“Nobody cares about your great idea. They care how you make ideas happen.” -- Ben McDougal
When I was in college, I never really liked beer much. I sort of nibbled around the Natty Ice when I needed to at parties, and yes, I might have indulged in a sip of a 40oz of Mickey’s a time or two. But it wasn’t until I spent a semester abroad in France that my host mother talked to me about actually getting to really know beer and wine.
“You don’t need to be a snob,” Marianne Seigot said to me as she poured me my first glass of French wine. “You just need to learn to appreciate it as it is. Let it rest in your mouth and think about what you’re drinking. Your let your mouth listen to the flavors. You see? It’s better when you just let it happen.”
This is about as Zen as the French get.
So when I heard that Ben McDougal had built something called FliteBrite, I was reminded of my experience drinking wine with Marianne. I knew I had to talk with him.
Talking with Ben reminded me of how much a disconnect Americans can have with what we eat and drink. I think Ben and his team have created something that at least bridges some of that divide between beer drinking and real beer knowledge and understanding.
Last week, Ben and I did a Facebook Live together. Here’s that chat in its entirety:
Inspiration from necessity
So let’s break their story down for a second. About three years ago, a group of friends including Ben were sitting around at 515 Brewing in Clive, Iowa drinking a beer flight. And it hit them. Wouldn’t it be great to have up to date tasting notes on the beers you’re drinking as you drink them? Like some sort of an app for beer drinkers? They did what imaginative people do in that situation. They took a napkin out and sketched.
Thus began a three year exploration of building a physical product that would eventually become FliteBrite.
And I stress the three year part, because the FliteBrite team didn’t just have an idea before they went to market. They actually did the research and built the product before they launched it to the world. Ben sums up the process:
“That’s a good lesson for entrepreneurs. Nobody cares about your great idea. They care how you make ideas happen. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of value in evolving an idea into reality and in this situation it required a lot of work, a lot of effort and patience.”
Solving the problem
When someone orders a beer flight at a normal bar, samples come to you, you take a sip and then end up forgetting what you’re drinking. FliteBrite solves that problem for both beer drinkers and for the bar/brewery establishments.
So then they went to work solving this problem. They built a beer paddle with a touch screen on it and the software to go with it that allows a customer to have the knowledge of what they’re drinking as they drink it. It uses a color touch screen connected to wi-fi all fueled by an online dashboard for the establishment to manage their menus, set up social media campaigns and to track all the paddles that are in operation. They tested, created, tested some more, researched and tested again until they finally had a product that was ready for the world.
This is really a game changer for bars and restaurants. I know they’re talking about beer here, but just imagine where they could go with this. They could use this for cheese flights, charcuterie, wine, tequila, etc. It’s a truly remarkable product that is sleek in its design, easy to use and setup. Here's a fun video with a taste of what they do from the company itself:
So if you’re a beer drinker, get on this. Even if you're not, follow along, because I could see this having broader applications to VR, Smart Home things like Alexa, and even diving into the smart menu space. In the meantime, learn more about FliteBrite and how they are about to turn the experience of drinking beer flights on its head. Here are some links to learn more about what they’re doing:
Beer Flight - https://www.FliteBrite.com/what-is-a-beer-flight
Smart Beer Flight - http://www.FliteBrite.com/features
Pairing Beer Flights - https://www.FliteBrite.com/pairing-craft-beer-flights
Craft Brewers Conference - Ben mentions in the video that they're at the Craft Brewers Conference this week. Here's the link to that if you're one of these folks going to this: -->> https://www.FliteBrite.com/cbc17
Ben McDougal - http://www.FliteBrite.com/ben-mcdougal
For the disclosure purposes, Good Milkshake Digital has no business affiliation with FliteBrite. I just like what they’re doing and want to support it with my words and enthusiasm.