When 53-year-old Amit Singh and 32-year-old Marcin Malyszko met at a charity event in Southern California at the start of the pandemic, neither knew they’d become best friends and co-founders.
It was only after another chance encounter while walking their dogs a couple of weeks later that they realized how much they had in common: Their homes were just two blocks apart, and the pair immediately connected over their shared enthusiasm for cars.
Singh and Malyszko made plans to meet for drinks in Laguna Beach — an evening that would ultimately launch their exciting journey as co-founders of Mission Cocktails, the company behind ready-to-pour cocktails made with premium ingredients and a big give-back promise: 5% of all proceeds flow right back into the sourced-from communities.
In the four months since its launch, Mission Cocktails has already made quite a splash, garnering numerous awards, including double gold for its Mai Tai at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and double gold for its Old Fashioned at the 2023 SIP Awards.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Mission Cocktails
Entrepreneur sat down with Singh and Malyszko to learn more about their entrepreneurial journey — and what makes them the perfect business partners.
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“We have a lot of the same values, character and integrity.”
Neither Singh nor Malyszko grew up with “a silver platter handed to them.”
Singh’s parents were immigrants; he was raised in Canada and “grew up poor,” though he didn’t realize just how little money there was until he looked back. He would go on to become the first college graduate in his family, earning his degree in biology before pivoting to the sporting goods business.
Malyszko was raised in Chicago, where his mother cleaned houses and worked other odd jobs to support the family. When his father was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, Malyszko took a job as a bank teller at just 17 to help with the family’s expenses; he quickly climbed the ranks and became a private banker before 21.
“We come from nothing,” Malyszko says. “We take care of our family and still do to this day. We have a lot of the same values, character and integrity and [are committed to] just being good people.”
The commonalities between their upbringings and values became apparent immediately when Singh and Malyszko met again over drinks.
“We explored all these similarities,” Singh recalls, “[and] what we truly believe is important. I believe just being a better human being is an important value — and it’s a super simple one.”
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“The world is hurting, how do we make a difference?”
The duo’s friendship was “accelerated” by the pandemic, and within a year of their first meeting, they decided to launch a venture together, one that would align with their deeply entrenched desire to do good and give back.
“We thought a lot about, Okay, you know, the community, the world, is hurting, how do we make a difference?” Singh says. “And I hate to make it sound terrible or [like] a bad thing, but we’re like, Okay, we could write another check, and it makes you feel good, but how do we give back beyond that?“
So the pair resolved to start a business that would do just that, combining the philanthropic catalyst with their “passion for cocktails and socializing” to come up with Mission Cocktails. (The idea really crystallized “after the fourth or fifth cocktail,” Singh quips).
One of the first decisions to be made? Determining just how much of their profits they’d give back to the communities from which they source their ingredients.
“Everyone does 1%,” Malyszko recalls. “[So we said] ‘Let’s do two. No, let’s do three. No, no.’ Then we look at each other: ‘We’re like, what’s 3%?’ Then we start doing the math backward. And we’re like, ‘We want to create a perpetual giving machine, why don’t we do 5%?'”
From there, it was about executing that vision: committing to a bar-quality drink that they’d be proud to serve their friends and family and finding a partner that would be just as dedicated to using real ingredients in the product.
“We did find an amazing partner,” Malyszko says, “and we are very proud that everything is locally sourced within a hundred miles. It’s super important to us — our goal is of course to be a national brand, but in the short term, it is [valuable being] located in Southern California and knowing that we’re getting quality ingredients within a very close proximity.”
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The co-founders hired a mixologist and worked “tirelessly” to get the flavors just right in a recipe in a shaker, then to keep the drink’s integrity intact when it was replicated in a 5,000-liter vat.
Despite the stresses and pressures that launching a business can bring, Singh and Malyszko say they’ve been on the same page through it all — unable to recall a single disagreement between them.
“This goes back to choosing your partner wisely,” Singh says. “It’s amazing: We say we’re yin and yang — the yin yang symbols [are] half black, half white, intertwined, and [we have] very complementary skill sets. I’ve got my skill set; Marcin has his.”
The best friends and business partners envision a future full of promise — one that allows them to use those complementary strengths and keep putting their shared values back into the world.
“I think we can make a really big impact,” Malyszko says. “There’s so much good that we can do in a space that’s exciting and that we’re passionate about.”