Daniel Bartek: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Daniel Bartek, who co-founded Sage Mixology to add a new element to the ready-to-drink alcohol industry with a healthy twist. What was the inspiration for his business? Find out in today’s profile…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Sage Mixology was founded with a big vision. We strive to change the ready-to-drink alcohol industry forever by providing a revolutionary experience for our customers. When you drink Sage you will consume the freshest, best tasting premium mixed drink on the market. The distinctive Sage bottle separates our mix and vodka, which allows us to use fewer preservatives and produce a healthier drink. It’s a triple-distilled vodka on the outside, and 100% pure fruit juice on the inside – separated for purity and flavour. It’s the perfect mix when poured.    

As one of the co-founders at Sage I am currently responsible for day-to-day operations, which includes everything from finance and accounting to investor relations. My job is making sure that our business runs smoothly and that all of our suppliers are paid on time. I also enjoy my active role in business development, strategy and social media activities. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Starting my own business has been one my dreams for a very long time. After pursuing a career in professional hockey for many years I was looking for a new challenge in life. While at university I was headed towards a career in finance. It wasn’t until I met my current business partners, and started developing the original concept behind Sage, that made me change my career path away from professional sports and finance to entrepreneurship. Being able to successfully launch my first venture while still at university made me realize that anything is achievable and you don’t have to wait until later in your career to pursue your dreams.

At Sage we have identified a unique opportunity in the marketplace for developing a completely revolutionary beverage alcohol product that is unique in design, functionality and freshness. Coming from a third generation family of winemakers I saw this as an excellent opportunity for my first venture. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is waking up in the morning knowing that you are completely in charge of your own success. There is nowhere to hide and the decisions you make every day have a real impact. This level of responsibility, however, comes hand-in-hand with a high amount of stress. Nothing is certain when running your own business and you have to be ready to take calculated risks and face the consequences.       

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Eating too much Nutella and not getting enough exercise to justify that. 

To be completely honest there isn’t much work/life balance, especially in the early stages of your business. Things do get better, though, and you learn how to manage your time more efficiently and effectively.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself  working on new product launches for Sage and introducing our branded products to customers across North America and the rest of the world. I look forward to continue our innovation in a way that has never been done before. I hope our company will continue to challenge the status quo.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Being able to focus all your efforts and time on one thing was definitely one of the most challenging aspects of my early career. As a young professional in Canada you are presented with many great opportunities, but sometimes you have to make that decision and not look back. I fell in love with entrepreneurship and feel very fortunate for all the opportunities that came along with this career choice.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Most people define a formula for success and happiness in their own unique way. One of the most successful Canadian entrepreneurs that I’ve ever met has this formula engraved on a table in his office. It reads H=R/E, where happiness is equal to reality over expectations. To be truly successful you have to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Money most definitely does not equal happiness in my mind and has never served as my primary motivator. I see money merely as a by-product of success.   

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Holding our first finished prototype bottle in my hand for the first time is a moment I will hardly forget. People thought I must be crazy. I wouldn’t stop looking and touching these non-labeled plastic bottles. But I knew how much effort and time was spent on making these come alive from an idea to a fully functional product.

Next milestone will be to see our finished product on the shelves of the LCBO in May 2014.   

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Just follow your dreams and take the time to figure out what it is that truly motivates you professionally. Don’t settle for a career that doesn’t satisfy you both professionally and personally. Get involved and take the time to meet interesting people because you never know what that will lead you to. Always offer to help others without expecting payback. You would be surprised how much this could help you down the road. Lastly, surround yourself with high impact and inspiring people that are not afraid to challenge you.

Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I only moved to Toronto few months ago but I love the Queen West area where I live. There are so many cool places to go to. I haven’t had the time to explore the rest of the city as much, but if anyone is looking for an experience I would recommend O.Noir restaurant and their surprise menu.

When you’re not working how you do love to spend your “Me” time?
Outdoors and being active. I also love reading and exploring the city. This reminds me, I can’t wait for the summer!

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I love the East Coast, especially Halifax where I spent an amazing few years. It’s a place I will always love to visit. My next big trip is most likely somewhere in Asia. Tibet and the Himalayas are on my bucket list.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Anything but the Seinfeld bassline.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Playing professional hockey or working in finance. Being a world-renowned sushi chef would be an alternative.  

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Giving back is important. Most recently we supported the motionball365 in Toronto and Special Olympics association. We are definitely looking to get more involved in other events as we grow our business. On a personal front I love volunteering my time in the community, whether it’s talking to younger students and aspiring entrepreneurs or presenting at events and conferences. 

What to you is notable?
If I remember “it” a year from now, it is notable.

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