I was a fucker at school. I still regret that (especially now my wife is a brilliant teacher). It was just a bit dull. Miraculously, I scraped an average education and got an average degree from an average University. That meant I ended up on a graduate scheme with a big American IT company. I didn’t last long. I packed that in and went to work for a cracking little business that I did believe in (the only phone and broadband provider in the UK owned by its customers) and spent a few happy years as their head of marketing. But I was still frustrated. Something was missing.
It was there that someone told me about the DO Lectures. I started watching them online. This type of learning was right up my street. Clever people with great ideas challenging the way we do things and using ideas to make the world a better place.
When I saw that the DO Lectures were running day courses I leapt at the chance to go (DO Lectures proper was a bit too steep). So I went to Cardigan and listened to David Hieatt talk about “How to build a brand with very little money”. We didn’t fit in the chicken shed (DO Lectures HQ) so we did the course from David’s living room. I realised for the first time that business can be about doing what you love. If you do that, other people will love what you are creating. That’s what I was missing. That’s what I would do from now on. I cried on the drive home.
I love beer. I’ve been obsessed with it for years. I love learning about it. I love the stories behind it.
I also love how the internet can be used to bring people together to learn about stuff. I wanted to connect all of that to help people drink beer made by small, local, independent breweries, the kind that put their hearts, souls and ideas in to what they are making. That’s what I would build a business on.
I started a plan which I worked on for the next 6 months. Then I went to the DO Lectures main April event (I scraped together every penny I had to go. I even borrowed a bit). I knew that this was the place to take my little idea. I knew that this would be the place to learn from people changing the world. I wasn’t wrong.
The first couple of days at the DO Lectures were difficult for me. I met and heard from so many incredible people doing amazing things. It made me ask myself “What can I do? What am I capable of?” That’s a difficult question to ask the mirror when you’re not fulfilling your potential.
By the end of the weekend, I didn’t want to leave. The time spent round the fire in the evening is as valuable as the time sat in awe listening to the speakers by daylight. There are ideas everywhere. People want to challenge everything. They want to make the world a better place. They also want to support you to do the same. Countless people that I met at DO have stayed involved with BeerBods offering advice and feedback to help us do better things and do things better.
Another thing happened whilst I was there. A grenade went off in my head. The plan I had been working on wasn’t finished but I needed to start this project now. So I started telling people my idea as
if it already existed. Then weirdly, it did exist. I registered it as a business the day after I got home.
With no team (I had a full time day job), no investment, no marketing budget and no alcohol licence (that got me in to a spot of trouble), I launched BeerBods in September.
If I was the only customer I’d be quite happy. It’s still early days, but in 3 months we’ve got 500 subscribers. I’ve just quit my day job. Now that we’ve got a business model I think works we’ll be doing some crowd funding in the Spring. The community who make BeerBods what it is will actually own a part of it.
I’m doing what I love. More and more people are drinking, learning and talking about better beer. It wouldn’t have happened without a day sitting round David’s living room table or a wet and windy weekend in a tent in West Wales.
Drink better beer.