The Where Are They Now series is an ongoing interview series conducted by the Target Accelerators team. Participating companies have been asked to share details about themselves and their brand after completing a Target Accelerators program.
Need a refresh on your sparkling water game? Grab a can of Sanzo, an Asian-inspired sparkling water brand, as we catch up with Sandro Roco, the brain behind the product line and Target Takeoff Food & Beverage cohort alum.
TA: How did being a part of a Target Accelerators program enhance or change your business?
Sandro: Internally, we’d felt like we were capable of handling an initial Target roll-out. But Target Accelerators gave us additional tools that I, as a first-time founder, felt were so valuable to initiating our relationship with Target. The coaching we received through the line review process was incredibly valuable. And being introduced to various teams within the larger organization gave us a better understanding of the capabilities brands have as well as the challenges that emerging brands face.
TA: What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur and what advice do you have for those just starting out?
Sandro: While there are incredible lows, the highs and the fulfillment of creating something and putting it out into the world are unparalleled. I don’t think I would have learned so much about myself otherwise. I’ve been blessed that this humble beverage company has taken me to places and allowed me to meet people I never imagined I would.
For those just starting out … very simply, founders have to be all in. Especially at the early stage when it is truly just you (and perhaps your cofounder), the world doesn’t know or really care about whatever it is that you’re creating. It takes other-worldly resourcefulness, conviction and resilience to keep going.
“Founders will get broken early and often, and the sooner folks accept that the journey will be long and windy, the better off you’ll be.”
Even if you’re in the fortunate position for your company to not just stick around but see growth, be prepared for that journey to be pretty lonely. There is a lot that you as a founder will have to carry by yourself. Your best friends and family, though they love you, ultimately have their own lives to live.
If after reading all of this, you think you still want to start a business, then welcome aboard!
TA: What’s next for you and/or your brand?
Sandro: Our team has been working on a really exciting collaboration that launched on October 11th. This collaboration is another intentional step in recognizing the larger cultural impact of the AAPI-community and we are incredibly proud to be a small part of big moments for our community.
Learn more about the collaboration HERE.
TA: Which one of your products is your favorite and why?
Sandro: This is a tough question because as a founder, I only launch flavors that I truly love and genuinely believe in! That said, Calamansi has a special place in my heart. Calamansi is often referred to as the “Golden Lime” – the perfect balance of lime with hints of tangerine – and it is a Filipino fruit. As a Filipino-American myself, this is a flavor I grew up loving and is an opportunity to honor my family’s heritage.
about the founder
Sandro Roco is a Queens-born, Filipino-American and the founder of Sanzo – the first Asian-inspired sparkling water born to deliver beverages that bridge the gap between beloved Asian flavors (that represent over 60% of the world’s population) and clean, modern labels. After graduating from Villanova University and working at a nuclear power plant engineer for three years, Sandro moved to New York City to work on the trading floor of J.P. Morgan. The seeds of Sanzo were planted a few years later when Sandro was twenty-nine and as head of growth for a men’s styling tech startup, was looking for a new challenge with a bigger mission behind it. In 2019, the first Sanzo lychee cans rolled off the production line in Brooklyn and Sandro hand-delivered every single one of the initial three-thousand cans himself. Since launch, the company has boasted 5x YoY growth, a >30% RPR, and has gained distribution in 3,500+ strategic retail doors.
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