Growth & Customers

How a water parasite gave my business purpose

A water parasite led Alan Mahon to create craft beer company Brewgooder, which funds clean water projects and positively impacts lives.

Alan Mahon

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Alan Mahon was volunteering in Nepal when he contracted a very common water parasite. Despite an easy recovery, the experience made him realise how much he took for granted having access to clean drinking water—something many people die every year without.

Alan made it his mission to create a craft beer company that would fight poverty by funding clean water projects and making a positive impact on people’s lives.

In this episode, he talks about the importance of connecting with causes that your consumers care about, creating an authentic brand and how crowdfunding can help to get people on board with your vision.

Here is his unfiltered advice below:

How contracting a water parasite sparked the idea for a craft beer company

Kate Bassett:

So the motivation for Brewgooder came from a trip to Nepal when you were 22.

Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

Alan Mahon:

Yeah, I guess it probably starts even four years before that, when I was at university.

I went away to Glasgow. I had such a great time on my course, making friends, creating memories, drinking lots of beer, which hasn’t really left me.

And I guess at the end of that whole journey, I decided that I had nothing on my CV to show for any of it, other than a great degree in politics, but not actually many life skills or anything I could practically put on a CV to apply for an accountancy or consultancy firm.

And as I said, the way to fix that was to volunteer on projects that I was interested in or cared about.

One of those projects was a football integration of refugees within north Glasgow, and that was just football. That was just something fun.

I decided to push myself a wee bit more and apply for a volunteering programme in Nepal, where we did some work and travel, and had an amazing time.

But had an experience where I took some unsafe water three weeks into the trip, things started to go pretty wrong.

This is a pre-watershed podcast. You can make up the details in your own mind.

But three months down the line, when we were preparing to go home, things started properly not working. I was losing a lot of weight. It just wasn’t very healthy.

And I had just put it down to the last few celebrations before we were packing up. And it wasn’t life-threatening by any stretch, but it was an experience for me that was instantly cured within a week from a really common prescription from the doctor.

It was giardiasis. It was a parasite that I contracted.

But for me, it was far too common, if you like, for people. The big thing that stuck with me is the rates of stuff like child infant mortality as a result of unsafe water means that there are quite literally a thousand kids who were born on the 30th of April in 1990, which is the same day as myself and never made it past their fifth birthday.

But yet I had this whole amazing life and career ahead of me at the age of 22 that I thought actually I wanted to do something about that.

And that manifested itself initially as applying for government jobs, the Department for International Development, lots of different charities, and getting rejected from pretty much every single one of them.

When I did get a job, it was in a sandwich shop, which is probably not everyone’s first idea of how to get on the career ladder when you’ve left university and that.

But this sandwich shop had allowed people to come in and pay for coffee for homeless people in Edinburgh. And that blew my mind. We built that. It’s a charity called Social Bite.

We built that into a charity that actually quite literally builds houses for homeless people and for vulnerable people and rehab centres and things like that.

But on my first pay cheque, I decided to go from, I guess, pro student to pro graduate, but I wanted to trade up in two things. The first one was coffee. I’m a big coffee drinker, still am, even if it’s decaf now.

And then go from drinking whatever the standard fare lager was at the students’ union, to craft beer and enter that world. It was really exciting, really dynamic. Seemed like if you had a passion for it, you could give it a go.

But for me, there was this gap where beer was such a powerful tool that people used to celebrate, to get together, to relax, to catch up with friends, to commiserate, even.

There was a social part in beer that I think grabbed me at quite an early age, and I decided to put them together in Brewgooder.

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise capital and getting people to believe in your business

Kate Bassett:

So Brewgooder itself sprung to life in 2016 with the Drink Beer, Give Water campaign.

What made you decide to go down the crowdfunding route?

Alan Mahon:

I guess because it was just such a crazy idea that no one would back it.

You couldn’t go into a bank and say, “Let’s now have this idea where we’re going to sell beer, and we’re going to use profits to fund clean water projects in developing countries.”

