Luke Battiloro is the founder of Vavoom Vodka and an entrepreneur who wears many hats in various industries. Battiloro is passionate about every side of business; from production to engineering, software, technology, design, creativity, and philanthropy, he is involved every step of the way.
Battiloro was inspired to start Vavoom when he was heading to a social event and wanted to bring a bottle of liquor for the hosts. While walking through the liquor store, he noticed that there were not any aesthetically appealing bottles of vodka to choose from. Battiloro wanted to show up with a fun conversation piece. Since he could not find one, he decided to develop his only vodka brand with a unique bottle that could fill this need. He channeled his Italian background by learning how to sculpt an extremely detailed sculpture of a woman’s body out of clay. Then, he learned to pour bronze over the sculpture. Battiloro then took the bottle to glass manufacturers, and he found someone who could turn his artwork into a bottle. Vavoom became a piece of art, and branding became the focus for Vavoom.
The bottle, itself, was a fun passion project for Battiloro that started with an idea to create something unique, but it spun into a much bigger deal. He put years of development into the vodka to make sure that it not only lived up to the beautiful bottle, but exceeded expectations. Soon enough, Battiloro entered a $29 billion industry, just for distilled spirits in the U.S. alone, according to a Forbes article. He wanted to take on the privately-held equity firms that owned the majority of the alcohol brands. The distributors primarily control this industry, or as Battiloro refers to them as the “gate-keepers to making money”. Since the end of prohibition, wholesalers have sold to distributors, who sell to retailers. Each tier takes about 30 percent of the profit, but Battiloro had a completely untraditional strategy in mind.
Vavoom Vodka was made available directly to consumers, exclusively online. With COVID-19, the entire industry paradigm shifted, and big-name alcohol companies have had to face the challenge of selling online. This put Vavoom on a level playing ground with some of the biggest private equity companies in the world, just because Battiloro already knew how to sell online.
Vavoom, however, was not Battiloro’s first business venture. Prior to creating the high-end vodka brand, he was already an entrepreneur working with many different companies. Battiloro’s main company focused on Internet marketing, where he sold CBD and dietary supplements on a large scale. This platform is where he gained the majority of his technology background, since he had to develop everything for himself. Battiloro even built his own CRM software from scratch to service his merchant processing company, since this was before programs like Shopify existed to simplify these tasks.
Using his wide-ranging knowledge and experience, Battiloro also has been a consultant for a number of businesses. His consulting services were primarily on the Internet marketing side, but he has also assisted with everything from production lines, to customer services, to human resources. Battiloro’s most noteworthy services were showing companies how to drive significantly higher traffic in sales to their websites. To do this, he sets up a company’s SEO, Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram. He is also a Shopify partner, a Google partner, and an iOS app developer. Battiloro defines himself as a bit of a nerd with all of these tech abilities. His relationship and reputation with clients were that if he tells them what to do and how to execute it, they can be assured that it will work. The consultant’s infamous saying was, “If you get a merchant account up, I will fill it up,” meaning that he would fill their bank account with sales from their website.
Battiloro’s CBD and supplement company also led him to get involved in very intense medical research. He enjoys chemical engineering and even created his own formula to an anti-opioid supplement, which reduces the mental and physical craving for opioids, and is a substitution to the pharmaceutical drug Suboxone. The formula has been in the works for two years, and it has just been released to a few rehab centers to begin testing. Since Battiloro already had a respected reputation in the supplement industry, he sent his formula to a few big companies and simply gave it to them to make and distribute. He did not do this project for money, so he is giving it away in hopes that the companies will produce it, and it will reach and help more people. Battiloro says he wants to see the formula reach its potential of saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
Battiloro currently works with a medical company to develop products that produce inter-oral delivery of supplements by spraying the substance under the tongue, a technology that seems light-years ahead of the pharmaceutical industry. Through his work, he speaks to doctors and lead cancer researchers on a daily basis about immune deficiency, which is the leading cause of cancer cells replicating in the body. While this may seem unrelated to some of his current business ventures, it is very relevant to his nonprofit, I Choose to Live.
I Choose to Live is a nonprofit that was inspired by one of Battiloro’s employees and a very good friend who had cancer. The organization bases its purpose on the premise that cancer is about the fight. Cancer patients receive radiation treatments and chemotherapy, but many outside factors in their lives will affect how their neurological system works and how their body accepts these treatments. Patients with a lot of stress in their lives will not be capable of fighting to the best of their abilities, so this is where I Choose to Live comes into the picture. The organization wants people with cancer to have a fair fight for their lives. To do this, the foundation is set up to reach out to cancer patients and fund their bills to relieve stress. Of course, they have medical bills, but I Choose to Live also wants to take care of daily bills, such as house payments, car payments, and more. I Choose to Live sells shirts to fundraise, and for friends and family to show their support for their loved ones who are battling cancer. Battiloro says that showing emotional support has been proven to show increases in the immune system and its ability to fight cancer.
In addition to his own nonprofit, Battiloro is also part of an organization that was started by one of his best friends called The Other Side Academy. The academy was created as an alternative to prison and an opportunity for people facing jail to live in a community and learn life skills. The academy treats its members as students, instead of prisoners, and teaches them the values of life while holding them accountable for their actions. Battiloro was originally involved as the lead of business development, but now he runs the organization’s online outreach through Facebook and Instagram marketing, with the intent of attracting students to the academy.
Battiloro says, “I get to do this every Thursday; this is my version of church.” He adds, “I wake up every morning and ask how I can give back, or how I can pull someone up today. The feeling that I get from helping someone is so much better than financial and material gain.”