Tag Archives: startup

Let’s Talk About Start Ups

The last few months I have been occupied by consulting, often with people in startup mode for operations. Nothing groundbreaking in these ideas, but this is where I hear a lot of conversations going.

Legal issues
Hire a lawyer, someone who specializes in beer law. Get your trademarks established if you have a unique name. Every week I hear a story about someone who intended to open with one name but had to change due to it existing elsewhere. Checking Google, Untappd, and trademark filings takes all of 5 minutes, save yourself the hassle later. I know of a brewery that currently is over 6 months of it’s processing of it’s TTB application because the person hired isn’t used to do the filings. I have done one, they are a pain in the butt so hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Have a Plan
Write a business plan and have someone knowledgable review it. Do your assumptions make sense? Do you understand the market? Your place within it?  With over 5,000 breweries in the United States and lots still trying to open you need to find your niche. Bring something unique to the table. There are over 13,000 wineries in the United States so I won’t say the market is oversaturated, but just because your friends all love your homebrew you can’t just expect to open and the world to beat a path to your door.

Taproom
Have a taproom and make it a reflection of your identity. I wrote why it matters for your brand a while back. It is also your most profitable sales location, if I told you you can make $5 per sale or $1 per sale which would you prefer? Yes there are extra headaches, but as an old mentor said to me taproom sales keep steady income that can fuel growth until your brand is large enough to distribute effectively. There are breweries operating for decades without a taproom going back and building one now because they realized they were leaving money on the table.

Brew it Right
Quality matters. Make it your #2 priority (after SAFETY)! I saw a social media post recently a brewery proudly displaying their new Kolsch which was as murky as a San Francisco night. Not getting into the cloudy beer issue, but if you are having a style that is known for brilliant clarity give it the time to happen. Too much sulphur, don’t sell it. In the end bad beer hurts the industry as a whole. And remember if you have enough money to go to GABF, you have enough money to build a lab.

People think beer is easy and especially on a homebrew scale it is, but if you want to make a living at it is hard work. You won’t get rich overnight, if at all. And if you aren’t doing the above succeeding will be all the more difficult.

Goals

One of my goals is getting back to writing on a more regular basis. Specifically writing about my experiences as we go through the process to open. There will be things that I can’t talk about it, but much I can and intended to try to share on at least a weekly basis.

This last week we had an informational meeting about the brewery. I had a presentation about the state of craft beer and how a brewery operation, more specifically how I want our brewery to operation. I went through steps to brewing, space required, beers I planned to offer and even a bit of detail on glassware. I reviewed rough price per pint and even sales numbers.

The information was well received, but the conversation it sparked we discovered that one of the people involved had a different vision for the project. I thought it brought up a necessary and important point. Everyone involved in a startup to be on the same page for where they want the project to go. If we had moved ahead without the issue was discovered it could have killed the project. At this point it’s early enough we can make some adjustments, but that we all needed to be in agreement on what goal we are aiming for.

All of this may lead to some changes in the plan, but we are early enough in to pivot and then move forward. Stronger because we understand each other and our goals. Communication is the key.

Another Journey Begins…

One of my wife’s favorite stories is how I got into brewing professionally. After many years of homebrewing and helping at homebrew shop she asked if I wanted to ever work at a brewery when we moved to North Carolina. I told her no that was too hard of work, I’d prefer to stick to writing and enjoying beer as a hobby. A few years later after working at another homebrew shop, on a beer app, and teaching beer education classes I finally ended up working for a brewery. After working at a brewery for a bit she asked if I wanted to open my own place and I said “no, that’s too much work, I don’t think so.” She laughed and reminded me of our past discussion.

So now I begin working on my brewery, after working for others for a biit. It’s not simply mine, there are some others who are interested in craft beer but little experience in the area. Something I provide in due quality.

I have only scratched the surface of the process and I am quite aware of the mountain of paperwork that awaits me. I look forward to my new adventure and sharing as much as I can on the process.