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
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!
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!
The FliteBrite team revealed smart beer flights to a packed house at 1 Million Cups in Des Moines, Iowa. Enjoy the epic experience for yourself, as Ben McDougal, Ethan Davidson and Ben Sinclair share a concise presentation that features all three of our co-founders on stage.
The audience came to life as they listened how FliteBrite provides a more engaging beer flight for breweries and restaurants nationwide. With so many engaging features, FliteBrite truly does offer educational entertainment that brews a more loyal customer and it was awesome to finally share what FliteBrite is all about!
The 30-min. community Q&A is not included in the pitch video, but the caffeinated crowd had a huge response with great questions and anticipation for FliteBrite. The team did an awesome job introducing this news that the craft beer world would soon be enjoying brighter beer flights!
Check out more photos from this special 1 Million Cups event and thanks again to the Des Moines community for all the support and this amazing opportunity. Cheers!
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.