A former VAR boss has spoken of the similarities between the technology and beer channels to market after launching his own micro-brewery.
Ex-Security Partnerships boss Darron Anley has invested nearly £500,000 in his Siren Craft Beer venture, which aims to emulate the colourful, hoppy beers popularised by US breweries.
Siren Craft has just sold its first 2,500-litre batches of each of its four beers – Undercurrent, Soundwave, Liquid Mistress and Broken Dream – and Anley said the task of winning over bar operators is remarkably similar to that faced by IT vendors when luring in channel partners.
"You need to get the sales guys – the bar operators – onside to ensure they are doing a fantastic job of selling your beer over the counter," he said.
"It's similar for IT vendors. It's about educating, incentivising and motivating the sales guys, as you can't touch all the end-user customers yourself. There are lots of similarities with the channel although it's more creative – and more fun."
Anley – who also races cars – admitted starting up a brewery with no previous experience had been a tougher challenge than he had envisaged. He had hoped to launch the venture soon after he sold Security Partnerships to Bytes in August 2011, before the scale of the undertaking hit home.
"The largest investment was the brewhouse and fermentation tanks," he said. "Five fermentation tanks that can hold 7,000 litres of beer each is an awful lot of stainless steel – we've spent close to £500,000 before we've kicked any beer out of the door."
Siren Craft's beers vary in strength from 4.5 per cent to six per cent, much stronger than the UK's traditional line in mild ales and more in line with the "hop-forward" beers of the US. Billed as a "mysterious, seductive and disarming femme fatale", Liquid Mistress, for example, is a 5.8 per cent west coast bright red ale.
"First and foremost this is about brewing the beer I like and outside that, there's definitely a market for what we are doing," concluded Anley.
Security Partnerships managing director, John Gilbertson, said the VAR is hiring a pub for this year's Infosec event in April and is hoping to sell or give away some of Anley's wares.
"He ran this business very well and - if he does the same thing again - he will have a very successful company very shortly," he said.
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