SACKVILLE, N.B.– What started out as a class project for a university entrepreneurship course has turned into so much more for two of the students who have decided to keep the ball rolling on the business idea even after graduation.
Anthony Maddalena and Cody Cummins, who both graduated from Mount Allison University’s commerce program this past spring, took over the Bagtown Brewing Company this summer and are taking their class’ initial business idea for a nanobrewery to the next level.
Maddalena said once the concept started to get off the ground – and the class was working through the process of production, marketing, accounting, renting space, and licensing – he began to really see a bigger picture of turning this vision into a reality.
“I just thought, I really don’t want to let go of this yet,” said Maddalena.
In particular, with the licensing process taking much longer than the students had anticipated, he said Bagtown Brewing hadn’t had enough time to fully develop before the students were all heading in different directions following graduation. Maddalena saw its potential, however, and wanted to pursue it further instead of just closing up shop after only selling a couple of kegs.
So that’s just what he did.
After being approved for a Reisman Entrepreneurial Internship – which provides seed money to help turn your dream of starting a business or launching a social enterprise into reality, with the support of a mentor and a committee of Mount Allison advisors –Maddalena spent his summer fine-tuning the business plan for Bagtown and getting all the necessary components in place to establish itself in the craft beer market.
“It allowed us to take the time to focus on doing all the things we needed to do to grow the business,” said Maddalena of the internship.
The licensing was one of the biggest challenges and it’s taken time to allow that process to go through all the necessary channels, he said. Prior to graduation, the students were only able to get the initial brewer’s license and could only sell kegs to local bars or for events in the community.
Now they have gone on to get listings with New Brunswick Liquor and a brewer’s agency license. As of early August, Bagtown launched its retail sales portion of the business and is selling grunters (.95L) and growlers (1.89L) from their storefront location at 62 Main Street in the Sackville Commons complex.
Now they are brewing up batches on a regular basis, with their three initial offerings – Wobbly Duck, Subtle Tea, and Crown Vic – becoming their flagship beer offered on tap at the fill-up station.
Maddalena and Cummins, the brewmasters for Bagtown, are also always itching to try new recipes and currently are testing out a new black currant tea flavour. They have also been dabbling in ciders and other offerings.
“It’s definitely fun. We haven’t been deterred yet,” said Maddalena.
Cummins said the process of starting up a business, and turning it from a vision into a reality, has certainly not been easy. But it’s been a great learning experience, he said, one that enables him and Maddalena to put their skills learned from university to the test.
“There’s so many little things . . . a lot of different aspects you don’t necessarily think of right away that all have to come together to make things happen. We’re always learning new things or new ways of doing things.”
As commerce graduates, said Cummins, finding a use for what they have learned has been satisfying.
“You get to learn everything hands on.”
Maddalena said it’s very rewarding when the weekend hits and people are coming in to fill up on their favourite ale.
“It’s satisfying when someone comes in and tastes your product and says ‘ oh wow, that’s so good.’”
– Anthony Maddalena
The two both are excited about the success so far of the business and about the potential they see for Sackville’s first nanobrewery.
Maddalena said they are looking into the possibility of becoming licensed for on-site consumption, perhaps offering a licensed patio or a tap room where they could offer samplers. They are also hoping to get their beer on tap in other establishments within the local area.
Bagtown Brewing recently updated their store hours, now opening on Thursdays (3-7 p.m.) as well as Fridays (3-7 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m. -1 p.m.).