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The $800,000 gamble beer CEOs made

The New Investors video series brought to you by Yahoo Finance reveals the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people in Australia today. This is the first episode of the second season.

“I remember some of those nights while we were building the brewery, just waking up in the middle of the night freaking out thinking, ‘how are we ever going to pay this back?’”

After throwing $800,000 in their budding independent brewery business, the Young Henrys founders recall the anxiety that comes with gambling all your cash on a bright idea.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief and New Investors: My Story host Sarah O’Carroll, Newtown brewery co-founder Oscar McMahon revealed the “crippling fear” of starting a business and feeling like you “just jumped off into the deep end”.


How did they overcome it?

“Failure was not an option,” McMahon said. “We just had to get in it and get it done.”

And that meant not paying themselves or employing anyone else to help out while the business got off the ground.

“If there was something that needed to be done we were doing it,” he said. “We were kegging the beer, we were delivering the beer we were doing sales. If something went wrong we were fixing it.”

Co-founder Richard Adamson recalls McMahon personally pulling up to a bar with a keg of Young Henrys beer ready to be distributed to customers.

Young Henrys CEOs threw $800,000 into their brewery business - and failure wasn't an option. Source: Getty
Young Henrys CEOs threw $800,000 into their brewery business - and failure wasn't an option. Source: Getty

“I do have memories of a Friday afternoon, me kegging beer, putting in the truck for Oscar to go and deliver it, and there'd be thirsty people at the bar giving Oscar a round of applause when he turned up with a keg,” McMahon said.

And it’s that work ethic that the co-founder said created the foundations for the business’ culture.

Head of sales Dan Hampton added that it was the brand’s authenticity that made it a fan-favourite.

“No one had a brand quite like what Young Henry's was all about. It was the beer was really important – the quality of the beer,” he said.

“Doing a lager in those early days was a bit weird for people because craft beer was all about the bigger ales. So the style is a bit different, but they were well-made,” Hampton said.

Trust the process

While Adamson revealed there were a few things he would have done differently in hindsight, Hampton said small business owners should trust the process.

“That’s hindsight, isn’t it?” he said.

“I think we did what we did, and there's a lot of authenticity that comes with just that – the bare minimum.”

His advice for budding brewers?

“See if it works. Reinvest a bit when there's enough people drinking it.”

“You probably look back and think, ‘maybe I would have done things differently,’’ but it’s that grind and ethic that can give a business “that cred”.

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