Business

Baruch student creates beer spice startup through CUNY Accelerator

Starting a company from the ground up has its challenges and rewards, facts that BrewSpice founder Robert Jones knows all too well. As a current Baruch College student, Jones has taken the risk of creating a startup and betting on a product he believes in. According to him, BrewSpice is “the world’s first collection of food seasonings that makes it fun and easy to pair whatever you’re eating with your favorite craft beer styles!”

Jones started the company with a simple question in mind: “Why is food pairing so foreign to most people?”

Though he calls himself a “craft beer nerd,” Jones also loves food. He pointed out that there is a hole in the market when it comes to pairing beer and food. “There’s been no universalized marriage of the two,” Jones said in an interview with The Ticker.

“Beer, like wine, can help compliment or bring out flavors in foods that people don’t recognize until they pair [the food] with beer.”

Jones gave examples of how “[India pale ale] pairs well with white fish and chicken, stouts go with steak, Gose and green beans.” BrewSpice is attempting to push the limits of how people think of beer and food together. To Jones, it’s simple — “Add spices to your food to pair it with any beer.”

Managing a successful business takes more than just an idea; it takes determination even while facing numerous challenges. When asked about the obstacles he faced, Jones replied with, “Time. I have been working waiting tables to pay for school, which is why it’s taken me a little longer to graduate.”

He sacrifices not only time, but also money and sleep; Jones gets about two to four hours of sleep a night. “It’s a labor of love, though, you get used to the grind after a week or so,” he said.

By utilizing Baruch’s resources as well as CUNY’s, Jones constructed his business. Motivated by the CUNY Startup Accelerator and CUNY Hackathon, he was accepted into both programs last year. The highly selective programs are designed to incubate a small number of startups by CUNY students. The Startup Accelerator provides them with an office space, coaching and auditing from top professionals in the startup field.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today with BrewSpice had it not been for the Accelerator,” Jones said.

BrewSpice recently teamed up with Strong Rope Brewery in Gowanus, Brooklyn, to create its first “Brewmasters Edition” seasoning. Jones considers this one of his company’s biggest successes so far.

“The moment Jason Sahler, head brewer and owner of Strong Rope, agreed to partner with BrewSpice and feature the spices at his brewery, [it] was my ‘holy f*ck’ moment,” he said. “Since then I’ve made massive progress with the brand, including getting some celebrity endorsements.”

Another success is BrewSpice’s Kickstarter, which has raised 218 percent of its funding goal in June 2018. “This Sunday I’ll have my own customized table at Queens Brewery’s crafts and food festival ‘Beer Flea,’” Jones revealed.

Expectations are high for BrewSpice, with Jones wanting his products to be sold “in Whole Foods and every possible craft beer brewery.” Currently there are five varieties of BrewSpice, and there are plans to create new pairings such as “Hoppy Honey” and “That’s My Jam.”

Hoppy Honey will potentially feature various types of honey made from bees that pollinate specific varieties of hop plants, which, according to Jones, “will produce a slightly tangy-bitey honey.”

As for “That’s My Jam,” Jones said that curious consumers will just have to wait for it to be released. He plans to have one new concept each year.

For more information on BrewSpice, interested readers can go to www.brewspice.co.

June 27, 2018

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