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!
I’m a guy, so this is not something that I learned easily, but my wife has taught me the value of a great presentation. Whether it’s a cheese plate that looks straight out of a magazine, the perfect steak plated up like a boss, or how you serve beer flights at your brewery, restaurant or even at your home bar, a little extra effort can go a long ways!
No matter the craft beer experience you’re serving, the initial presentation you deliver will determine one of your customer’s first responses. Make it a good one.
How you introduce your product completes the life cycle of a process you pour your heart into. You wouldn’t grill a perfect steak and then serve it on paper plate, right? Why would you create, buy or sell an amazing craft beer, just to hand it over on a piece of wet paper and hope that your part-time bartender scribbles the right name of something you care so much about?
Even if it’s not smart flights yet, we still hope you take pride in the way you present your beer flights! Everyone has great ideas on how to make it fun and we also thought we’d share a few quick things to remember:
When you serve four 5oz glasses of brew, that’s just under two full glasses of beer, with added variety and a little extra time to prepare. That’s worth more than some folks realize. Flights are a perfect doormat into your beers, so there’s value in a less expensive flight, but through years of research, we’ve learned the national average for a flight of four, is between $8-$12.
Smart flights are what we do at FliteBrite and the era of a more engaging beer flight is now. Shoot us a quick email and we’ll hook you up with a free trial paddle!
Yes, if your beer flight glasses are custom and cool, some will get stolen. The thing is, we can make these very inexpensive so you can just consider it swag marketing for your customers to enjoy your sweet looking beer flight glass at home. We can even help design your flight glassware to look perfect in your flight paddles.
It can be a nice conversation starter when you know a little extra about each brew. Pair your beer with intention and offer fun facts as you deliver the beer flight. Where it’s made, hop selection and other interesting ingredients are a great place to start.
You already know serving beer samples can take a bit of extra time, but if you and your team spend the time to serve beer flights wisely, you can easily boost your customer’s experience while adding a valuable revenue channel into your overall menu. Along with the fun of showcasing a well-paired beer flight and inspiring more informed customers, you’re making money on fractional pours and it creates a great environment for all to enjoy.
Think how much time you put into making your beers and building your brand. We know you take pride in every aspect of your craft, so complete your taproom experience and make people remember you by serving a beer flight that looks so amazing that everyone will want to order your beer flight experience again and again!
If you’re looking for ideas to make your beer flight truly stand out, we can help. Let’s bring your first 10 smart beer flights online and make your brewery or restaurant the talk of the town this year!
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!
After a semester of planning, we established a real-world research project that pushed our electronic technology into the wild for the very first time! In collaboration with our friends at Exile Brewing Co., which is a Des Moines-based restaurant, taproom and brewery that distributes craft beer throughout Iowa, we were able to compare one week of “business as usual”, to one full week with smart beer flights online.
Our team and the MBA research team were given full access to financial data and surveys completed by actual customers as they compared beer sales, customer responses, social media activity, staff feedback and overall sales. We began seeing live data flowing into the online dashboard for the first time. It was crazy cool. In fact, if you’re willing to squint, here’s the actual survey! The results were just as tasty.
It’s hard not to notice the intriguing results from this valuable research. The cool part is that there’s even more super interesting data we’re excited to connect you with as you bring smart flights to your brewery, restaurant, taproom or bar. [ORDER NOW!]
It was also absolutely amazing to see live beer flight data flowing into the real-time online dashboard. You can also bet Ben, Ethan and Sinclair enjoyed the craft beer industry’s first smart beer flights served in the wild. Want a fun story? Ask about the Exile’s beer called “Jesus on a Forkilift”…for lunch, haha! One of our favorite quotes came from RJ Tursi, owner of Exile Brewing Co., during the research process as he said:
“People are loving the smart flights, both staff and customers. It’s a kick ass product.”
