Author: benovator

The Iowa Craft Brew Festival felt like a celebration.

The official debut of our beer festival app was flawless and it was so exciting to have #ICBF vendors, attendees and our friends from the Iowa Brewers Guild all enjoying this fresh way to track, rate and share tons of amazing craft beers.

The Bens of FliteBrite

“The Bens” arrived early to confirm the beer list’s accuracy in our app and to install our smelly signs (see below, haha!). Once doors opens, we met up with industry allies and sampled tons of outstanding beers before leaving early to finish celebrating our beer festival app working flawlessly to allow 3,200+ thirsty attendees to track their craft beer adventure in a whole new way!

Throughout the day, Ben McDougal (left) made a special effort to track every single one of his beer tastings. Click to see his full tasting list, but when it was all said and done, he personally visited 27% of the vendors and drank just 9.7% of the available beers being served. That was still 21 different beers, which Ben continues to revisit when he sits in front of large Iowa tap lines.

Coconut Migration from SingleSpeed Brewing was McDougal’s personal “best of show”, while he returned to Lark and 515 Brewing for a few different hoppy concoctions. It’s also clear he was on the prowl for DIPA and along with his tasting notes, Ben racked up 15 different Untappd badges from all his check-ins.

Our ability to give beer enthusiasts a fun and accurate way to learn more about their festival favorites (which they used to forget after the second beer tasting) is just so damn cool! Speaking of cool…

2018 ICBF Report

“My favorite part has been seeing so many people using what we built!” -Ben Sinclair

The most intriguing thing was that our app tracked 4,419 total beer check-ins, rated by 1,291 different users! The most popular beer style was IPA, then sours, NEIPA and pale ale. The highest rated beer was 6th Anniversary Stout from Backpocket Brewing, while vendors with the most beer ratings were Barn Town Brewing, Confluence Brewing and 515 Brewing. It’s also interesting to consider that an attendee’s rating at a live event may actually be more of an “experience rating” based on the vendor’s presentation, paired with the actual beer being rated. The traffic timeline was also neat and here’s post-event data the Iowa Brewers Guild shared after the event.

Iowa Craft Brew Festival - 2018 Report

This type of meaningful data, generated by an easy and fun tool for beer loving attendees, has us very excited. Our ability to setup any beer festival with a smart flight experience gives vendors a quantifiable way to showcase their craft beers with thirsty attendees and truly may turn out to be the key to a more sustained business.

One super cool side effect is how our beer festival app also unlocks meaningful conversations with breweries and brewpubs. We walked around the festival before gates opened and took a moment with each beer-serving vendor to confirm their beer list was 100% accurate in our app. With a total of 362 different beers served, there were a few changes we did on the fly and people appreciated us stopping by. More of those types of interactions will begin to connect the other side of our smart beer flight platform into more taprooms, bars and restaurants as well!

Iowa Craft Brew Festival - Potty Sign

Bonus Smells

Startup life requires weird marketing to connect smart people with new ideas. Below are a few more highlights from our app’s debut beer festival, including this sign we put on every one of the 25+ port-a-potties! Fortunately, the installation was early in the day, haha! It felt a bit dirty, but we were committed to making sure everyone knew how to access their own smart beer sampling experience.

Jokes aside, the Iowa Craft Brew Festival felt like the beginning of something special. Our team is energized and we have more paying customers eager to invest in this handy tool that will soon enhanced even more craft beer events nationwide. Cheers!


 

Do you organize events where craft beer tastings are featured?

We should chat.

Iowa Brewers Guild - Iowa Craft Brew Festival App

We’re proud to announce our partnership with the Iowa Brewers Guild! Together, we’ve unleashed a new extension to our smart flight platform brewed specifically for craft beer events!

 

Here’s how it all went down. As our beer flight app was being piloted at local restaurants, breweries and bars, our team collaborated with the Iowa Brewers Guild to use our evolving smart flight platform to connect beer-loving attendees with their tasting experience at live events nationwide. Feature ideas have now evolved into reality and we’re thrilled to announce the unveiling of our brand new beer event app at The 2018 Iowa Craft Brew Festival!

