I'm not gonna lie to you. As media-savvy as I like to believe I am, it still feels weird watching the promo video (below) and seeing my friend on a reality show. I've known Erik Myers, founder of Hillsborough's Mystery Brewing, for a little over 12 years, since before he moved from Boston to Durham, long before he decided to ditch his job as a network admin and turn what was essentially a hobby into a full-fledged, real-as-hell, building, employees, T-shirts-and-taproom brewery.
When I met him, he was just a really smart and funny kid who could write well and dug all the same kinds of things I did. I hired him to write for Intrepid Media, and a few years later he married his girlfriend and moved to North Carolina so she could get her doctorate at UNC.
One night in 2011, just as Erik was finishing up his paperwork to make Mystery legal, I explained the idea for ExitEvent and the Startup Social over beers at City Beverage, and he went all in. ExitEvent has served phenomenally good Mystery Brewing beer, for free, at each of our 18 Startup Socials. To hundreds of influential entrepreneurs and investors from across the country. Because dude had vision.
I should say this too. Erik was one of the first people I told about ExitEvent. Before he said he'd pour the beer, he told me he thought it was a great idea. Had he said otherwise, I may not have done it.
This Tuesday night, Mystery Brewing is one of the featured contestants on the CNBC reality show Crowd Rules, which each week features three small businesses that compete for a $50,000 prize.
His Kickstarter campaign, one of the very first big money raisers and, at the time, the largest-ever raise for a brewery, was executed perfectly, hitting the goal with days to spare. Along with that, he sought out an additional $250K in private seed money to get into the building and into bars across the state.
His web and social media presence are spot on, and he uses them to sell the beer and the brand like any tech company might use them to sell an app. And his marketing is nothing short of genius, from the ornately carved tap handles to his blogging and constant presence in the beer and startup ecosystems.
But the reason I'm behind him isn't because he's my friend. Believe me, I've got plenty of friends who have started shitty businesses. It's because he's very, very good at what he does, which is make beer.
And that's not the only thing. I know a lot of entrepreneurs with a great product, a lot more who are marketing geniuses, plenty who can execute, a bunch who can sell, and even more who think nothing of taking big risks like quitting a job to go out on their own.
It's when you put all of these together that you get a truly great entrepreneur, and that's why I've always backed Erik.
Watch the show and you'll see what I see.