Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Manor Works

When I turned 21, I made a huge mistake.  Drunk (pun definitely intended) with my new I.D. wielding power, I felt my days of Keystone, Old Style and PBR were over and I began to dive into the world of craft beer.  As with most things in life, once you begin to drink quality beer, it’s basically impossible to go back to cheap, watery alternatives.

Mark, co-founder of Antithesis Brewing Company, defines craft beer as “gourmet” beer that is local and hand-crafted, often resulting in more interesting flavors than mass produced beers (see Miller and Budweiser).  He and his wife, Nina, are incredibly passionate about beer, spending their vacations touring breweries in an RV.

So passionate, they decided to embark on their own brewery.  Their aim is to make a craft beer that tastes great, but also has the cool factor to draw in those not as in tune with micro brews.  They hope to be up and running by Spring 2012.

Mark and Nina also own another business, Manor Works, and took some time to dispense some start-up advice:

1.  How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

We make extreme beer for extreme people. Trust me, you probably won’t like it.

2.  What made you use crowdSPRING?

With my past companies, I worked with one designer to create the corporate image we desired. While his work was always high quality, we were stuck with only HIS point of view. With our new business, we knew we wanted to see a variety of ideas and “looks”. crowdSPRING was a natural fit. For a set price, I got to see over 250 ideas from a variety of different designers.

3.  How is brewing a fine beer like starting a fine company?

Making beer is basically taking high quality ingredients and mixing them together in such a way that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Starting a business is no different. Hire for talent. Then create a structured environment where those people can thrive, and the whole organization will become greater than the individuals.

4.  What are some industry specific challenges you faced?

Regulation. It is still shocking to see how complex and convoluted the rules are for making and selling alcohol. There are different rules for Local, State, and Federal agencies. Complying will all the rules is more difficult than you would think.

5.  What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

Learning about the machinery required for running a brewery. Making beer is a relatively simple task, but making it on a larger scale both profitably, but with consistent quality requires lots of engineering processes. Every decision begets more decisions.

6.  What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?

The craziest story about starting our own brewery is we moved forward without (currently) an actual product to distribute.

7. If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

No regrets (yet) with the brewery, but if I could change anything in my other businesses, it would be to have found crowdSPRING sooner. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get multiple ideas before selecting one to move forward with. While I prefer to do business with someone I have a relationship with, when you are in the formulation stage of a business, it is critical to get as many peoples input as possible before selecting the best one.

8.  Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.

Do it, investment, time, relationships, trial and error……enjoy!

9.  How do you see your company growing in the future?

Home Brew to Nano Brewery…..and beyond!

Antithesis Brewing Company’s call for a new logo received 266 entries and was awarded to pickpocket.