Why entrepreneurs excel in niche markets — Seth Watson | Distillery of Modern Art

Seth Watson joins The Roadmap to discuss the importance of carving out your market niche as an entrepreneur

Welcome to another episode of The Roadmap on ASBN, where we bring inspiring stories of entrepreneurs and leaders that defied the odds on the path to business success. Today, host Ted Jenkin is joined by Seth Watson, founder and owner of the Distillery of Modern Art.

The Distillery of Modern Art, based in Chamblee, Georgia, combines local spirit-making with the pull and intrigue of an expertly curated gallery, creating an entirely new experience for lovers of drink and art. The company makes and sells its own vodka, gin, and whiskey, hosts events, and recently added a cocktail bar to its list of offerings.

Key Takeaways

1. Watson’s transition from a previous business in design and production for private events to founding a distillery is a classic entrepreneurial journey, highlighting the process of innovation and the blending of passions—craft spirits and hospitality. This underscores the value of leveraging past experiences to venture into new, innovative business models.

2. The strategic selection of the distillery’s location in an area with less competition near Atlanta demonstrates the importance of considering market saturation and growth potential in business planning. This approach not only helps in avoiding intense competition but also contributes to local economic development.

3. The Distillery of Modern Art serves as both an art gallery and a distillery, integrating the subjectivity and creativity of art with the science of spirit making. This unique combination emphasizes the role of thematic and conceptual thinking in creating differentiated and immersive customer experiences.

4. The journey of creating the distillery’s flagship products, including the challenges of recipe development and the focus on affordability and accessibility, highlights the intricacies of product development. Watson’s commitment to creating high-quality, affordable craft spirits that are approachable for a wide audience underlines the importance of market positioning and customer inclusivity.

5. The difficulties faced in raising capital during the pandemic and the strategic adjustments to the Distillery of Modern Art’s business model to ensure sustainability (e.g., incorporating a cocktail bar and focusing on events and hospitality) reflect the critical need for flexibility and resilience in entrepreneurship. It also illustrates the challenges and opportunities in navigating the three-tier distribution system in the alcohol industry.

"We did not wanna fall into some saturated market. We wanted to go to a place where we can help that city grow and really make our mark in an area and have things grow around us. So, being so close to Chamblee, traveling over there for food and drink, I realized that there was a pocket of an area that has yet to be developed, that we could actually make an impact on." — Seth Watson

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