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The Director Behind the Ocean Eleven's Franchise Shares How His Storytelling Skills Helped Build His Liquor Startup Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh is trying to turn an obscure Bolivian spirit into a hot company.

By Joe Keohane

This story appears in the April 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Claudette Barius

Most people know Steven Soderbergh as the legendary director of the Ocean's Eleven franchise, Erin Brockovich, Magic Mike and more recently, The Knick. Few know that he's also the first American to import singani: an obscure, grape-based Bolivian liquor dating back some 500 years. Soderbergh fell in love with singani during a film shoot, and he spent six years securing a license to distribute it -- an effort complicated by the fact that the U.S. government had no existing category for the stuff. The tenacity paid off. His product, called Singani 63, is now in nearly 1,000 establishments in 22 key markets. And to keep growing, Soderbergh says, he'll use the same skills he learned from making films: storytelling, collaboration and a willingness to be wrong.

Related: 16 Celebrities Who Started Alcohol Companies

You've been a director for a long time. Has it influenced the way you run the company?