitive to it. It's one of the things that I was getting older, it's like, wow, I'm not even able to metabolize this in any way. And it got to the point where it's one drink, and you feel terrible the next day, and you're just like, this isn't doing anything positive for me. It just got to a point where I was like, hey, I'm trying to like, go big, think big. I want to start a company, I need to be the best version of myself. How do I objectively look at my routines, health, and wellness eliminate things that aren't serving me, and focus on the things that are going to make me be able to be an entrepreneur be able to start a company? But I think there's the whole thing with drinking connected to so much of our social rituals, that I'm new to a city in Austin, and everybody's going out, it’s a young startup, it's that great energy, the city's got that great energy. So I'm going out, and I'm having Topo Chico. And it's like, can we do something better than that? Part of our exploration into alcoholic wine was trying to solve that personal frustration and provide options for those who are looking to drink less or not at all, but want something sophisticated, they don't want water or a sugary soda, or a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail.
Elizabeth Stein 08:55
Yeah, so as we were starting to say before we got recording, I love what you're doing. And in particular, I had it last night paired with food. For me, it's all about that taste. It's not that necessarily you want that buzz, but there's a delicious taste of wine and you want that pairing with your food. So, you came into a category that feels so under-tapped because, as you said, it's got sugary mocktails on one side, you've got NA beer on the other side, but this big opportunity here. For those who aren't familiar with NA wines, and what that category looks like, can you talk a little bit about what it is and what you guys are doing differently than maybe the couple of brands that are out in the category today or have historically been in the space?
Ryan Hanson 09:48
For sure. I think this category has blown up in the last three years. This is our third year in business and we've all grown up together and it's just funny looking back. We're still building the awareness. Nobody knew about non-alcoholic wine three years ago. And I think at that time, the products out there in the market were legacy products that I think just weren't delivering quality, and that taste that you mentioned to the customer that solved the problem for them like, “Oh, I love the taste of wine, but I want to drink less.” I think that's at a very high level who we're serving. And part of that was the large wine companies didn't believe that there was a premium market for these products. So I think they were servicing this, I call it, just check the box we have a non-alcoholic wine, which meant a cheap product. I think a lot of the products that have been disrupted in the health and wellness category, it's a low-quality product with a bunch of sugar. So it's like we're gonna lean into the sweet profile. There are sweet wine drinkers out there, for sure. And maybe that was getting the job done for them. But I think there's a wine drinker who wants that dry, complex, sophisticated, crisp profile. And there wasn't anything out there like that. We came in with that approach. Especially if you're making the healthy choice to not drink, you want to also feel like you're making the healthy choice to not have a bunch of sugar. If sweet wine isn't your thing, we want to deliver something to you that has that dryness, has that acidity, has the tannin if it's red, all those characteristics that I think people love when they drink wine, and they're missing when they're looking at their alcohol consumption and be like, “Hey, I do want to cut back.” I think part of that reason, is the feedback loops on alcohol are so tight now with Oura ring, Whoop, Eight Sleep. Some people are like, oh, I get it. I see it. I got a reminder again this morning. I think we've never been anti-alcohol, we just want to be pro-choice for people. I think back to your question about what are we doing differently, we wanted to start with a better-quality product up front that didn't need a lot of sugar to hide its faults. That was a really big important piece in terms of the wine that we're starting with. Then we go through this de-alcoholization process. There are different ways to do it. We use a vacuum distillation process. Some people use reverse osmosis. That's more common in non-alcoholic beers, but you're effectively separating the ethanol from the rest of the wine molecules. That ethanol comes out, you have this de-alkalized wine base. I think what ethanol does to a wine is it's the connector for all of those compounds that are the result of fermentation. Like why do we love wine? Why is it different than grape juice? Because it goes through fermentation, it creates all these different alcohols, esters, and different flavor compounds that create that flavor, that complexity, that aroma of wine. Without the ethanol, you lose that connecting piece, so it's lighter. That's where our work comes in. That's the art of what Surely is, how do we creatively think about building back that taste profile, that structure, that aroma? Some of it does get lost in the de-alcoholization process. I mentioned before we jumped on here when we started Surely I live in Austin right now. But I was in Austin at the time. I think for two weeks, I was trying to run Surely, basically build a wine company in Austin, Texas. Productions are happening, people are calling me, they're like, “I didn't come from wine. I don't know anything about wine production at this point.” They're asking me like, “Hey, what do you want us to do?” Like, I have no idea. I need to get out there to Wine Country and figure this out and make sure we hire the right people to help us solve this. I moved to Wine Country, we ended up hiring a winemaker and a wine chemist. Now we have a lab in Northern California where those two are