51: Brewbarrel Co-founder Wolfgang Westermeier Talks About Their Kickstarter Journey
Podcasting is thirsty work and after doing a few podcasts around how the traditional wine industry is being disrupted by technology you could be forgiven for thinking “is this guy an alcoholic?” when I say today’s podcast is about a company called Brewbarrel. Here’s the thing: If anyone’s thought about dabbling in that world of home brew now that hipsters have made craft beers cool again you will be faced with a long list of equipment that you need to get up and running.
Brewbarrel offers two unique selling points. First of all, they deliver everything you need in a box that enables you to dip your toes in the world of homebrew and even drink it within a week. Second of all, they allow you to personalize your beer from over 100,000 different varieties.
I like nothing more than a cold beer to channel my inner Hemingway when writing an article. But what interested me is Brewbarrel is already huge in Europe but now have their sites set in the states. But this is not a homebrew podcast, this is a technology podcast. This German based company had an idea and they weren’t sure how to pursue it so they went through the Kickstarter journey and now technology has helped them achieve the success they have today.
Can you introduce yourselves to our listeners and tell us about what you do at Brewbarrel?
Wolfgang: My name is Wolfgang. I’m one of the three co-founders of Brewbarrel. I studied biology and agricultural sciences and therefore I’m responsible for everything regarding the product like the sourcing of the ingredients, the product development, as well as production of the ingredients.
Marc: Hi, I’m Marc. I’m currently the head of sales for the U.K and Ireland here at Brewbarrel. I also help with product development and I also do a lot of PR for the English language markets here at Brewbarrel.
Brewbarrel went from an idea to the success that it is today all from a Kickstarter campaign. Can you explain how the idea was born, what your end goal was and your experience with the whole Kickstarter campaign?
Marc: It all started two years before we started the campaign because at that time we launched our product was already in Germany. From the beginning, we always had a lot of calls and emails from abroad asking if we can ship the product over to England and the U.S. So we always had this idea to expand to foreign markets as well but we never really knew how to do that.
It’s also complicated with all the logistics you have to take care of to ship the product abroad. That’s how we came up with the idea for this Kickstarter campaign, so we get enough pre-orders from foreign markets so that we can handle all this complexity of the supply chain, the tax issues and everything with a big bulk order instead of a lot of small orders on the website.
Would Brewbarrel be the success it is today without that Kickstarter campaign?
Marc: It’s a great time for entrepreneurs because with Kickstarter, the internet, and all the opportunities it’s easier than ever before to start entrepreneurial ideas. I think the Kickstarter campaign helped us to develop our strategy for foreign markets, to build up the brand, to figure out which are the right markets for us, the right communication strategy. Kickstarter was a great tool to help us figure out these details.
Do you ship to the U.S or do you have any plans to?
Marc: We ship to all European countries and we would love to ship to the U.S but we are currently still not able. It’s a lifelong dream but it’s a little bit difficult for us as a start-up to get all the regulations done right. So currently we are looking for the right partner in the U.S who can help us set up like a common business so we can supply them and they take care of the regulations in the U.S.
What are your favorite beers?
Wolfgang: I personally like our IPA. It has a high amount of malt which makes a very nice body of the beer and it’s also then refined with aroma hops so it has a nice flavor.
Marc: Myself I’d have to say wheat beer with grapefruit. It’s a fruity beer but it’s almost like an IPA with even more of a fruity overtone.
For anyone listening who would like to give Brewbarrel a try what’s the best way to find out more information?
Marc: You can follow us on Twitter or get in contact through Facebook. You can get in contact with me at brewbarrel.com or simply visit us online from the U.K at www.brewbarrel.co.uk. We’re always there to answer anybody’s questions.
For anyone thinking of embarking on a similar journey what would you advise?
Wolfgang: I would advise to definitely take the leap of faith. For me, it’s the greatest journey I could ever imagine. Of course, every journey has ups and downs and sometimes you are afraid, but I would advise to look for great teammates so you don’t have to face all the challenges by yourself and then I think you will always find a solution.
What’s next for you guys?
Wolfgang: We are working on new beer styles and new flavors. We’re working on a gluten free version of beer. We will also supply the ingredients for those who want to brew bigger batches.
Marc: The bigger batches will be for those who already own home brewing equipment. Those who are already seasoned home brewers so to speak. We would allow them to brew forty pints at a time with their own equipment; we would just supply the ingredients.
Check Out Neil’s Column at INC. called Tomorrow’s Tech
Please also see an article from my column: How This Startup Delivered a Revolutionary Way to Brew Beer at Home