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!
At the core, I believe community builders are passionate about the art of connectivity. Accelerating others energized us all. #1MCOS
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) September 7, 2017
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!
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.
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:
— Firetrucker Brewery (@FiretruckerBrew) June 21, 2017
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!
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.
We unleashed #SmartFlights at The 2017 Craft Brewers Conference!
After years of development, it was surreal to officially unveil our company and the future of beer flights at the industry’s largest event of the year. As you may have seen in our CBC17 preview article, this was an important event where we wanted to make a big impact. As you can see in the photos below, we had an awesome booth, enjoyed all sorts of adventure and loved sharing our innovative product with tons of attendees from all over the world. Like we did in our CBC16 recap, let’s take you on a ride through our trip to Washington DC. Hang on…here we go!
After arriving the night before, our three-person team packed up and rolled into downtown DC. The venue for CBC was once again massive and after checking in, we hauled everything to where we’d call home the next three days. Setup was smooth and our hot little booth looked sweet!
Once setup was done, we found a random spot to grab some beers and do some final prep work. The “remote office” we chose became the destination for everyone from North Carolina, as the NC Beer Happy Hour got underway. We tapped in and meet a bunch of great people, before heading to the night’s big event.
The opening reception at CBC is always epic and this year was no different. We arrived at the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of American History, where of course, great craft beer was served, but also tons of fun things to experience. After some time there, we strolled out to the middle of the national mall. This was a special moment, as Ben, Sinclair and Jake all enjoyed a few brews and stood in between the Washington Monument and our nation’s capital. From there, we headed to the second location for this fun gathering. Once inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the night came to life. We had way too much fun closing things down, met some cool cats and captured some epic photos that we’ll enjoy forever.
With very little sleep, it was time to do what we came there to do. Booth 1640 became a little hot spot in the massive expo hall and it was awesome to see so much interest in our new technology. We met all sorts of brewery owners and industry professionals and even plugged our product into a few other booths throughout the event. Thanks again Grandstand, Barth Haas Group, Brewd and Sahm! In short, Day 1 was a great start to our three day adventure in DC!
Day 2 was the best day of CBC17. Our booth buzzed with activity all day long and our after party with Sam Adams and Digital Pour was a hit. As you can see below, one obvious highlight was meeting the crew from Sam Adams. One of the fathers of craft beer, Jim Koch, actually had a chance to play around with our product and had fun snapping some photos with Ben. Penn Social was an awesome host and we even came up with a new way to use our smart paddles within the beer trivia event. Thanks again to our friends (and booth neighbors) at Digital Pour, Penn Social and Sam Adams for such a fun evening.
Once we closed down the party at Penn Social, our crew flew over to catch the end of the Iowa Beer Social. It was awesome to walk into a room full of friends, Ben turned on his electronic shoes and the night got a little out of control from there.
The final day of CBC was a struggle. You could tell that all of the 13,000+ attendees were exhausted from such a crazy week and the mood throughout the event felt like zombieland. Nonetheless, we pushed through and generated another day full of new introductions and continued interest in our electronic serving system.
Along with meeting new friends from Beer Advocate, one highlight came right at the end of the show. We had packed up our booth and were walking off the show floor. As we walked past the Brewers Association’s area, Ben stopped to say thanks for all their help. As he randomly walked up to say hello, they were literally in the middle of talking about FliteBrite, with our promo paddle in their hands! The timing of our visit could not have been scripted any better, so Ben took some time to share our story and walked them through the world’s first electronic beer flight paddle.
We crashed back at the house and had a fun evening of reflection. Friday we did a little sight seeing and left DC with a mixture of emotions. Our formal unveiling had gone big at the Craft Brewers Conference, we had a bunch of breweries, restaurants and bars from throughout the country sign up for a free trial, and there was an exciting sense of accomplishment, but we also heard all sort so of valuable feedback and know there’s a lot more work to be done.
The simple fact that we’ll be in our nation’s capital for the largest gathering of brewers is awesome, but we’re stepping it up this year and are ready to take orders from nationwide attendees.
To make it easy to secure your own smart beer flight paddles, we’ll be hanging out in one of the hall’s hot spots, Booth 1640. In fact, here’s your first look at the Craft Brewers Conference 2017 Exhibit Hall and where to find FliteBrite on April 10-13, 2017!
You heard it here first.
Inside the exhibit hall, we’re literally next door neighbors with our friends from Digital Pour (1636) and just a flight glass away from Grandstand Glassware & Apparel (1837). We can all enjoy two beer stations (red) on each side of our booth and being able to stop by all sorts of other friends in the exhibit hall this April. BREWD (1023) will be in the house, along with other friends like Track Track Malting (654) and Draft Magazine (424)!
Along with your first smart beer flight experience, we’ll be giving away fun swag at Booth 1640. We’ll have our new customer coasters on hand with a new collection of shirts and a few more surprises for the first breweries and restaurants who secure their own fleet of electronic beer flight paddles.
