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After 3 Years in Business, Liquid Death Was Valued at $700 Million. These Are the 3 Biggest Secrets to Its Founder's Success. Mike Cessario discusses how his background in music and advertising prepared him for founding Liquid Death.

By Robert Tuchman Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • There is power in having diverse experiences — including playing in a band.
  • Possessing creativity, business acumen and adept problem-solving skills is vital for establishing a successful business.
  • Early milestones matter, and there are advantages to persistence and resourcefulness.

This week on How Success Happens, I spoke with Mike Cessario, the founder and CEO of Liquid Death. Cessario has had an amazing career, and I was curious to find out about his journey as an entrepreneur, how his creative background played a role in Liquid Death's marketing and advertising, and how Liquid Death became the brand everyone's talking about.

You can listen to our full conversation above, and I've pulled out three key takeaways. I hope you find as much inspiration in Cessario's journey as I did.

1. There is power in having diverse experiences — including playing in a band

Cessario's journey is distinctive, transitioning from a punk rock skateboarder to an advertising major, ultimately reaching the pinnacle as CEO. Cessario's roots trace back to his upbringing just outside Philadelphia. Immersed in music and bands, he gleaned valuable entrepreneurial insights, especially the DIY ethos. His experience involved booking gigs, creating flyers and planning performances, instilling in him a sense of running a small business. This artistic and creative environment shaped his journey toward embracing roles that demanded innovative thinking and dynamic execution.

Timestamp — 0:00-4:08

Related: This Longtime Exec Launched Brands for Snoop Dogg and Erin Andrews. Here Are Her 3 Biggest Success Tips.

2. Possessing creativity, business acumen and adept problem-solving skills is vital for establishing a successful business

Cessario's background in advertising played a pivotal role in shaping the advertising campaigns of Liquid Death. Advertising taught Cessario the art of conceptual thinking—finding ingenious ways to outsmart a concept. At the same time, in his agency career, he found his ideas were the edgiest in the room — and that clients would choose safer ideas instead. In our interview, he talks about the rejected agency idea that eventually became the Liquid Death Country Club and how this creative approach became integral to Liquid Death. He shares his lightbulb moment, his passion for health and what gave him the push to found the company.

Timestamp — 7:57-27:29

Related: This Founder Pioneered the Organic Industry and Built a Leading Yogurt Producer. Here Are His Biggest Success Tips.

3. Early milestones matter, and there are advantages to persistence and resourcefulness

Cessario anticipated that Liquid Death would be a substantial undertaking. He delves into the journey to production and manufacturing, including his approach to securing canning capabilities without relying on traditional industry suppliers. Cold-calling various canning facilities was a pivotal step in this journey. Eventually, he arranged a meeting with an Austrian facility with the necessary canning capabilities, marking a significant milestone in the early stages of the company's development. Cessario discusses how the intriguing moniker "Liquid Death" sparked widespread social discussions.

Timestamp — 28:36-37:10

Related: Ready to Take the Leap? Aerin Lauder Shares Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.

Robert Tuchman

Entrepreneur Staff

Host of How Success Happens

Robert Tuchman is the host of Entrepreneur's How Success Happens podcast and founder of Amaze Media Labs the largest business creating podcasts for companies and brands. He built and sold two Inc. 500 companies: TSE Sports and Entertainment and Goviva acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

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