Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are Zack Silverman and Aaron Harowitz, who are putting a healthy spin on Canada’s national cocktail with their All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix. We caught up with the duo to find out what inspired the idea and where they see themselves in five years…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
ZS: Aaron and I are the founders and operators of Walter – Canada’s first All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix.
Why did you start your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
ZS: We recognized that the vast majority of Caesars are made with a mix that contains a bunch of ingredients we think have no business in our national cocktail. So we made Walter – a mix made here in Canada without the addition of things like MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours or flavours.
AH: Quite honestly, Zack and I just set out to make a product that we both really love and could really stand behind – so I’m always thrilled when I get great feedback from so many of our customers who seem to love Walter too.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
ZS: The best part of my day-to-day is the fact that no two days are alike, and I get to wear lots of different hats during the course of any given day. Often, that is also the most challenging part.
AH: I am thrilled to get to work with a crew of really creative, driven individuals every day – and we really do take a team approach to running Walter. Lately, I’ve been travelling a fair bit for work, so I’ve seen the inside of an airport terminal or two this year, which can wear on you.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
ZS: When my daughter says, “Dad! Stop working and come play.” As an entrepreneur, there is always something else I could/should be working on for the business so finding a work/life balance is a constant battle. I try to remember that the work will always be there but my daughter will only be two years old once.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
ZS: Continuing to grow Walter, perhaps adding a few new exciting and cool brand extensions.
AH: I’m focused on working hard to make Walter an iconic Canadian brand.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
ZS: Quite frankly, I didn’t really love being a lawyer and wasn’t inspired in my career path. So one day I took a huge risk, quit my job, and started a beverage company.
AH: Prior to Walter, I ran a Vancouver-based design studio and worked on numerous brand-focused products for other people. As I will happily tell anyone who asks, Walter is now “one for me.”
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
ZS: For me, success is sort of an ever-evolving thing and certainly something without a fixed destination. However, the one constant I keep striving for is to be really motivated and inspired every day. Ever since I made the switch to Walter, that has been a lot easier.
AH: The money = happiness argument doesn’t really hold true for me personally. For me, this following equation is far truer: beach = happiness.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
ZS: Probably the day I stopped being a lawyer and became a full-time beverage entrepreneur. It was also absolutely terrifying.
AH: The first day of our initial Walter production run. After a year of working on the business prior to the first-ever “official” bottle of Walter being made, it was a real “ok, so we are really doing this” kind of moment.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
ZS: Work hard… and then work even harder. Be hungry, always look forward, and simply be willing to do whatever it takes to make your vision a reality.
AH: Look for honest, sound council from a few good, trusted sources. Ask lots of questions, and then be ready to really listen to the answers. I’ve been very fortunate to have a few great mentors. That said, at the end of the day, realize that nobody can just do it for you, and that you have to really just trust your self and your vision above all else.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
ZS: There are just so many amazing restaurants across Canada, so picking one is just impossible. A few of my faves are: The Boulevard Oyster Bar (Vancouver), Nash Offcut Bar (Calgary), Canoe (Toronto – I actually got married there), Joe Beef (Montreal).
AH: I agree with Zack – there are way too many amazing places to choose favourites, but a few of my go-to spots are: The Belgard Kitchen (Vancouver), Model Milk (Calgary), Union (Toronto), The Albion Rooms (Ottawa), Maison Publique (Montreal). And happily all of them now serve Walter!
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
ZS: I’ve been teaching my daughter to swim. She’s getting pretty good.
AH: I manage to log a few kilometres on my bike each week. On the bike is often where some of my best thinking is done.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
ZS: Italy ranks pretty high for me. The food, the wine, the people, the history. It’s all pretty darn good.
AH: That is a totally loaded question. I’m always super keen to explore new cultures, new foods, new views. I’m off to Iceland later this year, so I am pretty excited about that.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
ZS: Pro athlete, obviously.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
ZS: As a company, Walter is very proud to be an OceanWise partner – especially as we are from Vancouver. Personally, some of the charities that my wife and I support are Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), The Stephen Lewis Foundation and UBC Athletics.
AH: This year, my fiancée and I chose to support Bikes Without Borders and The David Suzuki Foundation.
What to you is notable?
ZS: forward, creative thinking and nice watches.
AH: Honest intention and fearless execution.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
ZS: iPhone. And Dropbox!
AH: iPhone. Three charges per day worth!