With a fun booth in the heart of DC’s largest exhibit hall, we are ready to deliver, but you know we’re just as excited for the after parties. In fact, we’re excited to announce a special event we’ll be hosting with Digital Pour at Penn Social on Wednesday (4/12) night! More details are on the way, but #SmartFlights will be paired with trivia and a ton of fun. We’re also excited for the annual #IowaBeerSocial, as that’s always a great time to connect with all our Iowa allies!
After CBC16 in Philly last year, the FliteBrite crew can’t wait to reconnect with everyone and we’d invite you to follow our #CBC17 adventures. Take a peek at our matte black beer paddles before the rush of CBC17, then connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you’re attending the Craft Brewers Conference in DC, we also invite you to shoot us a note so we can reserve you a time to experience one of the hottest new brewtech products on the show floor.
Cheers to this exciting announcement for our company, the monumental opportunity and all the people who make craft beer so much fun!
These electronic beer flight paddles have been thoughtfully designed and meticulously manufactured to look amazing, be cost effective and super durable.
The sleek look paired with our interactive color touchscreen allows you to showcase your craft beer in a whole new way! You can order your fleet now or apply for our free trial program. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at how the world’s first smart flights have evolved.
We began with a clear paddle that was a beer nerd’s dream.
This fully-functioning prototype introduced the world to smart flights, affirmed our vision of a more engaging customer experience and turned out to be perfect for showcasing the wi-fi enabled technology built inside the paddle. This clear prototype taught us what customers wanted. It also confirmed what brewery and restaurant owners had to have. It would even be used in the wild as we conducted research to quantify smart beer flights.
As cool as it looked, this clear paddle was not made to hold up in the harsh environment behind the bar. It was also not designed for true manufacturing. As our electronic technology evolved, we continued to refine what the future of beer flights would look like, how it would feel and how the entire experience would flow.
This bold new embodiment that we’re formally unveiling here, is the result of countless hours talking with industry experts, listening to customers, learning from mistakes and passionately polishing our innovative platform overall. These matte black paddles are built to serve a more engaging beer tasting experience, while providing the most brand-boosting way to serve fractional pours. Welcome to the future of beer flights!
The four pockets are carved out to allow a wide variety of flight glasses to pass through (2.025″ diameter) and evenly catch each glass when the paddle is lifted up. This lightens the paddle and eliminates craters that collect stale beer and even mold.
Centered between the four pockets, we’ve dedicated a space just for you! Working together, we’ll provide a sexy little icon sticker to showcase your brand in a big way.
Overall, this 2×2 layout provides a more stable feel by ergonomically distributing the weight of full flight glasses closer to your hand. It is also thoughtfully paired with the 2×2 layout of the color touchscreen built into the handle. Fastened your seat belts. This is where things get super exciting.
Our patented touchscreen technology provides a balanced experience right out of the box and truly brings FliteBrite to life. At first glance, you’ll realize it’s not your smartphone, but once you begin clicking around, you’ll realize it doesn’t matter. We’ve utilized a lower resolution display to make our product affordable, but with intuitive design, we’ve implemented fast-loading graphics and accurate information that’s fun and easy to understand for anyone.
One of the best features of our interactive touchscreen, is the ability to update it over the air, right from your online dashboard! This allows us to continuously enhance the touchscreen, while ensuring you always have the most up-to-date experience.
We’ll hold off on sharing too many details on the online dashboard, but know it’s what puts the “smart” into smart flights as it manages all your smart paddles, magically updates your menu with single clicks, builds social media campaigns and tracks some crazy cool analytics.
You’ll be blown away with how much your customers enjoy the smart flight experience.
FliteBrite’s smart beer flights fuel the virality of what people naturally enjoy sharing by tapping into accurate details for each brew and giving your customers a fun way to share, track and even rate the beers they love. By connecting with a more informed customer, you can increase loyalty and boost engagement that will positively expand your brand.
We have poured our hearts into building this product and we’re so proud to share that starting today, our matte black paddles are ready to ship nationwide!
Contact Us to learn how easy it is to serve the best beer flight in town!
Traveling to Fargo in January may not seem like a natural destination to bring FliteBrite, especially as we prepare for our nationwide release, but Fargo has the largest 1 Million Cups event in the country and they’re friendly community is full of innovative entrepreneurial energy.
While our team stayed back to continue polishing our new matte black paddles, our fearless leader flew north to present FliteBrite in front of a full theater of inspired entrepreneurs at 1 Million Cups Fargo. Since we had so much fun sharing our full team’s pitch at 1 Million Cups Des Moines, we thought it may be fun to showcase this lone wolf pitch as well.
Along with a terrific 1 Million Cups experience that was featured in this Emerging Prairie article and a mini explosion of Twitter activity, we had a terrific time connecting with tons of entrepreneurs, craft beer lovers and energized community builders during our 48 hour visit to Fargo.
