020 – Lessons From the Trenches – A Followup Conversation with Brewability Labs

Welcome to the Autism Advantage podcast! I’m your host, Tom D’Eri. Throughout the first seven episodes of season 2, we chronicled the process of opening a second location of Rising Tide Car Wash, where we employ people with autism. If you tuned in, you heard all about how we planned this location, interviewed and trained our fantastic new employees, how the opening went, and much more.

For the final three episodes of this season, we’re changing things up a bit! We want to revisit some of the incredible entrepreneurs who we featured in season 1 to hear about how their journeys have progressed since we last heard from them. Today, we’ll be talking to Tiffany Fixter of Brewability Lab. When we last spoke in season 1 episode 7, the company was dealing with red tape and hadn’t quite opened yet. Go listen to that episode for some background, and then tune in here to learn how much has changed!

As a quick refresher, Tiffany was a special education teacher who was disappointed to find out how few people with autism have jobs. So, having the entrepreneurial spirit that she does, she decided that she would do something about it! After a successful crowdfunding effort, Tiffany found a turnkey brewery and put down a deposit on it. That’s when they ran into some red tape — and when we had our last conversation!

Now, Brewability Lab has been open for just over a year. Tiffany’s employees have experienced incredible growth since then, thanks in large part to the systems she has set up to facilitate the process. For example, there are braille labels on the bar taps so that a bartender who is blind can function at his best.

Because of their hidden location, Brewability Lab is still struggling to keep up with bills. The alternative to this location, Tiffany points out, is a downtown location that costs tens of thousands of dollars per month. In our conversation, she explains various other ideas she has for how to make the business more profitable, while making clear how difficult the financial aspect has been. This is a great reminder to entrepreneurs that you should always budget for the unexpected and expect your costs to be higher than your initial projections.

In our conversation today, Tiffany and I will talk about lots of other topics including various kinds of advertising and marketing, some tools that can help you drive more traffic to your business (and one strategy you should definitely avoid), and what advice we can give to entrepreneurs in the early stages of opening a business. Tune in, enjoy this final episode of season 2, and don’t forget to come back when we return with season 3!

 

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In This Episode:

[00:54] – Tiffany takes a moment to explain what Brewability Labs is, and why she started it, for listeners who may not be familiar with the venture.

[01:31] – We hear about where Tiffany’s company is now, and how it’s been doing. She also talks about what she’s done to facilitate the incredible progress that her employees have made since the opening.

[03:17] – Money is still a struggle after being operational for over a year, Tiffany reveals.

[04:11] – What are Tiffany’s next steps? She explores both the reasons why it’s so hard to make any money in her business and the ideas she has for increasing profitability.

[08:44] – Tiffany has sold off everything she can other than the absolute necessities to be a brewery, she reveals. She then addresses whether she has sources to get grants from, and invites listeners to email her if they have ideas.

[09:43] – We hear Tiffany’s thoughts about opening a pizzeria.

[11:04] – Tom brings up two important points related to what Tiffany has been saying.

[12:15] – What has Tiffany learned from the brewery and transferring to the pizzeria idea? She talks specifically about the location issue.

[13:04] – The company’s advertising is pretty much word-of-mouth at this point, Tiffany reveals. She discusses whether she has considered online advertising.

[16:46] – Is there a common thread between the people organizing the events that Tiffany has been talking about?

[18:21] – Tom recommends Mogl to Tiffany and any listeners who are interested in doing more online advertising. Tiffany then complains about her experience with Groupon and explains why she’s no longer on the site.

[20:56] – What would Tiffany say to other people who are looking into starting a social enterprise?

[22:30] – Tiffany addresses the question of whether she has thought about doing any type of internship programs. Tom then offers some recommendations about opening a new business.

[25:22] – The extra costs that come up in a business are really scary, Tiffany reveals, using the example of transportation.

[30:13] – Tiffany offers suggestions on what listeners can do to help her business, from making a tax-deductible donation to spreading the word to contacting her with any leads or advice on moving forward.

 

Links and Resources:

Brewability Lab

Tiffany Fixter on LinkedIn

Brewability Lab on Kickstarter

Brewability Lab on Indiegogo

Tom D’Eri

Rising Tide Car Wash

Rising Tide U

University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities

Mogl

Groupon

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