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05/21/2022

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Synopsis

The trend of eco-friendly and eco-conscious living shows no sign of fading away. Consumers everywhere have begun to demand new products with more natural ingredients that are better for them and the environment. Demand for more natural cosmetics and personal care products has shaken the cosmetics industry in particular.  

Deodorants and antiperspirants are no exception here. Pit Liquor is one of the many brands looking to serve customers in search of chemical-free deodorant. Its creative and effective spray deodorant is powered by overproofed spirits – such as vodka and whiskey – that eliminate odor causing bacteria. With effortlessly cool branding, a growing customer base, and strong growth projections, Pit Liquor could do very well in the eco-friendly niche. 

Pit Liquor’s current Wefunder raise has been rated a Neutral Deal by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Price

Pit Liquor’s current funding round has a pre-money valuation of $7.05 million. The company completed a raise in April 2021 that brought in $553,598 at a valuation of $5.8 million. Pit Liquor earned $817,288 revenue in 2021. Given its recent revenue, the company has a revenue-to-valuation multiple of 8.6x. That figure is below average compared to the natural cosmetics industry average. Pit Liquor’s valuation is incredibly fair given its revenue growth, market traction, and revenue multiple. 

Market

Pit Liquor operates primarily in the US deodorant market and particularly in the growing niche of the natural deodorant market. Products within the natural deodorant market rely on cornstarch, arrowroot powder, coconut oil, and other naturally occurring compounds to neutralize odor-producing bacteria and absorb wetness. The general US deodorant market was valued at a massive $5.7 trillion with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%. In 2018, however, the natural deodorant market was only valued at $62.9 million with a CAGR of 14.1%. Pit Liquor’s market is therefore much narrower than a more traditional brand of deodorant, though this is offset by the market’s strong growth rate. As the natural deodorant market grows, Pit Liquor could establish itself as a household name. 

Overall, Pit Liquor’s addressable market is small but quickly growing, and the company has a variety of opportunities to further differentiate itself. While this is not a winner-takes-all market, Pit Liquor could succeed in the deodorant market through its unique branding, partnerships, and early traction. 

Team

Pit Liquor co-founder and CEO Erica Feucht established Pit Liquor to solve frustrations she had with traditional deodorant while pregnant. Feucht struggled to find a product that was effective without potentially harmful or toxic ingredients. Her passion fueled Pit Liquor’s early growth and development. However, Feucht lacks formal startup or product development experience. Past experience in writing, editing, and administration, however, demonstrate her strong attention to detail and ability to execute. Feucht holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Colorado in Denver. 

Erica’s husband, Jason Feucht, serves as the co-founder and head of innovation at Pit Liquor. Jason, driven by innovation and creativity, found hand sanitizer as a possible solution for Erica’s frustrations and then developed a more natural deodorant product relying on overproofed spirits to eliminate bad-smelling bacteria. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Colorado School of Mines. Before Pit Liquor, Jason held a variety of information technology, technical writing, and project management positions. 

Erica and Jason have expanded their team greatly since their last round. Henry Mouton joins Pit Liquor as a COO, followed by Carter Nance as the CMO, Shena Lee as the creative director, and Melanie Allen as the director of social media. They are also helped with brand development and media expansion through their advisors, Bud Michael, Michaelangelo Moran, David Berry, Mason Pereira, and Neil Riddell

Such significant team growth will help Pit Liquor to gain traction in the market as it expands sales, outreach, and customer engagement efforts. Pit Liquor’s CEO is generally inexperienced though and new to the consumer goods and products market. Feucht might need additional executive leadership support to ensure company growth and product development. As of now Pit Liquor’s team is young and the founders are not seasoned entrepreneurs, which adds to risk factors Pit Liquor faces as it aims to grow into a successful company.

Differentiators

The market for deodorant is large and the demand for more natural alternatives is scaling quickly. Major market players in the more natural deodorant space include Native, Aesop, Tom’s, Dr. Squatch, and Ursa Major, to name a few. Pit Liquor, however, is one of the first to use overproof alcohol as a natural alternative to the chemicals often found in deodorant. Pit Liquor charges $24.00 for 3.3oz spray-on deodorant or $16.00 for 1.6oz roll-on deodorant. These prices fall between the overall range offered by competitors. Native, Tom’s, and Dr. Squatch are more affordable, ranging between $5.99 to $13.00 per 2oz to 3.0oz natural deodorant stick. Aesop and Ursa Major are more high end with prices that range between $18.00 and $35.00 per 1.7oz product. Pit Liquor then is not the most or least affordable option.. Additionally, Pit Liquor offers a spray-on deodorant option, which is relatively unusual compared to the traditional roll-on or stick deodorant options. Spray-on capabilities likely allow for more precise application with ease.   Finally, Pit Liquor’s branding is inclusive, gender neutral, and modern, embracing all people as potential customers rather than catering to just a handful of buyers. 

Despite the company’s strong branding, it may be difficult for Pit Liquor to differentiate itself from other well-known natural deodorant brands. While Pit Liquor boasts natural and clean ingredients, some consumers might not recognize its uniqueness or be interested in using overproofed alcohol products on their underarms. Pit Liquor will be unable to patent its formula and might struggle to remain competitive among other, more well-established brands in the natural deodorant market. While the company has developed a unique product, a lack of defensibility within a crowded market is likely to limit the impact of Pit Liquor’s deodorant.

