Laidlaw Scholars Ventures

Our Portfolio – Sool

Sool – Traditional Korean Alcohols with a Modern Twist

Sool’s mission is to globalize Korean alcohol in an accessible and inclusive way. Sool is the parent company of Makku and Sokku. Makku is a modern take on makgeolli, a traditional Korean alcohol made with rice, and also Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage. Soku is a light and bubbly ready-to-drink cocktail with a soju base. Made only with high-quality, all-natural ingredients, Sool drinks are perfect for after-work Netflix binges, weekend group karaoke, and everything in between.

Why We Invested

Laidlaw Scholars Ventures is delighted to announce that we have completed our first group of investments into an exciting set of companies. Covering sectors of consumer products, fintech and AI in medicine, the past few months have been a stunning confirmation of our hypothesis that the Laidlaw Scholars are starting businesses across a wide range of sectors and stages. It has been an absolute pleasure meeting numerous Founders and learning about their missions, and now, we are ready to announce one of our first set of completed investments.

Sool is the producer of America’s first craft makgeolli brand Makku. A delicious rice-based drink, it is known as the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea and is traditionally at the heart of celebrations in the country. Carol Pak, CEO of Sool and a Laidlaw Scholar, is bringing this piece of Korean history to the US market.

Modernising its appearance to bring it not only to the large Korean community in the US, but also the wider group of culturally curious individuals that are taking a huge interest in Korean culture as a result of recent phenomena Parasite, BTS and Squid Game – not to mention their amazing cuisine which continues to be discovered by more and more people across the world.

Makku can be purchased in various flavours including Blueberry, Mango or Passion Fruit, as well as the Original version, as Carol has deliberately sought to develop the product with a modern, fun and fresh twist. We visited a few vendors and encountered huge enthusiasm for the product, not only in terms of its taste and popularity amongst their customers, but also for bringing this piece of Korea to the market.

The brand has been built in the off-premise trade as it launched just before the onset of the pandemic when several potential restaurant and bar customers were closed, which is a really impressive feat. In addition to this, Carol’s never-ending work ethic meant that she took the opportunity of the lockdown to develop and launch a second drink brand. Soku is a ready-to-drink cocktail based on soju, another traditional Korean alcohol that is widely consumed across Asian markets, mixed with real fruit juice and sparkling water.

We saw the potential market opportunity as Korean media influences have grown in significance, coupled with the strong success in the team’s KPIs and revenue growth. However, the main driver of this investment was Carol. She has brought experience from the beverage industry and worked hard to build this business, surrounded by an impressive, all female leadership team, who are expanding the demand for their product in a competitive market space.

About the Laidlaw Scholar

Carol Pak is the Founder and CEO of Sool. Leading up to Sool, 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 organisation. She has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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