Adam Callinan | Crain's Atlanta

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Adam Callinan

Background:  

Launched by cousins Adam Callinan and Matt Campbell in 2013, BottleKeeper is an insulated stainless steel container that’s designed to keep beer bottles colder, longer. Based in El Segundo, CA, BottleKeeper currently sells 2.5 products a minute and earns more than $2 million a month.

The Mistake:

Outsourcing something that I shouldn't have.

Prior to BottleKeeper, I was with a company that involved a lot of people, warehouses, delivery drivers and salespeople, so I had a hard time getting away from it all. When my cousin and I started BottleKeeper, I made a personal vow to not build a team for that very reason. Technology made that possible because it allowed us to connect all those pieces and build a scalable platform without needing people to operate it.

By 2016, we were doing a decent amount in revenue with no team members. My partner was at the back-end with our financials, accounting and inventory management, while I was handling the front-end with the marketing, branding and sales strategy. We were spending about $100,000 each month on Facebook ads at that point, but because I didn’t have enough time to oversee it as closely as I wanted to, we decided to outsource the work to a couple of different companies.

That turned out to be a problem.

Both of the companies’ incomes were dependent on how much we spent on ads - not on how effective the ads were - and it later became apparent that their goal was to spend as much money as possible. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to that, until things got out of control; we didn’t make any money in June of 2016 because they spent so much.

If you do have to outsource, make sure that you are both working towards the same goal.

The Lesson:

Don’t outsource something that, if handled wrong, could ruin your business.

I turned over the most important part of our business to another entity whose incentives were not in alignment with ours, and that was a big mistake; we were taking on 100 percent of the risk, while they weren’t taking on any. We ended up hiring someone internally who could handle this part of our business for us, and it’s been working out much, much better, because they’re playing on our team.

I do, however, recognize that you can’t always do things internally. So the other part of this lesson is this: If you do have to outsource, make sure that you are both working towards the same goal - or at least, just make sure they are the right fit for you.  

Follow BottleKeeper on Twitter at @TheBottleKeeper

​Photo courtesy of BottleKeeper.

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