Mark Cuban and the Beatbox Beverages founders talk during an episode of Beyond the Tank. (Image courtesy of Disney | ABC Television Group)

 

Austin-based BeatBox Beverages will be back on primetime TV on Oct. 20. Last fall, the company accepted a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban during an episode of “Shark Tank.” Now, Cuban is following up with them on a spinoff show called “Beyond the Tank.”

Cuban, who lives in Dallas, traveled to Austin this spring to talk one-on-three with BeatBox founders Justin Finches, Aimy Steadman and Brad Shultz. ABC teases the episode like this: “They now know they have to convince Mark they can find innovative and creative ways to bring in new customers or their business will stagnate.”

The “Beyond the Tank” crew spent about three days with the Beatbox team, most of it at various locations in Austin, said co-founder and CEO Justin Fenchel. He said it was surreal to have a film crew following them, along with all the attention that Cuban, a billionaire many people know from “Shark Tank” or from his role as owner of the Dallas Mavericks, generates when he’s out in public.

Justin Fenchel (courtesy image)

“We felt like little mini celebrities,” Fenchel said, laughing. “I don’t know that I want to get in the business of acting, but it was fun for that shot period.”

Fenchel said he can’t discuss much about what may be on the TV show because of contracts with ABC and the fact that he hasn’t seen the episode yet either to know for sure what fraction of the 20 or so hours of filming will make the final cut.

But he said that when BeatBox founders sat down with Cuban, Cuban was adamant that they have a normal business meeting. “He said ‘treat this as a real business meeting and ABC will edit it how they edit it.'”

The episode was originally slated to run Tuesday, Sept 29. But it got bumped back when ABC decided to test its new series “Quantico” in its place.

The good news for BeatBox, which puts its wine-based cocktails in a package that look like a boombox instead of a box of Franzia, is that the delay gives them more time to prepare for the likely influx of sales that follows an appearance on a popular network TV show.

After the company’s initial TV appearance on “Shark Tank,” the owners saw a limited boost in sales because Beatbox only had the right to distribute its alcohol product in Texas in about 100 stores. It was able to sell online in several other states.

Now, BeatBox has worked through some of those state alcohol regulations. It is in 18 states at more than 750 stores.

So they’re better suited to soak up the sales that may come after the boost in exposure.  Fenchel said that BeatBox has been ramping up production and reaching out to distributors and stores to encourage them to stock BeatBox in anticipation of a boost in sales. Meanwhile, Mark Cuban Companies has been helping ensure the company’s website is prepared to handle a lot of traffic.

Fenchel said that all of the attention generated by the company’s “Shark Tank” experience helped the company a lot — but he said that growing fast creates new challenges and expectations.

“You don’t want to be the company that got $1 million from Mark Cuban and didn’t do anything with it,” he said. “It’s that added pressure and intensity.”

BeatBox was founded by five University of Texas students who noticed a lot of their friends were drinking boring boxed wines at tailgating parties, house parties and on the lake. They wanted to gear a similar product toward millennials with more interesting flavors and smart marketing. The students bootstrapped their launch with $55,000 and later took a loan from friends and families before getting $1 million from Cuban.

When the BeatBox founders first stood before ABC’s Shark Tank panel last year, they called a fine wine from France “boring,” and pitched the sharks on their flavored wine cocktail concept. Shark Kevin O’Leary took a sip and had to be censored with his response — but the flavors wowed Cuban.

Cuban initially offered $600k for 30%. BeatBox balked. Cuban then offered $1 million for a third, and the deal was made. (See the segment below)

BeatBox Beverages is planning a “Beyond the Tank” viewing party at Bar 96 on Rainey Street on Oct. 20 from 7-10 p.m.