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68 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Dan Norris. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Dan Norris, often where they are interviewed.

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68 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Dan Norris. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Dan Norris, often where they are interviewed.

Updated daily with the latest episodes

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Welcome to episode 79, part three in a three part mini-series dedicated to showing you how you can generate online income quickly.

During the Corona virus lockdown many people have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently. Now is the time to think about other ways you can generate some income.

This three part mini-series will give you some ideas on how you can get up and running generating income online or get started with a new online business.

The post TAM 079: Generate Online Income (Part 3), with Dan Norris appeared first on The Active Marketer.

Apr 16 2020

42mins

Play

Ep. 72 - Life After Covid-19 with Black Hops Co-Founder, Dan Norris.

The Beer Healer interviews
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It's lunch time and I am stuck at home with the kids...luckily I have friends in the craft beer industry who love a chat, so I'm pressing record!
Dan Norris from Black Hops Brewing is a smart bloke with an award winning brewery and plenty of great ideas...but even they are doing it tough.
In this episode, I check in with him on what's going on and then we shift gears to think about what life will be like for Black Hops post the C-word!
If you want to jump on for a chat with me during my lunch hour, email me at beerhealer@internode.on.net

Apr 01 2020

24mins

Play

82. From Online Success to Award-winning Craft Beer With Dan Norris

The Bean Ninjas Podcast
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What do you do after you sell your online business with an annual run rate of over $1m AUD to GoDaddy? Dive into a whole new business world as Dan Norris did!

In Episode 82 of the Bean Ninjas Podcast, Bean Ninjas CEO Meryl Johnston talks to Dan Norris about moving from a successful exit of an online venture to growing a more traditional bricks and mortar business.

Source: Blackhops

Episode Highlights

Need advice on how to pick a scalable business model? Today Dan Norris shares his wisdom. #entrepreneur
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00:00 – Intro into Bean Ninjas’ business model, inspired by Dan Norris and WP Curve
05:30 – The difference in business models of online business (WP Curve) and a physical business (Black Hops Brewery)
09:08 – Switching business roles – going from marketing to HR
13:30 – From no sales to managing a sales team
18:46 – Getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the brewery
22:12 – Long-term co-foundership
25:16 – Different forms of capital
32:13 – Dan Norris’ 5-year goals for Black Hops
34:39 – Tips on choosing your first business

Learn the foundations of financial literacy and using Xero with Meryl.

Transcription

From Online Success to Award-Winning Craft Beer With Dan Norris

Intro into Bean Ninjas’ business model, inspired by Dan Norris and WP Curve  

Meryl Johnston:

Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Bean Ninjas Podcast. I’ve got a special guest on the show today. Some of you, if you’ve been listening to the Bean Ninjas Podcast for a while, you might recall our origin story. And the business model for Bean Ninjas was inspired by WP Curve, which was started by a guy called Dan Norris and also by his co-founder, Alex McClafferty. 

And when we were thinking about starting Bean Ninjas, one of our inspirations was Dan and WP Curve. And Dan Norris is also the author of The 7 Day Startup, which was the method that we used to launch Bean Ninjas. 

So on today’s podcast, we’ve got Dan Norris here to chat all things business. He’s done a ton of podcast interviews, so this interview isn’t so much about his backstory or WP Curve.

It’s about what he’s up to now, which is running a brewery. And even though we share an office; the Bean Ninjas team share an office with Dan above the brewery in Burleigh Heads, but I’ve been really curious about what it’s like running a brick and mortar business like a brewery compared to his other businesses like WP Curve.

We have a really interesting chat. Dan’s always on the talk, too, and as usual, he shares great insights around the comparisons between the different businesses, and then, some of the things that he’s been learning as he’s been growing the brewery.

(Source: facebook.com/blackhopsbeer)

Dan Norris:

Hi.

Meryl Johnston:

Hi, Dan. Great to have you on the show. 

Dan Norris:

Thank you for having me. 

Meryl Johnston:

It’s funny. I think we were sitting here a couple of years ago in this same room, with the same setup, but you were interviewing me on your 7 Day Startup Podcast

Dan Norris:

Yeah. That sounds right. I do feel those episodes. It was fun.

Meryl Johnston:

And now, it’s funny, it’s been a couple of years and we’re back; same room, but now, I’m interviewing you. Although I must say, you did help me with the texts right before we got started. 

Dan Norris:

Yeah. 

Meryl Johnston:

I only do interviews remotely. But it’s great actually, sitting in the same room.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. I think in-person ones are good because you can just kind of talk normally and not like having awkward wait between questions like, “Did he not hear me?” then ask it again. They’re always better if you can do it.

Meryl Johnston:

So can you tell me a little bit about Black Hops and where you’re at now; maybe the scale of the business, revenue or team size?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. So the scale; so we’re probably going to do about 450 grand this month, so that’s kind of the size of the business is at. A lot of that is excise; so it’s a different business than other business I’ve been in; like it’s an expensive product, it’s complicated to make, it requires a lot of people, it requires a huge amount of money, a lot of equipment; so it kind of has to be a big business.

It either has to be like a really nice local sort of place or it has to be big; it’s this kind of nothing in between. So that feels pretty big at the moment, but really, we have to be a lot bigger than that before it’s really going to get to where we want to get to.

But, yeah. So we’ve got 21 full-time people; all the 3 founders are full-time and have been for probably two years, and I think maybe 10 casuals. Then I have some; this is coming up, so this would be our busy period; we’ll probably hire 4 or 5 more casuals. We’re hiring more production people; well, probably 20 to 30, I guess, FTE staff over the summer period.

Are you a new entrepreneur? Learn how to kickstart your career today with Dan Norris! #thisistheANSWER
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Meryl Johnston:

And how did you decide to; you gave those two options of being a nice local business or something much bigger. Was it just natural for you to want to grow something?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. I think so. I was never really, well, actually, the backstory was Eddie originally wanted to start a bar and he was working in government, I was working on my own businesses, with WP Curve and the rest of it. And we were mates; we’re talking about it, but it just wasn’t something I was interested in.

It was like, “It’s kind of something you do when you’re 21, and then you’d fail when you’re 22.” And you’re like, “Oh, what’s this sh*t that I did. Let’s go back to corporate life.”

But I was already 30. I already had a business, it was like, it wasn’t that exciting to me. But then, when the idea of doing a brewery came up, I thought, well, at least with that, I could use some of my; like, I’m interested in growing businesses, not just creating them. So with the brewery, it can kind of grow as big as we want it to grow. 

There’s breweries in Australia doing more than $100 million dollars that are small craft breweries that are starting in the last 10 or so years. So it’s a big opportunity; so that was interesting to me. Doing something small here was kind of fun, but then, once I realized it could actually be like my full-time business and be like a decent growing thing, that was always interesting to me.

I think Eddie and Govs were the same though; I think they wanted to really start a small brewpub; it was always like, “Let’s see how far we can take this.”

(Source: facebook.com/blackhopsbeer)

Meryl Johnston:

And so, I think at the beginning, you weren’t working full-time in Black Hops.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. I wasn’t really working at all. When it started, I was pretty much doing my other businesses and just doing like the occasional blog posts for Black Hops and helped a little bit with raising money at the start, helped with the branding. But I didn’t really see it as something; I remember, we were talking about doing something after WP Curve because I was thinking, when I sold that, I didn’t have anything to do, but that changed pretty quick. 

The difference in business models of online business (WP Curve) and a physical business  (Black Hops Brewery)

Meryl Johnston:

And so, I remember reading one of your blog posts years ago, where you’re looking or you’re comparing all of these different kinds of business models and that was where you’re talking about the productized service business models and the advantages of that compared to memberships and products. 

And so, where did you see Black Hops fitting in with these business models? And what made you; you talked about the scale potential, how did you decide or what point did you decide, “Okay, I want to go into this full-time and this is actually got growth potential.” And how were you looking at that compared to all of the other business models and options that you have?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Well, it’s not the most appealing business model. Like those things were all like, “What’s the best way you can possibly make money out of a business?” And it was like, “Well, if you can build software and you can scale it infinitely and you can do it with a small team, then you can be profitable, you can be scalable; it’s a really, really good business model.” 

Services were harder because, as you know, services are quite hard, but productized service is a bit more scale in that the normal services. There are benefits because you can start them easily and you can do them without investment and that kind of stuff. A physical manufacturing business is not on that list, but also, I’ve always been, I mean, I’ve started lots of things, but most of them haven’t worked. 

And when I start something and it does work, that’s a better thing for me than something hypothetical that may or may not work; probably won’t. So that was more of the case with this; it was a lot of fun, it was a challenge, but also, it was getting a huge amount of traction, so this was working.

And also, kind of surprised myself; I really enjoy working in a physical business, and honestly, I don’t think I could, I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to working purely online by myself.

But even managing a remote team or working remotely, I have no interest in doing that. Now that I’m back working in a physical business, it’s much better. But having said that, with your situation, where you’ve got both, that’s still an option. 

But I definitely surprised myself with starting a physical business and realized, actually, this is a lot more fun than sitting at a desk by myself in my undies. As appealing as that may sound when people talk about it, I did it for seven years and it really wasn’t all that much fun. 

Meryl Johnston:

Given that we work in the same office, I can see the kind of team environment that you can create when you’ve got people all in one room and the events that you can go to together, the drinks that you can have of drinking at a brewery.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Well, that has pros and cons.

Meryl Johnston:

So, I’d like to talk about that a little bit more and compare what it was like running WP Curve and what your role was there, and then, how it’s different from Black Hops and what your role is in Black Hops.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Well, WP Curve, like I started it and it sort of took off and that was; it was an amazing time for me because I’d never really started anything before that had gone well. And there were a lot of people around that; mostly online people were kind of reading about it and learning about it and excited about it; the fact that this was working, it was a little bit different.

That was overexciting, but the actual running of the business didn’t actually really interest me at all. Like, I had Alex, which was really lucky, which I think he’s still doing stuff in productized services. Did you tell me that the other day?

“It’s kind of something you do when you’re 21, and then you’d fail when you’re 22. And you’re like, ‘Oh, what’s this shit that I did. Let’s go back to corporate life.”

Meryl Johnston:

Yeah.

Dan Norris:

Yeah, so that’s cool. But he was basically running the team and he enjoyed doing that. I didn’t really; it was a remote team. I like doing the content, but even the content, after a while, sort of just became a little bit; you’re kind of just sitting there writing blog posts. So I didn’t actually really enjoy it all that much. 

I enjoyed the fact that it was going well, and the process of selling it was really interesting and something that I’m really fortunate to be part of because a lot of entrepreneurs don’t get to experience that. But running this business is like my whole life now. I’ve been lucky. This is just like a whole new thing; it’s like, it’s all-encompassing and it’s just nonstop.

Switching business roles – going  from marketing to HR

Meryl Johnston:

And I’m interested in the team side of things. So I didn’t know exactly what your role was with WP Curve. I knew you did a lot of content and I knew Alex was mainly looking after the team. And I see at Black Hops that you’re managing a whole lot of different people; there’s a lot going on. And so, have you managed people before; so prior to WP Curve? What are your views on building a team that’s fun and is effective?

(Source: wpcurve.com)

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Well, actually my degree that I did at university was HR, which was only just a bit of a fluke because I did; I’ve told the story before, but I enjoy telling it because I did marketing and I failed the first subject. I was enrolled in marketing; I failed the first subject. At uni, they have a thing where if you fail but you don’t fail too bad, you can cancel it if that’s not your major. So I changed majors; so that counted so I didn’t have to do that subject again. 

Anyway, I changed to HR purely because in that first year of uni, I got like 2’s for everything and I got a 7 for HR just because it was easy. Just like you read the book, and this is how to hire people; it doesn’t seem that complicated. I was doing like master ones that were really hard and HR was, it’s just so easy.

So I was not a people person; it was a stupid move to do HR. But anyway, I finished the degree somehow. So I did have some sort of background in HR. My first job was in HR, I worked in HR for various sort of ways for three or four years. Basically, my career was HR until I turned it into IT. I had, yeah; I hadn’t managed that many people.

In my agency, I had a designer that worked for me, a developer that worked for me, ad work; just trying to thin; not really, like I didn’t really have people. When I worked for the government, I kind of did my own thing. But yeah, I think we’re in a good position at Black Hops where we’ve got just an amazing team. We’re very lucky like we could say that it’s because of our brilliance. But there’s a lot of luck.

Like, our first hire was Railo who just turned out to be an absolute gun. He hired Ali who just completely changed the face of our business. We have people like Leah just rack up to work casuals just out of the blue who ends up like basically running the whole place. So we’re very, very lucky. 

We’re an industry that’s a really fun industry to be part of. It’s a really rare sort of industry; like everyone is really close and everyone is having a lot of fun. It’s competitive, but a lot of people want to work here. It’s something we’re conscious of, but I don’t think it’s necessarily purely by design. I think there’s a bit of luck there and we want to make it a great place to work.

There’s a lot of hard decisions definitely made as well, but I think it’s just a fun industry and business to work for, it’s a growing business, it’s an exciting brand. That all helps enormously like that’s not something you can write in a policy. It’s just by design. It’s a good place to work.

But, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff; a lot of stuff you can do. I think getting rid of people who aren’t part of the culture is definitely a huge one because one person can completely f**k up a culture.

Meryl Johnston:

Have you had any experience like that? And is it hard?

Dan Norris:

Yeah.

Meryl Johnston:

So do you; the book said everything that we got to cut it off early, but it can be hard sometimes, straight away. But have you had anywhere it’s kind of in the middle; so were you not quite sure? 

