Our first year is in the books.
Year 2, here we come!
At our annual meeting recently, we celebrated our first full year of operation with a wrap-up of what we had accomplished as a Co-op, A Brewery, and as a Business.
One of our proudest accomplishments as a Co-op has been our success as a community builder in our adoptive neighborhood of Greenwood. We have participated and contributed to many activities in this community, and have been embraced by the neighborhood and our patrons as a favorite “third place” not just for our members, but for families and local residents.
Further evidence of this lies in the fact that fully 50% of our membership growth in 2016 has been from households in the 98103/98107/98117 zip codes (the ones closest to Flying Bike)! We have been able to give back to our neighborhood through food drives, fundraisers for #greenwoodexplosion, and our very popular Member Driven Community series. We also serve as an informal meeting place for several local groups, including our own wildly successful RUN CLUB founded by our very own bartender (emeritus): Ryan Thrower.
Success as a brewery
As a brewery, we have succeeded in many ways in our first year. One of the ways is just the sheer number of different beers we have churned out: In the past year, we have brewed 24 different of beers! (recipes) 80% of these have been sold as Pints in our own Tasting room, with the remaining 20% fulfilled as Schooners, Tasters, half-Pints and a few kegs. Amazingly, we have also had 3 bottle releases in 12 short months as well!
Among our other accomplishments as a brewery, we have participated in many brew festivals (including our first ever GABF!), and even won a medal for our CDA. And we have successfully collaborated with local breweries (Naked City, Lucky Envelope, Blue Bird, Lantern).
We have our terrific membership to thank for this, in it’s support of #memberdrivenbeer, and in particular our Member Driven Beer Team which put on 4 competitions this year to add 4 new recipes to our books! And a huge part of our success has been due to the alchemy, the magic, and the tireless contributions of our head Brewer: Kevin Forhan. The day he walked in our door was the day we should have known that Flying Bike would be assured of Brewing riches beyond our wildest imagination!
Success as a business
All of the above success is based upon our ability to make money to keep this experiment in democratic beer going! Flying Bike is no longer an infant, and we are tottering along as a business and finding our footing. Our beer sales are supporting our staff, the production, the overhead and other expenses – in other words we are operationally in the black. Contrary to popular belief, most new small businesses do make it through the first year; however only 50% make it to year 5.
We are learning the business of brewing and selling beer, and learning the discipline required to keep to budgets and operate profitably. Thankfully we have not burned through our startup capital to fund our operations, and >knock wood<, and can use this as a safety net should we need one. We are making some investments in our future (the new chiller on the roof, our new-old serving tank), and planning to do more keg sales in the coming year to continue to modestly grow, and support growth organically.
Success as a co-op business is dependent on the continued support and contribution of our members, and we could not have done it without the hundreds of volunteer hours, and tens of thousands of pints you’ve consumed. So cheers to you, and thank you for your contribution to our success as a business!
– David Wiegand
(ps: If you weren’t able to make it to our Annual Meeting, you can view the slide deck we presented here. And remember that any member is welcome to attend our board meetings, which are mostly held at the brewery – the next one coming up Nov 5th, at 9am.)