Jackie Fast waxes lyrical about a success story which began on an industrial estate at a fishing port in north-east Scotland.
In this month’s column for Elite Business I would like to pay tribute to the company BrewDog which has become a massive success since opening for business 14 years ago. BrewDog was founded in Fraserburgh, Scotland, by two students who used ‘shock value’ to get the company noticed.
The company began life on an industrial estate, brewing beer ‘ which is hardly glamorous. Yet, almost a decade and a half later, it is now a multinational brewery and pub chain with a $2bn valuation. They grabbed everyone’s attention with their high-risk PR stunts.
With no marketing budget, they decided to use shock tactics that included projecting their own naked images onto the Houses of Parliament. If that doesn’t get you noticed, nothing will! They have had their run-ins with the UK drinks industry watchdog, the Portman Group, but have emerged on the other side in great shape.
To run through their amazing list of achievements: In 2009 they purchased their first bar in Aberdeen; Two years later the company offered crowdfunding shares totalling £2m; By the start of 2016 its workforce had reached 130; One year on and private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners had acquired a 22% stake in the company for approximately £213m; And, by the end of 2018, the company and its franchisees operated 78 bars worldwide. It’s a brand that is now well-known as far afield as Australia and United States.
The future certainly favours the bold, and there’s never been a better opportunity for smaller companies and brands to stake their claim on the national or global stage. BrewDog would probably not have existed 25 years ago, pre-internet, or perhaps remain a local operation. The worldwide web has been a brilliant tool and opportunity for smaller operations which had the balls to make a grand entry and grab the headlines.
The web is one of the great levellers of the 21st century. You no longer need bricks and mortar to sell a product, neither do you require $10m to launch a brand. But you still need a strong strategy and a great product. The brand must stand out from the rest of the competition.