Dan Norris:

Plenty. Yeah. We have lots of those things happening. And it’s normally me that has to deal with it. So, yeah, those decisions are really hard. Because it’s someone’s livelihood, but at the same time, it’s everyone else’s livelihood that’s there if they’re not being a good part of the team, and they’re dragging it down for everyone else. So those things are hard, but you just know they’re necessary.

And once you have a brand that’s employing sort of 20/30 people and it’s got 500 investors and that board in at a certain valuation; like you have to change the way you do things. You can’t just hire dickheads and behave like a dickhead. We’ve had a lot of hard lessons like that. But once some things become serious enough and valuable enough; like, we’ve got an advisory board now. Like, I rack up these board meetings now and like present to them. 

Like, it’s just so much different back in the day. I still wear my undies, but that stuff can be really challenging; just constantly trying to think of ways to keep staff happy. We do things like a staff-costumed beer after a year where we get like something designed, and I do all that. Like, work with the designer to do that myself. Sometimes it doesn’t go very well, but generally, people like it. 

We do like staff retreats where we’ll have the team go off to other breweries and do tours and stuff like that. Also, and it’s not related to brewing, we do like Christmas parties and things like that. We try to be flexible, but it’s just a crazy business. There’s so much work to do. All of those things, we try to do. But I think the biggest thing is just to have a fun brand to work for and it’s an exciting place to be.

Hot take of the day, especially true for those aiming for scalable, profitable growth.

“It doesn’t fucking matter” by @thedannorris https://t.co/mdxlYAXgqm pic.twitter.com/PNZlz6JNS3

— Kaleb Beebout (@kalebbeebout) September 5, 2019

From no sales to managing a sales team

Meryl Johnston:

So there’s a couple of things I want to ask related to that. So one is building a sales team because I think with WP Curve, it was more around content.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. I’ve never had to sell anything in my life. So, yeah. 

Meryl Johnston:

And are you the manager of the sales team at the moment?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. 

Meryl Johnston:

So how did you go from not having done sales before leading a team of salespeople?


(Source: www.pexels.com)

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Actually, that is a lie. I have done sales before. My first job was door-to-door sales and I lasted about six months. It was horrendous. That’s been really hard. I mean, I guess like, with a business like this, you’ve got three founders, all of these sorts of areas have to go through to somebody and it’s sort of who makes the most sense. It’s not who’s awesome at this, it’s who’s the least bad at it. 

So in our case, when I was sort of part-time, Eddie; well, actually, when we started it, Eddie would do sales and I would do sort of online content and marketing, and Govs would do the making of the beer. And I would do like businessy sort of stuff, which I thought wouldn’t be all that much because it was just a fun thing. But it turns out, after three years, there’s a hell of a lot of businessy stuff. 

And so, a year ago, we changed our roles. I took up the role of CEO, Govs just head brewer; he was obvious; and Eddie, into operations. And I also look after the sales and marketing, which at some point, we just figured out; like at the start, Eddie was doing sales, we hired a sales guy. And he was doing social media, and I was just basically writing blog posts. 

But it got to the point where it was like, actually, Eddie’s skills are really; I wouldn’t really even know this when we started, but it turns out he’s really, really good at operations. Like, he’s really, really good at just knowing everything that’s happening all the time. And me and Govs are not really that way as much. So it turns out he was really good at ops, so he just fit into that really, really well. And production, he’s pretty hands-on with production, scheduling and recipe ideas and all that kind of stuff.

And I was just like, “Well, I will just be CEO because I know neither of you guys wants to do it, so I’ll just do it.” And the sales team, I was looking after marketing; Eddie didn’t really want to have anything to do with sales and we employed sales guys, but I’ve been working on the right structure to; we’ve kind of employed, we had Railo, who was our sales manager, and we had Kearnsy who came on as an experienced sales manager. And we’ve just been working on the right structure to get that going. 

We also have one of our investors, Simpo, our first investor, who runs sales teams as his job; like call centre type, like full hardcore sales teams. So he’s helped me a lot; we’ve just done heaps of work to try to work out a little process in the CRM to use the targets and the incentives and the deals. 

And there’s just so much that goes into it; like, in this business, it’s making good beer and it’s selling the beer. And just like everything else is kind of just catching up to that; it’s so important. But, yeah. There have been lots I’ve had to learn for that. 

Meryl Johnston:

And so, when you’re learning something new like that, where do you go? Are you talking to people? Are you reading books? Are you; how do you go about going from, okay, you’ve had a bit of sales experience, so now you’ve got a full sales team and you need to create those commission structures and figure out how to make that work well.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Kearnsy has been in sales forever, so he’s been a huge helper in terms of learning how all this stuff works. Like, I didn’t know anything about this kind of sales before, like, all these words that he used. I was like, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” Like, on-prem and in-trade, and I was like, “What does that? I didn’t know what that means,” and I would go, “I need to know these words.” So talking to him; he’s been with us a couple of years, so I’ve learned a lot from him. 

Railo used to be in hospo line, I knew nothing of hospo, and it’s half of their business. So Railo used to manage bars. So all the stuff, I’m still learning from Railo. Like, we went to a bar the other day, and like the guy gave a shot because that’s what they do and I said, “Jesus Christ, I’m driving, just don’t,” and like, Railo’s like, “You didn’t hit the shot down on the bar before you had it.” I’m like, “How the f**k am I supposed to know you’re supposed to do that?” And he said, “It’s just a hospo thing.” “Alright.”

So I’m still learning all that kind of stuff you need to know. Also, our investor, Simpo, I sit down with him all the time, and I’m just like, “Man, this isn’t working. How do I do this? How do you do it?” And the good thing about those conversations is his sales team is really just like a black and white. Like, a day called sales advertising.

So he has like ten guys in a room, he knows exactly how many calls they have to make to sell a certain amount of ads. If someone’s not selling, he knows how to incentivize him, he knows when to fire them, he knows when to get someone else. It’s just, it sounds perfect. 

In our team, there’s a lot more nuance to it. So there are personalities and there’s relationships and there’s some; Kearnsy, he has a whole range of amazing skills that Railo doesn’t have and vice versa. Someone’s got to manage that; you got to incentivize it, but it can’t be as black and white as that because these guys are hard to find. Like, sales rep who are really good at selling beer are hard to find.

And they are also not just selling the beer; they’re upholding the brand, which is more important to me than anything. So there’s a lot a conversation you can have where you can be like, “Okay, well, I can’t do that, but I can learn a little bit from that and we can try.” And there’s a lot of trial and error.

Books; not really. Like, I’m not actually generally doing the selling. So I think if I was; like I would probably dig into the sales books and see what we can do. But these days, it’s more just about; like we’ve got sort of a small budget to pay people to do stuff for us.

Like online sales for example; I’m doing some stuff with that. And these days, it’s just finding someone who can do it and they can convince me that they’re good at it. I’m not going to read a book on that; I don’t have time. And plus, I don’t really read books.

Getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the brewery

Meryl Johnston:

So related to that, what does your day-to-day look like? Because even though you’ve got the two co-founders, there are still so many different elements to your role. There’s a sales team, but there are finances, looking after investors. How do you know each day what you’re working on and where to focus?

Dan Norris:

Oh, God. That’s a good question. When we started, we put $2000 in, me and Eddie, and Govs put a bunch of equipment, and we’re like, “Okay, sweet. This is a three-way partnership.” We’re like, “We’re good to go.” Since then, we’ve had to raise over 4 million dollars.

We’ve had, I think six funding rounds and equity crowdfunding around asset finance with the bank, invoice finance with the bank. I’ve had to manage all of that. So for the most part, my time is spent making sure we’ve got enough money, which she’s been really, really hard.

But once, in those brief moments where we feel like we do have enough money, I can spend time doing some of the other stuff. A lot of it is, a lot of the sales, a lot of meetings now, a lot of sales meetings; marketing, like preparing for sales launches. I still spend probably too much time in graphic design apps because I can do it. I’ve trained Leah up to do some of it, but I can do a lot more and…

Meryl Johnston:

And you’re quite specific about the design.

Dan Norris:

I’m quite specific about what I want. So we do have designers, but sometimes, just like we need something today, and so, I’ll do it. Oh, God. There’s just so much; I don’t know. I wish I could tell you I was really organized and I had some hacks to get organized, but there’s not. 

Like, I mean, I often work pretty late at night. I will sort of work during the day because I have kids as well. If I have kids that week, all the afternoon is just; I’ll ride off and then I come back in later at night and just work out; do anything from writing articles or planning launches or thinking about the design of labels that we’re going to do, events were going to do. 

Basically, I have to see all the designs with excel design as mostly, but do some myself, too. So there’s a whole lot that goes in that. We’re doing a beer or two every single week and ideally, with a nice full wrap canned design. We’re trying to do more of it to make it more appealing for people. So there’s always lots of work to do. 

Meryl Johnston:

And it’s so funny comparing that to WP Curve where I’m sure, you were gradually reducing your hours there as you systemize things and as had someone looking after content. So it seems quite different in terms of what’s involved in running the business. But it seems like you loved it. 

#Trivia:Bean Ninjas’ business model was started by ___________(entrepreneur, business) ? We’ll retweet the winning answer.
Click To Tweet

Dan Norris:

Yeah, I do. It’s really good. Like, I’m sort of; I’m able to do some of the stuff I really like, which is like the design and marketing stuff. The CEO stuff, the business side is really good, too. I kind of feel like back in the day, I was sort of making up stuff for me to do. Like, this business needs certain sh*t done and if we don’t have the people to do, like, I have to do it. 

And then, it’s exactly the same as in other parts of the business. Like, if Govs has something to do with production, some kind of beer; like we’re doing an avocado beer at the moment. He’s never brewed a beer with avocado, but there’s no one else around here who’s going to help him do it. He just has to figure out how to do it.

And same as Eddie, like we’ve got to power the beer that needs to go into town tomorrow. If he asks me, I wouldn’t have a clue. I don’t know how to get beer in towns. So no one else here does. Like, no one else here was in distribution and operations, so he has to figure out how to do it. 

And that’s part of the fun, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be in an area where what you’re figuring is actually fun for you. Like, if it’s not if you happen to figure out sales and you hate sales, that’s what I didn’t like about working for yourself, you had to do a lot of sh*ts that you don’t enjoy. But once you get to a certain size, you can sort of focus more on the stuff that you do enjoy.

Long-term co-foundership

Meryl Johnston:

Yeah. So you work with a co-founder at WP Curve, and you’ve got co-founders at Black Hops as well.

Dan Norris:

Yeah.

Meryl Johnston:

And it looks like in both cases, these relationships have worked well. You went through an exit with Alex, and you, Eddie and Govs; you’ve been in business together for a number of years now. And again, it looks like it’s going well. What are some of the things you do to make sure those relationships do work well for the long term?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. Alex and I definitely had our ups and downs, but like, we didn’t really know each other that well and we didn’t actually work physically together. So that’s really, really difficult. I don’t really know how; I don’t think we could have kept doing it for that long, and I don’t really know how other people do it in that example. 

Because you need to be around each other; like online communication can just turn nasty really quick. Like we had it with Slack with Black Hops, that will be in the founders’ channel and we’ll be sending messages and it’s like, “This is actually not that useful. Let’s just talk in person.” When you talk in person, you sort it all out, so good. So you got to be careful how much you communicate online. I think it can be really detrimental to relationships. 

What else do we do to keep it good? It’s got a lot to do with the personalities. I think we kind of respect each other skills, try not to overstep the mark, but also, call each other out if we think we could be better. 

Meryl Johnston:

That’s fine; that’s quite a balance between, especially if you’ve got different areas of responsibility and then there’s kind of gaps, maybe, where it wasn’t clear where something beats you or those responsibilities. Or if someone; it’s not your area of responsibility but you’ve got a different opinion about what would be done. How do you; have you got any examples of situations like that?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. I think so. I mean, like the other night, we had a meeting about whether we should brew this particular beer for this customer, and we sort of sat around, and me and Govs said, “Yeah, let’s do it,” and Eddie kind of said, kind of nod his head.

That sort of happens, and then, afterward, Eddie sort of thought, “No, actually, I don’t want to do this.” And he let us know on Slack, and I was like, “Well, you should have let us know at the meeting.” And then, he was like, “Well, I need more time to think about it.”

And so, that stuff happens all the time. It happens to me, too. I change my mind all the time because I’ll do the opposite of that. Eddie will do the, “Okay, fine. Let’s do that.” But then, think about it, and think, “No, actually, my opinion is different.” Whereas, I’ll be like, “Yeah, let’s f*cking do it,” like all the time. I was like [Inaudible 00:24:23] and then, I’ll be like, “Wait, let’s do this.”

So it’s good. I think it’s good to have; it’s not just the founders either. It’s a lot of; the staff has a big role in that, too. Like Leah keeps me in line quite a bit, which is not on her job description, but that’s important because otherwise, it wouldn’t really work. I think the balance of the individual people matters a lot, too.

I think we’re probably a little bit lucky in that we do not sort of; like, we’re all mates, but we’re not kind of hanging out all the time away from work. We just, we kind of come and do our thing, but yeah. 

I think we’re also very different; like the very different skills, which is useful. I think if we’re all kinds of brewers, all business people, all marketing people, it would probably get really messy. It’s worked out. It’s challenging. So far, there hasn’t been anything major in that regard. I’d say, other parts of the business have been more challenging. But choosing the right people is a huge part of it. 

Different forms of capital

Meryl Johnston:

And you talked a little bit earlier about all of the different forms of capital or in financing in different ways. 

Dan Norris:

I’ve talked about some of them, not all of them. We’ve done all of them.

Meryl Johnston:

So do you have any insights to share, say someone else is wanting to go about raising capital; what if it would be different if they’re not in a physical business, some of the other forms of financing that you talked about. Because I think crowdfunding is quite interesting and maybe you could talk through some of what you’ve learned there; some of the challenges related to that; how it all went?