“It’s been such a pleasure collaborating with so many industry allies throughout Iowa and this partnership with the Iowa Brewers Guild is special. Together, we’ve build a fun way for thirsty attendees to enjoy, track, rate and share their favorite beers at this year’s Iowa Craft Brew Festival!” -Ben McDougal

Here are key features attendees will enjoy:

  • FULL VENDOR LIST – Attendees can track the booths they’ve visited and navigate to where they want to head next. With 75+ vendors and 350+ craft beers to try, we’ve also included live stats on the percentage of vendors visited and total beers tasted as you make your way through the event.
  • BEER DETAILS – Each beer from every vendor is featured with a short description, IBU and ABV. Along with fun details, attendees can check-in on Untappd, add tasting notes, include a personal rating and share their #ICBF experience throughout social media.
  • TASTING REPORT – After a long day of tasting so many great beers, we know people will love looking back at all the beers they tried.

Iowa Craft Brew Festival App

Special thanks to J. Wilson, Kelsey Seay and the Bens on our own team. Together, we’ve built something event organizers, vendors and attendees will all appreciate! We look forward to seeing everyone at the Iowa Craft Brew Festival and we hope everyone has fun drinking, tracking, rating and sharing your favorite craft beers. Cheers 🍻

Mobile Smart Beer Flights

Welcome to the next era of smart flights. FliteBrite is proud to introduce two brand new mobile apps!

 

FliteBrite - Beer Flight App
FliteBrite - Beer Event App

As we evolve to continue unlocking a more engaging tasting experience, we’re giving customers more control and working to provide anyone the opportunity to serve smart flights.

We’ve been building this company for over three years and we’re so excited to unveil our new line of mobile apps! Our beer flight app puts the power of smart flights in customer’s hands at restaurant, brewers and bars, while our beer event app unlocks the smart flight experience at craft beer festivals and beer tasting events! This new line of mobile apps cost significantly less than our ultra premium electronic paddles while unlocking the next level of interactivity.

Wisdom brewed into our evolved platform:

The moment of decision is what really counts.
Selling more beer is good, but increasing total ticket is best.
People enjoy learning more about what they like.
Balancing tech with tradition is still very important.
Lasting connections lead to more true fans.
We’re all tech, but hardware is hard, software is magic.
Stay drunk-proof simple.

HOW IT WORKS:
Customers scan your custom QR marker or visit a short URL to setup a flight in one click, then you serve the flight like you always do. Behind the curtain, user profile information, menu management, personalized recommendations, Untappd check-ins, tracked flight history, social media sharing, promotional specials and real-time analytics all flow to our online dashboard.

This digital approach to smart flights require your staff to change nothing behind the bar. We feel the heart (and cost consciousness) put into how so many craft beer establishments serve beer flights, so we think you’ll also love how these additions to our product works seamlessly with your existing paddles, trays or stands.

ORDER NOW

 

We’re working hard, but also having fun and hope you are too. If you serve beer flights at a bar, restaurant or brewery and want to do something super cool for only the price of a few beers, ask to see mobile smart flights today and we invite you to browse all sorts of new stuff around this website. Cheers!

Made In Iowa

So many folks who read this will have built their own business. Entrepreneurs know how key community support can be for startups. Our company and the members of our team have been so fortunate to be fueled by wise allies who want to help, organizations built to push startups forward and a community of fellow entrepreneurs passionately building things they care about.

We’re lucky to have built #SmartFlights in Iowa.

Did you know our paddles are manufactured right here in Iowa? We think that’s kinda cool and although it’s taken over two years of serious persistence paired with hard work on all fronts, we’ve solved problems for craft beer establishments and the thirsty consumers they love.

Along with product development, the engaged network of friends nationwide is so meaningful for this venture, but Des Moines knows it’s cool. We define the word supportive here in the Midwest and that’s what makes building big ideas in Iowa so much fun. The energy one can derive by accelerating others is hard to match, so along with tapping into so many great connections, we’ve always stayed dedicated to bringing others together. Another fun fact is that all three of our founders originally met back in the early days of 1 Million Cups Des Moines. So much as changed since the early days, but our team’s collection of paired skills is special and we have a connected community to thank for that.

Along with endless mentoring support, real financial investments from throughout Iowa has allowed us to build magic. We built on our founder’s investments by earning a big state grant and winning cash rewards at a variety of business pitch contests. It’s been an adventure unlike any other and whatta treat building a new era of smart flights.

BENovatorAs we now brew FliteBrite to the next level, we just wanted to take a moment to say thanks again to all who have supported this adventure. We appreciate our family, early adopters, all the introductions to restaurants, brewpubs and brewery hot spots that need smart flights nationwide, community leaders looking to connect us, an industry full of awesome people brewing art and now even strategic investors ready to make some money.

