Episode 64
July 27, 2021

A Category Worth the Shot

with David Crooch, Co-Founder and CEO of Ritual Zero Proof

About this episode

David Crooch is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ritual Zero Proof, the first American made spirit alternative featuring all natural botanicals that echo the flavor and burn of liquor without the alcohol or calories. In this episode, David talks with us about his entrepreneurial journey from growing up in Oklahoma, where he sold pages out of his coloring book to other kids at just four years old, to moving to Chicago, where he started a physical therapy business and later a bone broth company called Osteobroth, to launching Ritual Zero Proof with his two friends, Marcus and GG, in 2019. While sipping on a Smooth Sailor cocktail I made with a shot of Ritual rum alternative, David and I talked about the hundreds of iterations it took during the R&D process to land on the perfect recipe for each flavor, why the company has only one investor, and why he believes business isn't just business, it's personal.

This episode is sponsored by

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:
  • Why David wanted to create this company with a product that needed to be iterated hundreds and hundreds of times to get it right to be a non-alcoholic alternative that could be added to cocktails 
  • What the process of doing what so many people in the industry thought was impossible was like and how they persevered with this unique idea
  • What it was like launching a brand right before a pandemic and how they navigated those unusual challenges
  • What childhood in Oklahoma was like and what ways David was entrepreneurial very early on, learning valuable lessons about hard work even as a teenager
  • How he got into the fitness and physical therapy world and what led him to the CPG world after that
  • What advice he has for Co-Founders and for setting yourself up to be able to let go more easily as you scale and grow the company
  • What unique route they took for raising money and what advice David has for other founders when looking for non-traditional fundraising ideas
  • How David and his Co-Founders run the team and cultivate a company culture that is built on trust and respect and keeping it personal
  • What is next for Ritual and why they are confident that Ritual will become synonymous with nonalcoholic spirits
To Find Out More:



“The idea never left. And what came to me was, if we could actually make these taste like known spirits, if we could approximate the flavor profile of whiskey, of gin, tequila, rum, that'd be amazing.”

“The devil's in the details and the details matter. Let's get it right. So we kind of knew we were on to something really early on in the process and it became a matter of perfecting.”

“It's kind of like the Impossible Burger or almond milk. There's never going to be a world where the coffee joints don't sell alternative milks to go with your latte. And in no world, the grocery store is not going to have alternative meats. Now that it's there, people are buying it.” 

“What we've learned is you can't change consumer behavior. They're going to do the thing that they want to do. Maybe it's not real meat, maybe it's not real milk. Maybe it's a Ritual Margarita instead of the real thing.”

“If I could do things differently, it's prepare for more success because this category is on fire. This company is leading the charge in the United States for a category that's really needed. And nobody understood just how big this was going to get when we first started the company.”

“You just can't do it yourself. You certainly can't scale. And if you started off with the mindset of this is mine, mine, mine, it's really hard to give those pieces away and grow. And you have to be able to give things away to be able to grow.”

“There's nothing not personal about a startup. The whole 'It's just business' thing is complete bullshit. It's just personal. Keep it personal and become friends.”

“The most important thing you can have among your Founders and among your employees is trust.”

“It is so very gratifying to build something and see something out in the real world. But I think it's just worth it. I think it's a shame if you don't give some version of entrepreneurship a shot. It's a wonderful way to grow as a person.”

“It's a learning process. Your life is about learning. That's as important as the money you'll get from this, and you'll realize later ultimately more important than the money you'll get from this is how much you've learned, people you've met, the experiences you've had…”

Read the transcript

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