Entrepreneurship class launches Sackville's first nano-brewery
Commerce students in Dr. Nauman Farooqi’s entrepreneurship class have started their own business, Sackville's first nano-brewery — the Bagtown Brewing Company.
This experiential learning exercise has not only enabled the students to learn more about business areas like marketing, production, accounting, and finance, but has helped expose them to basic workplace skills such as writing an e-mail and what to do if you don’t get a response.
The 14 students have had to go through a rigorous process to get such a business up and running, including obtaining licences and health inspections.
“We knew it was going to be a lot of work because you are manufacturing an alcoholic product and there are a lot of laws and restrictions around that,” says Emily MacKinnon, chairperson of the company.
The students were surprised at the length of time it actually took, but put this time to good use.
“In hindsight it has been good that we had this delay because our production team has been able to do several test batches of beer and have tweaked it to improve it,” says MacKinnon.
Anthony Maddalena is in charge of brewing the beer.
“Anthony has very high expectations, so if he thinks the batch is not quite right, we may not even notice what it is he has a problem with,” explains Jane Rouse, Bagtown’s VP of marketing. “This is fantastic because of course we want it to be of high quality.”
Maddalena’s brother, who is production manager at Moosehead, gave him advice on the brewing process. In fact, the team has had help from lots of family members, including design work from student Rachael Crump’s mother, a graphic designer, and marketing advice from MacKinnon’s mother, a businesswoman.
The students have, of course, made mistakes, but they have the security of the classroom and the support of their professor.
“Dr. Farooqi has been amazing because he sits back and lets us run the meetings and make mistakes, but sometimes he will say, ‘Have you thought about this?’ or, ‘Do you think this might be a better process?’ So there are cases where we had not considered it and if we didn’t then we might have gotten ourselves in a lot bigger of an issue than actually happened,” explains MacKinnon.
“He gives us options, but stresses this is your project, your company, and I want you to make the final decisions,” says Rouse.
Farooqi cautioned the team about the ambitious nature of their chosen venture, but was convinced once they showed their total commitment to see the project through.
The class did market research to see what kind of beer people in Sackville like to drink — they decided on English pale ale.
“It is pretty smooth, so even those in our class who do not drink beer like it. It is an easy beer to drink and that’s what we want, so everyone can enjoy it,” says MacKinnon.
The class does require a lot of work, but the students say it is worth it.
“It does not feel like a class,” says MacKinnon. “When we were getting our marks back, I was surprised because I forgot that we were being marked.”
Bagtown will sell beer in growler fill-ups and merchandise in their store in the Sackville Commons on Main St. in Sackville. As well, the beer will be available in Ducky’s Pub and Joe and the Crow. The group is currently waiting on confirmation to sell their product, but is selling merchandise in pop-up shops around campus.
For up-to-date news on the Bagtown Brewing Company, visit the company's Facebook page.