Jump on this flite. The future is brite.

Whatta week for FliteBrite.

We beamed into the Kauffman Foundation, a mothership for entrepreneurship, to announce BIG news for our company! As you saw in the video above, Ben’s pitch is baked to perfection and the entire Q&A is included in the full-length video. After our reveal at 1MC Des Moines and the 1MC Fargo experience, #1MCKC completed a trifecta of epic 1MC adventures.

After meeting everyone at 1 Million Cups Kansas City, Ben stayed in KC to attend the national 1MC organizers summit. #1MCOS was an amazing opportunity to connect with leaders from around the country and we’re thankful to have such an active community builder leading our team!

36 hours of pure energy later, Ben drove back to Iowa just in time to join Sinclair for a pitch to win up to $25,000 in the finals of the John Pappajohn Venture Competition. Winners will be announced next week, but no matter the results, it was a pleasure sharing our story and we’ve worked hard to earn these business-building opportunities.

Looking ahead, we’re about to deliver 20 smart beer flight paddles to our first national establishment, so stay tuned for news on where smart beer flights land next!

1 Million Cups Kansas City

Flight Menu Management

Cocktail menus exist for a reason and the same concept works for craft beer.

Many people don’t know what they want, but are eager to sample your product. Customers who don’t know what beers they like, often chose a flight sampler. Flight menus allow you to feature preset pairings while creating a fun experience, boosting sales and saving time!

By activating a preset flight menu at your brewpub, restaurant or brewery, you can speed up the flight serving process, while still crafting a well-paired flight for your craft beer loving customer.

For consumers, nobody likes to stand in the front of a line and take a bunch of time trying to decide. A flight menu gives everyone an easy and most importantly, fast option for tapping into a fun beer tasting experience. The effect cocktail menus we see everyday, is why preset flight menus are something we’re excited about.

The FliteBrite dashboard (screenshot above) helps build and update your own preset flight menu from the active beers you have available at any given time. Once a preset flight is built, your staff can access them from the paddle and with a single click, they magically send the flight data up for analytical reporting and then have it instantly ready for the customer.

Preset flights save time.

More time almost always equates to increased revenue. Using preset flights allow you to prepare a nice flight pairing upfront and save time while making faster money overall. The FliteBrite crew has learned to really like preset flights for business and can help guide you through ideas that work.

Feel like it’s going to be to much work? Think again. You don’t need a ton of different preset flights to bring a nice little flight menu together. In fact, we think you can just have one, but it’s hard to stop there, so maybe start with two or three beer flights that you pair and sell as an item. If you’re serving #SmartFlights, you simply update your present menu from the online dashboard to make setup lightning fast for staff, then share your new flights with customers on your printed or digital menu. Custom flights will never go away, but we think you’ll find a bump in efficiency as people order what your team can whip together fast.

Wanna chat through your flight menu ideas? Let’s connect this week!

We hit the radio waves for an interview with Insight on Business.

This short video includes the full discussion and was shot live inside the studio. This isn’t the first time you’ve seen us sharing our story on air, but it is one of the best!

Ben McDougal and Michael Libbie talk through our team’s core mission, the challenges of building hardware and an exclusive update on what’s next for FliteBrite and the future of #SmartFlights.

FliteBrite - Firetrucker Smart Beer Flights
We just went LIVE at Firetrucker Brewery in Ankeny, Iowa.

Whatta moment!

 

Firetrucker has become a great friend and a meaningful ally. They serve a nice variety of sophisticated brews and are excited to now be one of the first to serve #SmartFlights. Firetrucker believes #BeerIsArt and now their beer flights look as good as they taste! We’ve learned a lot from this brewery and it’s been a pleasure collaborating with them. Setup went super smooth as our team had Liz and Dan online with electronic beer flights in just a fun short visit.

SmartFlights at FiretruckerSmart Flights SetupBrewery Craft Beer Flight

Once online, we experienced an immediate impact as Firetrucker announced on social media that they were inspired to build new preset flights for their menu:

As they invited all their fans to stop by to try their beer flight menu, we literally had to increase the dashboard’s primary overview graph that reports a snapshot of how many #SmartFlights an establishment is serving each day! Nice work Firetrucker! At around $8 per beer flight, it’ll be exciting to see revenue continue to benefit from this brewery’s new cool factor and you know positive data results that break our graphs, is always something we’re happy to fix!

