$100,000 of Beer…Down the Drain

In June 2013 I filed the incorporation documents for WaitLess, Inc. In purely financial terms, it was a failure, unless you count the $3.52 of revenue from in-app ads.

During the formation of the company, we met with anyone and everyone, which thankfully led to some great conversations with local economic development offices. The trend I noticed, though, was that our desire to create and build an app development company in the Inland Empire was completely unique. At the time, most of the entrepreneurial efforts were centered around the food industry.

I suppose this shouldn’t have come as a shock, given some of the most notable and successful companies in our region. After all, McDonalds and its $127 BILLION market cap got its start right here in the Inland Empire. But the scalability and growth of McDonalds wasn’t because they made the best hamburger in the world; it was because they were the most consistent in the world.

Their competitive advantage: their efficient and perfectly engineered system.

Take a modern example, Ritual Brewing Co.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ritual’s founders, Steve Dunkerken and Owen Williams. This interview was for a pilot episode of a series, California Dreaming, highlighting the entrepreneurs and craftsman of the region. Reflecting on this interview was eye opening.

I would argue that there are two things we have a surplus of in our region, taco stands and distribution centers/warehouses. Assuming said surplus is true, we do not need more of either. But, this surplus may be the catapult for the next McDonalds.

Take, for example, Steve and Owen at Ritual. Their commitment to quality and their customers once led them to dumping $100,000 worth of beer down the drain!

Ritual Co-Founders Owen Williams and Steve Dunkerken

There are few people willing to stomach such a loss, especially when, to the untrained beer drinker, there was no immediate and discernible difference in the taste of the beer. But it was their industry-leading quality assurance process that caught a problem with the yeast before the beer was ever bottled. Because if it had hit shelves, a month later, customers would have been spitting out the beer. This is what commitment to quality and the customer looks like.

It was at this point my previously cynical perspective on our food and retail industry was completely reversed. These are obvious assets to the region and they need to be celebrated and shared. Because it is the growth within these companies that will lead to the innovative systems and services which, in turn, will spur growth.

A lot has changed since McDonalds opened its doors in 1940, but as I witnessed at last week’s Redlands Market Night, a major piece of our regional culture in hasn’t. That is, our most creative form of expression and craftsmanship is through food. Whether it was the crowded vegetarian booth or the artisan wood-fired pizza, this is where our creativity meets commerce.

I want to tell more of these stories, and remind our community of the incredible success that has been and can be achieved right here in the Inland Empire.

Who do you know that’s an example of this? Reach out. Share. I’d love to hear more.

Learn. Explore. Share.

WHAT I’M LEARNING — The craft beer industry has been under attack by major brands for the last couple of years. Check out Greg Koch’s video about Stone’s reason to sue MillerCoors.

WHAT I’M USING — A Nikon D750. A beautiful camera and the reason we will be taking many more photos in 2018!

WHAT I’M THANKFUL FOR — Our film, My Name is Myeisha, winning the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival as well as Rhaechyl Walker’s award for Best Actor. #humblebrag

Keep following along as this Curious Millennial pontificates on the issues facing our generation. Einstein said it best:

“I have no particular talents. I am only passionately curious.”

See you when I see you.