working every single day to test out all these different natural ingredients that you traditionally wouldn't think about complementing a wine with. But I think in a de-alcoholized wine world, de-alcoholized wine on its own lacks what people want when they have a wine alternative. So we're playing around with teas, we're playing around with other natural ingredients, botanicals, to build back that profile that I mentioned. I think it's cool. I think wine is interesting as a category because it has the most range of any beverage. Wine is endless. So it gives us a lot of space to create and be innovative and try new things. I encourage the team to say that there are no rules, we're creating this category. It's on us to come up with a new way and a new approach. We're trying to build the future of wine and think differently about it. But we're trying to make sure we keep that natural ingredient focus, stay true to the wine, and make sure that it's a transparent label in terms of what's in it, just so people know. I think that's one of the things that people are frustrated. The TTB doesn't require you to have a nutrition fact panel or tell people what's inside of it. So I think the drinkers that are really into Surely appreciate the approach we're taking and the transparency.
Elizabeth Stein 15:21
Yeah, absolutely. I noticed right away that it was so nice to see, here's a nutrition panel, which is so hard to believe that most alcohols don't have that. I think it's super interesting what you said about the wide range of wines and tastes as you think about all these categories that have been disrupted over the years. Thinking about plant-based, for example. There's the analog for milk, and this is supposed to taste away. And there's not that much deviation, where for you, I love that there is this opportunity to expand and be innovative and draw more people into the category.
Ryan Hanson 16:00
Yeah, I think it's really exciting for us. In beverages, the whole mantra of liquid tulips rings true. Especially when you're introducing something new, we try to make sure that we can get people to sample the product as much as possible and do demos when we can. We created little one-can boxes that we can ship out to see if people are interested.
Elizabeth Stein 16:23
Which is so nice. You don't need a signature on delivery.
Ryan Hanson 16:27
Yeah, that's a huge thing too. A huge benefit of being a non-alcoholic wine brand is the regulation. It is completely different. With alcohol, you have to sign up for delivery, which costs a lot more money too as a company to have that as part of your supply chain. We're fortunate that we can take advantage of some of that in terms of delivering an experience to a wine drinker that they're not always used to, getting a can shipped to their door like most wine companies can't do.
Elizabeth Stein 16:57
For you, as you mentioned you had no experience in the wine industry, you certainly had experience at Perfect Keto and being in CPG. But what was that like for you initially launching? Are you someone who has always stepped out of your comfort zone and been a risk-taker?
Ryan Hanson 17:16
I think I have always been willing to take a chance and take a risk. I think I tend to get bored easily. So I like to be active and try new things. I like to solve a challenging problem. I did have the CPG experience from Perfect Keto, but that was mostly a digitally native business. The big new things for me with building Surely have been building omni channel, and getting into retail, that's been a new thing that I've had to learn over the last couple of years. I think the other thing was there's the CPG infrastructure that helps you get into retail, and there's the brokers and there's the category views and everything. It's like a process and a playbook and Justin was a great resource on how that works with Kettle and Fire and the success he's had there. But wine is very different. Especially with non-alcoholic wine, there was no infrastructure. So you'd go to pitch a retailer and you're like, “Hey, when's the non-alcoholic wine review?” we don't have that. Nobody is in charge of that. I think in the early days, things just moved slowly. Because you just got passed around like, hey, who wants to talk to this guy who's trying to sell us non-alcoholic wine? Like, does it go on the wine aisle? Does it go in a beverage? There were a lot of early conversations about where you want merchandise, and how should we think about margin and pricing. There just wasn't a lot of data. So we worked hard over the last couple of years to work with different retail partners to build that story and work with them to have signage in store so customers know what it is. I think wine can be an intimidating aisle for people. The number of people you see just walk into a wine aisle, it's like a walkout. I don't know what just happened. Especially if you're in that discovery phase, it's competitive. There are a lot of cool labels. There's a lot of different products. So we've tried to work with our partners to make sure that there is signage, that we're not just mixed in with all the other alcoholic servings, because it's difficult to stand out, especially as we're building a new category. So like I said, three years ago, it was difficult to get that support, how much we've been able to build online and then success at some of our early retailers. We've been able to package that information. Especially this year, retailers are invested in this category. They see where all the trends are going. I think it's clear that these trends are pretty permanent if you just look at how much people are drinking less, how millennials are drinking less, and Gen Z is even drinking less than that. And I think as these generations mature to the future, we have to prepare ourselves for a very different wine aisle, beverage aisle, whatever you want to call it. Because the retailer's job is to deliver what the customer wants. And I think this is clear that this is a high on everybody's list as they think about their consumption.
