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Machu Picchu Energy: First-time exhibitor chronicles a 'surreal' Expo West experience

Daniel Scharff, CEO, Machu Picchu Energy
From choosing a booth to launching the product, CEO Daniel Scharff describes the stress and joy of preparing for and exhibiting at the trade show.

Our friend Peyton from Mezcla said, "Expo was a moooovie"—and she's right!

Expo West was a surreal experience. The announcements, anticipation, big release date, major names as well as hopeful newcomers and then, finally, the big show with all the glitz and glamour. And we'll replay it all in our minds for years to come.

But more than just a show to watch, importantly, it was stacked with buyers ready to meet and learn about our brand—exactly the jumpstart we needed.

This was my first year as an exhibitor. We launched Machu Picchu Energy, our organic energy drinks with category-leading taste, the highest quality ingredients and a strong social mission.

Expo can be overwhelming from booth selection (what size? what hall?) and design to product sampling and logistics, sales assets (one pagers a must!) and so much more. We eventually pieced it all together with the help of our experienced sales director, design agency and a helpful company to make all our booth assets. Although it was a lot of work and not without hiccups—our third-party logistics contractor lost half our product samples, whereabouts still unknown—in the end, we had a beautiful booth that represented our brand and mission well and created an ideal environment to offer samples of our organic energy drinks.

Our sales prep was heavy as well, and it paid off big time. I hit Expo's virtual platform hard: I messaged every relevant buyer, and if they didn't answer on the platform, at least I knew they were going. Then I messaged them on LinkedIn with our trade sheet and booth location. We scanned LinkedIn for any pitch opportunities or buyer announcements, and at the end, had a list of a few dozen focus buyers and brand partners with whom we wanted to connect, and we were accepted for a few 1:1 pitch meetings with major retailers.

Midway through the first day, I was already losing my voice from so many pitches when we got a BIG surprise! Our KeHE category manager Cas came by and awarded us a KeHE Golden Ticket. (Editor's note: The Golden Ticket allows brands to proceed in KeHE's onboarding process and receive promotional programs free of charge.) She's been so supportive of us, but we couldn't believe our luck. It gave us unbelievable energy for the rest of the day, and the rest of the show.

 First-time exhibitor chronicles a 'surreal' Expo West experience

Over the course of our three days exhibiting, we couldn't believe how many of our focus buyers came by the booth and had meaningful discussions with us—in person, in our booth environment that is so reflective of our brand story and outdoor lifestyle, with the surfboard our brand ambassador, John John Florence, used in his last competition.

I've never been so busy as I have been following the show. We've got a ton of follow ups and samples to get out, a busy road ahead of us. We're more excited than ever to grow this brand, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone again at the movie sequel next year in Anaheim.

Daniel Scharff is the CEO of Machu Picchu Energy (Miami, Florida), which is launching organic energy drinks and energy seltzers in April. The brand has pre-launch approvals with Erewhon, Central Market and Gopuff, and will be distributed by UNFI through its Upnext program and KeHE, where it is a Golden Ticket winner.

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