Wisconsinites love their beer, and several craft breweries call Madison home. Among them is MobCraft, a brewing concern quickly earning a reputation not only for stunning original beers, but also for a truly distinctive business model.
For starters, MobCraft’s brews are crowdsourced. The team monitors the “social popularity of each beer recipe through different channels of social media. The resulting data is merged into a social popularity tracker that will determine the most popular beer recipes each month.” After listening to what customers want in real-time, they set their brewing expertise in motion, crafting a beverage that’s as delicious as it is original.
And now, to take things to a whole other level, MobCraft has started accepting bitcoin. As of April 25, patrons can pay using bitcoin in MobCraft’s Madison taproom. The brewery has partnered with BitPay for its integration needs. An online bitcoin payment option for shipped orders is in the works and will be released in the near future.
I spoke recently with MobCraft co-founder Henry Schwartz about beer and bitcoin.
JSD: How did you get into beer brewing?
HS: I got started out when I was in college. One of my friends and his twin brother were pretty avid home brewers. We took some classes together and that kind of led down the road of starting to do some home brewing together. In college I studied entrepreneurship and my partner studied microbiology. After graduation, he spent some time in the professional brewing world. After that, we decided we should start up a company—MobCraft. We opened in May 2013.
JSD: How did you come to the decision to crowdsource?
HS: We wanted to open up a brewery and do something different. We remembered learning about companies like Quirky that allowed a crowd to dictate what products were produced. So we set out to marry the worlds of craft beer and crowdsourcing.
JSD: How does the crowdsourcing process work?
HS: Anybody can submit an idea for a beer to our website. It can be as complicated as an entire home brew recipe or as simple as a few ingredients. From there, we create a complete recipe and seek governmental approval. Once it’s approved, it goes to our website and into our voting pool. For the first 21 days of each month, the recipes battle against each other based on crowd vote. At the end of the month, the one with the most votes is selected as the winner. Then we brew it, package it, and distribute it.
JSD: Are there any brewing or business “philosophies” you abide by?
HS: We’re in this for the love of brewing, just like the majority of our fans who are beer lovers and home brewers. We’re really apt to share our recipes with people so they can try brewing them at home. We promote experimentation and enjoy putting the beer lover in control of what’s actually being produced. That’s our philosophy. We’re not tied to any specific style other than just being unique.
JSD: How did you learn about bitcoin?
HS: I was reading about bitcoin online a lot. It struck me as really cool, but I was taking a passive approach, just seeing how things played out. Then a former classmate from UW-Whitewater approached me about accepting it.
JSD: Would you say that bitcoin fits in with your business model?
HS: Yeah, I think it fits in really well with what we’re doing and what we plan to do, especially with crowdsourcing. Right off the bat, we’re accepting bitcoin in our taproom on a local scale. We’re in the process of creating a new website which will hopefully go live on May 1. Then we hope to incorporate bitcoin in the future to other sales via our new website.
In the end, MobCraft’s business model can be summed up as follows:
Through the use of a website, social media, and email marketing, the founders have created a lean business aimed at creating “custom craft beers” with a brewing methodology incorporating crowdsourcing. Meaning that the customers submit beer ideas, Andrew crafts recipes, and the Mob of users vote on the recipes that they want to see brewed. The beer can then be ordered and shipped to 36 states or picked up from the brewery taproom at 4539 Helgesen Drive, Madison, WI 53718.d
For more information, visit MobCraft’s website.
Joseph S. Diedrich is a Young Voices Advocate and a law student at the University of Wisconsin. His written work has appeared at The Washington Times, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Townhall, the Future of Freedom Foundation, PanAm Post, and elsewhere. He also holds a degree in music composition.