Elizabeth Stein 20:16
Yeah. Do you have any good stats as far as where the market is today on Gen Z or millennials? And what does that look like?
Ryan Hanson 20:26
Yeah, the data is overwhelming. It's crazy as you dig into it. I think what's always surprising to me is Gallup does a lot of this alcohol survey, and they've been doing it for a long time. And 40% of the country just doesn't drink.
Elizabeth Stein 20:45
Wow. That’s unbelievable.
Ryan Hanson 20:48
Yeah. There are all these reasons why it's health, it's religious, people drank earlier in their life, and they don't drink now because they're having difficulty metabolizing it, whatever the case may be. But that's a really big number. So you think about how underserved those people are, just that we started about people who don't drink. Then on top of that, 40% of people are indicating that they're drinking less than they did five years ago. 64% of Gen Z say they plan to drink less as they get older. So that's where we're talking about, like where's this going? So you just stack all these things on top of each other. Like, wow, this is going to create these massive new categories that are pretty nascent today or small, but I think it's going to shift how retailers think about building their sets, and how restaurants think about building their wine list, or their cocktail list. And at a very simple level, if you're a restaurant and 40% of people in here maybe don't drink, then let's have the menu reflect that. Because I think the menu right now makes it seem like there's one person in here that doesn't drink maybe we'll have something for that. But I think there's a real opportunity. I think in the past, I get it, where the pushback is, show me the quality options, because I don't want this sugary thing that I was talking to you about earlier. Like, that doesn't fit with everything else on my menu or in my store or whatever. But I think now, there are so many great quality options that I think people are really into. The other thing for Surely is 80% of our customers are hard drinkers. So the rise of non-alcoholic is driven by what I'm calling the moderation movement. It's just a lot of people looking to moderate their intake and drink less. And it could be for a week, it could be extended breaks for months, for a year, it could be forever. But I think it all supports that data that I mentioned, of people just drinking less, and they're really into these new options that are hitting the market.
Elizabeth Stein 22:54
Yeah, it's so interesting and so exciting to see where the markets go. And you have certainly this rise of health and wellness, and the last frontier of, hey, I do all these other things in my life that are healthy and great for me, and I'm so conscious for what I put on my skin and X, Y, and Z and it's the alcohol that remains oftentimes that one last thing. So to be able to have that alternative is certainly where the market is going and to be able to fill that need is huge. As you think about your customers, we will be launching this at the very beginning of January. So dry January. What do you hear from your customers as far as what that journey looks like being super curious and taking off? Because it's not always easy for people to eliminate alcohol. So, what tips can you share for those who are curious and want to cut out alcohol for January or beyond?
