Ben Sinclair, known on our team just as Sinclair, is the magician behind what makes FliteBrite the smartest way to serve beer flights.
Sinclair has always been into electronics. Sinclair was there when the web first appeared, and has been building the Internet even since. As mobile apps started taking over, Sinclair began creating fun things that brought your smartphone to life. Uppward was an app that allowed you to connect with fellow flyers on the airplane and then came Offspring, a micronetworking app for families to share memorable moments. He would eventually help launch Shift Interactive into a progressive web and mobile app development firm in Iowa, before making a move that would lead him to join the co-founding team at FliteBrite.
Sinclair has been a master at software development since the beginning of time on the Internet, but deep down, he had always wanted to tap into his interests in electronic engineering. FliteBrite’s beautiful balance between intuitive software and interactive hardware was a perfect fit! FliteBrite truly came to life when Sinclair blended his tech-savvy skills with the innovative mind of Ben McDougal and the manufacturing expertise of Ethan Davidson.
You’ve seen our smart beer flight experience, right?
FliteBrite’s interactive touchscreen adds entertaining education to craft beer flights and Sinclair has been the in-house magician behind it all. Sinclair’s sharp focus on optimizing FliteBrite’s user interface and electronic engineering truly puts the “smart” in Smart Flights! His handy work allows our electronic serving system to be ultra fast, easy for anyone and super durable with outstanding battery life.
Along with building so many awesome features and optimizing the FliteBrite platform overall, Sinclair used his wizardry to build FliteBrite’s awesome online dashboard. Whether it’s single-click menu management fueled by Untappd, tracking valuable flight and customer data or slick social sharing tools that tap into the natural virality of the taproom experience, Sinclair has built a powerful platform that allows our customers to unlock a new level of customer connectivity.
Like the rest of the FliteBrite crew, Sinclair is a sharp entrepreneur with tons of interesting hobbies. Besides enjoying a pint of craft beer, Sinclair digs being a Dad, astronomy, fine dining, ham radio, all things Apple, backpacking and the occasional Miami Vice. As our Chief Social Officer, Sinclair keeps our team fresh with good times and tons of laughs.
Sinclair makes FliteBrite special and we’re lucky to have him on our team. His crazy smart development effort has fueled our efforts to provide a new level of entertaining education at breweries, bars, brew pubs and restaurants nationwide.
Ok. Let’s begin with a co-founding member of our FliteBrite team, Ethan Davidson.
Along with Ben, Ethan has been a part of this idea of serving a brighter flight of beer from the very beginning. Let’s rewind and get to know Ethan. Although a marketing degree from the University of Iowa was his initial idea for a career in school, Ethan would graduate and actually jump into high-end carbon fiber manufacturing.
How many folks do you know who helped build the world’s most aerodynamic triathlon bicycle, haha! Ethan had the opportunity to expand a team building these crazy fast triathlon bicycles called Dimond bikes. As he tuned his skills in team building and the advanced world of manufacturing, Ethan also plugged into the Des Moines startup community by jumping into one of the organizer roles for 1 Million Cups Des Moines back in 2013.
Ethan is fun to be around, likes to say yes to adventure and has great stories to enjoy over happy hour. If you are with him, please snag a quick beer flight for him. Ethan enjoys a good time and understands how big this product can be for so many.
As we built ideas into our electronic serving system, Ethan would make a job shift from the bike manufacturing world and join a new team focused on plastic manufacturing. BeraTek Industries was creating some slick products in a variety of industries and kept growing as a company. In fact, this is the Iowa-based team we had just selected to refine our product for the craft beer market!
So imagine that. The co-founder of your company, who’s unique expertise is a part of our detailed-oriented manufacturing process, creates an opportunity to join the team who is about to help us ship our first round of pre-orders! Ethan continues to keep the team realistic as we prepared for our nationwide product launch.
This transition also brought a renewed energy for innovating with fresh ideas. With this smart beer flight paddle about to change the craft beer game, Ethan has keep the focus on ensuring our beer paddle are ready to stand up to what can be a brutal world behind the bar. Ethan loves breweries and a beer flight any day, but he also plays soccer, basketball and is probably more athletic than you, haha!
So along with staying focused on bringing our beer flight paddle to life, Ethan’s job transition to Baratek also spawned a neat opportunity for Ethan to move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Although it’s been a challenging transition and we’ll miss him in Des Moines, Ethan and his wife Sarah are excited to bring FliteBrite to our friends in Cedar Rapids and all of Eastern Iowa. We’re thankful to have ETHANergy on this team and his effort to evolve our product’s real-world durability.
Looking ahead, Ethan may be at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington DC with FliteBrite next year and is always down for coffee of happy hour chats. If you do connect over happy hour, Ethan likes IPA brews, but is down for anything when pairing beer flights. Throw in a pale ale, then a brown ale, completed with one of his choices. Naturally, be sure to only enjoy this beer flight with a pair of our smart flight paddles and ask Ethan to play badminton, ping pong, soccer or basketball to make yourself feel out of shape, haha!
In fact, why wait? Hit him up with an email through our contact form. He’ll be happy to share the story of FliteBrite and hook you up with some paddles starting Fall 2016.
The Craft Brewers Conference was absolutely huge in 2016.
