Meet the Person Behind the Brand: Rocco Venneri, Co-Founder and CEO of Cool Cat
A series connecting you to the entrepreneurs in “Put Me On”
Earlier this year, Gopuff announced “Put Me On,” a small business accelerator program designed to help underrepresented entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The first group of participants include entrepreneurs in the beauty, home essentials, and food and beverage categories, including Rocco Venneri, Co-Founder and CEO of Cool Cat.
Cool Cat is a uniquely delicious beverage brand headquartered in Miami, FL. It’s a minority-owned business that’s on a mission to break barriers and inspire others to follow their dreams. Read on to learn more about Rocco and the Cool Cat brand.
Tell us about the story of your brand, how did the company come to be?
The idea for Cool Cat began during a Mother’s Day barbeque. I was chatting with my brother about the canned wine craze and went home that night and started doing some research on both canned wine and ready-to-drink products. I saw an opportunity to leverage my fashion background to create a great-looking product with a name that would allow me to grow the business into a true lifestyle brand.
Taking that and building on the increased consumer interest in health and wellness, I set out to create a great-tasting, low-calorie portable beverage made with natural ingredients. I also wanted to make wine “cool” for the younger wine drinker.
What is your company mission and where do you want to see the company in five years?
As a Black/Mixed Race gay man, I saw an urgent need for more diversity and inclusivity in the spirits and wine industry. I wanted to see representation. We are a brand that brings together like-minded individuals who share similar values and experiences – aka, a fearless community of Cool Cats.
In the next five years, we want to increase our distribution footprint while continuing to lead with diversity and inclusivity in mind. Visibility and product sampling opportunities will continue to be key. Cool Cat is about leading culture forward, breaking barriers, and inspiring others to follow their dreams.
Tell us about your company’s presence in your community. Do you have strong ties to the place in which you’re headquartered? If so, what does that look like?
This past year, I moved to Miami to launch the brand and we’ve quickly gained visibility. We’re proud to be distributed at incredible on-premise accounts like The Standard Hotel, Naked Taco, and Beaker & Gray, to name a few. We’ll continue to support and participate in local events, including Seltzerland Miami on November 6 and Art Basel in December — follow Cool Cat on social media for a full list of upcoming events where you can find us.
Why is “Put Me On” important to you and your business, and what are you hoping to get out of the program?
There is an urgent need for more diversity and inclusivity in the spirits and wine industry. As a minority myself, I want to see increased representation that’s inclusive of all genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Established companies need to support and invest in minority-owned and -operated businesses. We have been very fortunate to find supportive distributor partners who stand behind our brand DNA and product and are thrilled that Gopuff is also stepping up to provide much-needed assistance.
We look forward to participating in upcoming workshops and networking events that will help us further expand our community of fearless Cool Cats. Visibility is everything when it comes to launching a new product.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs and why?
Make sure you create a product or service that’s differentiated from what is currently in the market. Have a point-of-view that you can articulate clearly. And be innovative and disruptive in your approach with the ultimate goal to stand out, not blend in. At Cool Cat, all of our ideas go through a filter – if an idea doesn’t make us say, “now that’s cool” we don’t pursue it. We want people to experience a “wow” factor any time they interact with the brand so they’re inclined to share their experience with others.
What’s your favorite snack?
- cool cat wine
- put me on
- small business