On behalf of the FliteBrite family, we’d like to thank Kenton, George and James for their commitment to outstanding research. We’d also like to thank Wade Steenhoek and the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business for giving us this opportunity to continue quantifying smart beer flights. Last, but certainly not least, thanks again to RJ and the entire crew at Exile Brewing Co. for being the world’s first establishment to serve a brighter flight of craft beer.
Contact Us to learn how easy it is to bring smart beer flights to your business!
We’ll be back soon everyone 🍻 pic.twitter.com/BU0JPSFkyO
— FliteBrite (@FliteBrite) October 26, 2016
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!
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.
When you talk business startups, it’s often said that team comes first, and then an idea with the market it will impact. The team at FliteBrite is complimentary in a crazy sort of way and we’re lucky to have some of the top talent around working together to bring FliteBrite to life.
One of the team’s latest little side ideas was to all listen to an audiobook by Seth Godin, called We Are All Weird. Ben has listened to many of his audiobooks, such The Icarus Deception and Tribes, and seems to swear by Godin’s writings. Anyways, it was an easy file exchange and has inspired the title and slightly off-topic nature of this short story.
Ok. So as you listen and learn from Seth, one interesting connection we’ve noticed is that the friendly craft beer community, is absolutely full of fun people who enjoy being weird. Not an alienating type of weird, but a weird that challenged the status quo and what it means to be normal. Normal is boring. People want weird.
No longer are we the mass crowd all drinking the same lagers. In fact, it’s almost like the funkier someone can brew up a great craft beer, the more we all appreciate the effort and that’s so cool!
From homebrewers to the biggest breweries in town, it feels like everyone who is passionate about the beer they brew, has made a choice to break loose from the status quo. Like so much of our world in the connected era, choice is everywhere, attention is almost like a currency and tribes grow faster with so much available communication online. It’s more interesting choosing to be weird. Being weird means you’re choosing to challenge the status quo in whatever way that may be. It’s more interesting to make your passion something that also results in a paycheck, and we’re sure you enjoy working with your team who can also be supported through your leadership.
The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass, and the never ceasing tide of weird.#WeAreAllWeird
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
To stand out and to have more people talking more often, and more in tune with the beer and brands you create. The craft beer community has definitely been one of the very best parts of building FliteBrite and we know many of you are in the restaurant, brewpub or bar scene. It’s fun, haha! It’s also challenging and modern breweries are not a small investment to start or easy to run. It takes a true commitment to bring a decent sized, profitable brewery to town. Even more resources and expertise can be required if you choose to tap into the opportunity of distributing your craft beer in cans or bottles. In short, the craft beer industry is a growing industry where owners and management must stay smart to survive, but stay ahead to thrive.
Fortunately, many of these folks are going big and everyone loves it all. Serving craft beer is almost a stacked bet if you’re passionate about your business. People don’t ever seem disappointed with too much choice when it comes to craft beer and they’ll keep coming back as you expand the options you serve on your tap line! Why not get weird, creative and have fun with your brews on tap! The best part? You’ll generate more intrigue (and profits) as you also serve more beer flights on smart paddles that make you the absolute talk of the town.
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
You’ve brewed a taste unlike any other and for the first time, your thoughtful brand, creative names and quick features of all your brews can now be truly connected to the beer lovers you create. People have never seen anything like FliteBrite! They’ll remember you being weird and also unlock a new level of connected loyalty towards your brand.
Yes, leasing a collection of smart paddles costs a bit more than paper and pencil or messy chalkboards, but these things sell more beer, make you look awesome, generate valuable data and introduce a new level of customer engagement. Whether you’re the owner, head brewer, marketing guru, management of bartending staff, you’ll see your brand being represented the way you want through the interactivity of a beer flight, while helping to support a more connected, entertaining and even educational beer flight experience.
FliteBrite is proud to be building our technology within the craft beer community and are having fun connecting with establishments throughout the country, who are all ready for the future of beer flights. Let’s chat about you bringing some fresh weird into your establishment today! Let us know how many paddles you want on our order form here: http://www.FliteBrite.com/pre-order/
The craft beer industry has evolved and so has the way we enjoy our favorite beers. Let’s turn back the hands of time to discover how beer flights have evolved.