I think even the most generous and entrepreneurial minded bank manager would probably give that the stamp of, “Nope, not approved.”

But I thought that there was such a dynamic crowdfunding environment for crowd breweries. I think lots of particularly quite big breweries had done it quite successfully in the hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds.

So there was behaviour from the consumer, certainly, that allowed for this dynamic, this funding model to work.

The difference is they were established breweries where people had engaged with their beers, engaged with their brands, probably visited their breweries or were in the local area, and then they were helping them to get the capital to grow.

But for us, it was actually a much crazier idea, where we were asking people to fund, I guess, the first production run of a beer they’d never tasted from a brand they’d never heard of on a crazy looking crowdfunding website four months in advance.

And we’d asked for £60,000 and to get our first can run store out, and I’m still amazed to this day that actually we managed to convince enough people to make that happen.

But we’ve got a thousand backers from across the UK.

We’ve got pub groups, independent venues involved, and actually they’re really responsible for a lot of the cool stuff that happened as a result of that, not least the first project that we funded from the excess of funding that we received.

Kate Bassett:

So through crowdfunding you’d already built this community of Brewgooder fans in many ways.

Brands with social causes to look to for inspiration

Kate Bassett:

In launching and building the business, what other impact brands did you look to for lessons and advice and inspiration?

Alan Mahon:

Yeah, I mean, there are so many that back then you would’ve looked at them as outliers or almost niche, if you like, and then we’re talking seven years ago.

But now they actually seem remarkably mainstream and almost like, of course you would think of those guys.

But I guess one of the first ones is Patagonia.

I think what they did, or what they continue to do is really remarkable because they set off authentically for a reason to use, I guess, a love of the outdoors to help protect the environment.

But they had been doing that since 1973. They had been doing that for longer than I had been alive. This is their 50th year of working. They were such a constant inspiration to me.

I got asked the question really early on, “Who would you want on your board if you could create it?” And for me, it was Yvon Chouinard. Just as early as I can remember, he was an influence. Everything that they did was in a direction of making the world better.

When it comes to other consumer categories in FMCG, Tony’s Chocolonely would’ve been one of them. I think what they do now is amazing. They’re probably twice as old as we are. They were probably about six or seven years old by the time I’d been aware of them.

But they take a fun category, make it fun, lean into the Willy Wonka approach to their branding, but then they have a very serious message and amazing impact that actually sits underneath that quite literally in the wrapper.

And they’ve almost mainstreamed or created a new premium in chocolate around anti-slavery in their supply chain.

And then I guess another one would be Ben & Jerry’s who go all out on their activism, but actually just make an amazing product that people don’t particularly equate to having a social cause behind it straight away.

But there are people who go on that journey and find out more about what they do, and I think those three brands are probably our biggest inspirations for sure.

Being consistently authentic will land you deals with household names

Kate Bassett:

So you were powered by these really purpose-driven brands and inspired by them, but by your own admission, this was a crazy idea, you were an outlier in the industry, and yet you’ve clinched some really amazing partnerships and deals with the likes of Co-op and Waitrose.

So what would be your tips on clinching those kinds of deals with national supermarkets?

Alan Mahon:

Yeah, I think there’s not a day that doesn’t go by where I don’t think I’m very, very lucky to still be on that dream, that naive dream that we started.

For people who want to know more about the business model, for every kind of beer we sell, we dedicate funding to projects that include clean water, but have spanned funding access to food in the UK, reducing inequalities within our industry in terms of diversity and inclusion, lots of different stuff.

For me, it’s taken a while to get to this level. The listings from the supermarket point of view that you’ve talked about there, whether it’s Co-op, whether it’s Waitrose, Morrisons, YO! Sushi is our latest national in the entrée.

We’ve almost been promising that we are what we say we are, since 2016. And actually, it’s just a constant delivery of that. Which I think has convinced people that we are incredibly passionate and authentic, and we stick to what we said we were going to do from day one, even if it seemed quite unachievable.

And I think there is a bit of that in the secret sauce of being authentic.

