Written by Partake Brewing's Founder & CEO, Ted Fleming
It’s not easy starting a business, but one thing I know for sure as an entrepreneur, is that you end up with a lot of great stories that you can look back on and laugh at later (even if you weren’t laughing in the moment).
Four years ago, I began to pursue the idea of Partake Brewing by launching a campaign on Kickstarter with the goal of raising $10,000 to craft Partake’s first brew: a non-alcoholic IPA. That Kickstarter campaign has since evolved into the Partake Brewing you know today. What you probably don’t know, are some of the amusing instances that occurred in the early days of getting this company started.
Here are a few early memories with odd and unexpected lessons that I now look back and laugh at:
Anyone who has launched a Kickstarter campaign knows that including a compelling video can make all the difference for your campaign—but sometimes you need an extra set of hands to make it happen. I mean this literally.
You don’t need expensive equipment or fancy video editing software to make a great Kickstarter video, but you should invest in aspects that will make your business/product stand out on camera. If your idea involves a physical product—such as a delicious, craft non-alcoholic beer—it’s worth it to hire a hand model for close-up shots. Yes, hand models exist, they are excellent at what they do, and they know how to handle your product in a way that makes it look incredible on camera—trust me!
2. Check the Weather Before Riding A Cargo Bike to a Dragons’ Den Pitch
Almost one year after launching Partake’s Kickstarter campaign, I brought my big idea to CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind the day of the pitch, so it completely escaped my mind to check the weather that morning. I ended up riding the Partake Brewing cargo bike through a spring storm and getting pummeled by wind, rain, and waves from Lake Ontario on my way to the studio. When I arrived, I was completely soaked.
Lesson learned: Always check the weather before leaving home, especially when you’re going to pitch your business idea to potential investors.
3. Use Temperature-Controlled Trucks for Shipping to Avoid Beer Slushies
One lesson I’ve learned in starting a business is that some lessons need to be learned the hard way. One of these lessons for me, was beer slushies.
Beer freezes quickly when it doesn’t contain alcohol in it, and while beer slushies or “beergaritas” are enjoyable to some, they are less enjoyable if you’re expecting a non-slushy beer. The solution to this is temperature-controlled trucks, something that seems obvious in retrospect, but it took sipping on an unintended beer slushy to realize that something needed to be done differently.
Those “beer slushy” moments of realization are uncomfortable, but they do lead to lasting change.
4. In Craft Beer, Off-Spec Batches Are Called “Special Releases”
As an entrepreneur, you are certain to make mistakes while starting up your business. But not all your missteps will result in failure. Some errors might actually present you with new opportunities!
An example of this that often happens in craft beer, is “off-spec batches,” meaning that the brew’s taste didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to. It’s not that the beer isn’t drinkable, the taste is just different than what you intended. But there is opportunity in off-spec batches and it’s called a “Special Release.” While it might not be the beer you had planned, for someone out there, that limited edition “Special Release” might be the best beer they’ve ever tried.
The last four years of Partake Brewing have been a wild ride, especially those first couple of years that were filled with many unexpected surprises. Starting a business isn’t simple. In my case it involved hiring hand models, battling rainstorms, unintended beer slushies, and off-spec batches, but those early experiences are now stories that I happily reflect on and smile.And I hope reading this made you smile too!