Flat. That is not a word a beer lover wants associated with her beer. But if you’re amongst the ranks of craft beer enthusiasts who have tried to replicate the brewpub experience at home, you’ve likely experienced a disappointing mouthful of once-tasty beer that has lost its mojo.
Shawn Huff, founder of GrowlerWerks, doesn’t like to see a good craft beer go to waste. The GrowlerWerks uKeg, for which he raised over $1.5 million on Kickstarter last fall, combines innovative engineering, utter devotion, and perhaps a touch of magic to keep beer fresher longer. Here’s more from Shawn:
The spark that inspired the birth of GrowlerWerks: A love of good Oregon craft beer, and a desire the make the experience better.
The problem you solve: Flat, stale beer. Beer is perishable, and most varieties of craft beer aren’t available in the bottle or can. Instead, they’re made in small batches by local breweries. GrowlerWerks’ products keep draft beer fresh so you can take it with you and enjoy it over time. We also streamlinethe bottle to distributor to retailer to consumer model.
How you came up with the name: “Growler” is the historic name for a jug to take draft beer home. We tested out a ton of names and had a lot of fun doing it. We asked our friends, and some of the names were really funny! We started with Growler Master, but realized what we were doing was more engineering related, solving a problem, so we ultimately decided on GrowlerWerks.
How you differentiate from your competition: We have a really strong engineering and design team. After testing all the options currently available, we realized that nobody had cracked the code on a pressurized growler that keeps draft beer fresh. The uKeg is easy to use, with an automatic regulator cap that holds CO2 inside (instead of externally), variable carbonation from zero (off) up to 15 psi, and a dispensing tap so beer can be served without removing the cap (and exposing beer to oxygen). It also has a liquid sight glass, an ergonomic handle, and can be easily disassembled for cleaning. The uKeg is vacuum insulated to keep beer cold, and it looks good in your refrigerator.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur: Building things and watching them come alive, and then seeing other people share the excitement.
The biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date: As an engineer by training, I’ve found the world of business to be remarkably open, fast-paced and conducive to opportunities.
Your biggest success: Getting four very talented and hardworking teammates to join together and share my vision.
What keeps you up at night: The fact that there’s not more than 24 hours in a day.
Your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur: Be ready to learn on the job.
The song that best describes your entrepreneurial journey: I’ve been a fan of Bob Marley since I was a middle school kid and my parents gave me his Rebel Music tape. His music, besides the great rhythm sections, talks about freedom, resilience, self-reliance, and changing your perspective.
What wild success looks like: We revolutionize how craft beer is enjoyed. All beer lovers own one or more uKegs that allow them to take fresh craft beer home from their local breweries. And GrowlerWerks is established as the premier fresh craft beer system brand.
Your favorite local businesses: We have four favorite local businesses: Hopworks Urban Brewery, Lompoc Brewing, and Ex Novo Brewing, because the people are awesome, the beer is tasty, and they do the brewpub experience right.
Benefits and challenges of starting a business in Oregon: Oregon has a small economy compared to some other states, but the cost of living is not prohibitive, we have a pioneering spirit, and people are open to doing new things.
Any other tidbits to share? I never thought I’d get paid to drink beer.
Closing thoughts: In general, stay committed. Creating value comes from sustained hard work and dedication over time. And, don’t give away your cards too early.