I think there’s so many accusations and examples and case studies of greenwashing in the industry that, actually, it’s a very sceptical environment for a brand like ours to enter into, when everyone’s doing what you’re doing in a noisier way, but in a less authentic way, I guess.

And that’s not a criticism to people who are trying to use their brands to do good things, but it is an environment which we have to navigate.

But the thing that I find on top of that authenticity that helps us win, certainly with the buyers of these brands or these household names is that, really, the demographic shift has already happened in our industry and in every industry.

A generation of younger consumers is coming through. Purpose and sustainability and ethics is not all they care about, but it’s much, much higher up the hierarchy of decisions.

We’re the fastest-growing beer brand in the UK at the minute. If you play that story out from 2023 to 2030, the size of that market is going to be much, much bigger than it is today, even if it is a meaningful slice.

66% of beer drinkers in the UK, by 2030, will be Gen Z and millennial. And that’s displacing lots of people for whom purpose isn’t even a fifth order of magnitude in their decision-making.

What we’re trying to go on with these customers, if you like, is a journey that we’re trying to provide the solutions for the consumer, so that when they want to flex their muscle within the beer industry in the coming years, they actually have a ready-made home to help flex that with us.

Connect with causes your consumers care about

Kate Bassett:

How do you appeal to those new generations of beer drinkers?

What are you doing in your marketing campaigns to really be fun, show the personality of the brand, and also have that authenticity that you talked about?

Alan Mahon:

Fundamentally, we show the receipts, or we try to show the receipts of the work that we’ve been doing. We definitely invested a lot in the early days of saying, “This is what we promised you and this is what we delivered.”

And I think that that credibility and that word of mouth of people being able to say, “Yeah, try this because…” and “Actually, here’s the proof that they’re doing what they say they’re doing”, I think that’s pretty much the anchor of everything that we’ve done.

We’re not a massive company in relative terms to the size of the beer industry, and our marketing budgets are pretty much the smallest of drops in the ocean for any multinational.

But what we try to do is connect with the causes that people care about. Whether it’s water, whether it’s access to food in the UK, whether it’s inequality, whether it’s the environment, we always try to curate what we think as people, because we are in this cohort.

I’m slightly to the older end of the cohort than most. What we think is credible, what we think is authentic, what we think the brand can do in terms of an impact, we lean into that.

And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean we abandon it. But so far so good.

We’ve picked causes, we’ve picked partners that actually do the right thing, and it’s scalable. We have a very deliberate programme of collaboration.

We collaborate with brands within the beer category, we collaborate with brands outside of the beer category, and brands that they are used to consuming from or buying from or seeing through their social media.

Whether that’s the likes of Passenger clothing, who we’ve got our most recent collaboration out with. These are other brands and other categories that give off the cues to that consumer to say, actually, this might be a brand that I want to explore within the beer category.

And then, obviously, vice versa if they come to the collaboration with them. I think that that’s probably the next level up.

But long term, it has to be a good quality product.

There’s the term I mentioned already, greenwashing. Where, let’s just say, a beer brand or a chocolate brand or whatever, they have the chocolate nailed down, and then they try to add purpose or ethics or sustainability into it.

And then they get accused of greenwashing.

We laugh internally because we call it beerwashing. We actually have to convince people that we are actually good at making beer.

We have won loads of Great Taste Awards and medals for our beers, but actually we’re really, really guilty of not telling that story enough.

But what’s really encouraging for me is that when we win a consumer, if we win it on other things than purpose, we get the chance to actually cement a real relationship with them that’s long term, because of the impact that happens.

But you cannot build that relationship if you don’t have a good quality product. We are working towards hopefully having a best-in-class quality control to improve our beers, to make sure that every taste experience is one that you want to come back to.

Because if you don’t have that, then no matter how good your intentions are from an impact point of view, you’re never going to achieve your goals because you’re never going to sell enough beer to sustain it.

Partner with brands you share the same values with—don’t just do it for marketing purposes

Kate Bassett:

Is the dream to partner with one of those brands you talked about earlier that you really admire? Tony’s and Brewgooder would be the dream partnership, beer and chocolate.

