Now our passion for craft beer meets our passion for staying connected to our friends and family.
Name: BrewFund, Inc.
Location: Johnson City, TN
Product / Service Offering: The Gift of Craft Beer at Local Breweries
Co-founder Interviewed: David Nelson
Other Key Management Team Members: Travis Rother
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I believe in loving my work. I need to be passionate about everything I do or I simply do not pursue it. Entrepreneurship is the natural choice for me because I can follow my passions and continuously build something from the ground up. For me, success is not simply measured by a salary. It is measured by growth, culture, and scale. I have chosen a 60 to 70-hour work week because I love what I do. How many non-entrepreneurs will ever claim that?
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Many of my friends and family live across the country. It is very difficult to stay connected to them and to be a part of their celebrations and achievements. Flowers, Edible Arrangements, and the existing gift options out there provide a very generic gift that is typically very female oriented. I wanted to give the gift that I know everyone wanted, including women! I wanted to give the gift of craft beer. Now our passion for craft beer meets our passion for staying connected to our friends and family.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
We have two primary customers with different needs. There are over 4,600+ breweries in the United States today. Each brewery needs a way to stand out from the crowd, bring more people through their doors, and connect with their customer base in unique ways. They also need to simplify their operations so they can spend their time doing what they do best: brewing amazing beer!
At the same time customers love to share the experiences of craft beer even when they cannot be with their friends. They also lack unique gift experiences to give their friends and family for birthdays, the holidays, or other life events. Now they can give more than a gift; they can give the craft beer experience.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Our application is extremely easy for the breweries and customers to use while still looking great. The part that makes us very different from our competitors is that the current BrewFund app is just a small piece of our overall platform. The value we add is time savings while increasing revenues in new ways.
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What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Balancing contract work and development of the BrewFund was the most difficult part about starting our new company. We bootstrapped the entire development through a strict schedule. This allowed us to keep moving forward on all projects and release the BrewFund.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
We spent a lot of time up front designing the app and concept. We then validated it by connecting with local breweries and potential users before we started building anything. This directed our development toward the features that were most desired. Being in the Johnson City area has also been a huge asset for our company. With the local breweries growing in the area, it has been extremely helpful being right down the road from them. They are also our best resource for other markets such as Asheville, Nashville, and the surrounding areas.
Interested in learning more about different resources? See our Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight Series.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We are just now beginning to get our financials and final pitch together to pursue funding. Our goal has been to develop the app to prove that breweries will adopt it and users will give the gift of beer. So far breweries love it and we are consistently seeing the gift of beer given for a variety of reasons! Now we want to scale quickly across the country.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
We are a proud Tennessee company that loves where we live. We would prefer to find funding in or nearby our region. We know there are tons of great resources in the area; however, access and understanding how best to find these resources are difficult. We would love to know more about how best to approach pursuing investment in the region.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Our success will be managed by our ability to scale. We are currently working to expand into multiple states, while continuing to develop new features that provide value to our breweries and customers. To solve this challenge, we have been building a network of sales professionals that we are connected to across the country. We currently have resources in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Indiana, and Washington. Investment will likely be the quickest path to expanding to all of these regions quickly. While we pursue funding, we are continuing to work on side projects to fund our own growth.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
The best advice I have been given is to treat everything you build with a strong skepticism. It is easy for us, as entrepreneurs, to get attached to our work. We forget that it is really about our customers and not what we have built. Through skepticism you can receive criticism easier and you are more likely to see your own product in a different light. Being critical leads to a better product for your customers and a better chance for success.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
The BrewFund app is just the beginning of our platform. Our mission behind the scenes is to make the process of promoting and running a brewery much easier and less time consuming, while helping them earn more money through on-site and digital sales.
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