Ryan Hanson 23:57
For sure. I think, come in open-minded and willing to try stuff. I think that there are a lot of hesitant people because there have been a lot of products that have hit the market and taste is subjective. There are ways that I think you can try a couple of different things. A lot of cities have non-alcoholic bottle shops now. So I would encourage you to go there because I think the staff at those places is going to be able to walk you through the different options, a different taste profile to think marketplaces like Boisson have, people have heard of that before. It's a non-alcoholic marketplace and they have a lot of the top sellers and there are other non-alcoholic marketplaces out there. So, do some Googling, and go to your non-alcoholic bottleshop. There's been a lot of publications writing reviews, helping educate the customer on like, hey, this is what it tastes like. This is what it can be, an analogue or alternative to the ones that are a little bit more unique. So I think do a little bit of research, and come in with an open mind. I think there are companies out there like Surely who try to make it easy to try the product, whether it's a single-can promo or stuff like that. So, be on the lookout for those. So I think, an open mind is one thing. The thing I always tell people at the beginning of dry January or whatever, to me, it's about reframing. Instead of focusing on what you're not doing, which is consuming alcohol, focus on what benefits you're trying to get from choosing to not have alcohol for a month, or whatever you're doing, and you'll get excited about those goals. So get excited about better sleep, get excited about activities you can do that don't involve drinking, whether that's being more active, you're reading a book now, or whatever the case may be. I think that reframing is really important. Because if you just get stuck in like, well, I missed that, then that's not going to be a great experience. For me, I get excited about consistent sleep, which I think is just the pillar of health, mood stability, and energy consistency. So those are the three things that I'm like, how can I use those three things to elevate myself somewhere else?
Elizabeth Stein 26:11
I love that. Any other top health benefits? We all know alcohol is bad but what are the top health benefits of eliminating alcohol in addition to sleep?
Ryan Hanson 26:25
I think it's the sleep, the mood stability, and the consistent energy. You can do so much with those things. And you'll start to get those benefits pretty quickly. My experience is that for a lot of people, I get that there can be that social challenge, especially if you don't have an alternative. We try to do a great job of being like, nobody would know if you're drinking non-alcoholic wine if you just have a glass of non-alcoholic wine. It would be impossible to know that it's not a log line. So you'd fit right in. But I think if that is something that you're struggling to get over, my advice is just stick with it. If you make it through the first couple of situations, you realize that this isn't that big of a deal. And it's like all those things in life, people don't care. If you're hanging out with people who care if you drink or not, you're just hanging out with the wrong people. So people don't care if you’re drinking or not. Go for it, get a non-alcoholic option that makes you feel better. You'll start to access these benefits that are going to be the motivation to continue. Then you'll just start to get more comfortable in those situations. I think the great thing now too, is even again, from three years ago, going out now, I feel like most places have NA options now. Would I like them to be more expansive and include all these different products that are hitting the market? Sure. But athletic brewing is everywhere. That's a great beer, grab one of those. You'll fit right in.
Elizabeth Stein 27:59
Yeah, I'd love to touch on sleep for a moment. Because while we just glazed over, like yes, your sleep is better. But for some people who aren't sure, we hear sleep isn't great with alcohol, maybe I fall asleep with alcohol. But what happens when you drink and you're asleep and the benefits of taking it out? And it's clear on the Oura ring that you see it.
Ryan Hanson 28:24
Oh, for sure. If you do any of the wearables, that's going to be immediate. I think that you're not going to get as deep into sleep. I think another thing too, is when we wake up in the morning, our bodies are getting more heated, and that's causing us to wake up. So when you're having alcohol, all that digesting and metabolizing that alcohol, your body has to burn some energy and create some heat for that to happen. That's why you're not getting deep into sleep. That's why you might wake up, maybe you have to use the restroom. It's just incredibly disruptive to setting the stage for a good night's sleep. I think the data is undeniable. I always joke. It's like, removing alcohol from your diet is the most guaranteed diet ever. Some people are like Paleo won't work, keto might work, vegan might work, all these things people try. There'll be varying degrees of success, but I've never met anybody who's like, “I started to not drink and I felt worse.”
Elizabeth Stein 29:36
It backfired.
Ryan Hanson 29:38
Yeah. Nobody said that. So it's one of those things where if you feel like there are really good alternative options if you're missing that taste, and then there are good options for you to fit in socially, you're going to extract some benefits if that's what you're looking for.
Elizabeth Stein 29:55
What are you seeing in year three of business that is your biggest challenge today?