Alan Mahon:

You said it, you said it.

Yeah, I think so. I would love to find a way with any of those brands that we discussed, to collaborate with them, whether it’s on a product level, whether it’s any other campaign.

And I think that increasingly they’re the elder statesmen of our impact space if you like. They’re the impact leaders in all the other stuff. And we have a long way to go to be, I guess, credible partners for them.

But I think we would never do it if there wasn’t an authentic reason to do it. It wouldn’t simply just be a way to market it ourselves or to try and reach into other consumers.

We do definitely believe the same things that Tony’s or Ben & Jerry’s or Patagonia believe.

And I think there are definitely ways that we can make the consumer understand the collaboration isn’t just because you guys are quite similar.

It’s actually, you share these same values and, actually, you’re trying to work in the same direction for a better world or a better inhabitable planet or a more equal world.

Which, I think, is something that is definitely shared by the guys at Tony’s Chocolonely.

Covid forced a business model reset and has dramatically increased profits year-on-year

Kate Bassett:

You talked about being a small business. Obviously you don’t have the deep pockets of some of your competitors. How did you fare during the pandemic?

I know you said it decimated the industry, but it gave you the kick up the ass you needed to refocus and rebrand.

Can you talk about some of the changes you made to the business as a result of the pandemic?

Alan Mahon:

I’ll tell you a little story. It just shows you the two different trajectories that we could have gone in.

In 2019, we launched a collaboration platform that was going to take place over one weekend. We wanted to get 100 breweries signed up from mostly the UK and some other places.

And we wanted to raise a £100,000- £200,000, to invest in clean water projects, in Malawi in particular because that’s where we were doing a lot of work at the time.

We actually got 250 breweries from 24 different countries, from Vancouver to Sydney, from Hong Kong to Rio de Janeiro.

We were gearing up for this amazing funding platform, which was going to raise £250,000. And actually, we were drifting off more in the charity direction, that we were a fundraiser for our causes rather than a product-based brand.

The date that we had set for that collaboration campaign was the 20th of March 2020. And I don’t know how good your memory is, but everyone does that.

And it’s exactly the day, which we were told by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to basically leave the pubs. Furlough was announced.

And there was that drip, drip, drip of Denmark closing down and losing six breweries or whatever, and we had to take the decision to say, “Actually guys, this is not a safe thing to do.”

It was called, The Global Gathering. Can you imagine a more inappropriately named platform than that during that time? And that was on the Friday.

My colleague, James, one of the co-founders, he phoned me up basically as that announcement was being made.

We had at the time, a warehouse full of our original Clean Water Lager brand, four packs, that we just did not know where they were going to go, because of the industry and just the world was collapsing.

And James said, “Listen, wouldn’t it be amazing if we just went down in a blaze of glory, and we allowed people on our website to come on and register as NHS workers, with their NHS domain, to sign up for a pack of beers that we can send to them if other people paid for the beer and the postage it cost.

“And then we could let them write a little letter or a note that says, “Thank you for all your hard work.”

Because at that time, the NHS were literally holding up civilisation, and were on the front line of absolutely everything, and we called it One on Us.

That was on the Friday, and on the Monday, that campaign had launched, and we were getting inundated with tens of orders at a time of people just typing in things like, “Thank you for getting us through this. You deserve this, you are heroes, blah, blah, blah.”

Then that snowballed into about 28,000 beers getting sent across the UK.

So Covid basically taught us, I think, that we had much more to say about ourselves than just a clean water brand in that respect, and that was definitely and always will be a big part of what we do.

But it actually allowed us to take a step back and say, “Actually, maybe we can do more to help bring good times to our people than just water. Maybe we can do some stuff at our doorstep.”

And actually, Covid was such a precipice for our entire industry that we decided we’re going to change the way the brand looks, the way the brand talks, the way the brand feels.

We’re going to introduce more beers, we want to do X, Y, and Z, and actually go for this and change our business model.

Because one of the things that’s really crucial is that 100% of the profits model is great when you’re making, in the early days, a bit of profit to give away. Because of the nature of our business worked, we were quite fortunate for the first three or four years.

