Adelaide SA | October 2019
What is your business? How long has the business been operating?
I make beer. High quality, small batch, carefully crafted beer. Mephisto Brewing Co was established in 2016 but I’ve been brewing beer for over 15 years
What were you doing before you made contact with Many Rivers? What was your previous work experience?
Prior to being in touch with Many Rivers, I’d been a ‘jack of all trades’. I’m a qualified carpenter but it was never a passion. I spent three years based in Germany travelling, and worked in hospitality and the wine industry before establishing Mephisto Brewing Co.
Beer is my passion and my time in Europe really reaffirmed this. There is a lot more to the beer culture we’re not yet seeing in Australia
Who referred you to Many Rivers? When?
I did the NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) course about two and a half years ago. The mentor they assigned me was a great start, but his experience was limited to retail whilst my business now is primarily manufacturing. We recognised that Mephisto needed someone a little more specialised and I was referred to Sam (Many Rivers Microenterprise Development Manager). We’ve been working together for about 18 months now.
Why did you want to go into business?
Beer is my passion, my art and my love. It’s a bit cliché really – turning beer into a career was always the dream!
Prior to establishing Mephisto, I struggled to focus on anything apart from beer 100% all day every day. It’s not just one thing that ties me to beer and brewing – I think the biggest push is the big connection to people. Hand people a beer and they let their guard down. It’s the whole concept of it all – the art, the culture, and there’s the science aspect to it too. That’s what gets me excited.
What services did you receive from Many Rivers? How did it help?
Being new to small business, things would come up that I’d not faced before. Initially Sam supported me to identify specific areas of concerns and develop practical, task-oriented solutions. Now, I have the skills and confidence to manage these things myself and as a result there’s been a shift to Sam being more a broad ‘moral business compass’. It gives me someone to bounce ideas off and discuss a wider perspective – as a passionate brewer sometimes I need reminding to focus on the business side too.
Without the support I’ve had from Sam, I’m not sure Mephisto Brewing Co. would still be in business! No word of a lie! At times I’ve been ready to throw in the towel, to give up but with Sam’s support I’ve been able to work through these times and see the bigger picture
What did you find the most useful about the assistance from Many Rivers?
When I get stuck, when I have no idea and things aren’t making any sense to me, I can call Sam and we can talk it through. I’m cautious when it comes to taking advice because everyone and their dog has an opinion! It can be difficult to find someone completely impartial, who has no ulterior motive and genuinely wants you to succeed but for me and Mephisto, Sam supported by Many Rivers, is that person.
Did you get a loan from MR?
Do you have any current employees?
Right now, I’m a sole trader but with Mephisto growing at the pace it is, employing people is definitely on the agenda.
What has been the biggest challenge to date?
Time management, organising, implementing systems and procedures and generally learning to manage a real variety of competing priorities.
I’m self-taught – I’ve tried every beer, read every book and really tried to educate and ground myself in the theory of beer and brewing, but I’ve not invested the same energy into business practice or theory. As a result, I created systems and developed practices ‘on the fly’, only to realise upon reflection that there could be more efficient way to do things at Mephisto.
What has been the biggest success to date?
There’s been a few!
Firstly, I strive to create premium, higher-end products and I’m successful in doing so, but just as importantly I’ve been able to build successful relationships with venues servicing those who want a premium, higher-end product. I now have a brand that sits side by side, and often in direct competition to some of Australia’s most well-established craft and specialty brewers.
Recently, I’ve further invested in the Mephisto Brewing Co.’s sales capacity through the purchase of a mobile bar and cool room which was a fantastic asset at the recent Beer & BBQ Fest in Adelaide. Moving forward, I’ll be taking this mobile bar to events across both South Australia and Victoria.
I’m also really proud of my personal success and growth. I struggled with dyslexia throughout my school years and it had significant negative impact on my self-confidence. Ten years ago, I never would have believed that one day I’d be running my own business.
What has been the biggest change for you/your family since you started your business?
Life has become a lot more challenging! I think before I was an idealist but now, I’m more of a realist. It’s really time to focus, concentrate and work hard to build Mephisto. I have to work really smart and always be on top of changes in my specific industry, and the wider market. Working for yourself is a dream, but not always the dream you imagine… For instance, lots of people don’t realise that brewing beer is 90% cleaning!
In regard to family, I’ve had unwavering support from mine. It’s been challenging for us all at times, but I couldn’t be more appreciative.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
Long term, I want to continue building Mephisto’s production capacity, further develop a national brand and start packaging beer. If I can produce enough to fill market demand nationally, then the next step is international. First stop, Bonn in Germany. A good friend has recently opened a bar and craft beer centre there and we’ve had initial discussions about Mephisto Brewing Co. being a part of this. Selling beer to the Germans would really be a dream come true! I’m cautious though as plans can change so no matter what and the outcome is always a gamble.