Dan Norris:

Yeah. It’s interesting because Pulkit who does our beer software has got a company called 5th Ingredient that does Beer30, which is a production software. He messaged me last night after listening to a podcast I did and asked if we’d ever thought about raising money at WP Curve. And I didn’t even know how to.

Like, I was working in a co-working space around the startup, sort of ecosystem, I would have not had any clue how to raise money. I still don’t, really.

Meryl Johnston:

But you raised 4 million dollars.

Dan Norris:

Yeah, I just don’t; I still don’t fully understand how it works, but I know in this case, we needed to. Like, the business would not be here if we didn’t; so that’s just a no-brainer. With WP Curve, we never needed to, so it was kind of like, “Oh, it might be cool to raise money.” And then, by the end, as the growth started tapering off, we sort of thought maybe we needed to raise money to do something like a marketplace site; something we couldn’t actually afford to build ourselves and get like really into that startup ecosystem. 

But that’s hard on the Gold Coast; there’s just not. I would have had to go over to America and spend a lot of time over there I think, because it’s just not; I don’t see any evidence of that kind of existing here. Like, there’s a lot of people talking about startups, but I don’t know.

I don’t see a whole lot of evidence of actual real startup ecosystem with investors and rounds and incubators. Like, I try to be a part of all that, and I just didn’t see anything that looked legit to me.

But with Black Hops, we needed a lot of money. There’s just no; well, actually, we could have brewed at another site; that’s how you can do it without a lot of money. But there’s a downside to that, we want to build a brewery, so once we decided to do that, we needed to raise money. 

So we’ve done everything from just normal crowdfunding; equity crowdfunding, credit cards, overdrafts, bank guarantees for leases, which isn’t really financed, but that’s another banking thing that I’ve learned about.

Friends and family investment rounds, founders putting money in, asset finance through a big bank, invoice finance through a big bank, convertible notes for some of our investors, equity crowdfunding; I don’t know if I said that one. Probably, other things I can’t even think of right now; like pre-selling is another form of finance. Like, pre-selling merch because we couldn’t afford to buy it.

(Source: logopond.com)

Meryl Johnston:

And you said that you did this because you had to, and the business wouldn’t be here. So what does that feel like from a stress level point of view?

Dan Norris:

Not good. 

Meryl Johnston:

Knowing that you have to raise this money.

Dan Norris:

Awful. Like, there’s so many times, like we did what was just stupidly risky. Like, I’ve written about this in my book. Like, maybe you can do this without taking these kinds of risks, but I don’t know how to. Like, I don’t know how you get two dudes with $2,000 to build a 4 million dollar enterprise without taking risks. 

Because you have to sell the story, too. Like, you can’t just go, in all these realms, when we’ve really needed the money, but we didn’t have a good story to tell, that had been the hardest ones. I feel like we’ve been lucky so many times and just got to the end of it. Somehow, I found an investor, somehow I convinced them to invest and we’ve gotten over the line.

But the times when we had a really good story to tell, the raising money was much easier. The example I can think of is, so we got two breweries. The first one that we’re sitting at right now was getting to capacity at the end of last year. And the plan was to always build a bigger one, but it was like, “Well, how big and how are we going to afford it?”

So we found another warehouse 35 minutes up the road that was probably five times as big as this one. The rent is like, I don’t know, $200,000 a year and it was 5 plus 5 plus 5-year lease. So you’re signing up to, at the very least a million dollars. But then, we needed 2 million dollars’ worth of equipment. 

So like when we signed our lease, we had no money, the business wasn’t profitable. We knew we needed 3 million dollars, and then it was my job to get that money. So yeah, it was f**king stressful. But yeah, I don’t know how I should do it because we have a cool story to tell at that point.

Meryl Johnston:

What story did you tell? And so, was that when you had a good story or you didn’t have a good story?

Dan Norris:

Yeah, well, because we’re committed by that point. And it was like, “We’re in, we’re doing this, come along with us or not. But if you’re not in, I’m going to move on. I’m going to find someone else. Soon, we’re going to find enough people to back us to do this.” And people like that; like people like the fact that “You guys are going big.

This is a big brewery you’re building.” I think the new brewery has the potential to do like 10 times, 10 or more times the capacity of this one. One of the biggest in Queensland as far as independent breweries go. 

It was a cool story to tell and that helped a lot with selling to investors, selling to the banks, even just selling beer to some of the major retailers, to crowdfunding. Like the crowdfunding was like, “We’re going to be the first company in Australia to raise money to build a brewery on crowdfunding.

We’re going to be the first to hit our maximum target out of anyone in Australia, and we’re going to use the funds to build one of the biggest independent breweries in Queensland. And the site is what it looks like; it’s empty. We’re doing this, you can come in or not?” 

That was really powerful, so we were able to get; I think we needed 3 million dollars and we end up getting 1.7 from investors in about a week or two, or about a month, I think. We got the 400K in crowdfunding in six days when we did that. And then, the day before we open, where we just had bills piling up and piling up because we were like $800,000 short. We got $800,000 equipment financed from the bank.

And the idea of that finance is you use that to buy equipment, but we had the equipment sitting there, ready to be turned on. We used the investors’ money to buy and we needed that money just to pay the remaining invoices on the project. And that was the day before we did our soft launch. So, I mean, it’s; I don’t know. Don’t write this in your business book. Yeah, there’s a lot of sleepless nights.

But there’s a lot of times where I thought, “We’re going to lose everything.” A lot of times. Yeah. At the moment, I feel pretty good, we’ve had a pretty good run, the growth has been really strong this year.

Like, we had to basically double; like, if we didn’t double the business this year, we’d be out of business. That was our challenge. And double the business without a huge amount of extra stuff, we’re on track to do that. So that was a nice feeling. 

Meryl Johnston:

That’s setting challenges for yourself.

Dan Norris:

So just on that one, the downside is if we didn’t go really big, we’d just get caught in the situation again not too far from here. So we would end up with two breweries, we’d be hitting paid production, and then we’d have to somehow figure out how to build a bigger one and a bigger one in the second one, we’ll probably be a 10 million dollar brewery.

A lot of companies get into that problem and can’t get that money, and they end up having to sell. And we figured, if we can get this one jump to this big site now, we can grow there for a lot of years and build something super, super valuable. And if we can make it work, if we do end up selling, it will be worth way more than a three road company that’s not quite hitting scale.

Dan Norris’ 5-year goals for Black Hops

Meryl Johnston:

Yeah. And so, how do you look at the next, say, five years? So it sounds like you keep scaling and it becomes profitable when you get to a certain size.

Dan Norris:

Yeah.

Meryl Johnston:

And at some point, there might be an exit. But how do you plan for that or how do you look at the next five years?

Dan Norris:

Well, I don’t particularly want there to be an exit in terms of like selling the business, but I’m only one of 500 shareholders of Black Hops now. So it might be purely my choice. While the founders have the majority; it’ll sort of be our choice, but I like the idea of working here for as long as we can and building something valuable over time. And if we can do it profitably and pay ourselves a decent wage and have a good living, that’s perfect for me. 

I’m not particularly excited about selling, getting a bunch of money, and then, again, try to start from scratch, “What do I do then?” So that’s me personally. But at the same time, I always think you’ve got to build something valuable and that’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough in the online space. It’s always about how to make money. But there are so many benefits of building something valuable. 

Like, the only reason that I’ve been able to build something more valuable is that what we have is valuable to start with. That’s why people want to invest in it, that’s why people want to work for us, that’s why brands want to stalk us because they see our brand and they value it.

If one day, the business is worth a lot of money, then that can’t be a bad thing. To me, if someone wants to buy it for sh*t loads of money, and we have to sell and I don’t want to, I mean, that’s not the worst problem to have, is it? But yeah, personally, I would prefer to keep it and keep growing it.

It’s really hard to do that. There are not many companies in Australia who’ve been able to build a brewery and hold on to it. Most of them get to our size to probably twice as big as what we are and either have to sell or just want to sell for various reasons. There’s not too many I can think of who’d gotten much bigger than that that haven’t sold. 

Stone & Wood is a great example; they’re very independent. Cupitt has been around for a million years; I mean, their story is amazing, but it’s not really relevant to us in terms of the current craft beer boom.

They even start and would have; they best started 10 years ago. It was very different back then and they’re not a result of the craft beer boom. They’re just sort of like a company making great products, but they have been of an inspiration having that 10-year life cycle, still profitable, still growing, very, very big for a craft brewery and haven’t had to sell yet.

[Inaudible 00:34:29] of the stock exchange, which is something that’s interesting to me. But there are not too many others who are independent who are sort of getting towards anywhere near that size who haven’t had to sell.

Source: Blackhops

Tips on choosing your first business

Meryl Johnston:

So one final question before we wrap up. If you were talking to someone that was just about to start down the path of their first business.

Dan Norris:

I don’t talk to those anymore, I’m too important. I’d tell them to get in line. Book an appointment with my secretary. 

Meryl Johnston:

What kind of business would you recommend? Because you’ve seen all kinds of different business models now.

Dan Norris:

Yeah.

Meryl Johnston:

What kind of business or how would you recommend they think about deciding what their first business should be?

Dan Norris:

Your first business I think always should be something where you’re going to get immediate feedback from the customer on whether or not they want to pay for what you’re doing; I think for a first business. Like, I think service is a no-brainer.

Meryl Johnston:

Would you recommend a brewery for a first business? Or do you need some experience first?

Dan Norris:

No, I don’t think I’d recommend a brewery for any business. I think service is a great way to get into the business. You know, I’d quit my job and I hadn’t built websites before, and the day I started, I put up a website saying, “I know how to build websites, who wants one?” And from day one, I was selling something and someone was paying for it and I was learning and that was perfect. 

After that point, it becomes about what are your ambitions. I sort of think back to when I had WP Curve, towards the end, it was a really good business. We’re paying ourselves really nicely; we don’t have to do a whole lot of work. I almost look back on that and think, like I was earning way more money then. It was nice. 

But I’ve always wanted to build something bigger; I don’t really know why; I don’t really know what purpose. It’s not; I don’t think it’s really at selling and making all the money, because I don’t particularly think there’s anything out there that I want to spend money on that I don’t really, really have to, to be honest. But I always wanted to build something bigger and valuable and I’m prepared to take the risk to do that.

But not everyone wants to do that. So I think if you do want to do that, you’ve got to build something that can potentially be a big company. Software is good if you can do it, but it’s just a nightmare.

I’ve never been able to do it, it’s just so difficult. Manufacturing is just so hard; I don’t know. It’s just tough. But I’ve always sort of more like not thinking about the business model that much. At least these days, I more thought about what’s getting traction.

Like I really didn’t think of Black Hops as, “This is a good business model.” It was just like, “Well, this is worth exploring, so that’ll be part of it.” But yeah, I think service is good if you can somehow productize them, it’s good. But there are compromises with that, too, like if you want to focus on only recurring revenue, you’re leaving a lot of revenue on your table, you’d be adding in some consistency. 

It makes some things a lot easier, but it makes probably profit’s a bit lower and it changes a lot about what you do. This means you have to say no to a lot of stuff. I think you need to be more focused on sales because selling something recurring is quite difficult. And if you don’t want to do that, that might not suit you. So I think it’s more about what suits you and more about what you want to do.

I would say be careful doing business by yourself always, even if it’s your first one. Probably, especially if it’s your first one. It’s just so hard, just the whole headspace you have to be and just the burden you have to take on, even if it’s a small business.

Like, in my first business when I was just at services, that was when I was probably the most stressed because I wasn’t making enough money, I’ve kind of felt like a failure. We end up having kids and trying to raise kids with not enough money. It was a f**king nightmare.

So even then, I think it just would have been easier to have someone, another business partner. It wouldn’t be easier if you have the wrong business partner though. But yeah, I think that kind of stuff, I’d be thinking about more than the actual business model, I think. 

Meryl Johnston:

Yeah. I also think that services are a great way to start out. When I had been involved with the startup community, sometimes people, with their first business are trying to build a really hard kind of business, like software. 

Dan Norris:

Yeah.

Meryl Johnston:

Really scale it without a network, without money, and without experience.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. It’s just not going to happen. It’s just not.

Meryl Johnston:

I think maybe your fifth business model or your fifth business or your third business. But building some of those skills, that’s been my own experience in doing consulting first and just learning how to sell and learning how to manage people. I’m learning how to build a brand first and then trying somewhere money is coming in immediately.

Dan Norris:

Yeah. You get that immediate real feedback, not just the bullsh*t of, “Oh, this is a cool idea.” But the software is just; I think what a lot of people don’t understand is most software companies have started in an area where they’ve got an ecosystem designed to build software companies.

They started with a number of founders; normally, one is a genius coder, normally, one is a genius marketer. If not, they’ve got the budget in the investment to give up equity and good salaries to designers and marketers and coders. 

And normally, that’s done-for-you businesses that have basically filed loads of money. These things tend not to get started by just like individuals racking up the startup weekend.

It’s just doesn’t happen, so like that, I think that can be just such an enormous distraction and I was really pulling to that as well because I love the idea of having a software company. I always wanted to build a software app because I could just see, as a business model, it was so appealing.

But I think it’s really rare for software companies to be built by people like me in those situations. So you kind of just end up getting distracted with all the startup and it’s just not good for anybody. I don’t think; not to say it’s impossible; I mean, building any business is very difficult. But the service is good because you can get off or get rejected or get accepted. You just know straight away.

Like people paying you or not paying you or referring you was perfect feedback. But someone giving you feedback on your pitch and telling you what logo to use and that is not useful. It’s just not. 