Covid meant that we would need to get investment, or find ways to fund it long term, even if we couldn’t make a profit within the next few years.

And we decided to make a twist and say actually we were going to guarantee an amount of money per litre, or pint, or tanker of beer sold on a sliding scale.

So that allowed us to actually invest whilst we were not profit-making, and actually that exploded the amount of impact we’ve actually made.

Last year, we invested more than the first four years of our business combined.

In fact, including Covid, it was our most successful year when you add them all together, and then this year, we’ll beat that again.

So there were a few decisions to really look at how the model worked. I think our business model broke during Covid, but that breaking allowed for a resetting, and allowed for us to actually go on a journey.

We were just under, I think, a million pounds pre-Covid, now we’re on four million pounds, on the march to five, eight, 10 over the next wee while.

And that’s a really steep curve, but that curve would never have come if Covid didn’t give us the opportunity to do that.

I’m not saying I welcomed that for our wider society or for our industry in general, but we did react to it in a way that I’m very grateful we did.

A few lucky breaks could be all your business needs to survive

Kate Bassett:

So Covid in many ways forced you to reinvent your entire model, but at the same time, it must have been super stressful.

I mean, you talked there about going down in a blaze of glory.

What were those dark moments where you thought, “This is it, this is the end of the business?”

How did you cope with that personally?

Alan Mahon:

Oh, man. I’m sure there’s people listening to this podcast, and you ask that question, and if they ask it to themselves, they can literally put themselves in the place because it happens to probably be their front living room or their kitchen.

I remember just staring out my living room window, a flat in Edinburgh, looking down onto one of the busiest roads that, in normal times, there are buses, there are cars, there’s people, there are bikes, and there was nothing.

There was just nothing.

And I remember talking to James, and just being like, “This could all be over really, really soon if we don’t get our act together, or be cautious.”

There was four of us in the business at that time, some part time, we didn’t even entertain furlough, because if we allowed people to go on furlough there’d be no one to do the work.

And it was scary, it definitely was scary, but we weren’t the only ones who were scared. And I just think that a few lucky breaks or decisions that came way allowed us to persevere.

And I think by the time 2022 rolled around, we had made a few more correct decisions. Actually last year was a year of extraordinary growth from our point of view, albeit from a small base, but one that I couldn’t have envisaged in the depths of March 2020, ever being the trajectory.

So, even now, if I wasn’t amazed by the hand of divine intervention that happened during the crowdfund in 2016, I’m definitely grateful for whatever hand intervened in early 2020.

It could have been easier to give up, it really could have been, and no one would’ve blamed us, I don’t think. But we stuck in it, and hopefully we’ve got a few more years in us left.

Be thankful to your younger, riskier self—you’ll become less risky over time

Kate Bassett:

So not only did the business change, but I guess you as an entrepreneur changed as well. Because I know in the early days of Brewgooder, you described yourself as idealistic, and radical, and naive.

How would you describe yourself now?

Alan Mahon:

I would still say that I’m all of those things, but less risky. I think I took amazing risks.

No, that’s not true, actually.

I guess the calculus is that I thought that Brewgooder had the potential to do so much good that, at the end of the day, if it didn’t work out for me long term, or for anybody in the business long term, there would still be enough good that happened to make the risk-reward ratio satisfactory from my point of view.

I still think that I’m naive and idealistic, but I’ve convinced enough other people in the world that I must know what I’m doing in order to continue the idealism, if that makes sense.

And actually, I’m definitely less risky.

I wouldn’t say I was ever a control freak, but I definitely thought this was my baby, and I’m the only one who could do it right in lots of different areas where actually I was proven very, very quickly by hiring good people that I was doing it totally wrong, and really rubbishly, and actually to my detriment as well because it wouldn’t allow me to do the things that I was good at.

So I think I’ve definitely matured. It’s only been seven years, but I definitely think I’m a different person to when we started.

