Swig on this: Beer that’s good for what ales the community

16 May 2017

Brisbane’s James Grugeon is a truly ale-truistic bloke (we couldn’t help ourselves).

Thanks to his social enterprise The Good Beer Co, beer o’clock is now officially a guilt-free hour.

As Australia’s first social enterprise beer company, the startup works exclusively with Australian craft brewers, donating a bit from each beer (and half of its profits) to its charity partners.

A solo founder and serial social entrepreneur, James says he wanted to find a product that would help generate funds for charities and create an avenue for people, organisations and businesses to contribute.

“We make it really easy for good causes and organisations to team up with people and businesses over a beer that gives back,” he says.

The Good Beer Co’s first beer that gives back is Great Barrier Beer, brewed by Queensland craft brewers at Bargara Brewing Company, with funds raised donated to Australian Marine Conservation Society.

At just a year old, Great Barrier Beer is stocked and backed by award-winning restaurants and chefs from around Queensland.

Great Barrier Beer has also been supported by Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland, and served at events to promote the reef in Los Angeles and London. It is now served on P&O Australia’s cruise ship fleet, stocked by over 100 BWS bottle shops and promoted by fellow profit-for-a-purpose pioneers, Zambrero.

James says he has been overwhelmed with the kindness and support shown by Queensland businesses to help bring The Good Beer Co to life, but the journey hadn’t been without its challenges.

“It’s hard work for anyone starting a business on their own, even with all the support I’ve had,” he says.

“You have to work seven days a week and be totally focused on the business, and you’ll make mistakes. The important thing is to try not to make them twice, learn from them and prioritise.”

Being new to the craft beer sector, and to transport, logistics and hospitality, James says there was a lot to learn.

“Raising funds has been really hard and whoever told me first that cash is king has been proven absolutely right,” he says.

“Cashflow is the thing that keeps me up at night and it’s a big challenge in a business built around selling large volumes of beer wholesale.”

When James isn’t out visiting new stockists or charity groups, he works out of Little Tokyo Two’s coworking space in Brisbane.

“I love working out of Little Tokyo Two because I can drop in and fire up the laptop anytime I’m in town,” he says.

“It’s a great place to work but also a really supportive and collaborative community. I’m often able to call on people to help me with social media, shooting a video for an investment pitch, organising an event, taking photos or even linking me up with beer stockists.”

As a solo founder, James says he also benefits from the social aspect of the coworking community.

“It’s important to keep your energy levels up and to keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it, and surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing and want to support you,” he says.

James is now looking at scaling The Good Beer Co by expanding his range and reach to New South Wales and Victoria.

“The only way we’ll achieve our goal of raising funds and profile for charity partners is to sell a lot of beer, across Australia, and hopefully for export too,” he says.

Find out more about The Good Beer Co.

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