Wisconsin beer innovator MobCraft taps national attention

WASHINGTON, D.C. – MobCraft Beer, a Milwaukee brewery that lets fans submit and choose its monthly flavors online, is being recognized for its innovation on Capitol Hill.

MobCraft is one of just 11 companies invited to the 2018 America’s Small Business Development Centers’ Client Showcase & Reception, a Feb. 13 event to celebrate small business and the success of SBDC clients across the country.

Henry Schwartz and Andrew Gierczak turned their dream of a crowdsourced brewery into reality by founding MobCraft in Madison six years ago and concocting their creative craft beers at House of Brews. In 2016, the company moved into its own brewery and taproom in Milwaukee. In between that time, MobCraft built up a fan base, conducting a crowdfunding campaign and appearing on the entrepreneurial reality show “Shark Tank.”

Schwartz, the company’s 29-year-old president, said MobCraft’s following has grown steadily. The beer is sold at 900 bars, stores, gas stations and other locations in Wisconsin and shipped to 36 states.

“Every time we release a beer, more people get it and share it,” he said.

January 2018’s winning beer is an example of the “super tasty” bourbon-barrel-aged recipes that have been popular: Liquid Dessert Imperial Stout. Other recent sellouts include the Jalapeño Hopper ale and the Wake Up IPA with coffee.

“I’m excited about the Wisconsin craft beer community in general,” Schwartz said. “Good beers have popped up, and people are doing more fun local stuff.”

Watch: Henry Schwartz goes from selling crayons to skateboards to beer 

Listen : Getting creative goes beyond the recipes — Edibe-Alpha podcast

Schwartz started working with UW-Madison’s Small Business Development Center early on, in 2013. Center Director Michelle Somes-Booher helped with business formation, human resources and a strategic plan. “I still reach out to her for help and advice,” he said.

“Henry is an enthusiastic, hard-working entrepreneur who’s not afraid to adapt and change as his business grows,” Somes-Booher said.

America’s SBDC is the country’s most comprehensive small business assistance network, with nearly 1,000 service centers helping businesses start, manage and grow through no-cost consulting and low-cost training.

In 2017, 281 businesses were started and 2,677 clients received consulting through the Wisconsin SBDC Network. Companies working with SBDC specialists obtained $80 million in loans and investments and created/retained 1,112 jobs.

MobCraft has grown to 24 employees. Schwartz credits that to his team’s dedication and “awesome” ideas. He also enjoys getting to know B2B partners. That’s how Saturday morning yoga at the brewery came about: through their labelers.

Schwartz sees potential growth both in and out of state for MobCraft’s future. Beer is a huge tourism attraction for his city and neighborhood. And there are states like Tennessee that present market opportunity for introducing their craft beers.

“The strong advantage we have nationally is the number of unique beers we pull off,” he said.

Coming soon: The option for a six-pack of 12-ounce cans, a little more approachable than bigger bottles or cans.

“We’re definitely still in the middle of challenging and exciting times,” Schwartz said. “I always think of the other products we could be making and selling, and they’re not near as much fun.”

About America’s SBDC Network

America’s SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Network is a partnership uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations. It is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s largest partnership program, providing management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their own businesses. SBDC clients start a new business every 30 minutes, create a new job every 5 minutes, generate $100,000 in new sales every 8 minutes, and raise $100,000 in capital every 10 minutes.

About Wisconsin SBDC Network

The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center is a statewide network supporting entrepreneurs and business owners through no-cost, confidential consulting and business education. Regional SBDC experts facilitate improvement and growth for small and emerging mid-size companies and help launch successful new enterprises. The Wisconsin SBDC is hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

About MobCraft Beer

MobCraft “turns ideas into beer.” The brewery, located in the heart of Milwaukee in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, leverages the power of the crowd to generate ideas for unique craft beers. Fans from across the country submit their recipes. Votes are cast online each month by placing pre-orders for their desired beers. Then, the winner is brewed and either shipped outside of Wisconsin or available for pickup in Milwaukee or Madison.