And a lot of that is the experience of the pandemic, but a lot of that’s just growing up and making mistakes, but not making too many mistakes that have been fatal in many respects for the business.

We’ve got a vision until 2030 about what we want to achieve, and that’ll put me at 40 years old, and hopefully I’ll still be naive, but hopefully I’ll be a bit less risky, and have a lot more people around me to make better decisions than I could have made as my 25-year-old self.

But I always say I’m really grateful to me as a 25-year-old for not even having the sense to have a decent business model, just throwing myself in there, jumping in the pool, it was ice cold, but I got used to it.

And actually, the benefit now is that I’ve had the ability to be on this journey for seven years, which I’m super grateful for.

Kate Bassett:

You’re used to the varying temperatures.

Alan Mahon:

Yeah, exactly. Still icy, it’s still cold, but we’ll get hot tub level by 2030, I’m sure.

What can hiring a chair do for your business?

Kate Bassett:

You talked there about bringing in really good people, what made you hire a chair earlier this year?

Alan Mahon:

Actually, the step before that was, we hired a managing director.

Literally, we had two founders in the business, and we had nothing else, and the simple thing would’ve been to hire junior members of staff.

But I actually said, “You know what? We need to get somebody in here that knows what they’re doing.”

I hired a guy, Damon Swarbrick, and I used to think I had high energy levels and productivity levels, but this guy just came from 20 years in the highest levels of the industry, and just completely transformed us.

It was taking it and applying it in the real world in a very, very different way. And then he built his team out subsequently from that.

And every layer of experience that was added just made my life so much better, James’ life so much better and everyone who worked in the business so much better. And actually, the business started to grow effectively exponentially.

That taught me that actually one of the superpowers you could have as an entrepreneur, or a founder, or a leader of a business, is the self-awareness of actually there are some things you’re very good at, so construct your business around letting you do that, and then actually putting in the building blocks of success where other people can deliver in their areas of specialism.

And I was the chair of the company in a stand-in way, really.

I thought it would be amazing if you got somebody who was right at the top of the industry, C-suite level in the beer industry, and allowed them to bring their perspective, bring their energy, bring their expertise, bring their network intelligence, which I think is something in business that’s really underrated.

But if you have the ability to navigate networks of people, you’ll find people that will help you.

And we identified, I’d say about a year ago, a guy called Andy Cray, who was the former chief strategy officer for Molson Coors for EMEA and APAC.

This guy is a big cheese, he’s top of the tree, and I thought maybe he won’t be so far away from the sort of stuff that we are doing that he won’t get it.

Because everyone at a certain level thinks that Brewgooder’s about giving back, when it’s not, it’s about paying forward, it’s actually about a journey.

It’s actually potentially an international brand if it’s nurtured the right way, if it grows the right way, if it makes the right strategic decisions. And Andy grasped that really, really quickly.

And he’s actually brought just a completely different skill set to the business, where I know that if he’s representing Brewgooder in any conversations, he can do it just as well as me, if not better, because he knows how to speak different, speak the language of beer.

And yeah, we’re also doing the same thing on the Brewgooder Foundation side, which is the charity of vehicle that we have for funding projects.

We’ve recently appointed Helen Thompson, who used to be the managing director for TOMS, the footwear brand, who actually I should give a massive shout out to as being an inspiration to me in the early days as well.

But she has joined in from that impact-making brand standpoint. And actually, these are two really heavyweights that are actually trying to make your dream a reality.

And it’s kind of a humbling experience that people can do that.

And I just love being around people who give me the energy to go on to the next level or to think that those naive things that I think are just pipe dreams, they actually can plot out a way to say, “Actually, no, we can make this a reality.”

And that’s been awesome.

It’s never too early to ask for help and cultivate your networks

Kate Bassett:

And when is the right time to bring in those kinds of experts?

If you were talking to another business owner, what would be your advice on when to bring in those heavyweights?

Alan Mahon:

Listen, it’s idiosyncratic, right?

You’ll know yourself when the time is right versus me saying, “It’s after two-and-a-half years,” or, “It’s at four million quid,” or whatever it is.

