Carlos Velez, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship. Carlos has transformed his passion for craft beer into a business plan, with the goal of opening a craft beer “microbrewery.”
“I want to make craft beer national,” he says. Craft beer is unique because it’s produced in small quantities by independent brewers who use traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.
Carlos’ journey began while studying abroad in France. “One day I took a trip to the Czech Republic and went on a brewery tour. At the end of the tour, they gave me a beer, and it was the greatest beer I had ever tasted. They told me it was craft beer. Since that day, I have been obsessed with craft beer,” says Carlos.
After returning to Boston, Carlos took advantage of the city’s reputation as a beer town and began to research local craft beer companies and breweries, including major players such as Sam Adams and Harpoon. On a trip to Colorado, ranked one of the highest states for beer consumption in the US, Carlos saw that craft beer breweries were flourishing, but their products were not widely available. Carlos decided that he, too, wanted to create his own craft beer but also serve as a distributor for other brewing companies.
Building a Business Plan
Carlos approached George Moker, director of Entrepreneurship Programs at Suffolk, and requested an independent study with the professor. Carlos enjoyed Professor Moker’s Legal and Financial Risk with Startups course and felt that the professor could help to strengthen his business plan.
“The course was about all of the financials needed to start your business—the most important part, really. Professor Moker has a lot of experience. He knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t just go over a PowerPoint. He’s tough, but it makes you stronger.”
Through his independent study, Carlos has been able to work one-on-one with Professor Moker. This is a valuable opportunity that has allowed Carlos to receive advice from an established entrepreneur who knows what it’s like to build a business from the ground up. Carols credits Suffolk with allowing him to create his own business and apply it to his classes.
“You’re not just doing work to pass the class, but doing it because it’s your future, and it is what you want to achieve,” he said.
Carlos hopes to open his first brewery in Chicago, a city he chose based on extensive market research. “The craft beer movement in Chicago is not as oversaturated as Boston, so there is more potential to grow. Plus, real estate is not as expensive,” he says.
Carlos plans to distribute his beer all around the United States and export it to his home country Colombia. “There are many competitors in this business, but I will distinguish myself by establishing a brand that will build a unique relationship with the consumer. I feel that it is a scenario that hasn’t been fully exploited yet,” he says.
After graduation in May, Carlos is moving to Chicago, where he will start his new job at Ale Syndicate. While he’s there, he also hopes to study brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology. The program includes a 10-week stint in Munich, Germany where he will learn to brew traditional craft beer.
Until then, Carlos is keeping himself busy in Boston, pushing his plans forward. “My weekends are going to new bars, tasting new beers, and analyzing everything about the business. When I go to breweries, I even take pictures of the lamps and things that I like.”