Meryl Johnston:

Well, Dan. It’s been awesome. Thanks so much for coming on. 

Dan Norris:

No worries. We should do this more often.

Meryl Johnston:

Yeah.

Dan Norris:

Every week. We can just talk about stuff.

Meryl Johnston:

Sounds good. 

Dan Norris:

Thanks, Meryl.

Meryl Johnston:

Thanks.

Thanks for listening to the Bean Ninjas podcast. Here are three ways to grow your freedom business faster. Number one, download our free Xero Small Business Toolkit. Go to beanninjas.com/podcastgift and use our cash flow forecasting template as well as the other resources available.

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So once again, download, subscribe and share that link again, beanninjas.com/podcastgift.

Catch you in the next episode.

Contact Dan Norris:

References and Links Mentioned:

Feb 04 2020

Play

Success in the 603 - Attorney Dan Norris, McLane Middleton 12-6-2019

Success in the 603
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Success in the 603 recently welcomed attorney Dan Norris. Dan grew up in Chicago and was sent to NH as a kid in the summers to stay with his relatives. Yep, once you visit NH you will fall in love with it! Dan also fell in love with his wife Laurie. Now a successful lawyer and the Chair of McLane Middleton's Corporate Department in Manchester, NH, Dan shared his journey with us. The McLane Middleton law firm is celebrating its 100th year, so they know a thing or two about success! Listen in to Dan and his tips for reaching your goals, what works for him, and the important lessons folks shared with him as he made his way.

Jan 15 2020

37mins

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00033. How Australian Entrepreneur Dan Norris Built WP Curve, Sold It to GoDaddy, and Then Built Black Hops Brewing, a Craft Beer Brewery

Gritty Founder
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Episode #00033. Gritty Founder is a daily business podcast series where business founders share their stories of grit, determination, and success. The podcast celebrates the heroes who build the companies of their dreams and never quit along the way.

Oct 07 2019

1hr 4mins

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Episode 12 – Dan Norris – Serial Entrepreneur

Founder Mindset with Kevin Graham
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This week, I sat down with Dan Norris. Dan’s a serial entrepreneur from Australia’s Gold Coast and has started a number of businesses over the years. He was the founder of WP Curve, and more recently has been working on Black Hops Brewing, a craft brewery, with his two co-founders.

In this chat, we talk about the ups and downs of running a brewery, and Dan’s career in entrepreneurship – starting a lot of businesses, closing a lot of them down (some, too early according to his peers), before eventually starting WP Curve.

Sites and Resources Mentioned:

