His journey included pre-med studies at Vanderbilt, roughnecking on oil rigs, earning geology and geophysics degrees from UT, starting an oil company, and running 300-man seismic crews in Venezuela and Columbia. He returned to Texas and started a drilling company in Houston, but quickly tired of “chasing the buck” and moved back to Austin, first working for the Environmental Protection Agency and then as a residential mortgage broker.
Working in the mortgage business, he started making flavored vodka to give as Christmas presents to his friends. Enthusiastic responses from both friends and strangers who tasted his customized drink prompted him to take the leap from amateur to pro as a vodka maker.
Potential investors, however, expressed doubt that he could get permits or a distributor, leaving him to go it alone. Their negativity didn’t stop him. He used his personal savings and 19 credit cards to put himself in business.