SBA Financing, Business Planning Keeps MobCraft’s Unique Business Model Brewing

Henry Schwartz of MobCraft Talks with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon in the Taproom

Situation

In 2011, Henry Schwartz and Andrew and Anthony Gierczak began researching commercial brewing operations since they had brewed their own beer in college. Working with the business incubator at University of Wisconsin Whitewater, they identified a business case for a brewery that generated flavor ideas and monthly pre-orders of beer via crowdsourcing and high-touch interaction with its customers. MobCraft started production in 2013 on a shoestring budget, using excess production capacity at an existing Madison brewery and taproom. By 2015, they were outgrowing their shared facility as production expanded from 48 barrels in their first year to 556 barrels.

Solutions

MobCraft used SBA financing at critical junctures in its growth. The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), an SBA micro-lender and Community Advantage lender, provided a $75,000 Community Advantage loan to purchase a bottling machine in 2014. This cut bottling time from several days to a few hours which gave the team more time for business strategizing and development. In 2015, the business used a $100,000 SBA loan from First Bank Financial Centre to expand from one crowdsourced batch of beer per month to multiple batches with more cooperage and fermentation tanks.

Soon after, MobCraft was outgrowing its Madison space and began looking for a building and capital to renovate it. Summit Credit Union provided $1.7 million toward the expansion and renovation of MobCraft’s current Milwaukee location inWalkers Point. Schwartz and the MobCraft team also have used WWBIC’s strategic planning program. They have established a vision for the company and established regular three, five, and ten year benchmarks.

Impact

In January 2016, Schwartz expanded to Milwaukee, opening a new brewing facility and taproom. With products in 22oz bottles, cans, and kegs, MobCraft distributes to more than 800 bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and groceries in Wisconsin, and direct to customers in 32 states. They have expanded from three to 18 employees. MobCraft continues to grow through constant innovation in its distribution, through unique partnerships, and the creation of the Milwaukee Craft Brewery League. SBA’s Wisconsin District Office named MobCraft and Henry Schwartz its 2017 Young Entrepreneur for its adroit use of SBA resources, innovation, and thought leadership.