My name is Bryan Spooner and I am the beard behind Weird Beard.
I started Weird Beard Brew Co. back in 2013. There were a few people involved in various ways right at the start, but ultimately it was Gregg Irwin and myself who took the plunge.
We both had other jobs at the time. I was working full time at the BBC, which left me little time to focus on the set-up of the brewery but I did have some savings.
So in the beginning, I put in more capital while Gregg put in more hours, doing the leg, vocal and brain work of opening a brewery. That is not to say I didn't get my hands dirty. During the set-up phase, I wrote a weekly blog on how things were going:
The idea from the beginning was for Gregg and myself to share everything, but it soon became clear who was better suited to certain roles in the business.
Gregg is an outgoing 'people' kinda person, who had already spent a lot of time on the business side of things. He was also not a great fan of cleaning, which brewing is mostly. So he naturally fell into the sales and business part of things. I was quieter, shyer, and came from an engineering background, so was a lot more at home hiding away inside the brewery, brewing and packaging the beer. So I naturally fell into the operations/production side of things. I have improved massively over the years, heading up plenty of events etc., but it is still a bit out of my comfort zone. We both very much contributed to the recipe development though, with Gregg's beers still very much a mainstay in our core line up today.
For various reasons, covered in THIS BLOG, Gregg decided to move on. With our main sales person following shorty after. We hired a new sales person and a financial controller. It soon became apparent that as a business, we had not been doing as well as we had thought for quite some time.
So we quickly parted company with our external accountant, who had let some very big mistakes go unchanged for some time. And set to work trying to get our books in order. Unfortunately it was a little late for a few decisions that had just been signed, sealed and delivered. We had just brought a large walk in cold store, and signed a contract on the building. Quite frankly, this was a luxury we could not afford, but we had agreed to. This meant we could not price our beer as competitively as we may have liked.``
I don’t think I am biased when I say that Weird Beard has a great reputation and huge potential. We are invited to international beer festivals on almost a monthly basis. We have been around since almost the beginning of the London craft beer explosion. But I am not afraid to admit that I have not had the business knowledge to run the business, sales and production. The people we did hire, for various reasons, have not all worked out.
We have learned a lot over the past two years. What I have learnt most of all are my own limitations. I am still not the man to sit and chat on the phone for hours. I am an introvert, and I have come to terms with that. But this does mean that I am not the man to single-handedly sit at the helm of a brewery. I need help, I need support, but I also need to share a mutual vision.
A number of people have sat in the comfy seat in what I liked to call Gregg's Memorial Office, until I tore the walls down, literally and metaphorically. But no-one who has sat there has quite gelled with what I feel Weird Beard is all about, and how we work together as a team.
Don't get me wrong, and don't mistake this for lack of ambition. We built up Weird Beard with our own hard work and our own money (plus some small investment from family and friends). When we had some money in the bank, we brought a new piece of kit, ticking off the brewer's Christmas list. We got a long way into this journey without any loans or other funding streams, and this is how I liked it. As long as we were making the beer we wanted to drink, our staff were getting paid, and we didn't have debtors beating down the door, I was happy. The beer and brewing world has changed a lot and I can't afford to let it pass us by. I simply do not have the time, skills or any more money to invest. But I am not ready to give up.
With all this in mind, I am on the look out for a new business partner. Someone with experience and vision. Someone who is ideally happy to invest a little bit of money to acquire shares in the company.
The person would be added to the board of directors, and will draw a salary for the work they do. The day-to-day work will be all those super happy fun things that 90% of people forget about when starting a brewery, which include:
Accounts. We can farm a lot of accounting out to a Spreadsheet Ninja in an office, but there is a certain amount we need to do in-house,.
Chasing money. We all know people don't like to pay their bills. It is shocking just how many business models are based around not paying for anything until pushed. So we need someone to do that pushing.
Paying bills. Or juggling as it could be known. Once we secure payment from customers we need to push that into the direction of our own supply chain.
Paying our fine team members on time.
Liaising and being the main point of contact for all business stuff: utilities, landlords, HMRC, the list is endless.
Being the general authority and go-to person in the office. We have three buildings currently, and I don’t get to spend much time in the office. Making sure we have all the correct paper work and the right times to be a fully functioning brewery.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There will be things I have forgotten about. Maybe even not been aware of. It will be your job to be aware of all this. Which is why experience is essential.
Ideally this person will be someone I already know or have good links with, or with links to a well-respected brewery. Part of the reason past relationships have ended was the lack of that familiarity. There needs to be some history there, we need to be able to talk frankly with each other without fear of it being taken the wrong way, as much as possible. Someone I can bounce ideas off of, who will tell me if I am being a fool. Someone who knows the business of brewing, of selling, and of having fun while doing it.
So I lay my heart and mind bare, and come to the brewing world with a plea for help. But I also believe I bring an amazing opportunity to be part of one of the original London Craft breweries, and to be the person who pushes that brewery head first into the future. Where we can continue to brew the beer we want, spread the good word all around the world, innovate, and have a lot of fun in the process.
If you are interested and would like to find out more, contact me on the details below for an informal chat.
Weird Beard Bryan