Alright, we’re not going to rewind to the beginning of time, but back in the 1800’s, everyone in the United States basically brewed their own beer. Made of really only water, barley, hops and yeast, beer has always been easy to come by. Even with early homebrewers and numerous breweries throughout the United States, a less connected world, poor distribution methods and the lack of technology kept beer primitive and limited an individual’s access to what we consider a beer flight. Our beer-loving ancestors surely enjoyed some form of beer tastings before the days of prohibition, but let’s be honest, it was probably warm beer and served by guys like this, haha!
Prohibition ended in 1933 and macrobreweries ruled the world until around 1980. Beer in the United States was predominantly light lagers and only produced by a handful of these large breweries. In fact, by the end of 1980, there were less than 100 breweries and industry experts predicted there would only be five brewing companies in the United States. Sadly, without any meaningful variety during this dark age of beer, there was still no need for beer flights.
Homebrewers inspired the modern craft beer industry. In fact, even today, many head brewmasters learn their craft from small batch experimentation. With homebrewing naturally leading to an increase in more diverse beers, more variety of beers began to surface. This led to a true renaissance within the craft beer industry between 1980 and 2000. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft brewers in the United States went from eight in 1980, to 284 in 1990, and would push past 1,500 craft breweries by the year 2000!
Although the expanding craft beer industry was still dominated by macrobreweries, the modern beer flight emerged during this age of exploration. Consumers were being offered more beer choices from local breweries, which created an organic desire to sample craft beers together.
It took around 10 more years for craft beer to become truly mainstream, but by 2011, the United State surpasses 2,000 breweries and that’s when things really started to take off. Only two years later, that US brewery count would expand to over 3,000 and in 2016, it has boiled up to over 4,000 craft breweries nationwide with no signs of slowing down.
As the expansion of craft beer has evolved, so has the progression of beer itself. With what seems like a limitless combination of styles, flavors, colors and taste, the growing craft brew industry has naturally fueled consumer’s interest in beer flights. Whether it’s to sample all that a brewmaster has to offer or tapping into the simple joy of pairing craft beers together, the beer flight has become a key offering in taprooms, brewpubs, microbreweries and restaurants.
Even with the rise in beer flight popularity, the method for serving these tasty samplers have remained archaic. Yes, wooden paddles or metal holders still look cool and allow safe beer flight transportation, but how are customers able to identify which beer is which? Wet receipts, handwritten scribbles and messy chalkboards do allow us to share beer titles, but even if accurate beer information is present, there’s so much more to craft beers and perhaps more importantly, the customer connection is immediately cut the moment they leave! In a time where everything is connected and a world of information is at everyone’s fingertips, have we not come to expect more from our beer flight paddles?
We live in a connected era. The Internet has brought us all together and The Internet of Things has us connected to the things we love. Whether it’s how you call for a safe ride home or the smart home itself, your smartphone connects you to what’s important in life. We love great beer, right? Well isn’t it time the beer flight evolved to be more intelligent too?
Smart beer flight paddles are the future and you’re in the right place, because the future is now with FliteBrite. Brewery owners, taproom managers and restaurant professionals now have the ability to showcase accurate beer flight details while connecting with more engaged, tech savvy, craft beer loving customers. Interactive touchscreens, wireless technology and supporting mobile apps are unlocking a new era of smart beer flights.
The value of serving brighter beer flights does not end with just a boost in educational entertainment at craft breweries, brewpubs and restaurants. The Big Data behind each beer flight also allows owners to track meaningful analytics behind their beer flight activity and perhaps most important of all, become more connected with happy customers long after they return the beer paddles.
The beer nerds at FliteBrite invite you to the future of beer flights.
Let’s talk about bringing smart beer paddles your way this week.