Every year the Brewers Association asks member breweries to submit seminar ideas for the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference (see Robby's informative post about the conference here). In August 2013 we were beginning to plan our trip to Denver, Colorado, for CBC 2014 when the request for submissions arrived in our inbox. Having recently completed our business planning, we briefly considered the idea of submitting a proposal related to startup breweries. We felt like CBC veterans (having attended since San Diego 2012), but we were also keenly aware that we wouldn't be operational by the time the conference started.
A final call for submissions was issued in September 2013. We realized that we had information we really wanted to share with fellow startup breweries and began composing a seminar outline. Attendance had been growing rapidly since our first conference, from 3,500 people in 2012, to 6,000 people in 2013, to an expected 10,000 people in 2014. Many of the new attendees were startup brewery owners and employees, but we knew from past experience that only a few of the 100+ seminars would be geared towards that audience. In the past, the startup brewery seminars had covered general topics like equipment, distribution, and legal matters. It occurred to us that no one had ever covered the creation of pro forma financial statements for a startup brewery - right in our wheelhouse! We decided to submit the following proposal:
In November we received an email from the Brewers Association stating that our seminar proposal had been selected for the Craft Brewers Conference! Our submission was combined with a proposal from Ellen Joyner of the newly-opened Bombshell Beer Company in Holly Springs, North Carolina, and renamed "Managing Cash and Critical Path Planning for the Start-Up Brewery." Over the next four months we worked with Ellen to craft separate presentations that flowed well together - we would cover the pro forma financial statements and Ellen would take it from that point through to the opening of the new brewery. We received feedback along the way from the Brewers Association's seminar subcommittee and then submitted a finalized presentation in mid-March.
We were lucky enough to have our seminar scheduled for the afternoon of the first day of the Craft Brewers Conference. At 2:40 PM Ellen and I took the podium and began our presentation in front of somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-300 attendees. We had a great time presenting - we moved through our slides within 45 minutes and then began accepting followup questions from attendees. It was the final seminar block of the day so we ended up taking questions for almost thirty minutes! They don't mean much without context, but my slides from the presentation are below:
Overall, presenting at the Craft Brewers Conference was an amazing experience. We really struggled with our pro forma financial statements when we began considering the possibility of opening a brewery, so being able to share the knowledge we gained through our struggles made the time spent researching and preparing the presentation 100% worthwhile. The connections we've now made with many other existing and startup breweries as a result of being presenters are immeasurably valuable as well! Thank you to Sarah White from the Brewers Association for keeping us on track, Erin Glass from the Brewers Association for the wonderful introduction before our seminar, and Ellen Joyner from Bombshell Beer Company for being a great co-presenter! We can't wait to do it again!