I eat my own dogfood

In two weeks’ time it will be exactly one year ago that the first alcoholfree beers from our shop were sold. In this blog a brief review of what happened in that year.

A year ago, Corona made its appearance in the Netherlands and at the same time OnderNulPuntVijf.com started. Since 2006, I don’t drink alcohol in the period between Carnival and Easter. But that doesn’t mean I can't drink a nice beer. Only then without (or almost without) alcohol. I normally look for very tasty beers with alcohol, but then started looking for alcoholfree beers that I could drink in my alcoholfree period. It turned out that there are very tasty beers without (or almost without) alcohol, but you have to search hard to find them. The local Albert Heijn sold two tasty beers, my regular craft beer shop had 3 AF beers and online I also found a few at a number of shops. But one place where they had all sorts of AF beers to sort out did not exist.

completely in the spirit of Lean Startup

So, where to find tasty non-alcoholic beers? It was quite possible that more people asked the same question. My friend Fred Smulders encouraged me to do something with this given. And completely in the spirit of Lean Startup, I started a website as an experiment with a couple of beers to see if there was enthusiasm for it. Next was writing a businessplan. I wrote down not only the idea (in other words: the solution to the problem), but also the target group, financial forecast and organization.

And then I started to change the website step by step. I furthermore explored how to send the beers in the best way (boxes, shipping company and logistics) and where to buy the tastiest non-alcoholic beers. The latter turned out to be a huge challenge. The same problem I had as a consumer, with little tasty AF beers in shops, turned out to be the situation at wholesalers as well. Setting up an extensive yet tasty assortment turned out not to be very easy, especially next to my interim assignment.

I learned a lot along the way

The shop got a big boost when, after less than two months, I was approached by someone who had started with the same idea around that same time. He soon found out that he lacked the passion for it, and he offered to take over his shop. This resulted in my shop being twice the size and I had a number of instruments available that made it easier for me to grow. Via social media and word of mouth, I got in contact with colleagues from England and with (alcohol-free) beer influencers. This helped to get hold of more exclusive and better beers and helped to make the site more known.

I post a beer from my own shop on Instagram and Facebook every day and every week I write a blog and send a newsletter. All super fun to do.

I learned a lot along the way. For instance, I soon got the question why we did not have General Terms and Conditions. And when we got those, we got the same question for the Privacy Statement. Another nice example were the boxes. We tried several and searched everywhere to get the best ones. After a long search we finally found good boxes to ship the beers.

When someone asks me what the critical success factors are, I like to challenge them to define success. My mission is to introduce to everyone the tastiest non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers from around the world. And I am still on the road towards reaching this. I have not made any money with the shop (yet) and I would strongly advise everyone who has that goal to get into another business.

nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm

A better question to ask is why I still carry on with this hobby that got out of hand. First of all, you need support from your family. They will have to deal with quite a few inconveniences. Filled and empty boxes in the house, a dad that is almost never available, and the excessive enthusiasm about alcoholfree beer.

A second reason is that enthusiasm. Without passion for the product, you will never be able to work long evenings and weekends. Or drive to the other site of the country to buy a new beer from the brewer. I strongly believe in the quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson: nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

a goal without a plan is just a wish

And a third requirement is to have a plan. Take your time to think of what it is you want to achieve and how you want to reach that. Write down a businessplan. Do not make this to complex. Just google for “business plan” and loads of checklists and tables of contents are available. But do write it. A goal without a plan is just a wish.

And what’s next for me? Who knows? Since the beginning of this year the beers keep me busy fulltime. I talked to a number of experienced entrepreneurs in similar branches and came up with a follow up of my plan. The fist part of that plan was moving the beers to another place since keeping the beers at home was no longer tenable and held back grow. Along the way I looked for help with the packing of the beers, so I can focus on purchasing nice beers, maintaining the website and perform marketing activities. These steps have now been carried out by moving the shop to Amsterdam. Upcoming weeks we will have to get used to this new situation and become as efficient as possible.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but doing business this way feels very good and gives a lot of energy. I’ll keep you informed about the progress the company will make. And when you want to order some nice alcoholfee beers, just go to OnderNulPuntVijf.com



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