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Startup need help

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vancec:
I have questions for everyone with experience starting a beer company. My partners and I have plan to start up a beer company. We have identified a niche market and a created a formula for a special beer. Problem is we have virtually no money to start this. We have excellent marketing skills and ideas. We have designed great packaging and marketing materials and a website. We are confident we could sell our product. Our question is: could we, and how would we, go about finding a brewery willing to brew a small quantity of great beer using our formula (really just a mixture of additives which can be added prior to bottling) so we can start this operation without having to start an actual brewery? Mind you, no deception hereā€¦ marketed as great beer with this special ingredient. We even have a local chain of small specialty markets who, I believe, would take our product on a trial basis. Would a brewery likely, want a fortune, up front? Do you think a brewer would  possibly be interested in partnering? Should we start looking for investors before anything else? How little can we reasonably try to produce we can test-market our product? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

halenrush:
No experience in this but you need to find a contract brewer like Shipyard Brewing Company. Contract brewers make beer for some niche restaurants and quasi hippie grocery chains like Trader Joes or other entities calling themselves breweries. 

And other than finding investors, I know that the SBA is now backing startup loans 90% now as opposed to something like 10% two years ago. 

a10t2:
I agree, it sounds like what you want is someone to brew under contract. How are you distributing? It sounds like this is sort of a one-off niche product, in which case you'll want a brewer in your own state, since you'll undoubtedly be starting local. Crossing state lines requires two distributors, although many of the companies are effectively co-owned.

If you have local retail outlets interested, that's great. Get them to commit in writing on their corporate letterhead - nothing binding, but it lends weight to your business plan. Start doing the research on the TTB labeling laws and requirements; I believe your company as owner of the brand would be responsible.

Have you gotten any figures on production costs and limits on bottling runs? I doubt you can find a commercial brewer who will do fewer than a couple barrels at a time. Until you know that you can't say with any confidence at all that you can afford to go into business. I bet you'll be SHOCKED at how small the margins are on bottled beer.

All of these questions are probably best answered at probrewer.com. There are many helpful and knowledgeable people in their forums.

tubercle:

--- Quote from: vancec on November 21, 2009, 04:24:45 PM --- Problem is we have virtually no money to start this.
--- End quote ---

 Probably the #1 cause of start up failures of any kind is lack of cash flow. Many a dream has been crushed because of this.

  Just saying...be prepared.

mrcceo:
Get a copy of Starting Your Own Brewery. Edited by Ray Daniels. You can find it on Amazon for around $50.00.
+++ On the contract brewery, but this book will give you some good insight into setting up a brewery or brew pub.

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