Then the call came: A nearby small town wanted to recruit a startup craft brewery. And if this trio could shift from being employees to becoming entrepreneurs, that opportunity could be theirs for the taking.
“That was our push,” says Amy, “to decide are we going to go for it, or just keep talking about it for another ten years?”
Plans fizzle as a suitable space eludes the trio
Twenty minutes west of Eugene, Oregon, the small town of Veneta was pushing to revitalize its downtown and overall economy. Local breweries had gained a reputation for anchoring an area and drawing in visitors. In the neighboring city of Springfield, Plank Town Brewing had been a catalyst that led to new life, vibrancy, and small business ownership downtown. Communities such as Veneta now wanted to see if fostering craft beverage businesses could be a boon to their economies as well. Given the funding, regulatory, and capital requirements of brewing startups, the trio knew they would need a solid business plan.
“It wasn't enough to say we wanted to open the brewery,” explains Amy.
“People wanted to understand what we were going to provide and how we would do it. What made us different?”
As they investigated how to plan their startup,Chris found LivePlan, and the team quickly took to it.
“We had no trouble learning how to use LivePlan,” says Amy. “It is a great program for anyone trying to create a business plan and made it so easy.”
From what funders and lenders would look for to the nitty-gritty details, LivePlan guided the trio from concept to a ready-to-use plan. LivePlan's business plan writing tools resources also helped Amy hone in on what would make their business stand out.
“We leaned heavily on our team,” she explains. “The three of us had the capability, the different components, between us. We leaned on who we were and the experience we brought.”
With a usable business plan, Amy, Cam, and Chris approached Veneta and found a receptive audience. Veneta offered incentives, including a suitable building. The team continued reviewing their plan, adjusting numbers, and saw how their startup could find a sustainable, profitable home in Veneta. Momentum built.
“Then Covid put a halt to everything,” says Amy. “We had an SBA loan ready, and the bank pulled it. It was a nightmare. We realized Veneta wasn't going to work out and quickly pivoted.”
Shaken but determined, the trio worked in LivePlan to adapt their business plan while continuing their search. In 2021, another small community outside of Eugene expressed interest. The team learned about the area, what they offered, and the potential for a customer base. Ultimately, the team's plan and their judgment made them walk away.
“We were excited, and they were excited,” says Amy, “but the infrastructure just wasn't there.”
Does a larger space fit the numbers?
Behind the scenes in 2022, Amy continued diving into LivePlan. Pivoting from the collapse of a second potential home base, she examined scenarios and adjusted numbers.
What would it take to get the brewery established, operating, and open? The team brought their business plan to the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN). With RAIN's background in expert guidance and alternative financing options, Amy knew RAIN could identify opportunities or avenues that the trio might not have been aware of. RAIN helped them launch a Republic crowdfunding campaign. The network also put Amy, Cam, and Chris in contact with LivePlan's advisors and writers at Palo Alto Software in Eugene.
“We worked really closely with Palo Alto Software to fine-tune the business plan,” explains Amy. “They reviewed it, gave feedback, made it prettier, and helped it read better than it already did.”
Meanwhile, the trio worked with their realtor to continue viewing and evaluating properties, but nothing panned out. Finally, their realtor suggested they check out some spaces in Eugene.
The initial spot they looked at was too small. But they had noticed another available location a block away. Structurally, the space had the right floor, drainage, utilities, and infrastructure that a brewery would need. It was also bigger than they had planned for. However, being in an industrial area of western Eugene brought a more affordable square footage price tag.
Since Amy had been working on the business plan, she saw how it could still work.