CYstarters Spotlight Story with Midwest Beer Club

By Maggie Larson, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

This story is part of a series featuring each of the eight startups in the CYstarters summer cohort. Each team got the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,000 or up to $12,000, along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.

From fraternity brothers to business partners, Nick Herrig and Mason Cook are well on their way to become the Milkman for Craft Beer — meet their latest startup, Midwest Beer Club.

Mason Cook, senior in business management and entrepreneurial studies from Corydon, Iowa; Nick Herrig, senior in industrial engineering from Aurora, Illinois.

Mason Cook, senior in business management and entrepreneurial studies from Corydon, Iowa; Nick Herrig, senior in industrial engineering from Aurora, Illinois.

What is Midwest Beer Club?

MWBC is an online craft beer subscription service with one goal: to provide craft beer lovers with the highest-quality, locally sourced craft beer from the best breweries in the Midwest.

To become a club member is simple — as a craft beer lover, create a beer profile online, choose a package based on frequency (by month), and wait for the cold craft beer to be delivered to your doorsteps!

NOTE…Midwest Beer Club is launched and open for new members, beginning this week! Check the article below for your special offer.

In a recent interview with Nick Herrig and Mason Cook, the guys brought us up-to-date on where their business is today and what their plans are for the future of craft beer!


What gave you the idea for Midwest Beer Club?

[Nick] One day I was walking home from a test that went pretty poorly, and thought to myself, ‘Man, I could really use a beer’ but my personal favorite is only sold in a local Ames brewery AND that wasn’t open that Tuesday night.

Essentially after realizing I had a problem, I went home to my roommate — also an avid craft beer drinker. I asked him if he had similar problems and he too experienced the same problem multiple times. At that point I thought, it’s simple then — if I solve the problem I will never be ‘beerless’ again. Turns out with alcohol, there is no simple answer. I called Mason and at that point we started doing research on a legal business model. We brainstormed until we came up with a solution that would help make craft beer more available. It took many months of research, teamwork, grit, and ignoring the many no’s before we found a legal way to begin to solve the problem. There is a lot more work to do, but Mason and I are excited to take the leap.

How unique are the craft beers that customers will receive each month?

[Mason] After our customer discovery phase through CYstarters, we really got a good idea on what beer to deliver to our customer’s doorstep. Our uniquely selected beers are the ones you can’t find at your local Hy-Vee or grocery store. These are seasonal, small batched beers that will never be bottled from the brewery. The breweries want to have more people experience their beers. We have made relationships with over 25 Iowa breweries and our goal is to extend their reach and grow the entire craft beer industry in Iowa.

Each month is a different package of four growlers filled with craft beers from 2–3 breweries.

How has your business grown since you’ve started?

[Mason] The beer and alcohol industry is full of red tape as far as legalities go. Working with the Alcohol and Beverage Division of Iowa has been a challenge of ours this summer. However, that didn’t stop us from progressing in other areas of our business, as we waited to get the green light on whether we could deliver beer or not. We worked on marketing, price strategy, and setting up a robust e-commerce website (http://midwestbeerclub.com).

As of October, we have received the green light from the state that we can deliver beer. Now we have obtained all beer permits and inspections and we officially launched Midwest Beer Club this month!

What has made you successful so far?

[Mason] We’ve worked really hard to stick to our initial timeline. We had our goal, and even through setbacks, we’ve managed to keep chugging forward.

[Nick] I would say we are both stubborn. We’ve been told ‘no’ by people many times throughout this process, but didn’t allow ourselves to give up. We stuck to our guns because we knew there had to be a way to do this.

Did you always see yourselves as entrepreneurs?

[Nick] Back when I was in elementary school, my parents would pay me for mowing the lawn. This inspired me to seek out other people as potential customers so I went door-to-door offering my mowing services and ended up getting 20 customers! So from a young age, I was involved in entrepreneurship without even realizing it.

[Mason] I actually had no idea that Nick mowed lawns, but ironically that is also where I got my start. When I was younger, I didn’t really know the terminology of ‘entrepreneurship’ or what it entailed but found myself following that path when I was a freshmen in college. That is when I started my first paining business and found great success with it. Now I can’t see myself being anything other than an entrepreneur.

What has been your favorite part of CYstarters?

[Nick] One of the major things is the collaboration that it brings — everyone is so willing to help each other and it truly feels like a community.

[Mason] So many students put off their business ideas because they don’t have any money to get it off the ground and, on top of that, there are other things they need to pay for so they get jobs. CYstarters provides students with some capital to put towards their idea, giving them an opportunity to pursue their startup when they wouldn’t have thought it possible otherwise. It’s such an awesome program.

What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?

[Nick] Just do it. I can’t even begin to list the amount of times when a product comes out and someone says “Oh I thought of that” but they weren’t the ones to do it. Test the waters and get your hands dirty. In reality, there is no such thing as failing because you always learn something. The only failure is not doing.

[Mason] A lot of people get in the mindset of ‘once I’m in this position, I can quit my job and pursue my dreams,’ but I think that if you have the idea, just do it now. Read some books, create a network, keep learning, and stop waiting. Are you going to be mad you tried and failed or are you going to be mad you didn’t even try?


Midwest Beer Club has officially launched in Ames on October 10th…Become a Member & Subscribe TODAY!

Unique packages of craft beer will be delivered fresh and cold once per month. MEMBERSHIP IS LIMITED and subscriptions are open to the FIRST 25 MEMBERS IN AMES, so don’t hesitate!

Click here to join now!

Use the code 1stBatch by October 17th to receive 10% off your first order.

Visit Midwest Beer Club to learn more today! www.midwestbeerclub.com/subscribe

To become part of the 2017 CYstarters program, learn more at www.isupjcenter.org/programs/cystarters/