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Kevin Graham: Hey guys, Kevin Graham here. And today on the podcast, I have Dan Norris with me. Dan is a serial entrepreneur who's started many businesses, including WP Curve and more recently, a craft brewery in the Gold Coast in Australia called Black Hops. But to tell you a bit more about him and his story across these multiple businesses, please welcome to the show Dan Norris.
Dan Norris: Thanks for having me, mate.
Kevin Graham: It's good to have you on. So for the listeners who might not know about you and your current business, can you give us a brief rundown on who you are and what you're working on today?
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, so these days I work in a brewery called Black Hops. But most of the things I've worked on, I guess from 2006 until now, I've had my own businesses and I didn't really have any ... I guess no one has any experience as an entrepreneur before they become an entrepreneur, but I just went straight from a government job to running my own businesses and just had years and years of ups and downs. I mean, that's 13 years ago now. So over the course of 13 years, probably I'd say three things have gone well and hundreds of things have not gone well.
Dan Norris: But yeah, the brewery has been my full-time job and life for the last three years, and that keeps me very busy now. Before then, I was sort of into online marketing and websites and that kind of stuff, which is still what I do for the brewery. But yeah, it's turned into a whole beast of a thing. It's a big local ... not a big business, but it's a business that employs 30, 40 people and is pretty full on job. My old ways of building 35 businesses at once and working out what's going to work have sort of gone away. But yeah, I'm in a happy spot right now.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I would imagine that for a lot of guys, starting their own brewery is one of those projects that everyone always talks about. It would be great if we could start a brewery, but you actually went and did it. So can you tell me a bit about how that process started of starting a brewery?
Dan Norris: Yeah, I mean it is, it's every guy's dream. To be honest, a lot of very fortunate events followed by other fortunate events. I had a business called WP Curve, which again was successful, in some ways, successful enough to sell and do quite well with it. I got to the point with that business where we had someone who was interested in buying it and while that was happening, we'd sort of built that business, me and Alex, in a way that enabled us to do other things. It was a very good business in hindsight in that respect. It sort of let us do other things.
Dan Norris: And so I was playing around with a few other projects and so was he, and one which was probably the most unlikely for me to actually focus on was a couple of mates of mine, Eddie and Govs, were playing around with home brew and we brewed a beer that Eddie invented called the eggnog stout. And this happened towards the end of 2014, but over the course of the next few years ... I think I ended up selling the business at the end of 2016 ... but over the course of those two years, things just grew and grew from this home brew.
Dan Norris: I got carried away with the marketing. We came up with the name, we put some labels on the bottles. We thought, "Okay, let's put it into kegs and see if we can sell it to a bar." And then we thought, "Okay, if we can do that, can we get our own tanks and make our own brewery? Okay, let's do that. How are we going to do that? Do we do some crowd funding? Do we get investors in? Do we talk to the bank to put our own money in?" Trying to figure out how we're going to do this. And before we knew it, we're opening up the doors to a brewery.
Dan Norris: Back then it was a small brewery in a 12 square meter tap room. And now we have two breweries. And that was three years ago. And now we have two breweries, 20 full-time staff, 21 full-time staff and probably 10 more casuals, two venues, just a big complicated operation compared to a few guys making home brew, and just happened very organically. Every step we were like, "Okay, should we go for this? Yeah. All right, let's do it. Should we build the brewery? Let's do it. Should we expand the brewery? Let's do it. Should we build another brewery that's 10 times as big and requires 10 times as much money? Yeah. Cool. Let's do that, figure out how to do that," and one thing led to another and all of a sudden we've got this pretty exciting thing on our hands.
Kevin Graham: Yeah, and one of the other little interesting collaborations that you did with the brewery that I discovered during my research for this episode was you did a collaboration with the Call of Duty Black Ops game and released a special beer for them. Can you tell me about how that happened?
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, this was one of those very fortunate and random things that happened to us. We'd called the business Black Hops and we were home brewing and putting beers out commercially by brewing them at other breweries, but only at a very small scale, but the beers were good. They weren't massively well-known, but they were unique and interesting styles and we're starting to get a bit of attention for it.
Dan Norris: I actually only just found out last week, there was a guy approached to do a beer for Call of Duty. He had marketing contacts. His name's Mark. He runs a pub in Sydney, and he suggested to them that they talk to Black Hops. And I don't think I'd even met him at that point, but we'd been there once. I'm actually surprised he'd even heard of Black Hops. And he referred them onto us. We got the email. We thought it was spam. Eventually we're like, "Oh, actually, maybe they do want to do something," and we said, "Yeah, we can do that." Even though we didn't have a brewery, we thought, "Okay, we'll figure it out," and ended up doing it and it was just one of those things we got a huge amount of attention for and we sort of used that to springboard into a crowd funding campaign, which we used to springboard into building our own brewery and our own brand and yeah, kicked off the whole thing.
Kevin Graham: Right. So if we go back 13, 14 years ago, and you've mentioned before that you were working in the government before your entrepreneurial journey started, so can you tell me about how that transition went from working in the government, which was what I was doing myself before starting my entrepreneurial journey, into becoming an entrepreneur?
Dan Norris: Well, I mean, I just left. I got a promotion I think in December I'd been there only ... I'm trying to think ... In 2006, I'd probably been there three or four years. No, it would have only been three years, and I was getting promotions every year. It was good. It was a great job. I was meeting great people, having a lot of fun, had enormous amount of flexibility, and they put me through lots of training. I was employed there as an HR person and I was bored with HR, so I started doing all this online IT stuff and they put me through a multimedia course and did a cert for project management, a cert for training, and they promoted me to sort of manager of the online learning part.
Dan Norris: I mean, it was pretty cool, but I don't know. I just kind of felt ... I don't know. I just wanted to ... I guess I felt the itch to do something for myself and I just figured I was young. I was reasonably secure. I'd bought a house by then. I mean, we had a huge mortgage. It was actually pretty silly in hindsight, but anyway, I just left and kind of figured that the only way to really do it was to just jump and see what happened and try and figure it out. I figured I'd be able to get a job somewhere if it all went to shit and I kind of didn't expect ... I guess what I thought would happen was I would figure it out. I saw a lot of other people doing entrepreneurship, seemingly doing very well and I kind of thought I could do that, too. And I fully expected that to happen, or I thought it would just spectacularly fail and I would just go back to getting a job.
Dan Norris: And in reality, neither of those things happened. What happened was I was just painfully, moderately successful in that I was able to earn enough money to kind of just pay back half of the home loan barely and I'd get by and always kind of feel like success is coming. I'm going to finally get to a point where I'll be able to pay myself as much as I was when I was working for the government and have some financial freedom and just personal ... It was kind of never really about financial freedom, to be honest. It was more just personally feeling good that I'd done something that I'd be proud of that I've done myself, and just, yeah, it took a very, very, very long time before anything really clicked. But yeah, the leaving of the job, I don't recall it being all that hard. It was just like, "All right, well, I'll just leave and if it doesn't go well, I'll get a job somewhere else."
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I guess that's the thing with the government jobs is that if you have bounced around a couple of departments and built up a few contacts, it can be pretty easy to get back in there or you can leverage that to go into pretty much any other job you wanted.
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, I was in a very unique job, too, because this e-learning was sort of just coming out and I'd really got excited about it and it was a lot of really bad online training around at the moment, like chicken flick stuff that was just not training anyone anything. I'd gotten sort of deep into the psychology of learning, and I'd taught myself how to program in Flash and build in gamification into these online learning courses. And I introduced these courses into the company that had all these things sort of built into them. And because it was a new industry, I could sort of elevate myself to a bit of an expert in that field even though I'd only been doing it for ... I got the job as managing their e-learning after I'd only been doing it for less than a year and convinced them that I was the best applicant of internal and external applicants because it was kind of a field where no one was really an expert.
Dan Norris: There wasn't anyone that knew about e-learning at that point. Sort of knew about the old style of e-learning that wasn't really teaching anyone anything. It was just compliance. And this new interactivity was coming out with Flash taking off and a lot of opportunity for building really cool training modules that weren't just about compliance. Yeah, and I'd become a bit of an expert. I just kind of figured, there's a lot of different companies now getting into e-learning. I was in the association. I would have been able to go back into one of these other companies and do some kind of project management or even be a developer. I knew enough at that point to probably even program e-learning courses and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I wasn't too concerned about it. I mean, I was concerned as anyone would be completely quitting a job that they would have died to get in the first place. But yeah, I mean, I've certainly taken much bigger risks since then.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. What was the first business that you started when you left back in 2006?
Dan Norris: Well, I figured I could build websites for people. I'd never really done it before, but I'd gotten all these books and I'd sort of trained myself in all these technologies. This was before ... I guess there was a point where we were calling things like WordPress a CMS, a content management system. These days it's just not even really called that. But before seeing CMS, you had to build websites from scratch. And so after hours, I taught myself how to code, bought al these books, paid a colleague's son to show me Photoshop and show me all these technologies and learned Dreamweaver and I learned PHP and JavaScript and Flash and all this stuff.
Dan Norris: I thought, "Well, I can build websites for people and I can also build e-learning courses for people." I didn't really have anything to go onto, but the consultancy where I worked, my first job, my partner at the time was still working there and I still had a good relationship with them and they needed a new website. So I was like, "All right, well, I'll start on that and I'll just go talk to him. I'll go take some photos of the office and build him a website." And I think I charged him $1,000 or something like that. And yeah, that was my first customer.
Dan Norris: And then my partner actually just left the consultancy, but I still had a good relationship with them. She was working for another agency that wanted a website, so that was my second project. They wanted a content management system built on ASP and I didn't even know anything about ASP, but I just said, "Yep, I can do that." I went out, bought all these books on ASP, learnt that, built them this custom content management system, which for the love of God, I hope is still not running because it's probably insecure as all hell. But yeah, just learnt as I went and eventually got to the point where I could pay other programmers, barely, pay other designers, because I was doing all the design and stuff myself. I taught myself that as well, and generally not doing a particularly good job at anything but doing enough to just get a few jobs here and there and sort of build up this business, or try to.
Kevin Graham: Right. So what happened after the website design stuff? Did that eventually lead to WP Curve or were there other businesses in the interim?
Dan Norris: Yeah, not really. I mean, I did that for six years and it was just really, really up and down, generally very unsuccessful. Taught me a lot of lessons. But after six years, I actually went to the very first tropical ... What do they call it? The tropical MBA thing in the Philippines. I'm trying to think of what they called it back then. They don't do it anymore. They only did a couple of them. It's like a bootcamp of sorts, and it was a few months before the very first DC Bangkok. I guess if anyone's listening that doesn't know what the DC is, it's the Dynamite Circle. It's an online group of entrepreneurs who kind of travel the world and help each other with things, and I was an early member of that group.
Dan Norris: And I went to this tropical MBA sort of bootcamp thing and just said, "Okay, well, I'm going to sell this agency and I'm going to start something new," and I sold it for bugger all. It was like 50 grand or something like that, and I had hundreds of clients by then. It just wasn't very profitable. I mean, I did hosting and stuff as well, which was of value to other companies. And I started this analytics dashboard called Informly and found a programmer and got him to build this thing for me. Did that for a whole 12 months. Got a lot of attention for it, started writing blog posts and getting people behind the story, but I couldn't sell it. No one wanted to pay for it.
Dan Norris: And it's funny now because I do ... A lot of my job now is looking at data and dashboards and things, and I still, as someone who I would have thought would be a perfect customer for that kind of thing, I wouldn't pay for that now because what I want is so custom that you just can't really configure it in an application like that unless it's really advanced. And the idea of that application was it was just going to be simple, like really simple charts, connect MailChimp and it gives you a little bit of data on your growth each month.
Dan Norris: After a year of that, it was very obvious that that was not going well, and I was probably a couple of weeks away from just having to go back and get a job, which was a frightening proposition. And I just launched WP Curve. I'd just had the idea and launched it really, really minimum. I downloaded a theme, registered the domain WPLiveNinja.com, and posted in the DC and said, "Does anyone want to sign up for this?" And that ended up ... I shut down the analytics thing, started this, and within a week I had as many customers as I did with the analytics. And within a year I think we had a couple of hundred customers and within three years it was a million dollar business and a good solid recurring, 100% recurring revenue or mostly recurring revenue business.
Kevin Graham: Right. So what was it like basically putting a year worth of time and obviously a bunch of money to paying that developer into building Informly to then have to shut it down? What was that shut down moment like in terms of coming to that decision and then the actual day of having to turn it off?
Dan Norris: Well, it's not fun. I've done it plenty of times. I've started things and realized after a point of time, normally too late, that it wasn't working, and it's awful. It's really not a fun thing to do, but you always know it's the right thing to do. It's kind of like ending a bad relationship. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but after you do it, you can't understand why you didn't do it sooner. And ending businesses is very much like that. It's very, very emotional. It's something you've created. You put so much of your self-worth into that.
Dan Norris: Up until that point, I'd never really done anything in life that I would have considered successful really. I'd kind of put myself out there as this entrepreneur and I hadn't really had any success with it. It was awful. I mean, it's awful to shut down these ideas. But the only reason I'm in this position now ... I can trace everything from this point back to shutting down business ideas. The fact that I've got a brewery now, which is just my whole life, and an amazing group of people and an amazing brand and an amazing story, dream of a business, is because I shut down things that weren't that. I left it a little bit too long in some cases. Perhaps I shut down some things too early. I was definitely criticized for that, sort of starting things and then shutting them down too early. But I think when something's going well, you tend not to have to push it too hard.
Dan Norris: And that's what I found with the brewery. I mean, the brewery has just exploded. We still don't have any marketing people here and we're one of the most well-known craft beer brands in this part of the country. It just gathers momentum, and the product does a lot of the work for you, and just when it goes well, it goes well, and WP Curve is very much the same. We put content out but we didn't do any marketing or paid advertising. It just grew because it was ... Well, who knows why, but it did. And I think sort of the mindset change was like, well, instead of trying to analyze why things are going well and why they aren't, why don't we just step back and be like, "Well, have I put enough into this to know if this particular idea at this particular time with me driving it and all of my resources are going to make this happen?" And if the answer is, "Yes, I put enough into that," then that idea gets shot down and you try something else.
Dan Norris: And a lot of the time it's probably not the idea. I mean, you think about that. Beer's been around for thousands of years. Our idea of making beer is not new at all. It's not really about the idea. It's just a lot of things combining together, executing things well and having a lot of luck, and you find yourself in a position where things are going well. And if you're not in that position, it might be hard to understand why. And people I think try to explain why, but I think a lot of times people don't really know. Just sometimes things work. Sometimes things don't, and all you can do is execute your ideas well and when you feel you've done enough and they're not going well is to be ruthless in shutting them down and trying something else.
Kevin Graham: Right. And on that sort of point there of trying something else, you actually released a book called The Seven Day Startup that documents the process of starting up on these ideas. Can you give us a brief rundown on what that book covers and what that process is about?
Dan Norris: Yeah, I can. It was seven years ago now. It's been a while since I read it, but I guess the idea, the whole idea behind the book was, just stop analyzing and start doing and it was like all of these assumptions that you have about what this business idea is going to be like are probably things that you can either test pretty easily or you actually don't need to test and you just need to actually start because you just get caught in this kind of position of just watching other people and analyzing what they're doing and learning stuff that you probably don't need and being overly concerned about different things like signing up with the latest software and all this kind of stuff, and just thinking and planning and doing business plans and just thinking all of this is going to ultimately lead to you being successful.
Dan Norris: But I stand by the sentiment in that book even today. It's like the only thing that's going to make you successful, and it may not, but the only thing that may make you successful is if you start something and then you stop something when you feel like you put enough into it and you start something else. All the analyzing and everything else is kind of a waste of time, and I think a really big one is this idea of validating your idea. At the time it was all the rage. It was like, "Validate your idea, validate your idea." And it was like, how many of these ideas actually have to be validated? Most of this stuff's been done and most of the good companies are based off ideas that have already been done. It's very rare for a company to start off a completely new idea that has never been done. That's really rare.
Dan Norris: Most companies start something around about the same time that other companies are starting it or even 10 years after other companies have started it. And for whatever reason, they find themselves in a position where it's going well. I mean, that's not completely out of their hands. They might've executed something well or the timing might suit them better or there might be a bunch of other factors in there. But the idea itself doesn't really need to be validated. I think what needs to be validated is whether you at this point in time can actually make this work. And the only way you're going to answer that is to launch it.
Dan Norris: With WP Curve, I launched it within seven days and I found out very quickly whether or not it was going to be successful. And I hope that a lot of people who have read that book have done the same thing. I know a lot of people have read that book and started an idea and it hasn't gone well. And maybe that's just as good. I mean, what's the alternative? Not start the idea and just think about this idea for two years and miss the opportunity to actually realize that it's not going to work and therefore not be able to something else or put your energy towards something else? I think the sentiment in that book is very much relevant now as it was then.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. Let's change gears for a moment here and talk about Black Hops as it stands today. Can you tell me about the point in the business where you start to get initial traction and what would you attribute that success to?
Dan Norris: Well, again, I mean, this idea of attributing success, it just doesn't sit well with me. I mean, I don't know. I mean, we've had traction all along the way. From our very first home brew, the idea was good. Eddie had this unique idea. He offered it to another brewery. They didn't want it. And so we sat around the table and Govs is like, "I've got this home brew kit. I might as well try to brew it." We tasted it. It tasted really good. It tastes exactly like the way Eddie described and hoped it would taste. We gave it out to a few bloggers and they started writing about it. I put labels on it to make it look a bit more legitimate, which now I look at and am just embarrassed about. But at the time it was like, "I'll just call this a new beer that's coming out."
Dan Norris: And I mean, I don't know what you attribute that to. There's so much that's gone in through the last few years to get to here. There's a huge amount of risk and just a huge amount of money and it's the complete opposite of a seven day startup. I guess the sentiment is the same because we didn't build a brewery until we had a bunch of customers paying us for the beer, telling us that it was good and getting traction with it. The sentiment is very much the same. But in terms of what you can pin the success on, I don't really know. We've got a cool story. We ended up building a really cool brand around what we do. Our cans and our marketing look really good.
Dan Norris: The beer is some of the most awarded beer in the country. Last year we won Champion Brewery at the most prestigious beer awards in the country, Champion Small Brewery. This year we won Champion Brewery at the Queensland Beer Awards, and so the product's very good. The timing was very good. The industry here was just starting to take off and we came in right at that time. We came in right at the time when cans are taking off and we put our beer into cans. Just a whole bunch of stuff just went our way. A few really fluky and lucky financial things, like we've built this business with basically no money. I've had to get about 50 traditional investors since the day we started and 500 plus equity crowdfunding investors, bank loans, every kind of finance you can imagine, normal crowd funding, equipment finance, leasing, any kind of finance you can think of, we've been able to get for this business and sometimes right at the last minute, so a lot of luck as well. There's just so much that goes into it. It's not something I can really pinpoint, I don't think.
Kevin Graham: That's cool. I mean-
Dan Norris: And also, just to answer that a different way, there's different levels of this term success, too. At many points along our journey, we could've had some of this finance fall through or something else happen that could have crushed the business and it been put and be done with. And I mean, that could still happen. It's not like we've built this completely bulletproof operation that's going to last for thousands of years. We're still right in the middle of building a company that's really only going to hit its stride when it's at scale and it's going to cost millions and millions of dollars to get there.
Dan Norris: It feels like things are going well right now, but it's very, very up and down and we're a couple of kilometers away from another brewery that is by far the fastest-growing brewery in the country. Opened around the same time, one of the most successful recent brands I can think of in the country. There's kind of levels to success. It feels like things are going well for us at the moment. But yeah, you don't want to really talk about something like it's finished. And I think that term success kind of leads you to talk about something like it's finished.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that's a good point. It definitely sounds like even three years into this business, you're still very much in the thick of it and doing all the blocking and tackling stuff that needs to be done to see that business grow and be successful.
Dan Norris: Well, it's also the nature of this sort of business. I was talking to the other company I mentioned down the road called Bolter. They're a brewery company that was started by Mick Fanning and a bunch of surfers and a guy from America and a marketing guy here. And I was talking to him yesterday, and as successful as a business could possibly be within three years, they are in the same situation that they're working their asses off. I mean, they love it. It's consumed their life, but they're working their asses off. [inaudible 00:00:25:11], their co-founder and marketing guy, has been running international brand campaigns for decades and he's the one that's up late at night lurking on social media to see if people are asking questions about Bolter, and I'm the same.
Dan Norris: Literally, before I did this interview, I'm sitting there on Photoshop getting ready for tomorrow's IPA event, just putting together the social media for it. I'm doing stuff now that I was doing 10 years ago. It's not like we've gotten to a point where we just sit back and everyone does all the work. We're all working our asses off here. And it's just the nature of this kind of business. It consumes your life and it's absolutely what we want to be doing. But yeah, it's certainly not gotten to a point where it's easy, and even, I fully expect it never to get to that point. I think it's kind of the sort of business where if you don't enjoy actually doing what it has you doing, then you're not going to last too long because it's never going to get to the point where we can sit back and relax.
Kevin Graham: Right. On that topic of it still being not very easy, can you tell me about an unexpected crisis that happened in the business and how you handled it?
Dan Norris: Well, I think, yeah, again, I think unexpected crisis wouldn't be the right word because I fully expect crises to happen very regularly in this business. I mean, I don't really know if I could pick one. There's just been so many things. I mean, some of the financial stuff I probably can't really talk about too much. But there's definitely been situations where we've needed rounds of finance. I mean, just to give you an example, we signed a lease to build our second brewery because we realized this one that I'm at at the moment was just never going to be big enough.
Dan Norris: We knew that when we got the lease for it, but this brewery we put about a million dollars into, and this was into a brewery that, this company we started for $2,000 originally and by this point, over two or three years, we put $1 million into this brewery knowing that we couldn't build it anymore and we needed to build another one and the next one was going to cost at least three and a half million dollars and was going to be about 10 times as big, and we didn't have any money in the bank.
Dan Norris: Equity crowd funding wasn't legal at that point. We didn't have investors desperate to give us more money. I'd never got a loan from a bank in my life for anything, for a business, for starters, but for anything other than a car or a house. It was completely foreign to me, the idea of getting money from a bank. I just didn't think that would even be possible. And we signed a 15 year lease on this humongous building knowing all that and knowing we were going to have to figure it out on the way.
Dan Norris: And I mean, it came very, very close. We got approval and our finance, I think, the week before we opened. I raised finance from a whole bunch of different sources, but the bank finance only came the week before we opened. And our approval to open came the day before we did our soft launch. And this is for a project over $3 million. I mean, that's kind of reasonably standard. It's kind of the nature of this beast. You're up against some pretty hefty competition and everyone does everything really well, so you kind of have to take some big risks and hope things go in your favor.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that sounds like you were right down to the wire, both financially and permits and everything, to actually get that new venue open. I can imagine just the feelings that you would've been going through at that time and how difficult that would have been.
Dan Norris: Yeah, but it's not just that time. That's happened countless times. Our plan was originally to open the first brewery in January and we didn't end up opening it until June, and we'd had it ready more or less that whole time, but for the last two months, we were waiting on one person to connect our gas boiler. And it was only one guy who could do it and he just wouldn't turn up. And this just went on for weeks and weeks and weeks, and it was just like we were paying money in rent. Govs and Eddie had quit their jobs. I still had WP Curve at that point, thank God. But we were sitting around doing nothing and it was just costing us money and we were like, "We're going to lose everything here." So yeah, I mean, that's another example. This stuff happens all the time. It's a bit of a scary proposition starting a business like this.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. What's one thing about your business that makes you excited today then?
Dan Norris: Everything. Black Hops is my whole life. It's an amazing group of people. It's an amazing brand to work with. It's a really amazing industry. The physical business is not something I really thought I would get into. I kind of thought maybe one day I'll do some sort of physical product, which I didn't think through the implications of that, but I didn't really think I would ever have a building with people in it. But I find myself now as cofounder and CEO, because we've given ourselves roles of a team of 30 people. And it's just an awesome industry. I mean, who wouldn't want to ... We've made a hundred beers since we started in that four year period. Who wouldn't want to make different beers and go around events talking about them, designing beer labels and running two amazing taprooms and doing beer launches and all of that stuff? It's a dream life and a dream business despite all the stuff I said before.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. Just on that, when are we going to see Black Hops available in Thailand?
Dan Norris: No time soon. We're very much focused around local. We're sending beers into state in Australia, but we do sort of 85% or so of our beers locally in Queensland and I don't really have any intention of changing that. It's not the kind of product that travels particularly well. The best I can offer is if I happen to travel over there, I'll bring some with me and share it out.
Kevin Graham: Awesome. Well, hopefully you can make it to this year's DC Bangkok.
Dan Norris: I had thought about it. When is it? It's like end of October, right?
Kevin Graham: I think mid-October, but yeah.
Dan Norris: Mid-October. Yeah, I saw it come up. Yeah, I'll have a look at the dates. Now it's really hard. We have beer events three or four times a week sometimes, and I don't go to all of them, but getting a free weekend is almost impossible unless I'm on holidays. But yeah, I would love to go again. It's been a while. I went to I think three of them or four of them over the course of doing the WP Curve before and met some amazing people.
Dan Norris: Actually, Sam was the first investor in Black Hops and I met him at the very first DC BKK in 2012, and he only recently came over here. This whole time, he sort of invested and just looked at it from afar and only recently come over and checked out the brewery site. In many ways, all of my entrepreneurial endeavors can be sort of taken back to the DC, so I'm eternally grateful to Dan and Ian and the crew there and that whole group of people. And yeah, I guess that's why I sort of try to stay active in the forum, but I'm just not that good at being active in the forum. But I'm always happy to talk to people from the DC and owe that community a lot.
Kevin Graham: Right. I know we're coming up towards the end of our time together. I've got two more questions and then we'll wrap it up. Firstly, what books do you think had the biggest impact on you in deciding to become an entrepreneur?
Dan Norris: Well, I'm not much of a reader of books. I kind of joke that I probably wrote more books than I've read. That's probably not actually true though. I do read books sometimes. I just kind of struggle to get through them. But I do have a very clear one for this. And its Rich Dad, Poor Dad, because I remember reading this. I remember walking home and reading it. I must've actually bought a physical copy of it. It was probably before the Kindles and whatnot came to Australia, just reading that walking home work when I was working this government job. And that really is a very clear turning point for me of being like, "Actually, I'm going to do this starting a business thing." And it wasn't long after that that I just decided to do it. So yeah, that was a clear winner for that question.
Kevin Graham: And what about books that have had the biggest impact on you and the last few years?
Dan Norris: I honestly don't think I've read a book in the last few years. I'm trying to think. I listen to lots of podcasts. Yeah, I don't think I've read a book in the last few years, to be honest. I can't really think of one.
Kevin Graham: Okay. Do you want to give a shout out to a couple of your favorite podcasts here then?
Dan Norris: I mean, I listen to all kinds of weird podcast now. I don't tend to listen to that many entrepreneurial sort of ones anymore. The online marketing ones, I don't really listen to that much. I listen to lots of beer ones, lots of sort of comedy ones. I always thought the podcasting content, it's sort of like a medium that I feel like has to be a little bit entertaining or interesting. Just the interviews with entrepreneurs I do still listen to and I definitely did still listen to a lot early on, and that's probably what attracted me to the Tropical MBA one originally. It was sort of entertaining. It was sort of upbeat and fun. Those are kind of the ones. I still listen to This Week in Startups from time to time, Tropical MBA from time to time. There's not a huge number of sort of businessy ones I listen to any more to be honest.
Kevin Graham: Cool.
Dan Norris: I feel like I have really bad answers to these last few questions. But that's what happens. Maybe I was really, really into these podcasts and things when I was sort of trying to figure it all out, and by the time I got to a place where things were just taking off, it's just not something I feel ... I learn a lot from the people around me. I follow a lot of accounts on social media from other people in the industry and I'm consuming a lot of content in the industry now and I feel like that's more what I need. I don't so much need the inspiration or the ideas from the entrepreneurial podcasts so much anymore, but it's definitely what I did need back then. And those are the ones I was listening to.
Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, just finally to wrap it up here, where can our listeners connect with you and find out more about Black Hops as well as all of the books and other things that you've released in the past?
Dan Norris: Yeah, so all the books on Amazon. I'm sort of pretty hands off with that stuff now. I don't really do much in that field, but they're all on Amazon and Audible. Actually, my book I released a few months ago was called The Answer. Actually, it's called This is the Answer because I think someone else took The Answer, which makes sense, but I haven't done the audio book for that, but that ones on Amazon.
Dan Norris: We also have a podcast for the brewery, so if you're into listening to podcasts, we've got one called Operation Brewery. And actually, the last episode I did, which I just talked about with the brewery down the road, Bolter, it's one of my favorite conversations I've had and the one before that I did with the founder of Stone and Wood, which is one of Australia's most recognized craft beer brands. And this content, these interviews are amazing for me because they're just ... I kind of felt like back in the day I'd get into all these sort of hero online marketers and things and now it just seems like, I don't know, now I talk to people in our industry who just, they don't have big names, they're not big online influencers or anything. They're just normal people doing work. But the stuff you learn is amazing.
Dan Norris: And I'll give a shout out to that interview. I haven't put it up yet, but it'll be the latest episode on our podcast. I'll put it up this weekend. And it's about marketing and it's about building a brand and I just loved it because it's not the kind of stuff you hear about on an internet marketing podcast. It's just really about story and brand and touch points and design and videos and events and just encapsulating all of what this company Bolter does, and they just do it so well. So yeah, I'll give a shout out to that.
Kevin Graham: Cool. And any social media links or anything else that I should include in the show notes for you?
Dan Norris: Yeah, just the Back Hops ones. I mean, I don't really do much social media myself anymore. Black Hops is @blackhopsbeer on Instagram and on Facebook, and I mean if you're not in Australia, not into craft beer, it's probably not something you really want to follow. But yeah, I manage all of those accounts and all of our marketing there and the content and the podcast and that's kind of what I'm focusing on now, so if you want to check that out, you can check that out, and BlackHops.com that I use for our website. But yeah, me personally, I'm not really putting any content out anymore. I'm not really doing a lot of social media stuff either.
Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, it's been great having you on the podcast and hearing about you and your story and your journey. I hope our listeners enjoyed this interview and thanks again for your time.
Dan Norris: I hope so, too. Thank you.

