Steve Young is an American country music singer, songwriter and guitarist, known for his song "Seven Bridges Road". He is a pioneer of the country rock, Americana, and alternative country sounds, and also a vital force behind the 'outlaw movement' that gave support to the careers of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr. and more. Young was also featured in the 1975 Outlaw Country documentary Heartworn Highways. He is the subject of the song "The All Golden" by Van Dyke Parks.
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Hi! I’m Steve Young, the founder and inventor of the world’s first countertop consumer beer dispenser for craft beers, SYNEK. I quit my job as a retail stock analyst because I believed in a vision - that craftsmanship deserves to be shared, and craft beer is a great place to start!
SYNEK launched through Kickstarter in July 2014 and raised $650,000. We fulfilled our product orders over the Summer/Fall of 2015 -- something very few hard-manufactured products can claim. Like most Kickstarters, we had a rough start but survived and are now making big changes in the Craft Beer Industry!
I’m hoping our backers and customers will let me have it. I want to talk with complete transparency about the trials and difficulties, setbacks and victories, and where we’re headed next! Plus some deep dark secrets. My favorite color is red and my favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s get started!
My Proof: http://imgur.com/gallery/2WnUh2V/new
I ordered my Synek 11/9/15 and was told I'd have it by the end of November. Needless to say, I was left hanging and didn't actually get it until12/24/15. When it finally did arrive, there was no tap!! Contacted customer support and was told they'd send me one ASAP. Here it is 1/14/16 and still not one drop of beer from this countertop ornament. I feel like i've been given nothing but empty promises from your company and am pretty disappointed with your inability to deliver on what you said you would do. Why lie to your customers if you're trying to be completely transparent?
Sorry to hear about your experience. This is a prime example of us being unorganized and things falling through the cracks due to changing fulfillment centers. Please send a response to our customer service and we will get that taken care of and will throw in a few extras for your troubles. Thanks for your patience!
Did you enjoy playing for the 49ers?
Yes. I loved trying to overcome the legacy of Montana. Plus I had the best damn WR in the league which made it easy on my arm...but not my head.
Is your customer service just email driven? You should use a ticketing system. If I were you I would personally check the tickets before I went to bed because I wouldnt be able to sleep at night. It doesnt matter how great your product is if customer service sucks.
If something like this is able to fall through the cracks for several months my gut instinct is you're not going to be in business long.
Yes it is ticket driven. We use a program called Groove and it keeps our team very organized. Usually the issues with delivery resulted from our lack of inventory or fufillment center. That should be less of an issue in 2016.
We have put in a lot of automated systems to eliminate the need for human interaction...auto deliveries, inventory reports, etc. A lot at the beginning was 100% manual.
I know that many were frustrated, but a HUGE shout out to our Customer Service team that was able to endure the tidalwave of service tickets.
Your totally right about customer service, we will be better in 2016. Thanks for bearing with us.
> This is a prime example of us being unorganized
>We use a program called Groove and it keeps our team very organized.
Good catch. Sometimes things slip through the cracks.
Yeah. "Interest" could mean simply that they yelled it at someone from across the parking lot and the person looked over at them. HE SHOWED INTEREST!!!!
Or we have documented emails/surveys/calls from all 2,200 breweries. But I may try that yelling approach...
And what do you think of the Chip Kelly hire?
I would have loved to play for Chip.
Hi Steve, this AMA inspired me to make a Reddit account with my real name, your product holds that much potential and I believe in it that much.
I funded your Kickstarter and have not yet received my Synek. I paid for shipping the week before Christmas, had to email the Monday after New Year and got a 'we'll get on it' but I haven't gotten my countertop beer happiness making device nor even a shipping notification.
Wazzup wit dat?
On a second note, have you ever considered letting your customers go talk to breweries to try to get them on board with filling/wholesaling Synek? I'm sure that there are enough of that either through homebrewing or working with kegging and taps as a part of their job that you could assemble a very knowledgeable group very quickly, and could supplement your 'Warhawk team' in areas where you can't get to fast enough to meet demand. Case in point, I have two breweries that I drive past every day to and from my office, and (assuming I ever get my Synek) I would be willing to go talk to both of them so see if if they would will a cartridge for me, but they're not listed as having requested any info from you on your map of breweries.
Second question (or third, depending on how your're counting) have you ever considered selling filling kits or soliciting interest from the secondary market? For instance, two major grocery store chains in my area have a burgeoning growler business, where they rotate 4-8 craft beers at any given time at any given location. This radically opens up the variety and selection that you could take home and enjoy, but when I ask the managers about Synek, none of them has ever heard of it. I realize that filling a cartridge is a training issue for some locations, but this could be an explosively large market segment that you (seem) to be ignoring. If you include bars that cater to the craft market (like The Flying Saucer Brewpubs that could increase exponentially. Any plans top open this up?