Brewery owners, taproom managers, restaurant owners, franchisors, vendors and craft beer enthusiast all came together for one of the largest craft beer gatherings in the world. It was an absolute pleasure being a part of this annual event and strategically sharing our innovative beer flight paddles with the industry. Check out the Brewers Association’s CBC16 recap, then enjoy our fun little recap on what went down in Philly.
One day after this Tweet dropped, we had the opportunity to tour three different Philadelphia breweries and one great spot in New Jersey. The craft beer flowed as we started at the St. Benjamin Brewing Company taproom. After an interesting tour, it was neat to fire up the week with how much the team at this taproom loved our smart beer flight paddles.
After a few beer flights and more conversation that has us excited to collaborate with this brewery, we cruised over to the Double Nickel tasting room in New Jersey. This is an example of a brewery that’s going big from the very beginning. They have a large brewing system, a great tasting room and are already starting to distribute their brews in cans all around the region. One interesting thing we learned about was how the state of New Jersey has certain educational requirements for taproom visitors. In short, if only craft beer is served, the establishment must provide an educational experience for visitors wanting to enjoy craft beer in tasting rooms. It’s an odd law, but the organic education that FliteBrite provides made it clear that our beer paddles solve real problems for New Jersey craft beer establishments. After a great time in New Jersey, we finished our tour at Bar Hygge and the Dock Street Brewery. This was a great time and a neat chance to build relationships with a few east coast breweries.
After recovering from a full night of brewery tours, it was time to get CBC underway. After eating our first cheesesteak and checking in at the venue, we stopped by the Orchestrated Beer gathering at Strangelove’s before heading to the CBC opening party. The opening event was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This place includes the stairs that Rocky ran up in those epic movies. Needless to say, there were a lot of people having fun posing with The Italian Stallion. After a fun chat with Ballast Point and talking with industry allies at this massive party, we hit the Sierra Nevada after-party to sample their Beer Camp project for the first time. Beer Camp is the ultimate example of breweries collaborating, so it was a perfect way to finish a great day.
The first full day of #CBC16 did not disappoint. Along with a few educational sessions, we spent most of the time interacting with everyone on the massive trade show floor. Our team decided that this was not the time to formally unveil our technology with a vendor booth on the show floor, but this was still a great opportunity to see what types of vendors attend this event and how to best interact this this exploding industry and within the craft brewing community.
After an entire day on the show floor, things got interesting. Our team is actively involved within the startup community, so with Philly Tech Week going on while we were in town, we had a neat opportunity to sneak away from the craft beer world to attend the Philly Startup Leaders community-driven event, Entrepreneur Expo, which turned out to be packed full of awesome entrepreneurs. After engaging with tons of amazing entrepreneurs, we cruised across town for the #IowaBeerSocial hosted at Devil’s Den and the Lagunitas after-party. Celebrating with all our friends from the Iowa craft beer community was definitely a highlight and with the brewmaster from Firetrucker Brewing celebrating his birthday, this turned into a night full of fun and tons of amazing brews.
The aggressive Wednesday night led to a slow start on Thursday, but we made our way to the Philadelphia Convention Center to finish exploring the Craft Brewers Conference. The show floor was so massive, it literally took two days to walk, so we had another great day interacting with vendors and sharing our electronic serving system with a few more craft brewing professionals. Even with a 5AM flight home the next morning, we still enjoyed dinner with leaders of the Philadelphia startup community and went up in the One Liberty Observation Deck to finish this adventure 54 stories above the city of Philadelphia.
#CBC16 was obviously terrific. Along with enjoying a crazy amount of craft beer and having an absolute blast, we also met tons of amazing new friends and had all sorts of meaningful interest in FliteBrite. This was the perfect way to “soft launch” our craft beer flight paddles and our team haw already starting filling pre-orders from breweries throughout the country. In fact, it’s neat to know that CBC lead to our first customer! The Waiki Brewing Company is serving great craft beer in Hawaii and we met at the Craft Brewers Conference.
We continue to accept pre-orders with plans to ship our first round of paddles nationwide this fall. Our crazy first experience with the Craft Brewers Conference was epic and you know our crew is already planning big things for CBC 2017 in Washington DC. Here we come friends.
The team at FliteBrite has been in the lab building something we believe will change how craft breweries, restaurants and bars connect with their customers and we are heading to Philadelphia to unveil FliteBrite to the world at The 2016 Craft Brewers Conference in May!
During this soft launch at #CBC16, we’ll be offering deep discounts to early adopters and look forward to establishing industry allies from around the world. Along with learning a ton, we are formally unlocking the ability to pre-order your beer flight paddles at #CBC16! We’re also excited to be a part of the #IowaBeerSocial and all the crazy after parties throughout Philly. Although the hangovers will be nothing short of epic, the nationwide connections will be outstanding.
Wait! There’s more…
As if it was our destiny, Philly Tech Week 2016 is also going down while we’re in town! As entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts and community builders, it will be a treat to also connect within the Philly startup community. One event we’re already excited about is the #PSLExpo, presented by Philly Startup Leaders. We’ll be on the prowl for other chances to plug into #PTW16 and can’t imagine a better blend of two events for the moment we share FliteBrite with the world.