Josh Hare of Hops and Grain Talks About His MicroBrewery
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Abilene, TX. Lived there most of my life until graduating from college.
What university did you go to?
I went to Abilene Christian University. Graduated with a degree in Eduction and a minor in Environmental Science. I also spent 3 years in the ACU College of Business Administration.
What brought you to Austin?
I moved to Austin from Boulder, CO as an aspiring triathlete. I had a number of years experience in specialty retail and upon moving here, met with a local entrepreneur and opened a specialty running store in East Austin called Rogue Equipment. I served as the general manager of the store for two years before leaving to open a microbrewery.
What is the idea behind your startup?
The idea behind my startup is to provide handcrafted beer and dog treats to the people of the Hill Country making sustainable decisions both in terms of the environment and the business. All of our beers are packaged into aluminum cans, the most recyclable container on the planet. We handcraft our dog treats form the malted barley that has been used in the brewing process. Brewing has stripped the grain of it’s sugar but a significant portion of fiber and protein still remain.
What need does it fulfill?
There is an underserved craft beer market in Austin with absolutely no brewery packaging their product in cans. Many of the outdoor activities and festivals that take place in Austin prohibit glass. Craft beer in cans is seeing incredible sales growth and many attribute this to the ease and portability of aluminum cans.
What exactly does your product do?
My products provide a high-quality local option that saves energy and supports locally by allowing great margins for retail and restaurant establishments.
Who is it for?
The beer is for anyone of legal drinking age looking for a full flavored, handcrafted beer. The dog treats are for anyone looking for a healthy and local alternative to many of the sugar and preservative filled dog treats that are currently on the market.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?
The most challenging aspect of starting the business has been the fundraising. There have been many economic factors that have made it fairly challenging to find investors. Because we chose to avoid any debt financing and offered a fairly low entry investment option it has required a substantially larger amount of meetings and presentations that would have otherwise been required.
What is the next step for you and your startup?
The next step is to raise the remaining investment capital to cover operating expenses during the first year. The equipment has been purchased and the warehouse space has been secured. Both of these pieces will come to fruition in December and the brewery will begin operating in January of 2011.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
My biggest piece of advice is to get to know the community that you plan to market to. Get to know your customers and find out what communities they are a part of. There is sure to be a common thread. Lastly, utilize social media to the utmost. It’s free and an incredibly effective way to create a personal connection with your customers.
What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
I have found many of the local Austin websites and discussion forums to be very helpful in researching my target market. There are a number of magazines that cater to the active community and these have been very helpful in the start up phases.