Ryan Hanson 30:02
I think the biggest challenge for us is, that I live in this world of nonalcoholic wine. Sometimes you just assume like, oh, everybody knows what Surely is. Everybody knows what non-alcoholic wine is. But the reality is, most people still don't, we're still very much building a brand and building awareness about who we are, who we're for, what we do, why, how we make it, how we're different, how you should not think we're like the old sugar-laden, non-alcoholic wine of the past, why you should give this a chance, you know why there's a premium price point, because of all this extra stuff we're doing from the process in terms of making the wine, then de alkalizing it, then doing other work on the back end. It adds costs and also adds cost to make sure we're having that quality product that delivers the quality experience. So I think it's a lot about continued education for us. That and just continued work with the retail partners to build out these categories. I think building a new company, building a new category with retailers is challenging. So we just try to do a lot of work about not only raising awareness with the customers but also the retailers because they're coming to brands being like, tell us about the customer, tell us what losses we should expect, help us understand what goes into your production process. We can think about what's a reasonable margin profile for this category. So I'd say a lot of education across the board is still top of mind for me.
Elizabeth Stein 31:33
I’d love to get into some of your challenges, personally or professionally, what are you working on for yourself today, to be your absolute best?
Ryan Hanson 31:45
For me, being present in the moment is something that I continue to push myself to be better at. My job as a CEO is to push everybody. We got to gotta think ahead, we got to have annual planning, we got to have quarterly planning. So I'm constantly in this mindset of de-risking the future and making sure we can grow for the future and try to always understand what's going on over there. And I think sometimes you miss the present view, the successes we're having as a team, or you miss the present that this is just what's going on in my house right now. Or this is what's going on in my life because you're so focused on the business or the future of the business. So I've been trying to push myself to build habits to recenter. I try to meditate or do headspace or breathwork with an app called ColorShift. So that's a really good recentering activity. My partner and I have started to do yoga again on Saturdays. One of my very simple life hacks is like, just have a list of things that make you happy every time you do them. And if you need a shortcut, just go to that list and do something on that list. It could be the most simple thing like I watch this movie, or I talk to this brand, or I go to yoga or meditate, or whatever your hobbies are. That's just been one of those things where it's as simple as it sounds. Like we come up with that class every Saturday morning, we're so happy. So happy we did it. So happy we did it together, my body feels good, mobility feels good, all that stuff. That I think helps be just more present in the moment.
Elizabeth Stein 33:24
I love that. I have the same list. It's like the things that make me feel my best list. It could be big or small. But it's a great thing if you're feeling off, just look at the list and do one of those things.
Ryan Hanson 33:36
It says simple. It'll come out naturally if you just take the time to sit down and do it.
Elizabeth Stein 33:42
Yeah. Any other rituals that you have in your day to feel your best? Are you meditating in the morning? Are you doing it at night?
Ryan Hanson 33:52
Yeah, usually in the morning, it's meditation. For sleep, I try to stop eating by eight o'clock. I know a lot of people have that as one just because we're getting into that nighttime routine.
Elizabeth Stein 34:04
Are you paleo or keto at this point?
Ryan Hanson 34:07
I'd say more paleo than keto at this point. I think I do my keto sprints here and there, but I think paleo is a little bit more flexible for what I desire. I’m considerate of what I'm eating, making sure that I'm cutting that off by eight o'clock. I do yoga on Saturdays and try to do either weight training or rock climbing. So I belong to a gym here in Austin that's a hybrid. There's weights and then rock climbing. Rock climbing for me is one of those things where you need to take your mind off something. You got to get up there and even though there's pads and all that and felt safe, your mind just shifts into survival mode and you're stuck on some work thing or some personal thing that is consuming you too much, like go, get up 20 feet in the air and try to hold on and you're not going to think about any of that stuff because you're just like, I gotta make it to this next hold, and I gotta get down safely. It's a good physical activity that I think takes a lot of concentration and focus. So, I like to do that if I need to get out of my head a little bit.
Elizabeth Stein 35:19
I love that. It's such a great tip to have some sort of activity you do that's hands-free, and can't be on your phone. You just gotta have focus. I used to feel like that about swimming laps. Like there was no way you get to your phone.
Ryan Hanson 35:36
Yeah, I was swimming a bunch of laps in Calistoga when I lived up there. There was a pool right down the street within walking distance. So that would be part of my morning routine when I was up there. Because it was just like, again, total focus, gets the heart rate up, a great way to start the day. NorCal is super sunny, get some sunshine. I love that one, too.
