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National Effort Underway To Help Craft Breweries Compete against ‘Big Beer’

Andre Meunier oregonlive.com

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Andre Meunier reports, leaders in the craft brew industry are hoping to “right the wrongs” of the beer industry and “address smaller brewery business disadvantages with new online connecting and community-building technologies.”

Portland

A Portland-based craft brewery consulting company has joined a national group that has created an online portal to provide small breweries across the U.S. with access to resources and education — an attempt to bring the cost savings enjoyed by large, corporate breweries down to the local level.

The group, UniteCraft, is a Colorado-based partnership of three brewing industry veterans, including Sam Holloway, the founder of Portland consulting group Crafting a Strategy. Holloway will provide content to help small breweries with education, planning and research.

“We’ve been building our community of brewery entrepreneurs at Crafting A Strategy for almost 10 years,” said Holloway, who is also a business and entrepreneurship professor at the University of Portland. “If we had the capability to develop technology to unite the craft industry like UniteCraft has, we would have done it years ago.”

UniteCraft’s other two partners are Nick Michaels, whose work includes software development at draft-systems manufacturer Micro Matic, and Derek Godfrey, a 30-year industry veteran who has worked at Micro Matic, MillerCoors and Molson.

In a statement, UniteCraft said it intends to “right the wrongs” of the beer industry and “address smaller brewery business disadvantages with new online connecting and community building technologies.”

The group says it will help craft breweries connect and collaborate, as well as reduce costs and improve collection of payments owed to them. UniteCraft employs four online platforms available to breweries:

Pinpoint, a resource for marketing, scheduling, delivering and paying for services that allows brewers to market and share their know-how.

Marketplace, which includes three industry-specific categories — brewery, distillery and bar — where small outfits can find needed equipment.

Business Center, where Crafting a Strategy provides learning modules, business education, strategy resources and market research.

Co-op Initiative, which is being developed but is anticipated to coordinate small brewery purchasing to reduce their material and operational costs — in effect, bring “Big Beer’ cost savings to craft breweries, CraftUnite said.

“The business of beer is unfair to small breweries. It’s time to change that,” Godfrey said. “UniteCraft exists to remove ‘Big Beer’ advantages with the integration of technology and community. For years, ‘Big Beer’ has accessed resources out of reach of the craft community.

Holloway, whose Crafting a Strategy provides support and education to several hundred breweries in 26 countries, said UniteCraft is a free resource that doesn’t require a membership, but it charges a 3% fee on commercial transactions. Breweries can access the services at unite-craft.com.

He said UniteCraft’s initial phase is focused on mentorship and consulting — a first step toward increasing collaboration and cooperation among smaller breweries.

“This is something that’s been missing for a long time,” Holloway said, “and as our industry continues to mature we need to take advantage of technologies that are out there to give small breweries a better competitive edge.”

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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