Henry Austwick

Enterprise success stories

Henry Austwick

  • Degree: History
  • Graduated: 2011

What did you study at the University of Exeter?

BA in History, covering subjects including rural and social England to the Ku Klux Klan.

What is your business all about?

My business is all about producing high quality beers and providing people with the facility of installing microbreweries in their premises in order to maximise their financial return.

What is your business’s unique selling point? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

Our USP is the high quality beers we sell and the unusual recipes we use – and our size. Comparatively speaking, we are tiny. This however gives us a competitive edge in that we can do things that are simply not economic for a large brewer to undertake.

Advertising is largely by Press Release and Social Media coverage (which is generally free). In addition, we produce point of sale material, through which we aim to amuse, educate and cause a laugh.

Our main competitors are other microbrewers and of course the ‘big boys’ in the alcohol trade who often have tied pubs and hotels, which are only able to serve their beers.

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

The idea came from my life before Uni. My parents had a successful Microbrewery serving a local clientele. So I thought “what does every Uni need to supply its Students?” A brewery of course. (There is historic precedence for this). The start-up proved to be a long-winded process, but it all began with letter trying to find out who was the best person to talk to. Often, it seemed like people were just trying to fob you off, perhaps you would go away. My attitude was that it was such a good idea that I was going to stick with it, despite the setbacks.

Juggling your academic studies with your new business as well as still having a social life must have been a challenge. How did you accommodate the three and what did an average day, if you had one, looked like for you?

I came up with the concept during my first year at Uni. Things began to happen during my second year and it was interesting to try to balance everything out. Mostly, everything was fine, however meetings sometimes clashed with timetabled events. Fortunately, this proved not to be a major issue as it may have been if I had been based at Streatham.

There was never such a thing as the average day though I’m not sure if that was a positive or negative.

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

A lot of what I learnt about running a business has come from my family, particularly with regards to sales. If you can’t sell what you make, the whole thing is a pointless exercise. When working in such an established industry as alcohol production, there are both statutory and production requirements that have to be adhered to. However, thinking outside the box provides exciting ways in which you can change conventional wisdom. Several people from Exeter have been extremely useful and helpful, namely Dr Mark Scribo-Rylski and some of the staff from the RKT team at Penryn.

What support have you received from the University? Were there any particular curricular or extra-curricular activities that were instrumental in you and your business development?

Support from the University has been varied. Mostly, it has been inspirational and invaluable, but I have to say that some resistance was encountered to my proposition, by those with vested interests. The help and advice from Dr Mark Scribo-Rylski and some the staff from the RKT team at Penryn has been invaluable, especially with regards to funding and finance.

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

The key to success? Being honest and approachable, having time for all people involved and a total belief in the project.

Have you made any mistakes along the way? If so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

Yes – plenty. It all goes back to something I learned a long time ago “ if you want anything doing – do it yourself.” (If you do it wrong, it’s down to you). Of course there are times when this can’t happen and you have to rely on others, hopefully to get it right. Overall, with a few notable exceptions, things have gone well and my trust hasn’t been misplaced.

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

One of the main things is, of course, more beer and lots of it, backed up by new recipes, both Historic and experimental. We are also beginning to roll out our packaged breweries, so keep your eyes peeled, there maybe a brewery coming to a Uni near you!

What advice do you have for University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

Don’t go with the flow! Think outside of the box as well as the inside, and don’t forget all the sides of the box. There is always something that people need; they might just not know it yet. Not everything is going to make you a million overnight. Business is not just about the money – it comes down to self-respect, the respect of others and the satisfaction of a job well done. Besides, one job generally leads on to another … and another …and another...