Beer lovers become beer brewers

April 30, 2014

By Rumasa Noor

MobCraft Beer provides an opportunity for people to submit beer recipes on its website. The recipe with the most votes get turned into brewed beer.

The company was founded by Henry Schwartz, Giotto Troia and Andrew Gierczak.

“It’s a crowdsourced brewery, so every month we are making a different batch of crowdsourced beer based off people’s ideas from all over the United States,” Schwartz said. “We have a vote process that happens on our website and every month when beer is brewed, packaged and then distributed to customers in 34 states.”

Troia and Schwartz are UW-Whitewater alumni who met through Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO). Gierczak met Schwartz and Troia through his brother who attended UW-W.

All three of them are beer lovers, which led them to the idea of starting a brewery. Schwartz and Gierczak started brewing beer in college and were later joined by Troia.

“We started doing this thing called brewathons, basically we invited all of our people, and all our friends really liked good beer,” Troia said. “We all just brewed all day and helped make a few batches of beer and then you know four or five weeks later, we would come back have it all bottled and have another little party.”

Troia takes care of the sales and marketing side of the business, Schwartz looks after the financial and legal aspects, and Gierczak is the brewmaster.

Troia said they realized they are good at making beer and they saw the demand for it, which motivated them to start the business.

“We really wanted to start a brewery, and we also wanted to bring the community aspect into it because we realized we had so much fun doing the brewathons with all of our friends,” Troia said.

The three men ended up doing a contract arrangement with another brewery which would brew beers for them, and now they are a full-fledged brewery, Troia said.

“It’s been quite a ride; it had its ups and downs, a little roller coastery but definitely a good ride,” Troia said.

Schwartz is taking part in Wisconsin Governers Business Plan Contest, representing MobCraft beer.

He said the customer response has been positive.

“We have had all sorts of good feedback. Schwartz said. “You know, it’s ranged from people just having this real direct emotional connection with our company.”

Troia said they have a good following on social media and they got good reviews on a craft beer app called Untappd.

“People keep giving us really good ideas for beers,” Troia said. “Throughout the entire process they are ordering beers, and we see a lot of repeat orders. Obviously they liked what they had last time.”

The customers interact with them at every step of the process from submitting the recipes on the website to voting, Troia said. They feel like they are connected to the company.

“Beers are not run of the mill, they are not necessarily something that you would like right off the bat, so you sort of take a leap and try it,” Troia said. “I think that’s one thing that customers really like about our business model that they are buying a beer that they don’t know they are going to like, but they are trusting us with something new.”

Troia said the beer industry is huge, which is why they are trying to target the top 5 percent of the market, which includes people who are looking to experiment and try something new.

“Beer festivals are another big spot where we try to get a lot of attraction, and it’s gotten really good reviews from people there, too,” Troia said. “They are saying this is the best beer I have had at this festival, you know, I wish every brewery would make something like this, and that’s exactly where we are trying to get at with our business model is that they are tasting something they have never had before.”

Troia said they share the space with House of Brews, a brewery that opened four years ago. He said they plan on bringing the equipment from a closed brewery.

“Most of the beer is already sold by the time we are done fermenting it, have it bottled,” Troia said. “Once we bring those tanks down, we will be able to steadily supply a little bit more beer in market place, and we will have the equipment when we do open our own location.”

The entrepreneurship community at UW-W is “top-notch,” and it turned out to be extremely valuable, Troia said. He also said he and Schwartz would not be friends if it wasn’t for CEO.

Schwartz, who also was a Launch Pad scholar, said students should take advantage of all the resources offered by UW-W.

“The reasons that we are able to get where we are all initiated from spending some time with Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization on campus,” Schwartz said. “We spent a lot of time kind of learning what we know about business through the CEO; it really helped us make all the connections to a lot of the people who have helped us along the way.”

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