Elizabeth Stein 35:58
How has it been for you? You mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that it's different being founder, and CEO than being president. How has that been for you?
Ryan Hanson 36:09
The big difference was coming into a company and then running something that's established. All the pillars of the business are established, divisions are established, and the business model is established. So you're trying to optimize it, run it to be the most efficient, grow it, et cetera. You still need to do all those things when you find a company, but there's all that foundational work upfront. And even anybody who starts a business knows that this is one of the hardest things. It's like, how are you validating product market fit? How are you finding that first batch of customers? That's a really big challenge. I think I have to rethink a little bit differently and be more willing to take even more risks to get some of those early customers or be willing to pivot even more quickly because the stakes are low early. So you have to have the mentality of like, hey, that just didn't work. We got to scrap it, we got to try something else. Because ideally, you figure all that out, and then you start to scale the business. So I think that was the big difference for me early on, is everybody's looking to you to say, hey, help me understand what the vision is, what are the do's and don'ts, like how do we talk? What's our personality? What's our core target customer? What are our product commandments, all these things? That's the super fun part of a startup's early days growing the business. It's a really exciting time. But it was a different set of challenges for me.
Elizabeth Stein 37:40
Totally. So what's next for you and the brand?
Ryan Hanson 37:44
For the brand, dry January is a big moment for the category. It's a big moment for us. We're going to be celebrating with launching a new product. So I think by the time this goes live, it'll already be in the market. It's a white wine blend. It's called Surely Blanc. I think it's super fun. It's got that sweetness with that acid combination. It's one of the things that we worked on for a while in the lab, and it played around with a bunch of different stuff. And we got excited about it with the team. Then we always try to incorporate the customer into our process. We had a couple of different versions that we tested out in the market. We did a little pop-up test here in Austin. There was one that I think was a little bit more fun, I guess that I was hoping would win, but I was allowing the customer to choose. And they were super into that one. So we're excited to have that launch. I think we've got a bunch of great sparkling products and bottles and cans, but I think the bigger question of our customers has been still wine. So, we're excited about this white wine to launch during dry January.
Elizabeth Stein 38:59
So exciting. Well, everyone has got to go out and try. And we're gonna move on to some at Rapid Fire Q&A. Three things that you're currently loving.
Ryan Hanson 39:13
Okay. I'm a sucker for Mid-Day Squares. I know they're all over the internet. Our lead investor also invested in them so I got to meet some of their team earlier this year. We did a founder summit thing. Super cool story and, a great midday snack when you're on the go. It's another Austin-based company. I'm giving you a couple of products here. Force of Nature, I think regenerative agriculture is the future. There's all the information out there about how we move away from commercial farming into this whole regenerative future. They do a great job of leading the charge and know some people who work there, so just super into them as a brand and always trying to give them a shout-out when I can. Then I've recently been listening to French house music when I work. I'm trying to think about how this even started, I think I was at the climbing gym and it was early and nobody was there. It was a peaceful time to be there. And then you hear something that just catches your attention, like most of the time, music is going on everywhere that we're at. And we're just like, oh, whatever. That's just background noise. But this just stopped me in my tracks, trying to figure out what it was. And I've just been listening to French house music for the last couple of weeks as I work, which I've been into recently.
Elizabeth Stein 40:31
Love that. Have you been to Force of Nature Farm yet?
Ryan Hanson 40:36
I haven't been to their farm yet. My good friend that I grew up with, and then also worked with Perfect Keto works there now. We've talked about it many times. He doesn't live in Austin. So, he's always like, hey, next time I come down, we go up there. Would take you out there. So, it's on my list.
Elizabeth Stein 40:53
Yeah, I want to go. And they're coming on the podcast here shortly. Favorite productivity hack.
Ryan Hanson 41:01
For me, I think deep work still reigned supreme in terms of getting the most done. I think that I've got for me to that be successful, I gotta block the time off. And then I try to, in my days, the list of things I'm trying to accomplish the next day. So that's a really big thing for me in terms of how I feel successful at the end of this day. I wake up with, this is what I'm trying to get done. If I can knock these out, then I'm going to feel good about the day. I think another challenge of being a CEO, I try to be involved in a lot of the things we do, so I can get stuck on a lot of calls and meetings. So I do have to carve out deep work to feel like I'm tackling the big stuff and thinking deeply about the future of business or the big challenges we're trying to solve.
