by Anthony Sodd
August 14, 2019

The booze industry is massive — $1.4-trillion-a-year massive — and yet, it has been remarkably slow to join the digital world. SevenFifty is changing that, bringing the entire supply chain into one convenient marketplace. Despite their seemingly daunting task, the folks at the company are a pretty chill (and determined) lot, and we spent some time with them to see how one small company can modernize a behemoth industry — and do it in style.

 

SevenFifty Office
Photography by hannah cohen
sevenfifty offices
Photography by hannah cohen
SevenFifty Office
Photography by hannah cohen

 

FOUNDED: 2011

EMPLOYEES: 50, with a few additional employees working remotely 

WHAT THEY DO: SevenFifty is an end-to-end supply chain and communications platform connecting alcohol buyers, sellers and distributors. 

WHERE THEY DO IT: Flatiron District

SOMMELIER’S PARADISE: Everyone in the company gets an opportunity to train for a WSET diploma, a professional wine certification. 

BIG NAME CLIENTS: SevenFifty works with huge clients like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Whole Foods Market and the Republic National Distributing Company.

 

SevenFifty Employee CEO

SevenFifty Employee CEO

 

Aaron Sherman, CEO and Co-Founder

As the company’s CEO, Aaron oversees all aspects of business strategy, product and operations. A big part of his job is staying ahead of industry trends and ensuring the company is finding solutions to problems before anyone else realizes they even exist. 

BEYOND WORK: Aaron is an avid rock climber and when he’s not at The Cliffs at LIC, he’s out in the great outdoors exploring new crags. 

FAVORITE COCKTAIL: The Negroni 

 

You are the only sommelier-turned-tech entrepreneur we’ve had the pleasure of meeting — how did you go from there to here? 

I suppose we are probably a rare breed! I certainly didn’t envision myself running a technology company while I was building my career in wine. However, I did always have entrepreneurial aspirations, but I just thought I’d likely own a restaurant. I grew up in a family of restaurant professionals, so that community has always felt like home to me. Although the actual work of being a sommelier is quite different from what I do now, the biggest way my restaurant days prepared me for SevenFifty was instilling a work ethic that taught me how to work hard and set clear priorities, given the insufficient number of hours in a day to get the seemingly limitless amount of work completed. 
 

[...] despite the alcohol supply chain’s slow start in adopting technology, together we want to help the industry leapfrog to the forefront of innovation.”


SevenFifty has some big news. Can you tell me a bit about it? 

We’ve just recently announced a strategic alliance with the Beverage Media Group, which has historically been our largest competitor. They have an amazing history, having been in business for over 85 years, and have been driving the industry forward with their services for decades. The opportunity to join forces with them means we can collectively move more quickly and cover more ground than either of us would have as competitors. We share a vision for the industry and, despite the alcohol supply chain’s slow start in adopting technology, together we want to help the industry leapfrog to the forefront of innovation.

 

SevenFifty Employee

sevenfifty product

 

Lucy C., Growth Operations Manager

Lucy is responsible for making sure all marketing, sales enablement and customer success efforts go smoothly. 

BEYOND WORK: When she’s not working in the alcohol industry, Lucy is into … cheese! That is, making, tasting and recommending cheese.

 

What’s it like being in charge of growth at such a quickly growing company? 

It is exhilarating to be in a position where the opportunities are never-ending and the biggest problem is project prioritization. While there are growing pains and inevitable mistakes, it becomes easier and even fun to take them on with a supportive team that welcomes challenges. Since I started at SevenFifty almost three years ago, we have grown tremendously across our team, product offerings and approach. Now, we’re investing in the proper infrastructure for continued innovation in the industry, our people and products.
 

It is exhilarating to be in a position where the opportunities are never-ending and the biggest problem is project prioritization.”

 

Now to the question on everyone’s minds — does the team go out for drinks together after work?

