Side Hustles

Founder of $600 million start-up Boxed: If I had to make extra money, this is side-hustle I'd do now

Chieh Huang, founder and chief executive officer for Boxed.
Misha Friedman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Like Apple's, Google's and Amazon's founders before him, in 2013 Chieh Huang launched bulk grocery and household goods e-commerce company Boxed out of a garage — his parents' two-car garage in New Jersey, to be exact.

In 2018, Huang sold a minority stake in Boxed to Japan's Aeon Group, in a deal that valued the company at $600 million, according to The New York Times

But if Huang needed to make some extra money today, he has another side hustle idea.

"If I had the time, I would buy a used van and drive a grown-up ice cream truck," Huang tells CNBC Make It. "The truck would sell wine/alcohol-infused frozen treats, as well as regular cocktails." 

(Coolhaus food trucks meets Tipsy Scoop boozy ice cream perhaps?)

His "grown-up ice cream truck" could be a nice escape for people amid the Covid-19 pandemic, he says.

"Given all the angst that everyone is feeling at home, I'm sure full-grown adults would chase an ice cream truck down the street like they're 10 years old again if they knew it sold booze."

Huang may be on to something – during the pandemic, retail sales of beer and wine have spiked, CNBC reported. Off-premise sales of spirits in the U.S. went up 34.1% from last year for the nine-week period ending May 2, according to Nielsen data. Wine sales went up 30.1% and beer sales went up 12.6% during the same time.

"We've seen rises in [people making] really simple, two to three ingredient cocktails, anything from the negroni [to] the classic martini," Tom Spaven, brand director at Bacardi-owned gin brand Bombay Sapphire, told CNBC. "And we've seen a significant rise in sales of premium mixers."

(According to the World Health Organization, however, drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching Covid-19 or make the disease worse.)

Huang's mobile cocktail bar would require working out some logistics (like a liquor license, depending on the location of operation, as well as food safety practices and a way to check IDs). But the Boxed founder can already "imagine the visuals it would create."

"The commercial would practically shoot itself," he says. 

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