Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in craft brewing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mitch Cobb, owner of Upstreet Craft Brewing, located in Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Upstreet Craft Brewing is a beverage company on a mission to 'Refresh the Community' with our collection of brands that include Upstreet Craft Beer, Rewind Vodka Seltzers, East Coast Craft Sodas, and most recently, Libra Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer. For myself and co-founder Mike Hogan, refreshing the community means more than creating great beverages. Our goal is to do business differently and make a positive impact on the community.
We are the first B-Corp certified business on PEI, and pride ourselves on doing business differently and being a sustainable, socially responsible and community-driven business. For example, we give 10% of proceeds to our “Do Good” Artist program and support local artists and community organizations, and we always strive to use our business to drive positive change in the community and for the planet.
Part of our mission to refresh the community is also changing the conversation around socializing without alcohol. We created Libra, Upstreet's non-alcoholic beverage because we personally struggled to balance being social in the beverage industry with our health. After two and a half years of research and development, we launched Libra Pale Ale in October 2020 and followed it up this summer with the Libra Hazy IPA, which sold out in a matter of days.
Just in time for fall, Canadians can enjoy two new brews: a Libra Pilsner and a limited batch of Libra Pumpkin Spice Ale. The international beer community also recently awarded two 2021 World Beer Award bronze medals to Libra Pale Ale in the non-alcoholic beer and can design categories. Our vision is to make Libra the alcohol alternative of choice at retailers, music festivals, venues and bars across North America.
Since opening in 2015, Upstreet has expanded to three locations across two provinces and has distribution across Canada. Libra is available nationally on Well.ca, DrinkLibra.ca, all Sobeys in Atlantic Canada, and select liquor stores in PEI, NS, and Alberta.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up, I never dreamed about being an entrepreneur. I followed a traditional path, I went to university and studied anthropology, international development followed by education. I worked in adult education and community development for a number of years. It wasn't until I went back to school to do my MBA that I started to learn about social entrepreneurship, B Corp certification and all these companies that balanced profit with purpose. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It would take a couple more years to find the right opportunity, but when Mike and I decided to start Upstreet in 2015, I knew that we could build a great company that did business differently; one that refreshed the community. Ultimately, this is what drives me every day - to build a company that balances profit with purpose and that acts as a model for other entrepreneurs coming behind me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Becoming the first B. Corp certified company on PEI in 2017. Having our B Corp certification is the culmination of everything we do at Upstreet, it holds our entire company to a high standard and demonstrates to our customers and the community that we stand behind our mission to refresh the community.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is carrying the weight of my team's livelihoods, their dreams and aspirations and their well-being. Decisions I make can have big impacts on our team - while often hard, this is also one of the most rewarding parts of my job as well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find your balance - working on you is the same as working on your business.
- Failure is not the end, it’s only the beginning.
- Be curious - Ask more questions, more often.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.