Geoffrey Deen Hits a Homerun with Hardball Cider
Geoffrey Deen, never imagined he’d be working on his family’s fifth-generation farm in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania (“When I was a kid, I told my parents, ‘There’s no way I am going to be a farmer.’”). He never expected to be invited onto the Rachael Ray Show to pitch a startup business or that he’d win $10,000 in prize money in the OnDeck Seal of Approval Contest, featured on that episode. And nowhere in his realm of possibility did Deen see that he’d get a personal meeting with the hugely successful businesswoman and venture capitalist, Barbara Corcoran, made famous by ABC’s Shark Tank. But all of that happened. And just a few weeks ago, Deen gave notice at Verizon Wireless, where he managed the wireless retail supply chain out of corporate, to pour himself wholly into his young business—Hardball Cider, which he launched in the summer of 2013.
Hardball Cider is a craft cidery, based in the Lehigh Valley, offering a variety of hard ciders made from a blend of apples grown on Deen’s family farm and, as needed, other locally sourced varieties. No concentrate, artificial colors, or artificial flavors adulterate the ciders. Each cider is named for a baseball term: Fastball, Curveball, Splitter, Sunday Hop, and so forth. Recently the ciders became more widely available in Pennsylvania through beer distributors, at select bars, and Wegman’s supermarkets. Beginning in 2016, Deen was fortunate to establish relationships with the major ballparks in Eastern PA, including Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies), Coca-Cola Park (Lehigh Valley IronPigs), First Energy Stadium (Reading Fightin' Phils) and PNC Field (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders). Continuing with the 2017 season, Hardball Cider will be available at these concession stands, which traditionally have offered only a variety of beers for alcoholic beverage consumption during a game.
Hardball Cider represents a culmination of Deen’s skills and passions. The 2004 Moravian College grad played baseball for the college, coached softball here, and designed his own major in business information systems, which includes management of supply chains, a skill relevant to his startup. He loves the outdoors, and he’s always liked making things. “With Hardball Cider, I checked off a whole bunch of interests,” says Deen.
The $10,000 in prize money and consultation with Corcoran are helping Deen cover all his bases on his way to success. “It’s all been so surreal,” says Deen whose appearance on the Rachael Ray Show happened rather serendipitously. “I was scrolling through Facebook one day, and I saw a sponsored ad from OnDeck Capital about entering a contest to win $10,000 and a chance to meet with Barbara Corcoran,” explains Deen. “I clicked through, filled out the application and submitted it. A couple of weeks later I got an email that I thought was spam, and then I received a call from OnDeck. A few days later, I heard from the Rachael Ray Show, and then I was on my way to New York for the taping on November 16. It all happened so fast.
“Being on the show was nerve-wracking. So much is going on around you, it’s disorienting. I had to make my pitch in 30 seconds, so I needed to work hard to focus,” adds Deen.
On Thursday, January 26th, Deen met with Corcoran at OnDeck headquarters in NYC. “Barbara was incredible to speak with,” says Deen. “She is the perfect balance of straight-forward businesswoman mixed with just the right amount of humor. Her many years of experience investing in and consulting with other small business owners and entrepreneurs proved to be invaluable as we discussed some of the challenges that I am faced with at Hardball Cider and came up with solutions to address each one.”
Passion, skill, smarts, creativity, serendipity, hard work, a willingness to listen to experts and to follow a lead regardless of how far-fetched it might seem—Geoff Deen has brought all of these important elements to his startup. And to Geoff, we raise a glass to his success.
To learn more about Hardball Cider, where to purchase it, and upcoming events (Hardball Cider is sponsoring the Iron Pigs game and fireworks on May 28), visit the website.