Again, I really, really want to like Synek (once I get it) and I'm very excited to see what's next.
PS, Where are your offices? One of the phone numbers you list is local to me, but y'all seem to be relatively disbursed. Possibly relatedly, are you guys hiring?
(edit for spelling, cuz I can't type gud.)
Chris - haha glad we inspired you! The delay in your unit was 100% related to us moving fulfillment centers. We should have been better at communicating that this was happening, but there was a lot we didn't know about this transition and the level of functionality we would have during it.
To your second point, absolutely. We have a Pioneer program of ~1,000 super excited backers that hit the road and represent SYNEK to their local breweries. They are an extension of our Warhawk team. Sign up to be a Pioneer at: http://eepurl.com/bhsC85. Everyone reading is invited! Very excited to have you on board!
Third point (or second), yes there have been a number of grocery store chains that have filled. Our focus is first on breweries because they are the heart of everything SYNEK, then once that is completed we will increase access by rolling it out to grocery store chains, growler fill stations, etc. There are about 50,000 of these locations available in addition to the 3,500 craft breweries...trying to prioritize as much as possible.
We have two offices: main office in St. Louis and on Jan 1st we opened up another office in Denver!
We are always hiring great people...email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacted customer support via email again and am awaiting a response. I understand you are still a small company, but it sure would be nice to have a number to call and talk to someone in person rather than these countless email exchanges.
We will likely be opening up calling options in 2016. Phone conversations add about 5x the time vs an email response. In order to get to all the great feedback from you we have to limit it to email for now. Ray runs our customer service and has some amazing improvements coming.
Steve, as with everything, the 1st of something is not necessarily the finished product (especially from a kickstarter plan) so with that said, are there any improvents coming to the Synek OG and what can we expect from Synek 2.0. Love love loving mine! Also when is the next round of Pioneer starter kits? A few breweries near me still havent gotten theirs!
For the most part, the only changes in the original model will be in the design of the cartridges. See my response to .
Every innovation we develop from here on out will have two goals in mind: improve the quality of the beer and increase access to beer. With that said, Synek 2.0 will strive to make the following changes: 1) eliminate the need for a CO2 tank, 2) make the cartridges able to be palletized, and 3) allow the cartridges to be filled with semi-auto filling lines. This would allow SYNEK cartridges to be available in retail stores and provide even greater access to beer.
With the Pioneer starter kits, we are sending them on a very targeted basis. You Pioneers have been amazing. Too amazing. So damn amazing that we now have 2,200 breweries who have expressed interest in filling our cartridges. This flood of interest was great, but we needed to focus on the first breweries and make sure we gave them the appropriate attention to feel comfortable with SYNEK.
We are limited to sending about 2 Starter Kits a day because we want our road team to be able to give in person training.
Our goal is to get these 2,200 breweries filling, selling dispensers and/or being a source to exchange CO2 tanks by the end of 2016.
Thanks! One other question - I was at a brewery that fills cartridges recently, and one of their major complaints was that Synek did not provide any bags to them or a demo unit to use, so they were unable to practice fills or get a feel for how the system works. Is this something that Synek would be able to accommodate so the people doing the filling can get more comfortable with the product and more enthusiastic about filling bags? The bartender at this particular brewery felt like filling them was a pain, but mostly because he was unable to practice, so he felt like he didn't know how to do it properly.
Since we are a new company, we don't have the funds to send every interested brewer a free dispenser. However we do send them free fill kits. The best way we have found is to send a Warhawk (SYNEK team member) to their brewery with a dispenser to do the full demo...only a matter of time!
I have a few issues here in Arizona, where breweries are listed as filling bags but dont appear to be able to. How are you guys insuring that breweries listed are actually filling and others are adopting and filling the bags?
See my response to 'agingbythesecond', but we have 2,200 breweries interested in filling. This is great, but we have found it takes some in person training to get them up and running. So we are pausing the amount of breweries we send fill kits to until we can get the first 500 completely up and running before we move forward.
In Arizona specifically, we had a number of breweries agree to fill, but found that they hadn't trained every member of their staff. For example, the Owner would be on board, but the person working the Tuesday closing shift had never heard of it. We are making sure everyone is trained.
To address this, we have assembled a "Warhawk team" that is traveling across the U.S. training the breweries in person. As we speak, the Warhawks are currently in Philly, LA, Dallas, St. Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We spend about a week in each city until moving on to the next.
Phoenix is on the list and we will be there in February. Hold on tight!
well, create a ticket?
Hi Steve! Two question:
-How would you respond to people who suggest that a kegerator setup is a better buy, given that it is cheaper and holds more beer?
-If you could make a dream six-pack of craft beer, what would go in it?
