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:
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 🍻
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.
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!
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.
As 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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.