Learn about the background history and founding team of VooDoo Spirits
VooDoo Spirits, inc. was founded late in 2012, and formed their Beninese subsidiary company La Distillerie Beninoise in early 2013. The company was founded by a group of 3 friends who originally met at UCLA as members of the UCLA Sailing Team. After graduating, they remained in contact with each other and with the existing members of the sailing team, and a year later were invited to compete alongisde current students representing UCLA in an annual week-long sailing competition in Northern France. One of the co-founders, Eric Newton, had since joined the Peace Corps after in Benin where he discovered the importance of sodabi in the daily life of Benin. He brought with him to France a bottle of sodabi to share with his boatmates. Co-founders Jake Muhleman and Kassie Klaritch were among his boatmates, and quickly grew intrigued by the flavor of this liquor. They soon aligned on the idea that sodabi could be exported to international markets. Since 2012, they’ve been working hard to make that vision a reality.
The founding team
Jake leverages a background in medical device engineering and is an inventor with 4 US patents in his name. He has a BS from MIT and Masters in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA, as well as an International MBA from EDHEC in Nice, France.
Eric is a former Peace Corps volunteer and Regional Coordinator in Benin. He leverages his experience as Corporate Strategy Associate at a Silicon Valley Fortune 500 tech company, a BA from UCLA and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Kassie leverages her experience as a Pricing Leader and former Financial Controller at Nielson in Geneva, Switzerland, and as Head of Marketing at a winery in Southern France. She has a Masters in International Business from INSEEC and a BA from UCLA.