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Carol Pak

Makku

Carol is the founder and CEO of Makku. Leading up to Makku, she sat in the Ventures division of ZX Ventures (AB InBev), where she was responsible for a new product and category launch in China. Prior to ZX Ventures, she held operations and marketing roles in tech startups, the government, and a non-profit organization. She has a BA from the University of Michigan and and MBA from Columbia Business School.

 

What inspired you all to create this company?
I grew up in Flushing, Queens, NY, a predominantly Asian neighborhood.

 

Thus, I had memories of makgeolli (traditional Korean alcohol) since I was young, as I’d see makgeolli on restaurant tables whenever Korean elders would gather with their friends. However, that was the extent of what I knew about makgeolli as I never drank it myself.

 

Fast forward two decades later, on a family trip to Korea, my friends suggested we go to a makgeolli bar. I was surprised that there were entire bars dedicated solely to makgeolli, and that there were hundreds of makgeolli breweries all over Korea.

 

At this time, I happened to be working in the Ventures group for ZX Ventures (owned by AB InBev), and I knew that preferences for alcoholic beverages in the U.S were changing. Consumers were shifting away from beer and towards drinks with interesting flavor variations, heritage and brand stories.

 

I also witnessed the growing influence of Korean culture (K-food, K-pop, K-beauty) in the U.S. and thought it’d be a great time to introduce makgeolli, as our population is becoming increasingly diverse and global-minded.

 

I took a second trip to Korea to research makgeolli production, and then left my job a couple months later to start Makku.

 

What distinguishes your company and product in the market?
Currently, makgeolli only exists in small pockets of Korean communities around the U.S. There are a few brands that dominate the market, but they are all made with artificial flavorings and sugar, and the packaging/branding is not updated for the American consumer. We seek to contrast Makku with these other brands by making our product all-natural, true to makgeolli’s original ingredients and brewing techniques, and packaged for the American millennial – canned, with a modern design and a clean label.