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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Melanie: Bonjour, Sharks. My name is Melanie, and I’m the founder of Ghia. I was born and raised in Lyon, France, and now live in Los Angeles, California. I’m seeking $250,000 for a 5% equity stake in my company, Ghia.

Melanie: Sharks, how many times have you wanted to take a night off from booze, but the only option at the party was water? How many times have you wanted to avoid drinking and were asked if you’re sick or pregnant? I’m here to take the “were” out of drinking with Ghia.

Melanie: Ghia is delicious, fresh, bitter, and complex. It has notes of yuzu, rosemary, juicy riesling grapes, and a sharp kick of citrus. And it’s non-alcoholic. There are truly only good things in it. Ghia Spritz is the perfect accompaniment to any celebration without the hangover the next morning.

Melanie: So, how do you drink Ghia? You can mix it with your favorite bubbles or try one of our ready-made spritzes. Sharks, who is ready to get over the influence with Ghia?

Mark: Wow, how do we drink it? I want to try it.

Melanie: Let’s have one together. You can try one of our ready-made spritzes. This one is mixed with sparkling water, this one with our homemade ginger beer—my personal favorite—and lime and salt, our newest one.

Kevin: Oh, wow. How many calories are in this?

Melanie: About 50 in the whole thing.

Mark: No, this is really nice. I love this one. The idea is that it’s a non-alcoholic amaro, like an Italian drink akin to a Campari.

Melanie: Exactly, but an all-natural version, much lighter, and you know exactly what’s in it.

Kevin: Nice. So, what’s the cost of each one of these, and how much does it cost you to make?

Melanie: We recently increased our prices, and interestingly, our sales have gone up. Our bottle now retails for $38, containing 10 to 12 servings, and it costs us $6.50 to make. Our Spritz costs us $2.50 to make, and in 6 months, it will be 70 cents. It retails for $5.

Kevin: Let’s talk about the business. Hopefully, we’re going to hear some great sales numbers.

Melanie: Last year was our first calendar year, and we were 75% online due to the tail end of COVID. We made $2.5 million.

Kevin: What? How did you sell that $2.5 million?

Melanie: We just launched with an Instagram post, and it took off.

Mark: Did you make any money on that $2.5 million last year?

Melanie: Not yet, but we invested very heavily this year. We have a million dollars worth of inventory.

Kevin: How much did you lose last year?

Melanie: A little under a million dollars.

Mark: You lost a million. How much did you raise?

Melanie: We raised $3.5 million, and we’re currently raising $6.5 million.

Mark: What was the valuation at the $3.5 million raise?

Melanie: The first $900,000 was a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) at a $7.5 million valuation.

Damon: Your first $900,000 raised pre-revenue?

Melanie: Yes, from everyone I had ever worked for. I worked very hard at companies like Sweetgreen, Glossier, and Goldman Sachs. The people who had seen my work before invested.

Mark: How much do you still own of the business?

Melanie: I still own 57% of the business after this $6.5 million round.

Matt: Did you see Mark’s face when he took a sip? He didn’t like it.

JD: No, I fast-forwarded through that part of the tastings.

JD: Kevin liked it. He’s Mr. Wonderful, the wine guy, who made the offer. But Damon, Lori, and Mark didn’t like it. They said it would give them acid reflux.

JD: A lot of it turned out to be due to debt and convoluted valuations. I was giving up my equity to the Sharks, which caused differences in the pre-money valuation versus the offer. The design is sleek, and the ingredients are unique, though we didn’t discuss any proprietary mixtures. Trade secrets are better for formulations like this, rather than patents.

JD: Any thoughts on the trademark side, Matt?

Matt: I still don’t know what Ghia means.

JD: It sounds like a type of cheese.

Matt: I got multiple different meanings from a quick search. There are a lot of Ghia registrations at the USPTO in different classes, but she owns the registration in the non-alcoholic beverage category, which is Class 32. However, I didn’t see a registration in Class 35 for online retail. I’m a big proponent of filing in Class 35 if you can.

JD: Definitely. They have a nice site and are working on social media to get this to different chefs and restaurants, promoting a non-alcoholic aspect of menus, which is innovative. It’s a complex flavor, but she held her ground on the investment and didn’t get taken by a Shark. Good for her.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at