Those who have creative ideas can bring them to reality by differentiating their product from competitors, the founder of Belvedere Vodka told a group of inventors, entrepreneurs and business leaders gathered at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Steve Gill of Belvedere Vodka was keynote speaker Wednesday at the Innovation Expo. The annual conference is sponsored by the Sioux Falls-based Enterprise Institute and brings together entrepreneurs.

Gill and his business partner, Eddie Phillips, launched Belvedere Vodka in 1996, sparking an industry revolution with their line of luxury vodka. Vodka had no luxury brands at the time, said Gill, and he saw the potential for one in the marketplace.

“You need to develop a truly superior and different product,” Gill said. “If it’s been done before, redefine it or don’t do it.”

Being different from competitors is key, Gill told the group.

“If you don’t differentiate yourself, you become a commodity,” he said.

Messages should continuously be repeated so it sticks with consumers, Gill said.

Belvedere Vodka began with small ads in a few publications. By the time it became a worldwide brand, Belvedere was advertising on a regular basis in major magazines and newspapers.

“We grew into a $100 million business with 12 people, Gill said.

Photo by saital.

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