Brewbound Podcast Episode 15: Jim Woods on Pivots and Perseverance

Jim Woods, the founder of Bay Area-based Woods Beer Co., opened his first brewpub location in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2012.

But in the six years leading up to the opening of what he calls the “Woods Cervecería,” Woods had been selling a yerba mate-infused IPA called MateVeza, as well as two other offerings, that were brewed under contract and distributed to a handful of Western states.

That exercise – brewing bigger batches of beer, partnering with distributors in non-local markets, and attempting to sell consumers on a relatively unknown brand – proved to be both costly and inefficient.

“I was doing a lot of ride-alongs and growing the business, but I wasn’t seeing the kind of growth that I wanted to,” Woods said.

“I just didn’t feel like I was making an impact or doing anything for my brand,” he added, noting the daily visits to retail accounts such as Whole Foods.

So Woods did what any smart entrepreneur would: He pivoted.

“I wasn’t seeing the scalability and I wasn’t breaking into the awareness of the customer that I wanted to, solely through being on the shelves,” he said.

In 2012, Woods — who now oversees five locations throughout San Francisco and Oakland – began focusing his resources on a taproom-focused business model that enabled him to have a “more tangible relationship with the customer.”

“Having a mecca, a brick-and-mortar where people can, you know, slip on a puddle and fall into the arms of their future wife,” he said.

In episode 15 of the Brewbound Podcast, Woods discusses his company’s shift from a distribution-focused business model to a retail-minded operation. He also talks about the difficulty of trying to build a new product segment – in his case yerba mate-infused beer – and the challenges small breweries face now that thousands of competitors have flooded the space.

Also in this episode: Brewbound editors Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall share the latest news, including information about a new co-packing facility in New Hampshire, details about equipment manufacturer DME’s receivership, and an update on Drizly’s latest round of funding.

Listen to episode 15 of the Brewbound Podcast above, as well as on iTunes. The episode is also available on Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast, which is co-hosted by Furnari and Kendall, are published every Thursday.

Episode 16, featuring Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway, will be released on Thursday, December 27.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email podcast@brewbound.com.

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Brewbound Podcast

The Brewbound Podcast features interviews with beer industry executives and entrepreneurs, along with highlights and commentary from the weekly news. New episodes every Thursday.