Meet Daniel Rodriguez, set to graduate in 2025 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and an Honors Minor. Beyond the classroom, Daniel is the founder of COSA Spirits, a venture aiming to revolutionize the spirits industry by blending culture and celebration into every sip.
Embarking on an Entrepreneurial Journey
Daniel’s journey into entrepreneurship started serendipitously when he stumbled into the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship during a gap between classes. The encounter led to a mentorship that propelled him into the world of business. Daniel met with Leatherby Center Director, Cynthia West, Ph.D., saying “We briefly discussed an idea that I had, and I was immediately connected with a mentor who guided me and my business. I’ve been working on my business from that moment onward.”
The inspiration for COSA Spirits struck when Daniel recognized a cultural opportunity in the pitfalls of marketing towards minority groups in the US. “That moment of realization hit me hard. I saw not just a market gap but a cultural opportunity—a chance to build a brand that could resonate with stories untold and achievements uncelebrated,” he says.
Key Decisions & Strategies
For Daniel, he says that “The toughest decision that I’ve made so far was in choosing between the various ideas that I think could be viable businesses. As someone who metabolizes stress and loves taking on a lot of work, I want to do it all, but that approach would likely hold back the success of COSA.” The first step was diving in one hundred percent on COSA Spirits.
Starting his own business posed significant challenges, primarily figuring out where to begin and aligning the mission with a sustainable business structure. Daniel immersed himself in literature and sought guidance from mentors like Kevin Meredith, who introduced him to strategic frameworks, which became his roadmap to turning his idea into reality.
Daniel attributes the success of COSA Spirits to prioritizing authenticity and social impact. By sourcing stories and ingredients that reflect the rich tapestry of minority cultures, they’ve carved out a unique niche in the competitive spirits industry.
Daniel’s entrepreneurial journey has been a whirlwind of growth, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and the willingness to pivot in response to feedback. “”I wish I’d known that perfect can sometimes be the enemy of progress,” says Daniel. He acknowledges that perfection can hinder progress and wishes he had known this valuable lesson when he first started.
Daniel’s Chapman Experience & Its Influence
Reflecting on his Chapman experience, Daniel expresses gratitude for the supportive community, innovative professors, and overall experience provided by the Argyros College. “The Argyros College has given me a robust foundation in all aspects of business that I’ve been able to tie and apply to my experiences as a person and a developing entrepreneur,” he says. “The courses are structured to challenge conventional thinking and promote innovation. I’m certain I’ll leave the Argyros College with the skills to be a capable business leader and entrepreneur.”
Daniel believes his involvement in campus organizations has contributed to his entrepreneurial journey. “I’m trying to be as involved as I can,” he says. And he is. Daniel is a member of the Chapman Entrepreneurship Organization, the Marketing Association, and the Honors Program. “I’ve also tried my hand at intramural volleyball – I have my work cut out for me there. I think that there’s a lesson to be learned that can be applied to one’s entrepreneurial journey, no matter the source.”
Daniel’s advice for students or recent graduates looking to take an entrepreneurial path is to start where they are, leverage their passion, and develop a well-thought-out plan: “Be ambitious y’all. Walking through the halls, I’m met with students capable of extraordinary feats. Set your sights high, and arm yourselves with the fortitude to achieve the ambitious dreams you are capable of.”