To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Dingman Center is featuring a series of blog posts about our EnTERPreneur Acadmey, a program to help guide student ventures from idea to launch. The Academy provides members with a variety of resources including startup fundamentals workshops, advising, office space, selling opportunities and seed funding. The Academy’s three stages Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup provide students with specific resources and requirements that suit the level of progress for their ventures.
Today’s featured startup is Comrade Brewing Company, the dream company of EnTERPreneur Academy member, David Lin. David is a Full Time MBA student at the University of Maryland who can frequently be found in the halls of the Dingman Center volunteering with programs and absorbing everything he can about entrepreneurship. David’s company, Comrade Brewing, was an honorable mention at the 2012 China Business Plan Competition and also an audience choice award winner at Pitch Dingman. Read the Q&A to find out more about David and his business, Comrade Brewing Company!
Q: Please describe your business.
A: Comrade Brewing Company will be a Denver, CO based business that will brew and serve hand crafted beer, free of corn syrup and chemically modified hop extract. Customers will be able to visit and drink beer by the glass on the brewery premises. The brewery will follow a tasting room model, where no food and only beer is served. I’m planning to head back to Denver after finishing up my MBA this semester and I hope to open sometime in 2013.
Q: How did you get the idea for your business?
A: Ever since I started brewing professionally in 2005, I have known that I eventually wanted to work in the craft beer industry full time. I saw the success of other breweries and thought to myself, hat a great way to make a living, doing what I love and what I would normally be doing anyways. After two years of brainstorming, the name of Comrade Brewing came to me one day while I was on vacation. In the brewing industry, there is a lot of camaraderie between small breweries who often help each other out. I want to showcase this “brotherhood” as well as provide the foundation for some funny “tongue in cheek” beer names. The idea for a tasting room model was something that always intrigued me as I visited breweries across the country.
Q: What phase is your venture in and what are your next steps?
A: We’re on our way to becoming operational. I have already taken on a talented brewmaster as a partner, contracted my raw materials, talked with equipment manufacturers, met with cities, and looked at zoning. I also have nearly all the funding I need as well as the domains, social media handles, and incorporation needed to start my business. My next step is to sign a lease on a building, place the down payment on the brewhouse, apply for federal and state licensing and permits, and begin construction.
Q: As a student start up, what are some of the challenges that you face?
A: This is a brick-and-mortar business, and because my business is located in Denver, being 1,500 miles away makes it difficult for me to do things like overseeing construction. There’s only so much I can do electronically or via paper. While I’m enjoying my time as a student here at Smith, I am eager to head back to Denver once I graduate to oversee the remaining steps to opening the brewery.
Q: How did the Dingman Center contribute to the development of your startup?
A: The Entrepreneurs in Residence have been an incredible resource. Some of them have had relevant experience on starting a food service company and have advised me on the common pitfalls of the industry. Being part of the Dingman Center’s active entrepreneurial community has also given me the opportunity to listen to a variety of business ideas and taught me how to look at them from a more critical business standpoint giving me a framework that I would use while running the brewery.
Q: What about being a part of the EnTERPreneur Academy excites you the most?
A: Meeting all the other students who are as passionate and driven as I am. There are so many people out there that say that they have a passion for something, but in reality I believe they just like the idea of that something. My fellow Academy members are people with the initiative to actually pursue their passions. The networking with these passionate people, as well as sharing feedback on our ideas, has been incredibly helpful and rewarding.