There really is nothing like an ice cold beer but, dealing with stale beer in a glass growler can be a huge pain.
Grab a Growlerwerks uKeg and have fresh beer anytime, anywhere.
To find out more behind how Growlerwerks got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Growlerwerks co-founder, Shawn Huff
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Growlerwerks co-founder Shawn Huff. There's something about getting outdoors that makes you crave a tasty beer, but when storing freshly poured craft beer in a glass growler, chances are it’s going to lose some of its gusto by the time you’re ready to drink it. Growlerwerks is a company saving beer enthusiasts by introducing the uKeg, a growler designed to perfectly store beer so that it’s freshness is never lost. Having successfully completed one of the most successful Kickstarters to date, raising well over 1.5 million dollars, it’s no wonder such a fantastic product idea has taken off. Not only is Growlerwerks a savior of the beer industry, it’s perfect for outdoors/travel enthusiasts who want to enjoy a fresh beer after a day on the trail or mountain without having to worry about stale, skunked swill.
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What is Growlerwerks all about?
“We’re entrepreneurs and we’re a product innovation company and we launched the uKeg which is a revolutionary beer growler and really turned into a spaceship for any craft beverage that you want to take home, keep fresh, and share with your friends over time…”
How did you come up with the idea for the uKeg and Growlerwerks?
“The aha moment came from an experience of drinking some flat, stale, beer that had passed its prime in a standard glass growler. It was a local brewery here in Oregon, a brewery called Boneyard… I had a growler filled in Oregon and it was delicious the first day I tried it and two days later it had gotten flat and stale. The flavor profile that I had been enjoying had been completely ruined and I thought to myself ‘there has to be a better way to do this…”
What was the next step from that ‘a-ha’ moment?
"The first step was I started looking to see what else was out there and it turns out I wasn’t the first person to think of pressurized growlers… I was looking at it and started to with some friends of mine who are design engineers and, those are my two co-founders Brian Sonnichsen and Evan Rege. The first thing we did was started testing available options out there and, this testing involved drinking beer and how we can make the experience better…”
What is your background, did you always know you wanted to start a business like this?
“Not really, my background is in engineering but I was in the alternative energy industry when I met my partners I was working for a hydrogen power company. We were trying to save the world through energy efficiency and now we’re trying to save the world from sale beer…”
What did you do to make the uKeg market ready?
“...We didn’t have a background in consumer products but, we did have a background in drinking beer and we all love the craft experience… There’s an art to it and there’s even an art to the brewing equipment...we wanted to be made with honest materials and we wanted to make it look like it was something that came from a brewery...Making something that was as pleasing to store your beer in as drinking your beer is something we focused on…”
Was it a shock to you successfully raising over 1.5 million dollars with one of the most successful Kickstarter Campaigns?
“Well, we knew we had a good solution to this problem that everyone’s experiencing… There are more and more microbreweries starting up out there and the quality of the beer was getting really good but it was mostly stranded because they’re locked out of distribution or they don’t bottle and package… When we were pitching this idea to people that we knew and everyone loved it so we know it was something that people would like. What the Kickstarter platform allowed us to do is take the idea to the public and let beer drinkers decided where they liked it or not and it turned out they liked it…”
Is there anything you did that you think helped you have such a successful campaign?
“We got off to a good start with the help of our immediate friends and family… We actually hosted a Kickstarter launch party at Hopworks Urban Brewery here in Portland and we invited everyone down. Having a big first day is really helpful, people recognize that and it kind of puts you on the map for Kickstarter visibility…”
What were the next stages of growth after the success of your Kickstarter?
“The next stage was getting into production. It turns out, the first uKeg we’ve ever made, the one you’ll see in the Kickstarter video, it was a prototype. It was a custom-made prototype and I think the total cost, everything part machined by hand, was about $10k dollars… Going from one $10,000 to 10,000 $100 uKegs took a little bit longer and doubled the production time…”
Did you have any mentors that helped you develop Growlerwerks?
“We’ve brought on some advisors… One thing that we love about this entrepreneurial journey is the learning that happens and the accomplishments that you make after you learn… for the most part, we’re learning on the job and we’re learning on the go…”
What’s been the hardest part about starting and building Growlerwerks?
“Not enough hours in the day. We have a very innovative company and we have a new idea every day and you can only really get so much done in one day…”
What would you say is one of your greatest fears in regards to Growlerwerks?
“My fear is that the number of breweries and beers out there are increasing so fast that I’m never going to try them all…”
What are some of your favorite beers currently?
“That’s the toughest question, man… We have a brewery nearby us call Grixsen that makes one of my favorite beers right now, it’s a chardonnay saison… We also have, it’s an Oregon treat, we have a beer by the brewery Coalition and they have a beer called Two Flowers. And Two Flowers is a CBD infused beer…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?
“The advice I would give is a saying I use which is If you win you success and if you lose you learn. There’s a no lose situation unless you try something and move forward…”
Where do you see Growlerwerks headed into the future?
“We want to continue to innovate our products, we want to continue to offer our uKeg growlers for the craft beverage industry… We’re really customer focused so where we see a problem or a need, we’re going to continue to focus on that and offer new products that people love…”
What’s the best part about running Growlerwerks?
“Oh, that’s an easy one, I never thought I would be paid to drink beer…”
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