By AURI

For most of AURI’s clients, hard work and perseverance are critical to success. Most recently, food client, Panache, which makes a variety of infused apple juices and ciders, proved this. In the months leading up to the new year, Managing Partner, Ameeta Jaiswal-Dale and Marketing Director, Xavier Boulard’s efforts paid off when their company was named as an approved beverage vendor for Super Bowl LII.

Making the Cut

While the Super Bowl itself is a one-day event, the entire experience is so much more. Surrounding game day there are an estimated 200 parties and large-scale events, attended by more than 100,000 visitors who bring with them a projected economic impact of $400 million in revenue for the Twin Cities. That’s a lot of potential business and opportunities for companies who provide food and beverages as well as promotional materials and event planning.

While large and well-established businesses in these areas may already have connections helping gain Super Bowl projects, smaller businesses face more of a challenge. To give smaller and newer businesses a chance to compete, the Super Bowl Host Committee, in partnership with the National Football League, launched the Super Bowl LII Business Connect Diversity and Inclusion program in the fall of 2016. The program invited small and minority-owned Minnesota businesses to apply for Super Bowl LII contracting opportunities and interview through “Business Connect.”

Over a two-day period, upwards of 3,000 businesses applied and gave five-minute pitches to one of six judging panels. Not a small feat considering each business had to set up their product, give their pitch and clean up in that small window of time. The judges whittled down the field to 1,000 in the first round, then down to the top 100, which included Panache being named as an official beverage.

Ready to Run

For Panache, the main requirement of an official vendor is to be ready at all times and during all occasions to respond to any and all requests for Panache beverages. To help meet the additional requests for product Jaiswal-Dale shared, “We have scaled up our production of all infused flavors and are planning on hiring interns to service the needs during the months of January and February.”

With the NFL theme of “Bold North” for this Super Bowl, Panache stepped up and created a special beverage featuring the name. “We have introduced a new infusion called ‘BOLD NORTH’ made with Minnesota grown elderberries infused in fresh apple juice,” said Jaiswal-Dale. The elderberry gives the beverage a purple tint coordinating nicely with the host team’s Viking colors.

Teaming up with AURI

Earlier this year AURI coordinated a sensory panel where numerous clients, including Panache, were able to meet with community representatives and experts who sampled their products. According to AURI Project Development Director, Harold Stanislawski, “The sensory event was a great experience for different entrepreneurs to meet with an outstanding panel of judges and receive immediate feedback. These experiences are valuable to businesses like Panache.”

Meanwhile, AURI’s Scientist of Food and Nutrition, Lolly Occhino, coordinated analytical testing of the apple content for some of Panache’s products, mainly for its nutritional characteristics. “Now is a great time to be starting a new food business in Minnesota because there are more organizations and resources supporting start-ups and a growing desire for locally produced foods. Even larger retailers are looking for locally produced items, something that 10 years ago was found much less frequently.”

For Stanislawski, “One of the joys of working with companies like Panache is providing the assistance they need in a collaborative partnership, because we all learn from each other about value-added commodities.” AURI was able to connect Panache to people in the elderberry growing industry to assist in formulating the Bold North infusion beverage. “At AURI we work with multiple sectors in the state benefitting everyone from entrepreneurs to growers, packers to distributors and retailers who can all benefit from marketing a particular product.”

AURI continues to strive for success with its client partner by exploring new tastes and product lines containing the heirloom apples and unique flavors of Panache.

Panache founders, Ameeta Jaiswal-Dale and Xavier Boulard, scaled up their production of all infused flavors and are planning on staff to service the needs of Super Bowl LII.