INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Josh Goodman of PourMyBeer Shares with Us His Entrepreneurial Journey and How the Firm is Navigating the Pandemic Times
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Josh Goodman: It’s been a roller coaster for sure. Starting back in March when my wife and I realized that we were going to be taking on the responsibility of homeschooling on top of both of our work schedules. We became 2nd-grade teachers for our daughter Bria and 4th-grade teachers for our son Tyler. It’s important to have a goal, and our goal was just to make it through the rest of the school year. The summer came with its own challenges, but we did a lot of driving to visit family on the East Coast. It’s safe to say we’ve adapted, but we’re also looking forward to getting back to being able to put our kids on the bus at 8:00 am at some point.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PourMyBeer.
Josh Goodman: I grew up 20 minutes south of Richmond, Va, in a town called Chester. My mom and dad were working parents, and I guess you could say that my sister and I were latchkey kids. My sister was 4 years older than me, so from 3rd grade on, I’d get off the bus, come home, get on my bike and play with my friends until it got dark outside. The middle school years were tough on me, but without being bullied in middle school for being “big boned,” I don’t know if I would have been as motivated to do well in sports. I was a two-sport all-state athlete in High School, playing football and wrestling. That led to a full athletic scholarship to play linebacker at Shippensburg University. While there, I did union jobs where I drove a forklift, cut and stacked wood on pallets, waited tables, bar backed. The job I can attribute to kicking off the entrepreneurial journey, selling Cutco knives for Vector Marketing. That was my first exposure to selling anything and earning a commission on whatever I sold.
This led to a corporate sales job with AT&T B2B, then IT Staffing sales with Modis. After Modis’s CEO decided to give a 6 figure commission I’d earned to another salesperson, I decided it was time to stop working for a large company and start building my own company. 2010 to 2014 were difficult years, but in 2015 everything came together when I partnered with an Austrian technology company to build my own self pour hardware and software. We went from 1 employee in 2015 to 17 in 2020 with very little outside capital.
How does PourMyBeer innovate?
Josh Goodman: Our entire business is built around reducing friction and improving the end-user experience. We rely heavily on the forward-thinking operators we have using our technology. Our teams also share an idea board where anyone in our company can post the idea, with pictures or drawings of an idea they have. The best ideas make it into the next release of our software, and the feedback we get from our customers tends to be the best way to measure this.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Josh Goodman: Going into 2020, we were expecting another best year ever. Before Covid required our customers to close their doors in late March, we were on pace to do about 35% more than the previous year. While the uncertainty did impact our customers and our projections, I’m proud to say that we are still on pace to do better than in 2019. Because PourMyBeer technology enables the guests to access pouring beverages in a way that they can keep a 6-foot space between them and anyone else as well as reduce touchpoints and interactions, large chains are taking notice and asking for quotes to roll this out nationwide or retrofit existing locations.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Josh Goodman: There have been plenty of difficult decisions along the way. In the early days, almost every decision you make is to allow the company to survive for one more month. I remember specifically before we built our own technology, we had a technology vendor that we bought from out of California. We had done about 30 projects with them, and I was hopeful that technology and relationship would improve as we did more business together, but the opposite happened. It all came to a head on one particular project where we bought the hardware from them, installed it, and then when the customer was 1 week from opening up their doors, one of the valves was cracked, and it leaked an entire keg of beer into the floor and on the carpet. The customer called me to tell me how disappointed they were and that they already got a quote to fix it for $1,800. I called our supplier in California to inform them, expecting them to help us with the cost of this since we bought the equipment from them. They said they wouldn’t help with the cost because it wasn’t their fault, and if it were an $80,000 Persian rug, they wouldn’t pay for half of that. We only had about $3,000 in our business account at the time, but I knew the right thing to do was to help this customer out. The lesson I learned from this was that if someone’s character or how they do business isn’t in line with yours early on, that will never change.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and PourMyBeein the future?
Josh Goodman: Stress and anxiety are part of taking the road less traveled. It’s the price of admission. It’s what we signed up for. 2014 might have been the most stressful year of my life. The business was over $100,000 in debt, I had no sales coming in, and my business partner just left me. I fired my main tech vendor, and on top of that, we were moving my family of 4 from Baltimore to the Chicago suburbs. I can’t say I dealt with that stress in the best way. I wasn’t the most fun person to be around, but I did continue to work out, go for runs, hikes, lift weights, play golf. Activities that took my mind off of the things that were stressing me out the most. I believe that built the DNA of our company, though. We’re fighters, we’ve got grit, we do what we say we’re going to do, and we ALWAYS take care of our customers. I see those qualities in our team, and we genuinely care about our customers and their businesses.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Josh Goodman: We have 2 main competitors. One was referenced previously above, but their name is ipourit. We have 230 locations, and they have about 160 or so. The next closest competitor has about 20 locations. We beat our competition 90% of the time when we are competing with them for a customer. I attribute that percentage to the fact that we have never had a customer fire us, and about 20 of their customers have fired them and hired us to fix the issues that came with their systems. The other company is based in the UK, Tapology. They only have about 20 locations, and they have no Point of Sales Integrations. We aren’t here to “Stay in the Game.” We’re here to dominate the game. Bringing on an equity partner like Coca Cola European Partners ensures that we have the backing to continue to grow at the rate we’ve already been growing.
Your final thoughts?
Josh Goodman: From the outside looking in, what we do seems simple, but as Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Other people and companies have tried to compete with us, but they fail time and time again. I’d argue that we have a 10-year headstart on anyone else trying to enter this space.
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