Performance

Pit Liquor previously raised more than $900,000 to fuel its growth and expansion efforts. Since its last raise, Pit Liquor has enjoyed high revenue and customer base growth.  The company has outperformed past milestones and shows no sign of slowing down. 

Pit Liquor’s revenue grew by 184% from $287,521 in 2019 to $817,288 in 2020. The company projects earning $2 million in revenue by the end of 2022. While Pit Liquor has yet to achieve profitability, it is fast approaching profitability with its high profit margins. Pit Liquor’s profit margin in retail channels averages at 86.4%, and its wholesale averages at 67.5%, which is very high for products in the consumer product and goods sector. 

Pit Liquor established a partnership with Noun Ventures, an accelerator company, to revamp its visual design. Noun Ventures has guided other packaged goods companies to success before, which is a good sign for Pit Liquor. The company’s products seem well received by buyers, sporting high ratings on Pit Liquor’s website and Amazon. Between its traction and financials, Pit Liquor shows many signs of being on the right track.

Risks

Overall, Pit Liquor’s investment risk level is low. Pit Liquor faces market and differentiation risk due to the competitive landscape  of the natural deodorant industry. The company may struggle to stand out among established and trusted brands. 

Additionally, Pit Liquor is unable to patent any of the technology or formula for its spray deodorant, leaving the company potentially vulnerable to new competitors relying on overproofed spirits for a natural deodorant alternative. While this is not a winner-takes-all market, Pit Liquor will have to expand into growing niches to maintain its hold on the market.

Updates Since Last Round

Since Pit Liquor’s last crowdfunding round, it has made significant progress and met key development milestones. The company’s valuation has seen a moderate increase from $5.8 million during its last round to $7.05 million. This is reasonable, as Pit Liquor’s revenue grew from less than $290,000 in 2019 to more than $810,000 in 2020. Pit Liquor boasts a 2.5x year-over-year average sales increase to date. Additionally, Pit Liquor raised pricing across its entire product line and received no push back. The company’s prices now more closely align with mid-tier to high-end natural deodorant alternatives. Fair and average pricing, given industry trends, communicates the value of Pit Liquor’s products. 

Since its last round, Pit Liquor has hired a number of key members, including a COO, CMO, creative director, and director of social media. The company continues to engage customers through online social media marketing. Pit Liquor’s team has worked hard to create more effective marketing, adding a short message service and additional new sales channels to optimize its site capabilities. Its branding is consistent across all touchpoints to further enrich the customer experience, build brand loyalty, and develop a cult following. The team has also partnered with Noun Ventures, a retail accelerator of sorts, to re-design all of their visual content, including packaging. Highly successful consumer packaged goods brands have come out of Noun Ventures, and Pit Liquor could be the next. 

Finally, Pit Liquor has expanded into more retail stores and has ramped up product development efforts to meet the needs of more customers. It plans to improve product sampling efforts in stores and localize paid marketing efforts to feel like a large player in key markets. Ideally, this play will encourage more retailers to stock Pit Liquor products and ensure the success of current retail partners. 

Bearish Outlook

Pit Liquor’s biggest concerns are rooted in its team, fierce competition, differentiation abilities, and competitive market. Pit Liquor’s founder is passionate but lacks needed leadership experience in the consumer product and goods or cosmetics sector. Feucht also has no previous startup or upper management positions. As a CEO, she is largely untested. While Pit Liquor has brought on additional team members to focus on branding and product development, it might need additional leadership support as the company scales. 

Pit Liquor operates in a crowded market where legacy brands dominate. Name recognition is often vital for product adoption and ensuring brand loyalty. As a relatively new company with a very innovative offering, Pit Liquor could struggle to convert new customers if its marketing and branding techniques fall short. To avoid being one of many, Pit Liquor will need to further differentiate itself moving forward and continue acquiring more of the market share.

Bullish Outlook

Pit Liquor is exceeding past goals, creating loyal customers, exploring new marketing strategies, diversifying its offering, and getting serious about serving its customers. The company’s revenue has grown significantly. It enjoys very high product margins, boasts a 2.5x year-over-year sales increase, and has grown its team to meet expansion needs. Pit Liquor has also grown its distribution channels and scaled impressively. 

The competition in this industry is fierce, but it is not a winner-takes-all industry. Pit Liquor has developed an innovative approach to tackling underarm sweat in a natural way with eye-catching branding and packaging. Pit Liquor’s customer base is growing and becoming more loyal, as indicated by its strong financials. The company has many niches to expand into and the ability to capitalize on current health trends in the cosmetics industry.

Executive Summary

Pit Liquor is a natural deodorant brand focused on using effective and naturally occurring ingredients. Its leadership team is strong and has expanded recently to support current growth efforts. Pit Liquor has significantly grown its revenue, marketing efforts, and product line since its last raise on Wefunder. While Pit Liquor has yet to achieve profitability, the company is young and building necessary partnerships to achieve profitability quickly in the future. Additionally, the company’s current valuation is fair given its traction.

At the same time, Pit Liquor operates in a very crowded market. While its product is innovative, the company may struggle to compete against more comfortably conventional and familiar competitors. Pit Liquor’s founding team is also largely inexperienced and may not have the necessary skills to grow the company substantially or lead it to an exit. For these reasons, Pit Liquor is a Neutral Deal. 

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd analyst report or rating for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com

Analysis written by Carolyn Price, March 28, 2022.

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