By Polly Mikula
A “Shark Tank” style entrepreneurship class at Castleton University took a field trip last Tuesday, April 11, to visit local entrepreneur Dale Patterson and tour his brewery, Rutland Brew Works, on Granger Street in Rutland.
Chris Coughlin, vice president of mortgage servicing at Heritage Family Credit Union, has taught the popular class for CU’s School of Resort Management for 15 years, “before the show popularized it we were already doing the ‘Shark Tank’ format,” he noted, referring to the culmination of the class when students present unique products to a panel of judges. The CU “Shark Tank” will happen the third week in May at the Killington Grand Hotel (the event is open to the public, Coughlin noted.)
There, students will present a business plan that is “bank-ready,” Coughlin explained via email. It must include: marketing plans, a financial P&L and five-year projections (graphs, charts, tables, etc), competition comparisons (Comp Set), industry trends, S.W.O.T. analysis, mission statements, company goals and objections and of course an investment pitch to a group of fictitious venture capitalists, he noted.
“The panelists (think Shark Tank) come from all walks of life and various industries including: commercial bank lenders, entrepreneurs, marketing firm CEO, Killington executives, CFO, CIO’s and more,” he wrote. “Being an entrepreneur comes with many risks particularly financial, legal, and demand for product (particularly if it doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace), so who better to speak with than a local brew master and entrepreneur of Rutland Beer Works (formally Hop ‘N Moose Beer).”
Last Tuesday, Patterson discussed how he started a business from scratch, some unexpected challenges he faced including water issues, the risk potentially of not enough demand for his product in a crowded craft beer industry and the trials and tribulations of becoming a brewer and entrepreneur.
“He is a straight-forward, no-nonsense businessman who was very determined to make his beer operation that started in his bathtub 10 years ago into the million dollar operation that it is today,” Coughlin said. “He loves his work and loves to pass on his education of this process to the next generation.”
The 10 students currently enrolled in Coughlin’s class meet every Tuesday from 6-9 p.m., usually in the newly renovated classroom above Killington Sports in Killington. The field trip Tuesday, was a chance to see theory in action.
Students Tyler Dittrich and Deena Jacunski had many questions for Patterson about the brewing process, specific functions of the various kettles, fermentation process, and more.