For me, entrepreneurship is always about energy.

You need quite literally to be surrounded by people who give you energy or by projects that give you energy. And energy is in short supply in this world.

Just think about your day. I used to be quite literally addicted to caffeine because when I wasn’t feeling the energy, that gave me a little bit of the pseudo-energy to go there.

When you’re constantly needing to recharge, or you’re not getting that energy, you need to bring in something fresh.

Now, that could be a new look and feel, a new product, but often, new people, people who have done that before.

And as you think that you’re hitting a wall, I think the best thing you can do is to try and talk to someone about it.

And can their experiences unlock bits in you? And actually, would they not be also quite motivated to help you solve those problems?

So I think it’ll definitely be up to each individual business owner or founder or entrepreneur to decide when the right time is.

But I don’t think there’s too early a time to ask for that help and to cultivate those networks and to move in that direction. Because every time we’ve done it recently, I felt that it’s been a sort of levelling up of what we do.

Kate Bassett:

So those heavyweights are the equivalent of your caffeine fix.

Alan Mahon:

Yes. They are like a cafetière worth in a shot, for sure. I’ve given up the Coke and coffee, or the caffeine at least. And if anyone out there on the podcast makes the world’s best decaf coffee, you should definitely-

Kate Bassett:

Get in touch.

Alan Mahon:

… give me a shout. Yes, absolutely.

How Brewgooder plans to reduce the barriers for people to live a good life

Kate Bassett:

And Alan, just to finish off, can you tell us a little bit about the impact that Brewgooder has had so far and your vision for 2030?

Alan Mahon:

Yeah, so I mean, our vision for 2030 is to improve and empower the lives of a million people by 2030.

And that sounds like a grandiose… “What does that mean?”

It means for us to reduce the barriers to living a good life. The fundamental one of those is water, but there are many. And water is a solvable problem.

We solved it for two-thirds of the world. Why can’t we solve it for the other third or even the other sixth within that 2030 horizon?

For me, it’s all about having a goal and to move towards that complements what the business is doing commercially.

So there’s no point in us trying to be a 10, 20, 30, 40 million, a hundred million beer brand if we can’t actually directly correlate that into lives that we’ve changed. And we’ve been really fortunate.

In the past seven years, we’ve worked with awesome partners. Charity Water is definitely one of them. Most recently, One Foundation, lots of different folk.

That meant that we’ve been able to fund projects through them. We solely or in coordination with other people, have impacted the lives of around about 200,000 people.

And that’s us reporting into us rather than us sort of claiming that.

We always want to make sure that we’re saying as often as we can that we’re enabling other people to do that, but the people who drink our beer are effectively allowing that impact to happen.

So if you look at it, we’re 20% of the way towards our goal. We’ve got a clear plan to address the new and sustainable development goals that we think we can impact the most by then with the right partners, Charity Water being one of them.

But I think there’s no better feeling than when you know that projects, particularly in clean water, allow people to not have to worry about the absolute essential part of building a good life.

You cannot build a good life, raise a family, be healthy, if you’re a girl, stay in school past the ages of 12. It’s very, very challenging if you don’t have a sort of safe water source to draw on.

And we’ve been lucky to go to various different projects that we’ve supported quite literally on the days of drilling where you see people who maybe in that community have not had that access.

And hopefully, in the fullness of time, by the time that someone born in and around of the time of that installation, will grow up not ever having known, or taken it for granted that clean water is on their doorstep or at least within a reasonable distance.

And I think that when you start to count up the number of people, whether it’s through water or through access to food, through one of our programmes with the Co-op last year, these small incremental differences, when they’re aggregated, add up to a better world, certainly, than Brewgooder entered.

And hopefully, if we continue the commercial trajectory that we’re on and if we continue to inspire drinkers to want to buy our beer, then I think what was a naive, an idealistic and dreamer a million people target actually could become more and more achievable as time goes by.

And hopefully, if we ever get the chance to chat again in 2030, we can raise a glass to celebrate achieving that milestone.

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Want to know more about Brewgooder and Alan Mahon?

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