jQuery(document).ready(function($){accordions_active_index_124 = {"1560351195280":0}; }) { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Transcript", "acceptedAnswer":{ "@type": "Answer", "text": "Kevin Graham: Hey guys, Kevin Graham here. And today on the podcast, I have Dan Norris with me. Dan is a serial entrepreneur who's started many businesses, including WP Curve and more recently, a craft brewery in the Gold Coast in Australia called Black Hops. But to tell you a bit more about him and his story across these multiple businesses, please welcome to the show Dan Norris. Dan Norris: Thanks for having me, mate. Kevin Graham: It's good to have you on. So for the listeners who might not know about you and your current business, can you give us a brief rundown on who you are and what you're working on today? Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, so these days I work in a brewery called Black Hops. But most of the things I've worked on, I guess from 2006 until now, I've had my own businesses and I didn't really have any ... I guess no one has any experience as an entrepreneur before they become an entrepreneur, but I just went straight from a government job to running my own businesses and just had years and years of ups and downs. I mean, that's 13 years ago now. So over the course of 13 years, probably I'd say three things have gone well and hundreds of things have not gone well. Dan Norris: But yeah, the brewery has been my full-time job and life for the last three years, and that keeps me very busy now. Before then, I was sort of into online marketing and websites and that kind of stuff, which is still what I do for the brewery. But yeah, it's turned into a whole beast of a thing. It's a big local ... not a big business, but it's a business that employs 30, 40 people and is pretty full on job. My old ways of building 35 businesses at once and working out what's going to work have sort of gone away. But yeah, I'm in a happy spot right now. Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I would imagine that for a lot of guys, starting their own brewery is one of those projects that everyone always talks about. It would be great if we could start a brewery, but you actually went and did it. So can you tell me a bit about how that process started of starting a brewery? Dan Norris: Yeah, I mean it is, it's every guy's dream. To be honest, a lot of very fortunate events followed by other fortunate events. I had a business called WP Curve, which again was successful, in some ways, successful enough to sell and do quite well with it. I got to the point with that business where we had someone who was interested in buying it and while that was happening, we'd sort of built that business, me and Alex, in a way that enabled us to do other things. It was a very good business in hindsight in that respect. It sort of let us do other things. Dan Norris: And so I was playing around with a few other projects and so was he, and one which was probably the most unlikely for me to actually focus on was a couple of mates of mine, Eddie and Govs, were playing around with home brew and we brewed a beer that Eddie invented called the eggnog stout. And this happened towards the end of 2014, but over the course of the next few years ... I think I ended up selling the business at the end of 2016 ... but over the course of those two years, things just grew and grew from this home brew. Dan Norris: I got carried away with the marketing. We came up with the name, we put some labels on the bottles. We thought, "Okay, let's put it into kegs and see if we can sell it to a bar." And then we thought, "Okay, if we can do that, can we get our own tanks and make our own brewery? Okay, let's do that. How are we going to do that? Do we do some crowd funding? Do we get investors in? Do we talk to the bank to put our own money in?" Trying to figure out how we're going to do this. And before we knew it, we're opening up the doors to a brewery. Dan Norris: Back then it was a small brewery in a 12 square meter tap room. And now we have two breweries. And that was three years ago. And now we have two breweries, 20 full-time staff, 21 full-time staff and probably 10 more casuals, two venues, just a big complicated operation compared to a few guys making home brew, and just happened very organically. Every step we were like, "Okay, should we go for this? Yeah. All right, let's do it. Should we build the brewery? Let's do it. Should we expand the brewery? Let's do it. Should we build another brewery that's 10 times as big and requires 10 times as much money? Yeah. Cool. Let's do that, figure out how to do that," and one thing led to another and all of a sudden we've got this pretty exciting thing on our hands. Kevin Graham: Yeah, and one of the other little interesting collaborations that you did with the brewery that I discovered during my research for this episode was you did a collaboration with the Call of Duty Black Ops game and released a special beer for them. Can you tell me about how that happened? Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, this was one of those very fortunate and random things that happened to us. We'd called the business Black Hops and we were home brewing and putting beers out commercially by brewing them at other breweries, but only at a very small scale, but the beers were good. They weren't massively well-known, but they were unique and interesting styles and we're starting to get a bit of attention for it. Dan Norris: I actually only just found out last week, there was a guy approached to do a beer for Call of Duty. He had marketing contacts. His name's Mark. He runs a pub in Sydney, and he suggested to them that they talk to Black Hops. And I don't think I'd even met him at that point, but we'd been there once. I'm actually surprised he'd even heard of Black Hops. And he referred them onto us. We got the email. We thought it was spam. Eventually we're like, "Oh, actually, maybe they do want to do something," and we said, "Yeah, we can do that." Even though we didn't have a brewery, we thought, "Okay, we'll figure it out," and ended up doing it and it was just one of those things we got a huge amount of attention for and we sort of used that to springboard into a crowd funding campaign, which we used to springboard into building our own brewery and our own brand and yeah, kicked off the whole thing. Kevin Graham: Right. So if we go back 13, 14 years ago, and you've mentioned before that you were working in the government before your entrepreneurial journey started, so can you tell me about how that transition went from working in the government, which was what I was doing myself before starting my entrepreneurial journey, into becoming an entrepreneur? Dan Norris: Well, I mean, I just left. I got a promotion I think in December I'd been there only ... I'm trying to think ... In 2006, I'd probably been there three or four years. No, it would have only been three years, and I was getting promotions every year. It was good. It was a great job. I was meeting great people, having a lot of fun, had enormous amount of flexibility, and they put me through lots of training. I was employed there as an HR person and I was bored with HR, so I started doing all this online IT stuff and they put me through a multimedia course and did a cert for project management, a cert for training, and they promoted me to sort of manager of the online learning part. Dan Norris: I mean, it was pretty cool, but I don't know. I just kind of felt ... I don't know. I just wanted to ... I guess I felt the itch to do something for myself and I just figured I was young. I was reasonably secure. I'd bought a house by then. I mean, we had a huge mortgage. It was actually pretty silly in hindsight, but anyway, I just left and kind of figured that the only way to really do it was to just jump and see what happened and try and figure it out. I figured I'd be able to get a job somewhere if it all went to shit and I kind of didn't expect ... I guess what I thought would happen was I would figure it out. I saw a lot of other people doing entrepreneurship, seemingly doing very well and I kind of thought I could do that, too. And I fully expected that to happen, or I thought it would just spectacularly fail and I would just go back to getting a job. Dan Norris: And in reality, neither of those things happened. What happened was I was just painfully, moderately successful in that I was able to earn enough money to kind of just pay back half of the home loan barely and I'd get by and always kind of feel like success is coming. I'm going to finally get to a point where I'll be able to pay myself as much as I was when I was working for the government and have some financial freedom and just personal ... It was kind of never really about financial freedom, to be honest. It was more just personally feeling good that I'd done something that I'd be proud of that I've done myself, and just, yeah, it took a very, very, very long time before anything really clicked. But yeah, the leaving of the job, I don't recall it being all that hard. It was just like, "All right, well, I'll just leave and if it doesn't go well, I'll get a job somewhere else." Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I guess that's the thing with the government jobs is that if you have bounced around a couple of departments and built up a few contacts, it can be pretty easy to get back in there or you can leverage that to go into pretty much any other job you wanted. Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, I was in a very unique job, too, because this e-learning was sort of just coming out and I'd really got excited about it and it was a lot of really bad online training around at the moment, like chicken flick stuff that was just not training anyone anything. I'd gotten sort of deep into the psychology of learning, and I'd taught myself how to program in Flash and build in gamification into these online learning courses. And I introduced these courses into the company that had all these things sort of built into them. And because it was a new industry, I could sort of elevate myself to a bit of an expert in that field even though I'd only been doing it for ... I got the job as managing their e-learning after I'd only been doing it for less than a year and convinced them that I was the best applicant of internal and external applicants because it was kind of a field where no one was really an expert. Dan Norris: There wasn't anyone that knew about e-learning at that point. Sort of knew about the old style of e-learning that wasn't really teaching anyone anything. It was just compliance. And this new interactivity was coming out with Flash taking off and a lot of opportunity for building really cool training modules that weren't just about compliance. Yeah, and I'd become a bit of an expert. I just kind of figured, there's a lot of different companies now getting into e-learning. I was in the association. I would have been able to go back into one of these other companies and do some kind of project management or even be a developer. I knew enough at that point to probably even program e-learning courses and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I wasn't too concerned about it. I mean, I was concerned as anyone would be completely quitting a job that they would have died to get in the first place. But yeah, I mean, I've certainly taken much bigger risks since then. Kevin Graham: Yeah. What was the first business that you started when you left back in 2006? Dan Norris: Well, I figured I could build websites for people. I'd never really done it before, but I'd gotten all these books and I'd sort of trained myself in all these technologies. This was before ... I guess there was a point where we were calling things like WordPress a CMS, a content management system. These days it's just not even really called that. But before seeing CMS, you had to build websites from scratch. And so after hours, I taught myself how to code, bought al these books, paid a colleague's son to show me Photoshop and show me all these technologies and learned Dreamweaver and I learned PHP and JavaScript and Flash and all this stuff. Dan Norris: I thought, "Well, I can build websites for people and I can also build e-learning courses for people." I didn't really have anything to go onto, but the consultancy where I worked, my first job, my partner at the time was still working there and I still had a good relationship with them and they needed a new website. So I was like, "All right, well, I'll start on that and I'll just go talk to him. I'll go take some photos of the office and build him a website." And I think I charged him $1,000 or something like that. And yeah, that was my first customer. Dan Norris: And then my partner actually just left the consultancy, but I still had a good relationship with them. She was working for another agency that wanted a website, so that was my second project. They wanted a content management system built on ASP and I didn't even know anything about ASP, but I just said, "Yep, I can do that." I went out, bought all these books on ASP, learnt that, built them this custom content management system, which for the love of God, I hope is still not running because it's probably insecure as all hell. But yeah, just learnt as I went and eventually got to the point where I could pay other programmers, barely, pay other designers, because I was doing all the design and stuff myself. I taught myself that as well, and generally not doing a particularly good job at anything but doing enough to just get a few jobs here and there and sort of build up this business, or try to. Kevin Graham: Right. So what happened after the website design stuff? Did that eventually lead to WP Curve or were there other businesses in the interim? Dan Norris: Yeah, not really. I mean, I did that for six years and it was just really, really up and down, generally very unsuccessful. Taught me a lot of lessons. But after six years, I actually went to the very first tropical ... What do they call it? The tropical MBA thing in the Philippines. I'm trying to think of what they called it back then. They don't do it anymore. They only did a couple of them. It's like a bootcamp of sorts, and it was a few months before the very first DC Bangkok. I guess if anyone's listening that doesn't know what the DC is, it's the Dynamite Circle. It's an online group of entrepreneurs who kind of travel the world and help each other with things, and I was an early member of that group. Dan Norris: And I went to this tropical MBA sort of bootcamp thing and just said, "Okay, well, I'm going to sell this agency and I'm going to start something new," and I sold it for bugger all. It was like 50 grand or something like that, and I had hundreds of clients by then. It just wasn't very profitable. I mean, I did hosting and stuff as well, which was of value to other companies. And I started this analytics dashboard called Informly and found a programmer and got him to build this thing for me. Did that for a whole 12 months. Got a lot of attention for it, started writing blog posts and getting people behind the story, but I couldn't sell it. No one wanted to pay for it. Dan Norris: And it's funny now because I do ... A lot of my job now is looking at data and dashboards and things, and I still, as someone who I would have thought would be a perfect customer for that kind of thing, I wouldn't pay for that now because what I want is so custom that you just can't really configure it in an application like that unless it's really advanced. And the idea of that application was it was just going to be simple, like really simple charts, connect MailChimp and it gives you a little bit of data on your growth each month. Dan Norris: After a year of that, it was very obvious that that was not going well, and I was probably a couple of weeks away from just having to go back and get a job, which was a frightening proposition. And I just launched WP Curve. I'd just had the idea and launched it really, really minimum. I downloaded a theme, registered the domain WPLiveNinja.com, and posted in the DC and said, "Does anyone want to sign up for this?" And that ended up ... I shut down the analytics thing, started this, and within a week I had as many customers as I did with the analytics. And within a year I think we had a couple of hundred customers and within three years it was a million dollar business and a good solid recurring, 100% recurring revenue or mostly recurring revenue business. Kevin Graham: Right. So what was it like basically putting a year worth of time and obviously a bunch of money to paying that developer into building Informly to then have to shut it down? What was that shut down moment like in terms of coming to that decision and then the actual day of having to turn it off? Dan Norris: Well, it's not fun. I've done it plenty of times. I've started things and realized after a point of time, normally too late, that it wasn't working, and it's awful. It's really not a fun thing to do, but you always know it's the right thing to do. It's kind of like ending a bad relationship. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but after you do it, you can't understand why you didn't do it sooner. And ending businesses is very much like that. It's very, very emotional. It's something you've created. You put so much of your self-worth into that. Dan Norris: Up until that point, I'd never really done anything in life that I would have considered successful really. I'd kind of put myself out there as this entrepreneur and I hadn't really had any success with it. It was awful. I mean, it's awful to shut down these ideas. But the only reason I'm in this position now ... I can trace everything from this point back to shutting down business ideas. The fact that I've got a brewery now, which is just my whole life, and an amazing group of people and an amazing brand and an amazing story, dream of a business, is because I shut down things that weren't that. I left it a little bit too long in some cases. Perhaps I shut down some things too early. I was definitely criticized for that, sort of starting things and then shutting them down too early. But I think when something's going well, you tend not to have to push it too hard. Dan Norris: And that's what I found with the brewery. I mean, the brewery has just exploded. We still don't have any marketing people here and we're one of the most well-known craft beer brands in this part of the country. It just gathers momentum, and the product does a lot of the work for you, and just when it goes well, it goes well, and WP Curve is very much the same. We put content out but we didn't do any marketing or paid advertising. It just grew because it was ... Well, who knows why, but it did. And I think sort of the mindset change was like, well, instead of trying to analyze why things are going well and why they aren't, why don't we just step back and be like, "Well, have I put enough into this to know if this particular idea at this particular time with me driving it and all of my resources are going to make this happen?" And if the answer is, "Yes, I put enough into that," then that idea gets shot down and you try something else. Dan Norris: And a lot of the time it's probably not the idea. I mean, you think about that. Beer's been around for thousands of years. Our idea of making beer is not new at all. It's not really about the idea. It's just a lot of things combining together, executing things well and having a lot of luck, and you find yourself in a position where things are going well. And if you're not in that position, it might be hard to understand why. And people I think try to explain why, but I think a lot of times people don't really know. Just sometimes things work. Sometimes things don't, and all you can do is execute your ideas well and when you feel you've done enough and they're not going well is to be ruthless in shutting them down and trying something else. Kevin Graham: Right. And on that sort of point there of trying something else, you actually released a book called The Seven Day Startup that documents the process of starting up on these ideas. Can you give us a brief rundown on what that book covers and what that process is about? Dan Norris: Yeah, I can. It was seven years ago now. It's been a while since I read it, but I guess the idea, the whole idea behind the book was, just stop analyzing and start doing and it was like all of these assumptions that you have about what this business idea is going to be like are probably things that you can either test pretty easily or you actually don't need to test and you just need to actually start because you just get caught in this kind of position of just watching other people and analyzing what they're doing and learning