Local startup helps breweries

Local startup helps breweries

Brewery Buddy, established last month at Tuscaloosa Startup Weekend 2014, is an online service where brewers can organize and track their recipes, schedules, inventory and budgeting. Photo Courtesy of Josh Sahib

Brewery Buddy, established last month at Tuscaloosa Startup Weekend 2014, is an online service where brewers can organize and track their recipes, schedules, 
inventory and budgeting.

Wes Eldridge, a web developer and co-creator of Brewery Buddy, said the business began from a partnership with his friend from graduate school, Josh Sahib, an instructional designer at the University of Alabama. Eldridge and Sahib began brainstorming ideas when they registered for Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event that facilitated the formation of new businesses from 
Sept. 24-26.

“I was having a beer over at Druid City Brewing and talking to some of them, and they mentioned some of the different problems they were having,” Sahib said. “I thought there could maybe be something here.”

With 54 hours to develop their idea, Eldridge and Sahib put together a team of developers, designers and business experts.

“After a couple of hours of back and forth, we knew we had something,” Eldridge said. “The next week we invited a couple of friends over and pitched the idea to them; they both liked it and agreed to work with us during Startup Weekend. The rest is history.”

Melissa Jenkins, Startup Weekend organizer and a senior majoring in computer science, said she noticed the potential of Brewery Buddy when the idea was pitched at the start of the conference.

“It wasn’t your usual idea; it sounded like an actual idea for an actual business,” Jenkins said. “They were able to go out into the town and speak to bar owners. That was huge. Their customer discovery was really their edge.”

Sahib and Eldridge’s team won first prize at the end of Startup Weekend. Their reward included three free months of workspace and hours of free legal and business consultation. After their victory, the team decided to move forward with the exception of two members.

“Every single one of us around that table was like, ‘Let’s do this,’” Sahib said. “This is a long-term project, it could take months and months or years, and everybody seemed okay with that. They believe in the idea, and that was probably one of the biggest, exciting things about the weekend.”

The project’s site, BreweryBuddy.co, went live during Startup Weekend, but Sahib says the 
company’s next steps include weekly meetings, further website development and continual motivation. The team hopes to start building relationships with brewers and beer enthusiasts throughout the South to keep the business close to home.

“We’re all from the South. We support the South, and that’s where we’re starting all of this,” Sahib said. “We’re all about partnerships, having a cold one and trying to build something together.”

Eldridge said support within Brewery Buddy and its new network will be vital as the business develops and moves toward a permanent future. He, Sahib and their new colleagues will continue to believe in the idea as long as they believe in each other, Eldridge said.

“You often hear sport announcers talk about momentum, teamwork and leadership. These three principles hold true within the walls of a startup,” Eldridge said. “Josh and I both believe we can bring this product to market and that we are 
headed in the right direction.”

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