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Home My Eller Experience Shadowing an Alum Start-Up

By John Jackson


John Jackson is a marketing and entrepreneurship major who will graduate in 2015.


John Jackson Headshot (1)

John Jackson. Photo courtesy of John Jackson.

I had a one-day externship with Bottle Breacher in Tucson. Bottle Breacher produces custom engraved bottle openers out of 50 caliber bullets.

I job shadowed both Eli and Jen Crane during my externship. Jen and Eli are co-founders of the company. As a growing entrepreneurial start-up, Bottle Breacher has a very flat management structure. Being a start-up company, most employees (including Jen and Eli) are asked to do a variety of tasks instead of just specializing in one or two things. Eli is the CEO of the company, but Jen has no official job title.

I am extremely interested in entrepreneurship and I hope to start my own company after graduation. Bottle Breacher was my first choice for an externship because it is a locally owned start-up owned by two University of Arizona grads. Bottle Breacher also recently appeared on the TV show Shark Tank and finalized a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary, which was an experience I was very interested in learning about.

I started my morning with Eli teaching me about the history and operations of the company. Bottle Breacher started with Eli putting stickers on 50 caliber bullets and selling them on Etsy. As the company grew, Eli sold his own motorcycle in order to purchase a laser engraver, significantly increasing his production. After learning about the operational side, I shadowed Jen to learn more about her day. For Jen, there is no such thing as a typical day and each day will come with different challenges. Jen first took me through Bottle Breacher’s marketing strategies and how that relates to different sales channels. Next I was able to take some photography for the website with Jen. I was also able to sit in on a phone call with Jen and Eli for a potential new outside firm to handle marketing tasks and customer fulfillment.

Since their appearance on Shark Tank Bottle Breacher has been extremely backed up because of the huge amount of orders that have been placed, so order fulfillment has been particularly important for the company. After going to out to lunch for an employee birthday, Jen and I went into greater depth about their experience on Shark Tank and where the company plans to expand. To end the day, Jen and I had an insightful conversation about the balance between personal life and business life.

Instead of learning about one or two specific topics, I was able to learn about many different topics that are necessary for entrepreneurs. A successful entrepreneur has to be willing to do anything and cannot be above anything, even taking out the trash. An entrepreneur must be able to understand marketing, operations, and finance all simultaneously, and I was able to get a taste of each part during the day. I also loved learning more about the “real” Shark Tank experience, which is much more intensive and laborious than what is seen on television. On a more personal level, it was also important for me to realize that recognition and understanding of personal strengths and weakness will lead to greater success. Eli and Jen work well together and use that to their advantage. It was very interesting to learn how Jen and Eli balance running a successful and ethical business with their personal and family life and I hope to apply similar practices to my own life as an entrepreneur.

Top image of Jen and Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher appearing on Shark Tank courtesy ABC.