Founder Friday: Pubinno’s Can Algul

Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.

Today we’re talking to Can Algül, CEO and co-founder of Pubinno.

Can Algul, Pubinno co-founder and CEO

HWY1: Tell us a little about your background.
The story starts five years ago: I was a bartender throughout most of my time in college. Towards the end, I dropped out to enter the draft beer industry with my first startup, a digital pub chain called DigiPubs.

Where did the idea for this business come from?
We were looking for the best way to disrupt the beer industry. With DigiPubs, we built sensors and screens into pub tables that allowed consumers to order directly from their seat. We raised funds for DigiPubs, but new alcohol regulations essentially ended it overnight. From there, we moved on to BeerPoints, which were vending machines for draft beer that worked on a prepaid card system. Consumers loved BeerPoints, but we felt like we could do more. We started to notice the problems around dispensing beer: lack of standardization, loss from taps, etc. There are 20 million beer taps around the world — beer is the third most-consumed beverage — so there’s a big opportunity there. It made the decision to build a smart beer tap easy.

What’s your biggest surprise or key learning been thus far at Highway1?
Highway1 has given us more structure. We’ve learned a lot about development processes, documentation, testing, and user research. In our industry, there are so many stakeholders — bars, breweries, distributors, tap service companies — and they all have different needs. User research is the best way to find and target their pain points. Data from the field shapes our development process; the new version of our device will eliminate some features and add others.

What are your goals while you’re at Highway1?
To connect everyone in the beer ecosystem to create perfect beer.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to get started in the hardware space?
[chuckles] Think twice! Hardware is more than hard. Design processes for getting to your MVP, and put your product out in the field as soon as possible; don’t wait.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in hardware?
Designing and working with mechanical parts is hard; manufacturing them at scale is harder.