I had the pleasure meeting Helder Pimentel and Maggie Foley, founders of Backlash Beer Company at turnstone’s Fail Smart: Mistakes to Learn From event hosted in Boston, MA. Let me just say, two incredible individuals with a ton of passion for their craft.
Backlash Beer Company officially launched late July 2011 and have been going strong since then. Though they launched in July 2011, Helder had been casually brewing beer at home for quite some time and friends have repeatedly told him to start his own thing. It wasn’t until about 2 years of working in the financial industry and juggling his spare time making beer, he realized he couldn’t do both. He decided to commit his once suit and tie workweek to his passion of crafting beer. “After hearing it enough, you start believing it yourself,” says Helder.
Like other startups, Backlash didn’t just form overnight. And there definitely were some challenges. One of the biggest mistakes Backlash experienced early on was being too rigid. “We planned the business to grow at a certain pace and underestimated how fast we’d grow. We weren’t able to react. Our original estimates were off and grew faster than we can produce for. And when you can’t ramp up production fast enough, relationships get damaged,” Helder explains. So when I asked Helder, what is one advice he would give other entrepreneurs that are just starting? His reply went something like this… “I would remain adaptable and elastic. Plans aren’t always going to go as expected. Be ready to adapt and change on the fly.”
It’s now been a year and a half since Backlash officially became a reality. In the recent months, they have added a new creative lead and continue to look for others to join their team. “We have a passion for what we do and it’s important that passion is shared by everyone that is part of the team. So when we hire we want to make sure the fit is good; we have them intern and volunteer for a period of time before starting,” states Helder. From spending time with Helder and from our study of small businesses and understanding what it is they value; it does not surprise me that having that shared passion amongst the team is very important.
So what’s in store for Helder and Maggie at Backlash? Lots! Helder and Maggie continue to ramp up production and create strong partnerships to grow their business. Eventually Helder would like to have his own brewery (currently he shares space) and give customers first hand face to face experience with the brand. A brewery for Backlash is something I look forward to seeing in the future. And I'm sure many others do too!