We are spoiled, with a bar full of great selections of wine, beer, and spirits, not to mention multiple former bartenders from well-known establishments on staff. It’s seriously the best-stocked kitchen and pantry I’ve ever seen, and we have a constant influx of new beverages and snacks from traveling coworkers. So, most of the time, there’s really no need for us to even leave the building! But, when we do decide to leave our oasis, we’re also lucky enough to be in a central location, and a lot of NYC’s best and trendiest bars and restaurants are right down the street. 

 

sevenfifty happy hour

SevenFifty Employee

 

Hannah B., Director of Special Projects 

Hannah supports SevenFifty’s largest distributor partners with onboarding and integration management. 

BEYOND WORK: Hannah was once a professional gardener and when she’s not in the office, she’s probably got dirt under her fingernails.

 

You used to be in SevenFifty’s NYC office, but you now work remotely. What’s it like being a remote member of the team?

It’s awesome! I live in San Diego, but I keep the same working hours as the office. SevenFifty has able to accommodate my new remote working circumstances, and I have been remote for almost two years. I am fully supported in that arrangement and heading back to the office is something I am always excited about. So much of my role is collaborating and working with our team or speaking with clients, that there is rarely a day where I don’t spend at least a few hours in communication with the team. 

There’s no question that New York has the more established bar scene and the better Old Fashioned. San Diego does hold its own in craft beer, though, and I have been particularly impressed with the mezcal cocktails we get out there. 
 

SevenFifty has able to accommodate my new remote working circumstances, and I have been remote for almost two years.”


How do you communicate and stay in touch with your team from the West Coast?

Between project meetings, catching up with colleagues and working with our clients, I spend close to 50 percent of my time on phone or video conferences. Internally, Slack is a huge help in getting smaller items completed or quick questions answered. Our office Slack channel is informative, and at times hilarious, for us remote people. I typically come to the office for a week out of every 2-3 months, but visits can be more or less frequent depending on what projects are going on as well as my schedule.

 

SevenFifty Team

SevenFifty Employee

 

Noemi M., VP, Engineering 

Noemi makes sure the engineering team is running smoothly and effectively, and that all the engineers are happy and growing.

BEYOND WORK: Noemi likes to read and write fiction, even going so far as to study the art of storytelling. 

 

You’re brand new to the team — what made you want to work at SevenFifty?

Before joining here, I spent the last few years at a company of a very similar size and in some ways at a similar stage. But it was very placid. SevenFifty has that raw startup energy, deployed in an unusually thoughtful and empathetic manner. Here, the engineering team is very much part of the company at large. And socially, this is a super-inclusive group. You won’t see the engineers sticking to themselves in little clumps at company events or anything like that. 
 

SevenFifty has that raw startup energy, deployed in an unusually thoughtful and empathetic manner.”


What projects are you excited to take on? 

Our new partnership with Beverage Media Group opens up a world of possibilities. From a more internally-facing standpoint, our team will be growing, and I’m excited about some initiatives we have to make sure processes and communication grow with it. We’re adding a little bit of lightweight structure around how different teams collaborate to make sure everyone stays up to speed, and we can keep tabs on how projects are going and address challenges proactively. 

On the engineering team specifically, we’re letting our developers stretch their wings a bit by presenting them with opportunities to work on cross-functional initiatives that involve skill sets beyond programming. And we’re making it a priority to better facilitate remote work to give everyone on the team the flexibility to travel or simply work from home more frequently.

 

What’s one thing we wouldn’t expect about working at SevenFifty? 

As someone who keeps alcohol consumption to a minimum for health reasons, I was very anxious at first that this would be a booze-soaked culture. It’s actually quite the opposite, perhaps because we’re in the alcohol industry. While it’s not unusual for a bottle or two of nice wine to be cracked open on a Thursday or Friday afternoon, nobody blinks an eye if you prefer to sip on a can of LaCroix. The wine and beer are typically accompanied by cheese and fruit, and it’s an opportunity for chill conversation. The alcohol culture here is not at all about consumption in volume — rather, it’s very much about appreciating fine beverages.

 

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