First hand interview. Tom and Athena Seefurth, Pizza Beer: “If you have a passion, go for it!”

Tom Athena Seefurth Starting a small business might seem very tempting: no 8 to 5 office work, no grouchy bosses, new challenges, bright perspectives… Unfortunately being an entrepreneurs involves so many risks and stress, that you should be well prepared before leaving your full-time work and jumping into business. Tom and Athena Seefurth from Pizza Beer have passed all stages of starting a business and have a story to tell and some advices to give. 1. How did the idea of Pizza Beer appeared? Did you have to leave a full-time work to devote yourself to business? We were brewing beer for fun in our garage and got a crazy idea from a beer we had made the previous year. In 2005 we brewed a beer with all of the spices in our garden and entered it in home brew competitions. The beer scored well and we took a few ribbons home. One of our neighbors who does not like beer really liked it and referred to it as Pizza Beer. The following year, 2006, we had a package of yeast that was a year old & needed to be used. In addition, we had extra tomatoes, a surplus of garlic and a good crop of oregano and basil. We figured, why not put it in the beer? Worst case, we'd cook with it. The beer actually surprised us as a beverage that we wanted to drink, especially when eating pizza. This beer did better in competition and our regular jobs had pretty much slowed down to nothing. (I am a Real Estate Broker/Owner, Athena is/was a Mortgage Specialist) That being said, we went to a local brewpub and made a 10 barrel batch. The beer sold out very quickly and the local press began interviewing us. We spent the rest of the year trying to find a brewery to make this unusual brew. No cash left in the bank, we borrowed money for labels and boxes, contracted a local brewery in Milwaukee, WI. When I say sleepless nights, I mean staring at the ceiling hoping this big 40 barrel brew would be good and people would buy it! The rest is history, we now brew bout 100 barrels a year and are selling a line of pizza and bread making kits in which we suggest our beer is to be purchased and used as an ingredient rather than water. I still hold a Brokers License, Athena is retired from Mortgages. We have not earned a dime in real estate for the time we have been pursuing this venture. 2. What difficulties did you encounter when starting your business? Getting paid on time. Here in The USA, you must use a beer wholesale company to sell the product for us. Since the wholesalers know that once you register your brand, you are committed to use them or pay them to buy the brand back. It is also difficult to get the stores to display the beer in the right place so that customers notice it, look at it & give it a try. We initially got the beer made and sold it to whomever would buy it, thinking that if the wholesalers sales team was earning a commission, that surely the beer would be sold and placed properly. Wrong assumption, many stores mixed it in with the other single bottles and we got lost, resulting in weak sales in many locations. Weak sales mean you are out of there and really have no chance of getting back. We focused on key stores and learned that the Liquor Stores were not where the beer was selling, but the grocery stores that sold our bread & pizza mixes were giving people a reason to come back and buy it. 3. What was the amount of initial investments? We started with a $10,000 loan to buy labels, boxes & materials to brew the first batch. We used the profit to put back in & make another batch. Here in the USA they call it "Bootstrapping" Very tough to do, we made major lifestyle changes and almost lost our home. 4. What would you advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? If you have a passion, go for it. 80% of all the great ideas are floating around never to be seen. Understand you will have to climb a mountain with no safety line or net so be ready to laugh, cry, worry and rejoice. We remind ourselves often that we could have to wake up tomorrow & face an employer whom we cannot stand or work our rear ends off to stuff someone Else's pockets full of gold. We want our pockets to be that "someone else".

Source - Business Ideas