Insight written by Peter Mitchell, originally published on September 28, 2021.
This semester I signed up for “Introduction to Brewing Art and Science,” where I have been learning the scientific foundation of beer brewing. As we discussed the craft brewing industry in class, I began to notice how craft breweries had similarities to many start-up companies that have pitched to The Rines Angel Fund.
There has been a gigantic boom in the craft brewing industry in the past 15 years. From 2016–2021 the number of breweries in the US increased by 11% and is predicted to increase by 7.4% in the next five years. The majority of breweries are sole proprietorships that consist of a small, dedicated team working around the clock to get their business up and running. It dawned on me that, in their early days, these breweries go through the same challenges as a traditional start up company. First, with a steady growth rate within the industry, there is fierce competition that each brewery will have to face. This means that these brewers need to differentiate themselves from the competition to gain market share. Second, with such a small, intimate team the employees often overwork themselves, the same way a founder of a new company must work day and night to make his idea come to life.
Another common hurdle that breweries and startups have in common is trying to find funding for their new ventures. While most tech startups will turn to angel investors, brewers usually take a different approach. Most brewers turn to debt-equity to start their businesses. Common options are Small Business Association (SBA) loans, Simple Term loans, and Line of Credit (LOC) loans, which allow the debtor to adjust the amount they borrow. There are also newer alternatives such as crowdfunding through companies such as CrowdBrewed. Crowdfunding allows multiple individuals to contribute money towards their favorite local breweries. This funding is primarily used to purchase the equipment and facilities needed for the brewing process.
Although it is unlikely we would see a craft brewery pitch to The Fund, I enjoyed drawing the connections between my brewing class and the world of entrepreneurs and startups. Brewing is a unique industry full of dedicated people who love what they do. It can sometimes be seen as a hobby instead of a career path, however with a unique brewing technique and a dedicated team, brewing can become a business.
Peter is a senior from Hopkinton, MA pursuing a degree in business administration with an option in finance. He joined the fund in order to get hands on investing experience and to gain unique insights from the course. Outside of Rines, Peter serves as a Dean’s Ambassador for the Dean of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. Peter has also completed the Platoon Leaders Course with the United States Marine Corps and will commission as a 2nd Lt. after graduating.