Featured case: Jungle Beer: An Entrepreneur’s Journey

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The case

Who – the protagonist

jungle beer

Aditya Challa, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed beer aficionado.

What

Aditya and some business school friends founded a microbrewery, The Barefoot Brewing Company, to produce craft beer under the Jungle Beer brand.

Why

Aditya had returned home to India after graduating in November 2007 with an MBA from the University of Hawai’i, knowing that he wanted to start a business. While living in the UK and America, he had fallen in love with the complex tastes and qualities of craft beers and this led to his business idea. He left for Scotland to study for a post-graduate diploma in brewing and distilling then worked in a microbrewery for five months to gain experience.

When

beerAditya met up with his old business school classmates in 2009. His friends became investors in the new enterprise, while Aditya handled the brewing and business operations. By 2011, they had purchased premises and sold their first beer in August that year.

Where

The Barefoot Brewing Company was set up in Singapore after Aditya researched the market there. He knew Singapore was pro-business but was still amazed by the speed and efficiency of the government’s response – its officials agreed to meet with Aditya almost immediately to discuss his proposals.

Key quote

‘Our goal is to be the premier craft beer from Asia… period. We’re consciously not making any of the widely available styles, for instance, a regular wheat beer or lager… it’s pointless to try and differentiate in those segments to be able to sell at a premium.’ – Aditya Challa

What next?

beerIn 2012, 15 months after launching the Jungle Beer brand on the Singapore market, the Barefoot Brewing Company had experienced strong growth. However, Aditya and his partners had begun to question its sustainability. They needed a realistic growth strategy to promote the Jungle Beer brand and nurture the fledgling craft beer scene in Singapore.

Meet Aditya

Aditya Challa talks about the success of his brewing business in this short video, and explains why he refuses to sell Jungle Beer in ‘anything resembling a club’:

The authors
Authors

Kapil Tuli and Christopher William Dula

Kapil and Christopher discuss the qualities necessary to succeed in a highly challenging market sector, and the complexities of decision-making along the way.

Lively discussion

Jungle beer

Beer is a good subject for a case! It’s a great way to break the ice with students, whether with undergraduates or executives. Importantly, everyone can relate to it, and a number of them feel passionate about it. This makes the discussions very lively and easy to comprehend.

Alcohol is such a competitive industry – and a highly regulated one. It makes for very interesting discussions, especially in relation to channels and distribution.

Managing uncertainty

Aditya combined expert knowledge as a master brewer with great passion and pride in his product. But although pride and passion are necessary, they are not sufficient. What set Aditya apart is a great deal of persistence and an ability to manage uncertainty. These two, combined with expertise, pride and passion, are vital for an entrepreneur.

For example, Aditya became an active member of the local craft beer community and a big part of promoting craft beer culture. He often hosted tasting events at the brewery and forged relationships with restaurants, bars and distributors. And at times he would invite friends over to the brewery to help bottle the product by hand (in exchange for free beer) – and would also make every delivery himself.

Learning objectives

Jungle beerFirst, it is important to understand the qualities needed for being a successful entrepreneur, as discussed above. Secondly, an appreciation of the difficulty of making a choice between being a pure product-focused business, ie, being a micro-brewery, AND becoming a service provider, ie, being a brew-pub. On the surface this might seem like a simple choice, but once you dig into it, you realise that there are a lot of complexities with regard to risk and return trade-offs. These underlie the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur in a service setting.

About the authors

Kapil Tuli is Associate Professor of Marketing at Singapore Management University.
kapilrtuli@smu.edu.sg

Christopher William Dula is Senior Case Writer at Singapore Management University.
cdula@smu.edu.sg

 
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Jungle Beer: An Entrepreneur's Journey
Ref SMU-13-0019
Teaching note
Ref SMU-13-0019TN

 

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