The local maker of an all-natural Bloody Mary mix distilled her dream about the business into a cohesive pitch that won over the judges and the audience at the Pop-Up Pitch Room competition at South by Southwest this weekend.
Catherine Stiles, owner of the spicy mix she calls Barbecue Wife, took home both the main prize of the $10,000 business grant and the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. The Pop-Up Pitch Room is the brainchild of Boston Beer Co., the brewery behind Samuel Adams beers and Brewing the American Dream, a philanthropic program that fueled the creation of the competition.
“I’m still in shock and so very humbled by the win. I was both the judges’ selection and the People’s Choice selection, so it was a surreal day,” Stiles said via email.
She was the head of one of five Austin-based food and beverage small businesses that competed in the Pop-Up Pitch Room, with each business owner giving two-minute pitches about their projects.
Samuel Adams’ Brewing the American Dream — which also released a collaboration beer at the event with locally located Infamous Brewing— “provides micro-lending, coaching and mentoring to food, beverage, and craft brewing small business owners nationwide and welcomed Grand Prize and People’s Choice winner Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix to its national network of innovative and passionate entrepreneurs,” according to a news release.
The other participants in the Pop-Up Pitch Room competition include Joe’s Microgreens, Banner Distilling, FOND Bone Broth and GFY Kitchen. Stiles, however, presented the best pitch.
She has been producing the Bloody Mary mix since 2015 using the barbecue sauce from her husband Shane’s restaurant, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. The result is a perfectly balanced savory mixture of smoke and heat and is available at a variety of Austin retailers, including Whole Foods, Breed & Co, and Twin Liquors.
And if you’re looking for some Bloody Mary goodness at the rest of the fest this week, Barbecue Wife will be served at Rachael Ray’s SXSW party.