When Jim Koch started the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams beer) in 1984, he had a hard time getting banks to understand his dream of making an American beer, and he couldn’t get a distributor on board. No one thought you could make a great American beer—good beers were supposed to be imported.
Fast-forward 25 years, and today craft American brewing is hotter than ever and still growing both in number of brewers and sales. One of these brewers is Jim Woods, an entrepreneur who turned his hobby of home brewing into a business, MateVeza, but had a hard time finding the capital to get off the ground. Reading his emails from the Brewers Forum, a daily email sent to members of the Brewing Association, he saw an item about a microlending program for food, beverage and hospitality businesses: The Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program.
The program was created by Koch in 2008 with the idea that craft brewers need to support each other and that all businesses, whether startups or a growing business, could use some help whether it be money or advice. Woods applied and was the first recipient of the loan.
Here’s what Woods had to say about the experience:
What was the process of getting the loan like? The application process for the Brewing the American Dream loan (BTAD) was similar to what I experienced with applications at conventional banks. I provided my personal information, business financials, they ran my credit, etc. They carefully reviewed my business plan and took it into consideration when determining my loan amount. Conventional banks often request a business plan, but it seemed as though it was a bigger factor for underwriting the BTAD loan.
How long did the approval process take? Once I had submitted all of the key documents, it was a very fast turnaround—probably about three days. Funding occurred within 24 hours after I e-signed all of the loan documents.
Have you used any of the resources provided such as workshops and mentoring? I have not yet used any of the programs yet, but have been learning more about them. I am looking forward to receiving speed coaching on areas including distribution and ingredient procurement.
What was the biggest help you feel you received from Brewing the American Dream? The loan provided me with the working capital to brew Morpho Herbal Ale, MateVeza’s newest offering that is brewed with yerba mate, hibiscus flowers, and bay leaves.
What are your future plans for MateVeza? I will continue to grow the brand through grassroots tastings and events. Our biggest challenge is educating people on craft beer, yerba mate and our combination of the two. We’ve had a lot of success when we’ve been able to give customers samples and tell them our story. That will be key to our success going forward. MateVeza is currently in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado. We will continue to focus on these markets and potentially add additional strategic markets. We get a lot of requests in the Midwest and East Coast. Hopefully one day everyone will be able to drink yerba mate beer in their city.