Always do your homework.
That’s the advice Castle Island Brewing founder Adam Romanow had for other entrepreneurs during this week’s Brew Talks meetup, held inside of his aforementioned and soon-to-launch Boston-area brewery.
“It is such a simple recommendation, but if you don’t go out and do your research and actually know what you’re going to do before you put your foot forward, it’s really easy to fall on your face,” he told a group of 60 beer industry professionals attending the event.
And that’s exactly what happened to Romanow when he originally began planning to launch a craft brewery back in 2011, at the time operating under the identity of “Critical Mass Brewing.” When a California winery making a product by the same name sent a cease and desist letter, Romanow was forced to rebrand.
“We swallowed our pride and went back to the drawing board,” he said.
Romanow ultimately decided to name the brewery after Castle Island, a 22-acre strip of land located just blocks from his South Boston home.
From 2012 – 2014, Romanow fine-tuned his business plan, began making test batches, studied the craft marketplace, pitched potential investors and started looking at property. For months, he unsuccessfully searched for a suitable location in South Boston and eventually broadened his radius to include a number of Boston suburbs. Romanow finally settled on more than 20,000 sq. ft. of commercial real estate in a Norwood, Mass. industrial park, and began construction earlier this summer.
“Rates were much more affordable, there were all sort of other benefits from not looking in the city of Boston like favorable zoning climates and cities that were just generally more favorable to small business,” he said of the process.
With a location in hand, Romanow was able to raise more than $1.5 million of startup capital from more than 20 investors and a local bank. Prior to that, however, he spent the better part of a year educating prospective investors on the beer business.
“Most private investors out there don’t understand all of the intricacies of the market and why 4,000 breweries isn’t necessarily a bad thing or why that should not prohibit them from investing in a brewery,” he said.
Castle Island hopes to officially open its doors before the end of the year, Romanow said, with the hope of becoming a large regional player in the Boston area.
“Our goal is to not just open a brewery in the sense that we manufacture and sell beer,” he said. “We want to move volume. We want to make a dent in the market. We think there is a lot of room for growth and we want to be a big part of that. “
In the video above, Romanow shares his experience launching a new craft beer company and offers advice to other breweries-in-planning.