With the Bay Area brewing landscape more crowded than ever, newcomer Harmonic Brewing knew that they would have to offer the community more than a perfect beer to distinguish themselves. To get a leg up on the competition, the brewery needed an innovative marketing approach to create a bigger, contagious customer experience that would lead to more revenue streams.
By renting out their industrial-inspired warehouse for meetings and events, Harmonic Brewing founders Ed Gobbo and Jon Verna realized they could generate extra income to help their small business grow even in a fiercely competitive market. As an added bonus, they were surprised to find significant marketing value in hosting events that generate exposure to their brewery.
How did this all start? After homebrewing successfully for over 10 years, Ed and Jon decided to take their business to the next level and open Harmonic Brewing. When building their business plan, they experimented with renting their space for events and saw instant success. They listed on Peerspace, a new platform for businesses to share their space for meetings, events and productions.
In their first month, Harmonic Brewing secured over $5,000 in bookings and unlocked the hidden value of their brewery and tasting room. From private parties to company events, guests were immediately drawn to the sleek/rugged aesthetic of the brewery. It offered a unique combination that event planners couldn’t find elsewhere.
When it came time to defining their company, their mutual love of musical balance defined their quest for an equally harmonious beer that hits all the right notes. They aim to win over beer aficionados and event planners alike with a highly practical warehouse space that exudes the style of the craft movement. Here, guests can sip their well-balanced brews and enjoy the community vibe.
We sat down with the founders over some of their best brews to learn more about how sharing space can be a valuable method of small business marketing.
Let’s start with what you do best, beer. What does the name Harmonic Brewing signify?
Harmonic Brewery: Our style encompasses different flavors and aims to achieve balance throughout. The aesthetic of balance comes into play in the space and the beer. We approach building a brand from a musical perspective. We don’t want to be a brewery that produces a crazy flavor of beer that’s the hit of the day and then forgotten tomorrow. We want to be true to ourselves and have longevity. We want to be in tune with our customers and with the neighborhood to earn people’s respect over a long haul.
What was the launch process like being a small business starting in San Francisco?
It was, and still is, extremely hard. The three of us do everything. We’re a small operation backed by friends, family, a bank loan and our own money. We’re not VC funded. It’s tough in San Francisco, where restaurant corporations have money behind them to weather through the initial startup period and tough times. I think we’ve achieved organic growth because we focused on creating a great product, but it’s still challenging. Starting a small business anywhere is difficult. We struggle to just stay alive.
When you were starting out, did you think that you would also be renting your brewery?
When we discovered this building, we immediately saw the potential for it to be a great event space. We built a line item in our business model for renting the brewery to generate additional income, but we thought we would have to do a lot of marketing work to go out and attract people. There’s no other retail or customer-facing store on our block, so we don’t get foot traffic as any kind of marketing. But Peerspace makes it easy for people to come to us. And when they are here, not only do they have space rental, but we work in a bar minimum to our events, so that’s great to help us monetize.
What marketing efforts have you undertook to get people in the brewery?
Our number one aim is getting new people in here and showing them a good time. That’s why hosting events through Peerspace has been super for us. It’s great to get extra revenue, but it’s also great marketing. When people come for events, we get to show them our equipment, the brewing process and they can feel the neighborhood vibe. It is something unique. Peerspace allows us to get our story out there, and for people to come share that excitement.
Has the exposure to people at events helped you grow your community?
Yeah, absolutely. It definitely helps our business. People feel like this place is part of a community, and they want to come back and support it. They feel it’s a bit unknown, and secret, like you were uncovering something. We’re pretty much as small a business as it gets. We’ll tell you everything about the business, walk you through, give you a tour. We give tastes out of our fermenters. We want people to learn the process that we went through, and kind of enjoy it with us. That’s why they come back.
What type of events have you hosted?
We’ve hosted corporate events, company happy hours, holiday parties, social gatherings and beer tastings. They’ve contacted us through Peerspace. Regardless of whether they are that knowledgeable about beer, everyone has fun at the events. We’ve had some interest from people planning weddings who are after something urban and accessible. Rather than having to drive miles to a wine vineyard, people can come have a great experience in the city. People like the idea of a wedding in an industrial space, where they can deck it out as they want.
How do you approach the events that happen in your space?
We try to immerse people in the experience as much as you can. I think what’s great about Peerspace is how they allow access to locations that can provide more than any traditional event space or hotel room can offer. All you get there is sort of this white-walled room from the corporate world. The brewery is an authentic experience. It has feeling to it, and it has a story to it. You really can feel that when you walk in. That’s a big thing for us, is that feel kind of warm feeling.
What advice would you give to other small businesses or breweries that want to start out in San Francisco?
When you think you can’t go anymore, just keep pushing through. There’s a lot of hurdles to starting a small business, but it ensures only the passionate and dedicated people get their doors open, let alone succeed. We’re six months into it, and still working really hard, but it all feels good to us. We’d like to be an example for small businesses. That’s what attracted us to the Bay Area when we first got here — the small, very unique, high personality places. That’s the thing that keeps us motivated and going on.
What makes Harmonic Brewing’s beer and company culture unique?
We try to keep the brewery approachable and not pretentious. One of us is always behind the bar to explain any part of our process. Beer is there to drink and enjoy, instead of analyze every step of the way. It shouldn’t be inaccessible to people who don’t know all about the process. We encourage people to try some of our unique beers on tap, like one of our stouts that tastes like coffee. But we don’t have a single style we define ourselves by. At the end of the day, we take a lot of pride in what we make.
This great Q&A was provided by Peerspace, an online marketplace that makes it easy to list your brewery for events, meetings and productions. If you’re interested in listing your space and earning revenue, visit www.peerspace.com/host.