I went to brewclub on Thursday night. It’s a group of local homebrewers with big talk and big vats.
Of course, size is everything in this line. If we can produce beer and wine (and mead) at low cost and for our own consumption, it’s a good thing. So much the better since it’s the fruit of our own labour.
During the night, a suggestion was raised and briefly discussed that we should look into a community brewery with a pub attached. There are various models of cooperative supply such as food coops which pay in advance to provide the funds for bulk purchase, and small enterprises with small scale local investment from “silent” shareholders who provide the capital in order to see the project develop rather than to influence the outcome. There is the oft-quoted Kickstarter approach where the funds come well in advance with a range of options to purchase from free goods to credits on the album or even private gigs in the comfort of your living room. Is there a beer equivalent?
The following night I joined #teamBCA at the Black Country Arms in Walsall to be told that the licenced hours are changing soon which will mean earlier finishing on weekends. Over the road, the old Market Tavern is vacant and has been for quite some time.
It wasn’t long before someone suggested a cooperative pub, and the (slightly lubricated) discussions began in earnest. Around the table we had expertise in the following areas: legal, financial, graphic design, marketing, sales, IT, social media and community networking, supply chain, warehousing and distribution, project management and customer account management. That is to say nothing of the combined drinking experience, which comes to a fairly serious tally between all of us. At least three of us have been reegular bar staff in the last decade.
Within a few minutes, however, it came down to money. Without the cash, we’re not in a position to kickstart anything.
Which brings me to my current thoughts and state of mind. What is the bare minimum from which a brand new business can germinate? Not just capital and continuing finance, but the essential skills and knowledge required to get a business off the starting blocks and setting a good pace. There must be plenty of opportunity out there untapped due to a small gap in resources and lack of support for those who need it.