stuff that you probably don't need and being overly concerned about different things like signing up with the latest software and all this kind of stuff, and just thinking and planning and doing business plans and just thinking all of this is going to ultimately lead to you being successful. Dan Norris: But I stand by the sentiment in that book even today. It's like the only thing that's going to make you successful, and it may not, but the only thing that may make you successful is if you start something and then you stop something when you feel like you put enough into it and you start something else. All the analyzing and everything else is kind of a waste of time, and I think a really big one is this idea of validating your idea. At the time it was all the rage. It was like, "Validate your idea, validate your idea." And it was like, how many of these ideas actually have to be validated? Most of this stuff's been done and most of the good companies are based off ideas that have already been done. It's very rare for a company to start off a completely new idea that has never been done. That's really rare. Dan Norris: Most companies start something around about the same time that other companies are starting it or even 10 years after other companies have started it. And for whatever reason, they find themselves in a position where it's going well. I mean, that's not completely out of their hands. They might've executed something well or the timing might suit them better or there might be a bunch of other factors in there. But the idea itself doesn't really need to be validated. I think what needs to be validated is whether you at this point in time can actually make this work. And the only way you're going to answer that is to launch it. Dan Norris: With WP Curve, I launched it within seven days and I found out very quickly whether or not it was going to be successful. And I hope that a lot of people who have read that book have done the same thing. I know a lot of people have read that book and started an idea and it hasn't gone well. And maybe that's just as good. I mean, what's the alternative? Not start the idea and just think about this idea for two years and miss the opportunity to actually realize that it's not going to work and therefore not be able to something else or put your energy towards something else? I think the sentiment in that book is very much relevant now as it was then. Kevin Graham: Yeah. Let's change gears for a moment here and talk about Black Hops as it stands today. Can you tell me about the point in the business where you start to get initial traction and what would you attribute that success to? Dan Norris: Well, again, I mean, this idea of attributing success, it just doesn't sit well with me. I mean, I don't know. I mean, we've had traction all along the way. From our very first home brew, the idea was good. Eddie had this unique idea. He offered it to another brewery. They didn't want it. And so we sat around the table and Govs is like, "I've got this home brew kit. I might as well try to brew it." We tasted it. It tasted really good. It tastes exactly like the way Eddie described and hoped it would taste. We gave it out to a few bloggers and they started writing about it. I put labels on it to make it look a bit more legitimate, which now I look at and am just embarrassed about. But at the time it was like, "I'll just call this a new beer that's coming out." Dan Norris: And I mean, I don't know what you attribute that to. There's so much that's gone in through the last few years to get to here. There's a huge amount of risk and just a huge amount of money and it's the complete opposite of a seven day startup. I guess the sentiment is the same because we didn't build a brewery until we had a bunch of customers paying us for the beer, telling us that it was good and getting traction with it. The sentiment is very much the same. But in terms of what you can pin the success on, I don't really know. We've got a cool story. We ended up building a really cool brand around what we do. Our cans and our marketing look really good. Dan Norris: The beer is some of the most awarded beer in the country. Last year we won Champion Brewery at the most prestigious beer awards in the country, Champion Small Brewery. This year we won Champion Brewery at the Queensland Beer Awards, and so the product's very good. The timing was very good. The industry here was just starting to take off and we came in right at that time. We came in right at the time when cans are taking off and we put our beer into cans. Just a whole bunch of stuff just went our way. A few really fluky and lucky financial things, like we've built this business with basically no money. I've had to get about 50 traditional investors since the day we started and 500 plus equity crowdfunding investors, bank loans, every kind of finance you can imagine, normal crowd funding, equipment finance, leasing, any kind of finance you can think of, we've been able to get for this business and sometimes right at the last minute, so a lot of luck as well. There's just so much that goes into it. It's not something I can really pinpoint, I don't think. Kevin Graham: That's cool. I mean- Dan Norris: And also, just to answer that a different way, there's different levels of this term success, too. At many points along our journey, we could've had some of this finance fall through or something else happen that could have crushed the business and it been put and be done with. And I mean, that could still happen. It's not like we've built this completely bulletproof operation that's going to last for thousands of years. We're still right in the middle of building a company that's really only going to hit its stride when it's at scale and it's going to cost millions and millions of dollars to get there. Dan Norris: It feels like things are going well right now, but it's very, very up and down and we're a couple of kilometers away from another brewery that is by far the fastest-growing brewery in the country. Opened around the same time, one of the most successful recent brands I can think of in the country. There's kind of levels to success. It feels like things are going well for us at the moment. But yeah, you don't want to really talk about something like it's finished. And I think that term success kind of leads you to talk about something like it's finished. Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that's a good point. It definitely sounds like even three years into this business, you're still very much in the thick of it and doing all the blocking and tackling stuff that needs to be done to see that business grow and be successful. Dan Norris: Well, it's also the nature of this sort of business. I was talking to the other company I mentioned down the road called Bolter. They're a brewery company that was started by Mick Fanning and a bunch of surfers and a guy from America and a marketing guy here. And I was talking to him yesterday, and as successful as a business could possibly be within three years, they are in the same situation that they're working their asses off. I mean, they love it. It's consumed their life, but they're working their asses off. [inaudible 00:00:25:11], their co-founder and marketing guy, has been running international brand campaigns for decades and he's the one that's up late at night lurking on social media to see if people are asking questions about Bolter, and I'm the same. Dan Norris: Literally, before I did this interview, I'm sitting there on Photoshop getting ready for tomorrow's IPA event, just putting together the social media for it. I'm doing stuff now that I was doing 10 years ago. It's not like we've gotten to a point where we just sit back and everyone does all the work. We're all working our asses off here. And it's just the nature of this kind of business. It consumes your life and it's absolutely what we want to be doing. But yeah, it's certainly not gotten to a point where it's easy, and even, I fully expect it never to get to that point. I think it's kind of the sort of business where if you don't enjoy actually doing what it has you doing, then you're not going to last too long because it's never going to get to the point where we can sit back and relax. Kevin Graham: Right. On that topic of it still being not very easy, can you tell me about an unexpected crisis that happened in the business and how you handled it? Dan Norris: Well, I think, yeah, again, I think unexpected crisis wouldn't be the right word because I fully expect crises to happen very regularly in this business. I mean, I don't really know if I could pick one. There's just been so many things. I mean, some of the financial stuff I probably can't really talk about too much. But there's definitely been situations where we've needed rounds of finance. I mean, just to give you an example, we signed a lease to build our second brewery because we realized this one that I'm at at the moment was just never going to be big enough. Dan Norris: We knew that when we got the lease for it, but this brewery we put about a million dollars into, and this was into a brewery that, this company we started for $2,000 originally and by this point, over two or three years, we put $1 million into this brewery knowing that we couldn't build it anymore and we needed to build another one and the next one was going to cost at least three and a half million dollars and was going to be about 10 times as big, and we didn't have any money in the bank. Dan Norris: Equity crowd funding wasn't legal at that point. We didn't have investors desperate to give us more money. I'd never got a loan from a bank in my life for anything, for a business, for starters, but for anything other than a car or a house. It was completely foreign to me, the idea of getting money from a bank. I just didn't think that would even be possible. And we signed a 15 year lease on this humongous building knowing all that and knowing we were going to have to figure it out on the way. Dan Norris: And I mean, it came very, very close. We got approval and our finance, I think, the week before we opened. I raised finance from a whole bunch of different sources, but the bank finance only came the week before we opened. And our approval to open came the day before we did our soft launch. And this is for a project over $3 million. I mean, that's kind of reasonably standard. It's kind of the nature of this beast. You're up against some pretty hefty competition and everyone does everything really well, so you kind of have to take some big risks and hope things go in your favor. Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that sounds like you were right down to the wire, both financially and permits and everything, to actually get that new venue open. I can imagine just the feelings that you would've been going through at that time and how difficult that would have been. Dan Norris: Yeah, but it's not just that time. That's happened countless times. Our plan was originally to open the first brewery in January and we didn't end up opening it until June, and we'd had it ready more or less that whole time, but for the last two months, we were waiting on one person to connect our gas boiler. And it was only one guy who could do it and he just wouldn't turn up. And this just went on for weeks and weeks and weeks, and it was just like we were paying money in rent. Govs and Eddie had quit their jobs. I still had WP Curve at that point, thank God. But we were sitting around doing nothing and it was just costing us money and we were like, "We're going to lose everything here." So yeah, I mean, that's another example. This stuff happens all the time. It's a bit of a scary proposition starting a business like this. Kevin Graham: Yeah. What's one thing about your business that makes you excited today then? Dan Norris: Everything. Black Hops is my whole life. It's an amazing group of people. It's an amazing brand to work with. It's a really amazing industry. The physical business is not something I really thought I would get into. I kind of thought maybe one day I'll do some sort of physical product, which I didn't think through the implications of that, but I didn't really think I would ever have a building with people in it. But I find myself now as cofounder and CEO, because we've given ourselves roles of a team of 30 people. And it's just an awesome industry. I mean, who wouldn't want to ... We've made a hundred beers since we started in that four year period. Who wouldn't want to make different beers and go around events talking about them, designing beer labels and running two amazing taprooms and doing beer launches and all of that stuff? It's a dream life and a dream business despite all the stuff I said before. Kevin Graham: Yeah. Just on that, when are we going to see Black Hops available in Thailand? Dan Norris: No time soon. We're very much focused around local. We're sending beers into state in Australia, but we do sort of 85% or so of our beers locally in Queensland and I don't really have any intention of changing that. It's not the kind of product that travels particularly well. The best I can offer is if I happen to travel over there, I'll bring some with me and share it out. Kevin Graham: Awesome. Well, hopefully you can make it to this year's DC Bangkok. Dan Norris: I had thought about it. When is it? It's like end of October, right? Kevin Graham: I think mid-October, but yeah. Dan Norris: Mid-October. Yeah, I saw it come up. Yeah, I'll have a look at the dates. Now it's really hard. We have beer events three or four times a week sometimes, and I don't go to all of them, but getting a free weekend is almost impossible unless I'm on holidays. But yeah, I would love to go again. It's been a while. I went to I think three of them or four of them over the course of doing the WP Curve before and met some amazing people. Dan Norris: Actually, Sam was the first investor in Black Hops and I met him at the very first DC BKK in 2012, and he only recently came over here. This whole time, he sort of invested and just looked at it from afar and only recently come over and checked out the brewery site. In many ways, all of my entrepreneurial endeavors can be sort of taken back to the DC, so I'm eternally grateful to Dan and Ian and the crew there and that whole group of people. And yeah, I guess that's why I sort of try to stay active in the forum, but I'm just not that good at being active in the forum. But I'm always happy to talk to people from the DC and owe that community a lot. Kevin Graham: Right. I know we're coming up towards the end of our time together. I've got two more questions and then we'll wrap it up. Firstly, what books do you think had the biggest impact on you in deciding to become an entrepreneur? Dan Norris: Well, I'm not much of a reader of books. I kind of joke that I probably wrote more books than I've read. That's probably not actually true though. I do read books sometimes. I just kind of struggle to get through them. But I do have a very clear one for this. And its Rich Dad, Poor Dad, because I remember reading this. I remember walking home and reading it. I must've actually bought a physical copy of it. It was probably before the Kindles and whatnot came to Australia, just reading that walking home work when I was working this government job. And that really is a very clear turning point for me of being like, "Actually, I'm going to do this starting a business thing." And it wasn't long after that that I just decided to do it. So yeah, that was a clear winner for that question. Kevin Graham: And what about books that have had the biggest impact on you and the last few years? Dan Norris: I honestly don't think I've read a book in the last few years. I'm trying to think. I listen to lots of podcasts. Yeah, I don't think I've read a book in the last few years, to be honest. I can't really think of one. Kevin Graham: Okay. Do you want to give a shout out to a couple of your favorite podcasts here then? Dan Norris: I mean, I listen to all kinds of weird podcast now. I don't tend to listen to that many entrepreneurial sort of ones anymore. The online marketing ones, I don't really listen to that much. I listen to lots of beer ones, lots of sort of comedy ones. I always thought the podcasting content, it's sort of like a medium that I feel like has to be a little bit entertaining or interesting. Just the interviews with entrepreneurs I do still listen to and I definitely did still listen to a lot early on, and that's probably what attracted me to the Tropical MBA one originally. It was sort of entertaining. It was sort of upbeat and fun. Those are kind of the ones. I still listen to This Week in Startups from time to time, Tropical MBA from time to time. There's not a huge number of sort of businessy ones I listen to any more to be honest. Kevin Graham: Cool. Dan Norris: I feel like I have really bad answers to these last few questions. But that's what happens. Maybe I was really, really into these podcasts and things when I was sort of trying to figure it all out, and by the time I got to a place where things were just taking off, it's just not something I feel ... I learn a lot from the people around me. I follow a lot of accounts on social media from other people in the industry and I'm consuming a lot of content in the industry now and I feel like that's more what I need. I don't so much need the inspiration or the ideas from the entrepreneurial podcasts so much anymore, but it's definitely what I did need back then. And those are the ones I was listening to. Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, just finally to wrap it up here, where can our listeners connect with you and find out more about Black Hops as well as all of the books and other things that you've released in the past? Dan Norris: Yeah, so all the books on Amazon. I'm sort of pretty hands off with that stuff now. I don't really do much in that field, but they're all on Amazon and Audible. Actually, my book I released a few months ago was called The Answer. Actually, it's called This is the Answer because I think someone else took The Answer, which makes sense, but I haven't done the audio book for that, but that ones on Amazon. Dan Norris: We also have a podcast for the brewery, so if you're into listening to podcasts, we've got one called Operation Brewery. And actually, the last episode I did, which I just talked about with the brewery down the road, Bolter, it's one of my favorite conversations I've had and the one before that I did with the founder of Stone and Wood, which is one of Australia's most recognized craft beer brands. And this content, these interviews are amazing for me because they're just ... I kind of felt like back in the day I'd get into all these sort of hero online marketers and things and now it just seems like, I don't know, now I talk to people in our industry who just, they don't have big names, they're not big online influencers or anything. They're just normal people doing work. But the stuff you learn is amazing. Dan Norris: And I'll give a shout out to that interview. I haven't put it up yet, but it'll be the latest episode on our podcast. I'll put it up this weekend. And it's about marketing and it's about building a brand and I just loved it because it's not the kind of stuff you hear about on an internet marketing podcast. It's just really about story and brand and touch points and design and videos and events and just encapsulating all of what this company Bolter does, and they just do it so well. So yeah, I'll give a shout out to that. Kevin Graham: Cool. And any social media links or anything else that I should include in the show notes for you? Dan Norris: Yeah, just the Back Hops ones. I mean, I don't really do much social media myself anymore. Black Hops is @blackhopsbeer on Instagram and on Facebook, and I mean if you're not in Australia, not into craft beer, it's probably not something you really want to follow. But yeah, I manage all of those accounts and all of our marketing there and the content and the podcast and that's kind of what I'm focusing on now, so if you want to check that out, you can check that out, and BlackHops.com that I use for our website. But yeah, me personally, I'm not really putting any content out anymore. I'm not really doing a lot of social media stuff either. Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, it's been great having you on the podcast and hearing about you and your story and your journey. I hope our listeners enjoyed this interview and thanks again for your time. Dan Norris: I hope so, too. Thank you." } }] } jQuery(document).ready(function($){ accordion_124 = $("#accordions-124 .items").accordion({ event: "click", collapsible:true, heightStyle: "content", animate: ("swing", 1000), navigation: true, active: 999, }); })