FliteBrite Online Dashboard

Our electronic hardware product is being used by industry professionals who don’t know us and we’re watching craft beer-loving customers fall in love with the future of beer flights.

We have some borderline epic news on the horizon, but for the moment, we invite everyone to head over to Exile Brewing and now Firetrucker Brewing to enjoy this era of #SmartFlights. Cheers!

 

Craft Beer Flights

Ben McDougal - Des Moines, Iowa

Smart Beer Flights

It felt like sending the kids off to college, but we’re proud to share that #SmartFlights are officially LIVE for the first time in the wild!

Wanna be first to experience FliteBrite? We invite you to head to Exile Brewing in downtown Des Moines, Iowa! RJ Tursi and Exile Brewing Company have been an ally from Day 1 and if you remember, we actually collaborated with their team for quantifing smart beer flights in a 2016 research project. As one of the leaders within the Iowa craft beer community and with around 15 craft beers on tap, this is a perfect place to begin the next chapter of our story.

We were planning to ship trial paddles throughout the country after our CBC 17 adventure, but due to a few tricky product issues, we were forced to pull them back into the workshop. For all you brewery and restaurant owners who are excited to get your electronic beer flight paddles, know this is a big step in the right direction and we’re committed to delivering a durable product on our mission to unlock a more engaging flight experience nationwide.

Craft Beer Trivia

Trivia nights are fun and have become increasingly popular. It’s an easy event to host in almost any brewery, brewpub, restaurant or bar and adds one more reason for customers to head your way.

We know our electronic beer flight platform provides an enhanced customer experience, but since we enjoyed craft beer trivia at CBC17, we’ve added a few new angles to utilize as you bring #SmartFlights online.

Flip The Script

Whether it’s a part of a trivia night or not, we’ve always been intrigued by the idea of flipping the ordering process. Instead of your serving staff taking the order, why can’t the customer have the option of setting up their smart beer flight? This not only saves time, but what if we used our platform to serve up a twist of fun. After you fulfill the order, imagine the beer flight being delivered with a little trivia game. Instead of highlighting which beer is which, we can now serve the flight with details hidden and then after a few guesses, the correct answers can dynamically appear! You know beer lovers will appreciate the chance to showoff, but at the core, you’re avoiding wasted time of people standing at the bar not knowing what they want, while engaging customers with a little brewtech gamification.

Craft Beer Trivia - Smart Beer FlightsInteractive Tasting Round

Many trivia nights involving craft beer include a tasting round where participants are invited to sample a few beers and then determine which is which. Using smart flights and built during our

CBC17 event at Penn Social, we have a more interactive way to deliver this beer tasting round. Start by determining the beers you’ll serve. Let’s assume you’re serving four to each person/team. Mark the sample cups with a 1, 2, 3 and 4. Make sure you pour the right beer into its assigned glass, and then deliver them in a random order to the trivia participant. Once received, an interactive beer tasting begins. To submit their answers, each team brings the flight back to the trivia organizer and received points for each beer correctly identified. You could add variances into this, such as styles, types of specific ingredients and more. It’s fun, super easy and offers a chance for customers to learn, rate and share what they like about each item served.

Custom Beer Details

With our online dashboard that allows establishment owners to manage their active beer menu, one sneaky, but especially unique way of using smart flights on trivia night, is to actually hid answers within the details associated with different beers. All beer data automatically loads with accurate details from Untappd as you add new beers on your active menu, but all this information can be edited to include anything you want. Whether that’s a little promotional content or an answer to be found during trivia, we love the idea of a speed round that awards the people who can find the answer hidden, but still easy to find within their smart flights.

Endless Opportunity

With our digital experience, the opportunities are endless, but let’s close with a few general thoughts. There are dedicated companies who can provide trivia nights, such as Geeks Who Drink, who makes this even easier to execute, but what have you done to make trivia successful at your establishment? Have you tried anything that didn’t go over well? When do you host trivia nights? We always suggest an early evening event on a slower weekday. We like Tuesdays for the memorable naming effect of calling it “Trivia Tuesday”, but you know if/how a trivia night will work best.

Engaging gamification paired with big data is a powerful combination and we’ve enjoyed exploring how FliteBrite can bring trivia nights to life. Whether it’s enhancing your trivia night or another hot idea, our team is here to break barriers and would love to hear how we can continue pushing the limits of your smart beer flight experience. Cheers!