Non-Conformists are entrepreneurs, innovators, and social change-makers -- living and working in the Cape Fear region. They are the people forging new paths with their ideas, innovations, and actions. This series gives readers a glimpse into their thinking, habits, and insights about originality and entrepreneurship.
ROB KUCHAR: Wine Merchant, Entrepreneur, Creator of Wine Water.
Rob Kuchar is the co-founder and owner of Wine Water, the first wine innovation in the beverage industry that fuses wine and pure sparkling water to create a first-of-its-kind wine x water hybrid designed for the active consumer. After spending over two decades in the wine business, Rob and his wife Amy decided that it was time to create a new category and in 2019, Wine Water was born.
He is without a doubt, a Non-Conformist.
In your opinion what is the most innovative & original idea or thought you’ve seen in the Cape Fear region?
I may be a bit biased on this one, but I would have to say The Wine Water Category that was created by our team.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At this time, most of my days are filled with strategic meetings, whether via in person, phone or virtual. In order to ensure each day is productive, I have a rolling high-level priority list that sets daily direction by keeping the big picture in mind. I also have a task list of details that I need to get to, unfortunately that often gets pushed due to the extreme growth our team is creating right now but we make it work. The key to my process above is that our team is constructed as an OSM (Offsetting Strengths Model). So, my team is often completing tasks/projects that are on my list without me even realizing it. I am often happy when reaching out to delegate something only to find out one of our team leaders has already completed that.
What’s the most original idea you’ve had?
I’d definitely have to give myself credit for the Wine Water Category on this one. It’s something that didn’t previously exist before but has an incredible amount of growth potential.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
Starting my wine business with nearly nothing - - I had a credit card, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a mini-storage unit.
What do you think it takes to stand out these days?
I’d have to say that you need to embody authentic originality. It’s what sets people apart from the masses.
How do you bring your ideas to life?
I have a meditative type of internal process. To me, our imaginations are real. As concepts come to mind that I feel have merit, I start an internal communication process that takes some time to play out. That process either dims or highlights the concept in my consciousness. If highlighted, then I sit with a blank sheet of paper and begin to discuss action steps that need to happen next. That process often leads to a high-level business vision for the concept. The first few action steps usually determine the level of life that is contained within the concept. From there, it always turns into some sort of team effort to ensure the concept isn’t short lived.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One thing that excites me is when individuals think for themselves and have a clear concept of liberty.
What is a habit of yours that makes you productive?
Implementing what I call the 80/20 rule. This rule is applied most importantly to my health. 80% of the time I ensure my exercise, sleep and nutrition is proper. 20% of the time I roll with the circumstances within reason, of course. This process ensures that I have a clear mind, energy, and excitement to remain focused consistently without fatigue.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to reverse engineer my vision to the point where the stepping stones for right now are clear. I’ve learned to not concern myself with the stepping stones of tomorrow. They will be clear once today is complete. This ensures no energy is wasted on brainstorming on multiple scenarios that will never happen.
What’s the best advice you’ve received that you followed?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is - where you are in five years largely depends on the books you read and the people you’ve spent your time with.
Tell us something true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Our illusion of free will is but ignorance of the causes which make us act.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focus on what I can impact with my focus right now and allow my team the space to do the same. For this strategy, I call it the 20/80 rule. The direction I set for the team is the 20% of their days/weeks/years. The 80% is their opportunity to have ownership and implementation of their creative abilities. My vision requires a team effort to achieve. Team inherently must contain a spirit of volunteerism, meaning nothing is forced. As a team we set the direction, ensure everyone knows their roles, and then get into motion. The most important asset to me is time. If you want people to act like and owner, let them own what you believe to be their #1 asset- time! This strategy has allowed my business to grow exponentially, because we are not wasting time, energy, and resources on management techniques that are restrictive. At the same time, our expansion is much quicker because we are moving faster by being freer. The clearest example of this is that our team grew our business footprint from 5 states to 45 states in 24 months during a global pandemic. That is an impossible task to most. My team made it look easy!
What is one failure you’ve had and how did you overcome it?
Not properly funding my company. I grew my team with experts in finance and company structure, then began treating them as my teacher as they executed their role.
What new project are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on creating an international business platform. To date, my companies have focused on sales in the US. The creation of the Wine Water Category has given us the products to expand globally and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Signing up in Amway, the largest and best multi-level marketing business based in Grand Rapids, MI. This venture helped develop me as an entrepreneur. The education structure and mentorship system within Amway is fantastic for any aspiring entrepreneur to learn what it takes to succeed on your own. Unfortunately, largely our higher education system in the US is focused on how to work for someone else. Amway taught me about the foundational economic system of the US is Free Enterprise, not Capitalism or Socialism.
What is one piece of software, app, or gadget that you use that is essential?
Most definitely my iPhone
What are you reading now?
Tell us about somewhere you traveled and what you learned?
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill (my favorite author). Napoleon Hill was empowered by Andrew Carnegie to deliver the first organized Science of Personal Achievement to the people by connecting Napoleon to all of the successful businesspeople of his era. The Law of Success is a perfect framework for any aspiring entrepreneur for knowing what is important to focus on in their personal development. Additionally, these businesspeople were working within the Free Enterprise system, as it was still the economic system in the US at that time, the early 1900’s. Thus, true business principles were used to achieve financial independence, as apposed to capitalism/socialism which focuses largely on principles of how to succeed within corporate America.
What's your favorite quote?
"Adversity is the antidote."