Elizabeth Stein 41:53
Favorite words to live by.
Ryan Hanson 41:58
When I'm thinking about building a business, in a really simple way, give the people what they want. I think, as a business, you can solve so many of your problems by just listening to your customers. I believe that. So that's one of the things I think I just try to pitch internally. It's really simple. But I think don't be afraid to think big. I always feel that as a team as well. The harsh reality is these startups, 99% or whatever fail. We're already thinking crazy by doing this. So why not just go for even higher? Why not be the biggest, the best, whatever it is we've set up our goals? Let's try to be top of the class. Those are two things. I try to learn a lot by listening, I would say, just the general mantra I have to life.
Elizabeth Stein 42:50
Love it. A favorite book or podcast for growth.
Ryan Hanson 42:55
I listen to Peter Attia a lot. I have been on the Andrew Huberman train, and they both can get technical at times. But I think they also do a great job of making it digestible. They're just covering so many topics. I don't listen to every single one. And I think they're great interviewers too of just people not necessarily rooted in the medicine or scientific health and wellness space. So if I'm just thinking about how to live a healthy life, those are people I'm tuning in to.
Elizabeth Stein 43:33
Favorite business moment.
Ryan Hanson 43:37
For us, we knew that retail was going to be a big part of our long-term roadmap. So when we got into sprouts, that just felt like, we're in a new territory business, like we're omni channel. Now we have to figure out this retail thing. It was a really big PO for us at the time. It felt like validation. Like, we're not just this small brand that started online. We've got the national retailer interest and we knew that was going to be a really big growth account for us in terms of trying to turn on other retailers as well. So I remember that moment. I think there was an email like, wait, I need to confirm that. So you're not going back like this is happening. I remember it being one of those moments. So, that felt good.
Elizabeth Stein 44:31
Love that. And lastly, what's your number one non-negotiable to thrive on your wellness journey?
Ryan Hanson 44:37
It's sleep. If you don't prioritize sleep, I think everything else falls apart. I think you can do everything else optimal if you're just not getting sleep and none of those things seem to matter. So you just gotta balance. And it's like, you just got to figure that out for yourself. You have to figure out how to make sleep a priority but still enjoy life. And stay out late if you want to sometimes, but I think making it a part of a routine, like we talked about earlier, is really important. I think small things do make a difference if you get the compounding effect. A lot of these things may seem small, but if you stack them on top of each other, you could probably get transformational results.
Elizabeth Stein 45:25
Any tips for getting better sleep?
Ryan Hanson 45:30
The thing I do is try to stop eating and snacking late at night. We talked about alcohol as well. Especially during the weekdays, have a non-alcoholic wine on a Wednesday night instead of an alcoholic one. I think that'll help with sleep. But yeah, a nighttime routine. I think a lot of people don't have a nighttime routine. Like we talked at the beginning of the show, I didn't think about routines. I didn't think about any of these things. I needed to have somebody in my life inspire me to say, oh, this is important. This is working for me. Here's a really good education source, and then you take it from there and craft your path.
Elizabeth Stein 46:11
Love it. Ryan, thank you so much for being here. In closing, where can everybody find you and the brand?
Ryan Hanson 46:19
You can find us at drinksurely.com, and @drinksurely on Instagram as well. We are in Sprouts. We are in Total Wine. We are in central markets here in Texas. Then I think the big news is we are launching in Target this month. Target is doing a whole non-alcoholic program. So we're going to be in 1300 stores in January. So, we're excited for it.
Elizabeth Stein 46:49
That’s huge. Wishing you so much success. So nice to meet you and thanks for being here.
Ryan Hanson 46:54
Great to meet you.
Elizabeth Stein 46:55
Bye. Thanks so much for joining me on Live Purely with Elizabeth. I hope you feel inspired to thrive on your wellness journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to rate, subscribe, and review. You can follow us on Instagram @purely_elizabeth to catch up on all the latest. See you next Wednesday on the podcast.