One big highlight was our visit to the North Dakota State University Research & Technology Park. It was great to see how NDSU is supporting student entrepreneurs, while also advocating for innovation with more established brands.
Another highlight was working inside The Prairie Den and attending a community celebration called 1 Million Thanks. This was an annual event that recognized entrepreneurs, encouraged innovative action and continued to build the #ilovefargo mentality.
In addition to our presentation at 1MC Fargo, our visit to NDSU and the 1 Million Thanks event, we tapped into local hot spots like Fargo Brewing Co., JL Beers, Drekker Brewing Co., Würst Bier Hall, No Bull Smokehouse, Junkyard Brewing Co. and the Front Street Taproom. Everyone truly seemed to like smart beer flights and it will be fun to see who is first to serve a brighter beer flight in Fargo!
Thanks again to Greg, Annie, Lindsay, Aaron, Brent, Shane, Zach, Corey, Jessie, Callie and the entire Emerging Prairie community. This was a trip we won’t forget. Cheers!
As part of a TS Bank’s community reinvestment initiative, this second annual event brought entrepreneurs together to compete for a share of $27,500. After moving through the preliminary round, our team was selected as a finalist in this Shark Tank-like competition.
We arrived at the event and really enjoyed meeting startup community builders from Omaha and Council Bluffs. Under the bright lights, Ben, Ethan and Sinclair presented a 5 minute pitch and then answered questions from a panel of four judges on stage.
It was challenging to share all that we’ve been building in such a concise way, but everyone clearly understood the opportunity that smart beer flights provide beer-loving consumers and the craft beer industry as a whole. Here are the results!
FliteBrite – $10,000
Lien Waivers – $10,000
Terva – $5,000
Wicked Apples – $2,500
Once again, congratulations to all the finalists. Our team truly appreciates the top prize of $10,000, but also how this type of community-driven event supports the startup ecosystem overall. Special thanks to TS Bank, Revela, Startup Omaha and all the partners who gave us a meaningful boost as we prepare to deliver our first round of nationwide pre-orders this month. Cheers!
With a computer science in hand, Ben considered California before returning to Iowa to build the Internet back in 2004. He conceptualized websites and built online visibility for other business owners and did so for 10 years before retiring from web development. He then joined a progressive Des Moines home builder to build his own marketing and innovation position. He enjoys the team and digital marketing work in residential construction, but he’s also blessed with the freedom for “BENovator” to build communities. Within the Iowa startup ecosystem, his organizing efforts for 1 Million Cups Des Moines and dmStartupDrinks takes a special energy, but Ben is always ready for the next adventure.
With his conscious effort to build innovation that works within a market that’s meaningful, Ben McDougal has also fueled an entire entrepreneurial side to his career. Yes…there’s way more!
Ready? Here’s the weird part of Ben that makes him interestingly awesome.
Starting with a 3v3 soccer tournament way back in the day, Ben would build and then sell that business after 2 years. One of the main reasons was that Jet Set Studio went online in 2007. For almost 10 years now, Ben has built friends, community, a video game social network, a video game tournament search engine and interactive gaming events throughout North America. eSports, Guitar Hero, Halo, Madden, Call of Duty and the magnetism of video games overall, has combined to create a crazy ride for Ben and his creative work through Jet Set Studio. In fact, it’s super cool that we’ll have a little video game aspect at our big FliteBrite booth we’re about to announce for the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference in DC!
Ben wants to change the world and loves the adventures in life. He also enjoys golf, Seth Godin, audiobooks, capturing electronic music, travel, tech, the art of the pitch, wine, craft beer, photography, accelerating others and spending time with his wife and new baby girl.
Ben is our community builder at FliteBrite. He’s the social media, website building, search engine optimizing, storytelling, brand developing assassin on our team. He’s basically the nerd you need to know and he said that he hopes you’ll connect with FliteBrite on Instagram, haha!
Ben keeps FliteBrite’s fresh ideas flowing, communication rolling, content expanding, sales growing and business building. Big ideas take the next level of innovative effort and this guy unlocks our overall company in a way we’re so excited about. With such an amazing team, Ben, Sinclair, Jake and I have had so much fun building the future of beer flights. We always say the customer discovery has been a blast and we’re excited to now have the only smart beer flights online nationwide.
We write all this, but face it. It’s likely you know this guy who’s passion is the art of connection. By bringing great people together for so long, Ben’s engaged network is an entrepreneurial tribe of energized, passionate business owners nationwide. He’s the type of influencer that wants to hear your story and ideas, but FliteBrite and the value of beer flights is his favorite topic, so you can expect at least a short update on these smart flights the next time you connect with him.
Ben McDougal is an idea machine who intelligently builds things that work on a timeline of now.
This company would not be here with out him and I know he believes the age of FliteBrite is now. He’s strategically built our company to support something big and his entrepreneurial leadership is easy to see. He’ll have a beer flight with you anytime and makes it a good time, every time. Thanks for all you do bro!