Aug 29 2019

37mins

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10 - The Black Hops Story With Co Founder Dan Norris

Beer Cartel's The Inside Word
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For our 10th episode I chat to Black Hops co founder Dan Norris about their amazing story. We talk about how a beer at a pub with 3 mates can really turn into successful craft brewery.

For all the latest craft beer, head to the Beer Cartel Website: http://bit.ly/beercartelbeers

Aug 06 2019

48mins

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185 Dan Norris (Black Hops Brewery co-founder, author & entrepreneur)

Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet
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Dan Norris is a best-selling author, entrepreneur & co-founder Black Hops Brewery.   In June 2013, after failing at entrepreneurship for 7 years, Dan co-founded wpcurve.com, one of the fastest growing WordPress support companies in the world, designed and available 24/7 to fix any small jobs on the same day, which he sold in 2016 to global giant, GoDaddy!   Then in 2014, Dan, Eddie Oldfield and seasoned brewer Michael (Govs) McGovern joined forces for their first cooperative brew, the Eggnog Stout which was an instant delicious success and Black Hops Brewery was born.   Black Hops Brewery were the first brewery in the world to brew a beer for Call of Duty®, called the limited edition Call of Duty: Black Hops III – Midnight Pale Ale, for the global launch of 'Call of Duty: Black Ops III’ and Dan Norris' 4 best-selling business books are The 7 Day Start-Up,Content Machine, Operation Brewery and Create or Hate.    This is an inspiring man of action with lots of stories to tell, so if you’re one of those peeps out there who harbours the desire to pursue your dreams, but just don’t quite know where to start, this is the podcast for you! We bring his story fresh off the taps from the brewery to your ears!   Let’s get into it!    Connect with Dan Norris (Black Hops Brewery) online: http://blackhops.com.au/ https://www.instagram.com/blackhopsbeer/ https://twitter.com/blackhopsbeer https://www.facebook.com/blackhopsbeer https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedannorris/ https://twitter.com/thedannorris https://www.instagram.com/thedannorris/ http://7daystartup.com/ Operation Brewery Book http://blackhops.com.au/book-resources/ Call of Duty beer - Black Hops III. http://blackhops.com.au/black-hops-iii/   Hit Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet up on social media here: Instagram https://www.instagram.com/hotndelicious/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/craftbeerlovin/ Twitter https://twitter.com/hotndelicious Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HotnDelicious Hot & Delicious YouTube - Ballistyx Snowboard Show, interviews & more. https://www.youtube.com/user/HotnDeliciousRecords   'Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet’ entertainment, travel, photography & lifestyle blog: http://hotndelicious.com/   For social media strategy, content/photography & influencer business enquiries contact: info@hotndelicious.com

Jun 13 2018

1hr 3mins

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AH 2 Dan Norris

Awesome Humans
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Late last year I had the chance to sit down with the one and only Dan Norris. Entrepreneur, Best Selling Author, Brewery Owner and all round nice guy. We got to chat about his life, the ups and downs and how he is now doing something that he loves. Enjoy listening to this Awesome Human...

Apr 01 2018

30mins

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9. Content Marketing on Tap with Dan Norris

Monetising Knowledge
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In this episode we are joined by the serial entrepreneur Dan Norris to talk about how he has used just content to market and grow his businesses.​In this interview we cover:
  • His journey as a struggling entrepreneur to building a million dollar business and selling it to Go Daddy, writing four best-selling books,  building a six-figure mastermind business, and building the Black Hops Brewery, all in the last 4 years
  • The difference between running an online business and a physical multi-faceted Brewery
  • Understanding your weakness and hiring to accommodate those
  • Dealing with red tape delays and the importance of just taking action to start/open a business
  • How they used crowdfunding to launch a book and how it has created a new community around their brewery
  • The importance of traction rather than vanity metrics
  • How they have used a podcast to promote and document their start-up journey as new brewery owners
  • How content marketing helped scored a massive partnership for the launch of Call of Duty
  • How Dan only uses content to market his businesses and why he doesn’t obsess over data
  • How books can grow trust with your community
  • Why you need to start a business from your content or knowledge
  • How they are using Instagram and Instagram stories to grow
  • How Dan is getting a 40% open rate on his newsletter through targeted and relevant content
  • The importance of a segmented database for email marketing
Links mentioned in the podcast

Nov 09 2017

29mins

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