The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Steven Guido is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Steven, one of the co-founders of Aeva Labs. We build technology for liquor production. More specifically, we focus on using modern process techniques to speed up a process called "barrel aging", where liquor sits in a barrel anywhere from several months to several decades to develop deep brown color, aroma, smoothness, and complex taste. We make equipment for distilleries that speeds up this process from years to days.
What did it take and how did you get started?
Aeva Labs started just over two years ago, right before Zach (my co-founder) and I started our senior year at NC State. We started with research. Lots of it. We talked to any distillery that would listen, spent nights and weekends reading research papers, and began building our first prototypes. My apartment quickly filled up with liquor bottles and our home-built test machines. Most of our friends and family members thought we had lost our minds, but we kept on.
After graduating, we lived on savings while working full-time on Aeva for 8 months. In February 2019, we inked our first contract with a local distillery! To fulfill the order, each of us took out personal loans for $10k from family. In three months we built the scaled-up equipment and delivered it.
This milestone enabled us to raise pre-seed investment and we’ve been full speed on Aeva Labs for 15 months now! There are now 3 "Aeva-Powered" distilleries in 2 states and more to come!
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
Future is looking bright! We're currently powering 3 craft distilleries and looking forward to working with many more. I'm particularly excited for more products we helped make to hit shelves in the coming months. What drives / motivates you?
On the personal side: I'm motivated by personal growth. I love that I am in a position to challenge myself to do better every single day.
On the company side: The liquor production space needs some spicing up. Unlike in craft beer, there's not a whole lot of creativity, mostly due to limitations on the production side. I'm excited that our technology holds such promise to change this. It's my goal to bring innovation to this space by providing distillers everywhere with the tools they need to push the boundaries of the craft.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
1) Just get out there and go for it. If you're too afraid to take the first step, it'll never happen.
2) If you're actually considering this path, make it a point to understand how it will affect your life, both in and out of work.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
To-date, the hardest part for me was the 1-2 months leading up to us signing our first customer. It was an incredibly stressful few months since it was a true make-or-break moment for the company.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Podcasts: How I Built This With Guy Raz- NPR
Books: Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
Websites: https://blog.bolt.io/ - One of my favorite blogs, focuses on Hardware Startups
Side or full-time hustle? Full
List the founders Steven Guido, Zachary Fearnside
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle? 60-80
# of Employees? 3 full time
When did you start? Idea came about summer 2017, actual company was formed in early 2018
How much did it cost to launch? About $40k
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised? We bootstrapped it for a while with money from startup competitions and the Andrews Accelerator program we participated in.
This year we raised about a quarter million on a note for our pre-seed.
Social: Instagram: @steve.guido Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenfguido