Bringing Your Idea To Market with BuzzBallz’s Merrilee Kick

Bringing Your Idea To Market with BuzzBallz’s Merrilee Kick

Let's say you've got a great idea that you really believe in, but you've got no clue where to start. What would you do? Would you figure out a way or feel stuck and do nothing?

Meet Merrilee Kick, CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion. Merrilee was a school teacher who had this lightbulb idea while she was grading papers by her pool. But rather than just sit on that idea, Merrilee set off on researching how to bring that idea to life. Nine months later, Merrilee launched BuzzBallz/Southern Champion, becoming the only woman-owned Distillery/Winery/Brewery combination in the United States. 

Merrilee is a winner of the Dallas Business Journal’s 2019 Most Admired CEO Award, the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Southwest, EY's Winning Women Award 2016, Winner of the Enterprising Women's Award 2017 and 2020’s Top 20 Award, Winner of the WPO’s 50 Fastest companies, Ranked in the Top 50 DFW Businesses by D CEO Magazine in 2020, Winner of the Top Women in Grocery in 2020,  Winner of the 2020 Nielsen Brand Growth Award for Product of the Year Award-Spiked Beverage (BuzzTallz), and Winner of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Woman’s University.

In this episode, Merrilee shares her entrepreneurial journey and the lessons she's learned in building her business. She also shares advice on the best ways to get unstuck, how to unlock your motivation and bring your ideas to life.

Highlights:

[02:42] From teacher to entrepreneur
[05:12] Idea to product launch
[06:58] Information will help you get unstuck
[08:08] Finding your customer
[09:27] Navigating the barriers in retail distribution
[11:36] Developing the BuzzBallz brand
[13:25] Biggest surprise along the journey
[17:13] Family business
[19:12] Trusting your instinct
[22:59] Non-negotiables when it comes to hiring
[24:35] Decision-making framework
[26:36] Bootstrapping vs. VC funding
[27:49] Lessons learned in building a business
[29:51] Merrilee’s big dream
[31:09] Merrilee’s daily habits
[32:59] If you build it, they will come

Quotes:

“If you’re stuck or need motivation, you likely aren't researching enough. You need to go out there and dig for information. Ask people for advice.” – Merrilee Kick

“Get your pitch down so that when you talk to somebody, within one minute, they know who you are and what you do.” – Merrilee Kick

About Merrilee Kick:

Merrilee Kick is the CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion, the only woman-owned Distillery/Winery/Brewery combination in the United States. The company is in Carrollton, Texas,  and makes ready-to-drink cocktails called BuzzBallz, as well as spirits like rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, and some private label brands.  The products are sold in 49 states and 21 countries.  The company is family owned/operated and home to over 150 employees in the Dallas area.  The company supports education-based causes. 

She is a winner of the Dallas Business Journal’s 2019 Most Admired CEO Award, the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Southwest, EY's Winning Women Award 2016, Winner of the Enterprising Women's Award 2017 and 2020’s Top 20 Award, Winner of the WPO’s 50 Fastest companies, Ranked in the Top 50 DFW Businesses by D CEO Magazine in 2020, Winner of the Top Women in Grocery in 2020,  Winner of the 2020 Nielsen Brand Growth Award for Product of the Year Award-Spiked Beverage (BuzzTallz), and Winner of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Woman’s University.  

Merrilee has a BS/BA from the University of Montana, an MBA from Texas Woman’s University, and she is currently attending Harvard Business School.   She is a former high school teacher in Plano, Texas. 

Merrilee’s two sons, husband of 33 years, and daughter-in-law all work for the family business. 

Links:

Websites

https://www.buzzballz.com/

https://southern-champion.com/ 

LinkedIn: merrilee-kick-65328aa

Facebook: merrilee.kick

Twitter: kickmerrilee

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