Detail: Cleveland Whiskey LLC is an innovative start-up company founded in July 2009 by Tom Lix, an experienced entrepreneur who started and sold several software and technology-related businesses back in his native Boston. Lix and Cleveland Whiskey use advanced technology to accelerate the maturation of whiskey, so that it will take weeks instead of years to produce their designer spirits.
Growth Challenge: By 2009, Lix had already spent considerable time and effort developing his concept in a makeshift basement lab. In order to attract serious investors, Lix needed to upgrade his test laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment that included temperature and pressure sensors, water filtration, plumbing, computerized control systems and other laboratory test equipment. It would take the right financing, space and expertise to make Cleveland Whiskey a reality.
How We Worked With Them: While searching for funding, Lix found the Cuyahoga County New Product Development Loan Fund, administered by MAGNET. From there it was a short step to renting lab and office space in The Incubator at MAGNET, which also gave him close proximity and easy access to MAGNET’s Product Design & Development (PDD) engineering team.
The PDD team helped Lix create detailed lab construction plans with 3D CAD software while supervising two Cleveland State University engineering interns as they installed the lab equipment. They also created the interface between the sensors that gather data in the stainless steel whiskey vats. The accompanying data analysis program has helped Lix and MAGNET overcome and regulate temperature and pressure issues in the tanks.
Outcome: The test lab has worked very well for Lix and Cleveland Whiskey as they look to patent their technology and assemble funding towards full commercial production. The company has already received funding from various foundations and funds in Cuyahoga County and their technology is already sharply reduced their whiskey’s time-to-market production compared to typical premium whiskey production.
Cleveland Whiskey hit store shelves in March of 2013.