Since 2014, True Büch has been brewing up something special in Calgary. The kombucha brewery was founded by locals Conrad and Louisa Ferrell, who wanted to create a business that reflected their values of community, health, and independence.
True Büch checks all three boxes, providing craft kombucha to a growing community of health-conscious consumers across Canada. The company has grown at a steady clip since Conrad created his first commercial batch in the kitchen of a Cochrane curling rink. The brewery now sells around 15,000 bottles of kombucha a week, with plans to double or even triple production within the next few years.
Conrad recently sat down with Dustin Paisley, an entrepreneur strategist at ATB, to talk through his entrepreneurial journey. Here are four tips from True Büch on starting and growing a business.
1: Be quick on your feet.
Conrad expected True Büch’s first batch of commercial brew would take a little while to sell. The company was virtually unknown, after all.
“I dropped off my first kegs at the beginning of December to [our first customer],” he says. “I gave them two kegs and said, you’ll be good for a month. I’m off to Hawaii for Christmas. I’ll see you guys in three weeks.”
Two days later, the customer called back and said the kombucha was gone.
The news caused a bit of chaos for the Ferrells in the short term—kombucha takes two weeks to brew, so they had to scramble to make more. But it was a good problem to have in the big picture as it confirmed that there was strong demand for True Büch’s product in Calgary.
2: Grow at your own pace.
After entering the market and finding some early success, True Büch’s production needs rapidly outgrew their first home. Conrad and Louisa had a choice to make.
“I could have went and raised five million dollars, built a 40,000 square foot facility,” says Conrad. “But we chose to keep it simple. We wanted to do something that was community focused and not money focused.”
That is why Louisa and Conrad chose to grow their company at the right rate for them. They moved to a 4,000 square-foot production facility that they still occupy today.
3: Connect with your community.
Conrad has drawn tons of insight and inspiration from his fellow entrepreneurs—both in Calgary and abroad.
“Everyone [in Calgary] kind of gets together and teams together and has ideas and suggestions,” Conrad says. “It’s a really cool community and one of our favorite things about it.”
Internationally, True Büch connects with other kombucha microbreweries to share stories and energy. Conrad looks up to Remedy Kombucha in Australia in particular.
“Four years ago, when I first met [Remedy co-founder Emmet Condon], he was our size. Just a microbrewery,” says Conrad. “He is now doing hundreds of thousands of bottles.
“That isn’t my goal in life, to be that size. I couldn’t handle that,” he adds.“But watching somebody take an infant product and industry and grow it to that size that quickly is very inspiring. So I really lean on him for everything from regulations to processes.”
4: Embrace doubt.
As a budding entrepreneur, you might think you need complete faith in yourself and your idea to start a business. Not so, says Ferrell.
“If you’re doubting yourself, that’s probably a good thing,” says Ferrell. “The people that succeed are those that push that doubt to the side. I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck on the entrepreneurial side, they can’t get over that doubt, that self doubt, those negative thoughts of what if, what if.
“Jump in, all two feet, and just do it.”
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