A Mr. Beer Kit from his mom, inspired Chris Squires to venture into the brewing world and earned him the title of co founder and general manager at Ten 55 Brewing.
The name, contrary to popular belief, is not part of their address. It’s a tribute to close friend and co founder, John “J.P.” Vyborny’s brother, Matt. After he passed away, the two wanted a way to incorporate him into this venture. “We used Matt’s initials. MLV—all roman numerals for 1055.”
The brewery is located in southeast Tucson at 3810 E 44th St., a location Squires and Vyborny
never expected to get much foot traffic. Fortunately, they were happily surprised, having to expand the original brewery to accommodate customers.
“Our industry is still in its infancy here. We wanted to be part of building something new here. There was no questions. This is home for both of us,” Squires says about choosing Tucson to open up shop.
Ten 55 Brewing is the first of its kind to capitalize on Arizona’s H.B. 2591. The legislation allows small local companies to raise up to $2.5 million in equity capital through crowdfunding, not to be confused with online crowdfunding.
Squires says he hears “How’s your kickstarter going?” often, but he’s never done one. “It’s not feasible for the amount we need,” he says.
Opposed to the Kickstarter model of getting a t-shirt, or some product for your contribution, this legislation allows investors a return on their money. “It’s almost like co-ownership,” Squires says, “People think that kind of exchange only happens in New York, but you get your fair share here too.”
Squires says that his customers were an important part to getting the company’s first million dollars, an idea that he will explore and explain at TENWEST’s “1055 Ways to Your Customers Will Fund You.”
“The first few years, we focused on putting out really good beer,” Squires says. Once they built relationships and built a company they believed in, the search for funding began.
“We raised $200,000 in a few weeks; all unaccredited, minimum investors. They knew the beer, they knew us. In many cases, people would come down and not read the business plan. It was a passion move rather than analytic. A lot of them did not know numbers, they made the decision on their relationship with us. It was beyond our expectation. That resonated with the community and it led to this talk.”
Squires is quick to clarify that companies should not expect their customer base to solely fund their project, but should use the momentum they create as a launching pad for success.
During Squire’s talk, attendees can expect to learn a little more about the legislation and how to get started.
“Because we were the first ones to do this, people come to us saying they want to do this too. People come with me with no business plan, they just want to raise capital,” Squires says. He adds that having a plan is crucial to any business looking for investors, especially when dealing with consumers that might be unaccredited and less experienced.
Squires, who describes the brewing process as art and science meeting, is excited to be a part of a festival about crossing paths.
“Tucson IS a crossroads of all these things … artists, business, tech. It’s a crossroads of culture and business. That’s why we like Tucson. Cultures and commerce that manifest in a lot of cool ways,” Squires says of the festival’s Tucson roots.
“People should attend the festival, to learn more. Doesn’t matter where you’re at, even if you are at place before your concept. If anyone is remotely interested in entrepreneurship, even if it means you learn you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, there’s an incredible amount of knowledge in our community to be tapped into.”
“1055 Ways to Your Customers Will Fund You” happens Thursday, October 27 at 2 p.m. Get your ticket today!