Episode 025: Power to the Mob - Beer Crowdsourced by Craft Enthusiasts
Henry Schwartz started off his entrepreneurial journey as a teenager by owning and operating Board to Death Skate Shop, which he had until he started at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Upon graduation, he started MobCraft Beer—a crowdsourced brewery that turns people’s ideas into beer. In 2015 he won a silver medal at the GBAF and in 2016 pitched his idea on Shark Tank. Most recently he took the SBA Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2017.
What Is MobCraft
MobCraft is a brewery formulated around a crowdsourced model, meaning customers get to submit their idea for a beer, vote on ideas for beer, and then eventually drink the winning brews. Every month they put recipe ideas up for a vote (specifically the top 8 most popular ideas on the site) and the one with the most pre-orders gets made.
The facility features a 30-barrel system where they’re aiming to get around 3000 barrels produced in 2017. They also have a sour and wild room for spontaneous fermentation and aging fruited beers.
The taproom in Milwaukee has 24 different taps which feature about 4 flagship brews and 15 to 20 of their own and guest brews. If that wasn’t enough, they have foosball and a form of magnetic laser-tag sword fighting (MagneTag) which offers up never-ending entertainment.
How to Drive Traffic to Website
MobCraft has found that one of their most successful marketing tactics is to go to beer festivals. They actually manage to capture customer data at the festivals they go to, which is something a lot of breweries could pick up on. They will pull out an iPad at a festival and let people vote on what they want them to brew next. It works well since the customers are already there having a good time, the beer is good, and they can easily see what’s next on their list and can help choose. It sucks people right in and whenever they have chance to capitalize on a captive audience, they take it.
Their taproom is also a way to convert new customers over to the crowdsource model. In their taproom they have posters telling you to stop stalking your ex’s on Instagram and go vote on their beer! They also feature a Winners Wall where all the past crowdsourced beer winners are featured with the label and date they were brewed.
MobCraft is essentially running three businesses; an e commerce site, a production facility, and a bar. Making sure all of these are cohesive and feed into one another is crucial for their model’s success.
Marketing Lesson: Labels & Expectations
Henry uses two of their beers, Hop Goes the Grapefruit and Blood of a Acan to explain how they’ve tweaked their label design and descriptions to better meet customer expectations. Hop Goes the Grapefruit was originally named “Hop Gose the Grapefruit” as it is an IPA – Gose hybrid. But this made for a terrible description for customers to swallow, and MobCraft got an earful about the confusion surrounding the name versus how the beer actually tasted. In rebranding the beer as a grapefruit wheat beer customers got more of what they were expecting from what was displayed on the label and the name itself.
Blood of a Acan is described as a Mayan Mocha Stout; this gets the point across that it’s a Mexican hot chocolate inspired beer. The label features pictures of all the ingredients in the beer – a cacao nib, a coffee bean, a vanilla bean, and a chili. A fair amount of work went into making sure all the notes from those ingredients were discernible when drinking the beer, again, to make sure customer’s expectations were met based off the label and description.
Notable Quote from the Interview
“If you start to run a brewery, you’re not running one business. If you have a taproom you’re running a bar and you’re running a manufacturing facility, and they are wildly different. So, and then in our case, obviously having a portion where people can interact with us online in a larger capacity than just ‘come check out our website and our hours and stuff’, we’re actually running three different businesses. We’ve got an ecommerce business, we’ve got a production facility, and we’ve got a bar. So the cohesion between all three of those and making sure they feed each other is a really important bit of advertising.”