It isn’t easy to start up any business from scratch — but Tequila 512’s founder, Scott Willis, especially faced obstacles as a newcomer to the spirits industry in late 2012, when he he first launched the boozy company. That rocky road makes the $1 million Tequila 512 raised earlier this year from private investors, in an effort to expand, all the more remarkable (but perhaps not surprising, with a few other Austin food and beverage companies riding a wave of investor interest).
With the $1 million in funding, Willis plans to add employees, increase advertising and marketing budgets, and expand into new markets, according to a press release.
“Tequila 512 has come a long way since I boot-strapped the start of the company in 2012,” Willis said in the release. “The growing interest in tequila in general, coupled with the recognition Tequila 512 has gained for its outstanding quality, (has) fueled incredible growth for the company. We are ready to take the next steps to expand our business. This infusion of capital will make that possible.”
He first released a blanco tequila using volcanic spring water and estate-grown blue agave from Jalisco, Mexico, aiming to make it high quality but easily accessible. Last year, shortly after releasing a reposado tequila to the market, he found out Tequila 512’s blanco earned a double gold and “Best of Show” at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition — a win that validated all of his hard work.
So did the tremendous growth that Tequila 512 saw in 2015. The blanco and resposado, according to the release, are found in more than 300 bars and stores across the state, especially in Austin, where the bottles are available “in nearly every retail location… that sells distilled spirits.”
One day, they might be joined by an añejo tequila. At the moment, however, Willis’ biggest concern is making sure that Texas’ thirst for tequila (unsurprisingly, we are the second largest market for the Mexican spirit in the U.S.) is met. He’ll increase the amount of Tequila 512 available in the big cities, “as well as branch out into unserved areas of the state,” according to the press release.
For more information about Tequila 512, visit www.tequila512.com. For more information about tequila in general, check out this mystatesman.com column I wrote last year about the rise of the spirit as more than something to shoot at a college party.