The official debut of our beer festival app was flawless and it was so exciting to have #ICBF vendors, attendees and our friends from the Iowa Brewers Guild all enjoying this fresh way to track, rate and share tons of amazing craft beers.
“The Bens” arrived early to confirm the beer list’s accuracy in our app and to install our smelly signs (see below, haha!). Once doors opens, we met up with industry allies and sampled tons of outstanding beers before leaving early to finish celebrating our beer festival app working flawlessly to allow 3,200+ thirsty attendees to track their craft beer adventure in a whole new way!
Throughout the day, Ben McDougal (left) made a special effort to track every single one of his beer tastings. Click to see his full tasting list, but when it was all said and done, he personally visited 27% of the vendors and drank just 9.7% of the available beers being served. That was still 21 different beers, which Ben continues to revisit when he sits in front of large Iowa tap lines.
Coconut Migration from SingleSpeed Brewing was McDougal’s personal “best of show”, while he returned to Lark and 515 Brewing for a few different hoppy concoctions. It’s also clear he was on the prowl for DIPA and along with his tasting notes, Ben racked up 15 different Untappd badges from all his check-ins.
Our ability to give beer enthusiasts a fun and accurate way to learn more about their festival favorites (which they used to forget after the second beer tasting) is just so damn cool! Speaking of cool…
“My favorite part has been seeing so many people using what we built!” -Ben Sinclair
The most intriguing thing was that our app tracked 4,419 total beer check-ins, rated by 1,291 different users! The most popular beer style was IPA, then sours, NEIPA and pale ale. The highest rated beer was 6th Anniversary Stout from Backpocket Brewing, while vendors with the most beer ratings were Barn Town Brewing, Confluence Brewing and 515 Brewing. It’s also interesting to consider that an attendee’s rating at a live event may actually be more of an “experience rating” based on the vendor’s presentation, paired with the actual beer being rated. The traffic timeline was also neat and here’s post-event data the Iowa Brewers Guild shared after the event.
This type of meaningful data, generated by an easy and fun tool for beer loving attendees, has us very excited. Our ability to setup any beer festival with a smart flight experience gives vendors a quantifiable way to showcase their craft beers with thirsty attendees and truly may turn out to be the key to a more sustained business.
One super cool side effect is how our beer festival app also unlocks meaningful conversations with breweries and brewpubs. We walked around the festival before gates opened and took a moment with each beer-serving vendor to confirm their beer list was 100% accurate in our app. With a total of 362 different beers served, there were a few changes we did on the fly and people appreciated us stopping by. More of those types of interactions will begin to connect the other side of our smart beer flight platform into more taprooms, bars and restaurants as well!
Startup life requires weird marketing to connect smart people with new ideas. Below are a few more highlights from our app’s debut beer festival, including this sign we put on every one of the 25+ port-a-potties! Fortunately, the installation was early in the day, haha! It felt a bit dirty, but we were committed to making sure everyone knew how to access their own smart beer sampling experience.
Jokes aside, the Iowa Craft Brew Festival felt like the beginning of something special. Our team is energized and we have more paying customers eager to invest in this handy tool that will soon enhanced even more craft beer events nationwide. Cheers!
— FliteBrite (@FliteBrite) June 16, 2018
Do you organize events where craft beer tastings are featured?
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.
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!
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.