A growing thirst across Australia for top-quality tequila is a shot of good news (pun intended) for two Queensland entrepreneurs
A growing thirst across Australia for top-quality tequila is a shot of good news (pun intended) for two Queensland entrepreneurs

Tequila surge for business pair

A growing thirst across Australia for top-quality tequila is a shot of good news for two Queensland entrepreneurs. Pun intended!

Business partners Jesse Ross and Shane Tucker (illustrated) launched their Volando Group with a splash in late 2019, drawing a crowd of more than 600 to Pier 33 in Mooloolaba.

The timing, of course, was less than optimal as the pandemic soon forced them to stop importing the stuff from their partner in Mexico, a third-generation distiller.

But Ross told City Beat on Thursday that shipments resumed again in mid-2020 and the growth since then has been tremendous.

A modest intake of roughly 200 bottles a month in the middle of last year has now surged to about 1500 bottles a month, he said. The goal now is to double that figure by the end of the year.

Jesse Ross (left) and Shane Tucker, co-founders of Volando Group
Jesse Ross (left) and Shane Tucker, co-founders of Volando Group

That seems like an achievable target, with distribution deals in place with both Dan Murphy's and BWS.

Their firewater is also available in about 120 pubs and clubs across south east Queensland.

The pair aim to expand into Townsville and Cairns but are reluctant to make a tilt at Sydney and Melbourne markets while the uncertainty over COVID shutdowns continues to linger.

"We've had great local support and we just want to see that trend continue,'' Ross said about the business, which has just relocated to the Gold Coast and claims to be the only 100 per cent Aussie-owned enterprise of its kind.

Ross, a former member of the 2012 Olympic boxing team, and Tucker, a pro stock dragracer, got the inspiration for Volando (which means "flying'' in Spanish) after they launched a construction business in Texas in 2014.

Most of the workers were Hispanic and they would share tequila from across the border.

Back home in Australia, the two gents teamed up with two other now-departed business partners, making numerous trips to Mexico to scour agave plantations and sound out distillers.

Much like real champagne can only come from that region of France, tequila must be grown and produced in Mexico.

Ross hinted that several well-known investors may take an equity stake later this year in Volando, which he said remains narrowly in the black.

GAMES, SET & MATCH

A wildly successful Queensland start-up has filled a surprising void, stepping up to become the first sponsor of Aussie tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Fast-growing tech firm SafetyCulture, which started life in a Townsville garage and is now valued at more than $1.3bn, announced the backing this week as the Australian Open continues to captivate audiences.

Thanasi Kokkinakis
Thanasi Kokkinakis

In a neat bit of symmetry, it turns out that Tennis Australia has worked with the company for years, deploying the flagship app iAuditor to help organise a raft of operational challenges, including seating, catering and equipment.

Launched by business partners Luke Anear and Blake Pelling, SafetyCyulture unveiled the app in 2012 and it's now the most used of its kind in the world.

About 28,000 organisations around the globe deploy the firm's technology, including more than 300,000 who have installed iAuditor to carry out in excess of 600 million checks a year.

The company, which raised $60m from investors last year, has financial backing from the likes of former PM Malcolm Turnbull and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

Originally published as Tequila surge for business pair



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