By Lisa Brown St. Louis Post-Dispatch
At the end of a 30-minute interview with Steve Young this month, a colleague of the beer entrepreneur checked his smartphone, leaned over and told him, “We just made another $5,000.”
By then, Young was checking his phone many, many times a day. Since the 28-year-old launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter on June 24 for what has been dubbed the “Keurig machine for beer,” the St. Louis resident said he’s getting a thousand emails, phone calls and voice mails a day from people around the world inquiring about the product, eight months before it’s available for sale.
Interested consumers and investors aren’t the only ones reaching out. Since the campaign began, media outlets from Time magazine to Good Morning America have taken notice of the south St. Louis County-based startup.
Per Kickstarter rules, Synek had a month to reach its goal of $250,000 or it wouldn’t get the funding. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, it surpassed its goal. As of July 10, Synek had raised more than $450,000.
The money will be used for development, manufacturing and marketing expenses. In return, those who made pledges get first edition versions of the product when it hits the market next March, T-shirts and other perks, based on their level of investment. More than 1,000 investors made pledges ranging from a few dollars to more than $5,000.
Synek, which has been in development for two years, has a patent pending for its titanium and nylon bags that can be filled from brewers’ taps with a gallon of beer, or the equivalent of 11 beers. The bags are pressurized, allowing the beer to maintain freshness for at least 30 days, much longer than a growlers’ shelf life of a mere few days, according to Young.
Before he co-founded Synek with Jeff Macler, Young was an equity research analyst with Cleveland Research Co. in Ohio, focusing on retailers including Wal-Mart, Costco and Macy’s. Last year, he returned to his hometown and now devotes his attention to Synek full time. Based in the STLVentureWorks business incubator on Lemay Ferry Road, Synek has six employees.
Young said his timing for bringing Synek to market is aligned perfectly with changing consumer habits as craft beer sales rise and the number of craft breweries keeps expanding.
“It’s the best time to be a part of the beer industry,” Young said. “Two years ago, this couldn’t have happened.”