A kegerator is a fantastic buy if you want to drink 165+ glasses of the same beer. Plus it takes up a tonne of room. However, if you care about convenience and variety, then SYNEK is the only way to go.
Dream Six pack: Great Lakes X-mas ale, Perrin's Chocolate malt ball, Lakewood's Temptress, Downeast Cider's Hard Honey, Urban Chestnut's Schnikelfritz, Funky Buddah's Maple Bacon coffee porter, and 4 Hands Warhammer.
Steve, thanks for doing this! Will Kickstarter backers be given early insight into what the 2.0 product will bring? Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to get my 1.0 up and running yet - regulator issues (supposed to be getting a new one soon), and some possible cap and hose issues. I'm hoping that by sticking through this, when a 2.0 product comes around, I'll be able to get a better deal on a more polished product. Hopefully I'll get the 1.0 actually pouring beer soon...
Absolutely, you were the ones that made this a success so you will get: 1) early announcements on major updates, 2) perks on future models, and 3) the option to have an active role in everything we do.
Don't worry, we will get you up and running shortly! Send me an email of a photo of you pouring when it happens!
Being active on the Synek subreddit, the number #1 with the Synek functionality is likely the hose kinking issue because of the lack of room in the unit.
Are there any fixes to that issue? Some folks really have difficulty and even being a seasoned pioneer, who has filled 10+ bags and put them in my unit, its difficult to do on the first try and not spray with beer.
Any regrets going with the Kickstarter backers who revolted on the initial production design with the tap in the middle because it was too big. I bet a lot of them would like that extra space now rather than deal with tube kinks like is happening now!
1) We added the highest non-kink hose in the industry: Kuriyama tubing. It is the top of the top. The room inside is tight and our future models will address that. If you insert the cartridge diagonal, it opens up more room for the tubes.
2) I have a regret anytime I upset a customer, but our focus has to always be making the best unit possible. The new design was created from feedback of 30+ breweries, designers, and our factory. The tight space allowed for direct cooling contact and greatly reduced foaming issues.
I think we discovered a way to satisfy both concerns in the next model.
Thanks, by the way, for all your support on Reddit. It wasn't always this positive...
By the way, here is a little GIF showing the right insertion method: http://imgur.com/ysONmJx
2200 breweries? That is more than half of all US breweries.
Yes. Completely surprised by the interest. Now we have to focus on executing.
Thank you for the response. How did people find your kickstarter or how did you get the word out? What channel was the best at bringing people to your campaign and then getting them to fund it?
We got lucky and had a couple big publications pick it up. The tech channel is the best chance on Kickstarter type products...
Hi all. I felt the need to step in here. I found Synek through Kickstarter maybe 18 months ago. I was really frustrated with the delays, and then having a machine that sat in my Den, with dust growing on it due to not having a fill kit to fill it with. I sort of resigned to the fact that I may have ended up with a loss of my $300 and that's just the way it is. I recently got my fill kit. The team at Synek always did its best to keep me informed of all the delays and I got a lot of apologies along the way. Synek is a new company and we have all been their beta testers. That's what you get sometimes with new product. Their team has been working really hard as I've spoken with them so many times, sharing my frustration. What I have now is an amazing machine. I've turned on my local retail beer outlets to this and I've been filling at two local places. I look back now and say that the wait and the frustration were worth it. If any of you start a successful company one day, you can look back and probably understand this better (I own a small company that took years to get it done just right). You've had patience - have a bit more. I waited about 6 months longer than I anticipated but now I get to go home from work, walk in the house and pour a few ounces before I even say hi to my kids! I'm a fan and will be one for a long time. In order to post this to the top, I know it needs to end with a question mark, so here goes?
slow clap. Our team is high fiving over your response. Thanks for sticking with us. These stories are the reason our team works so hard!
Steve - thank you for the reply. Here's hoping my Synek will be waiting for me today? We'll see, I guess.
I signed up to be a Pioneer, I look forward to warhawking (?) for ya!
And if you ever open offices in Cleveland or anywhere in NE Ohio, lemme know. I'd love to explore what I could offer Synek on a professional level, but St Louis and Denver are a little too much a commute for me right now.
I used to live in Cleveland and my fav beer is still GLBC Christmas Ale...will keep you updated on Cleveland.
Did you know that Peyton Manning has more TDs then you and Montana combined?
I hate Peyton. Just kidding. He's the real deal.
How long until you get Pliny the Elder?
We've been talking to Vinnie and Natalie...they supporters and we're hoping to make a breakthrough soon!
Who designed the hardware?
We have an excellent design team that did the initial design. They work very closely with our factory to ensure that the design can actually be produced. I cannot say the specific firms involved but they have extensive experience in beer and refrigeration appliances.
The ugly guy you see in this video:
Steve, thrilled to finally get my machine but can't get any cartridges filled in Mass.! similar to a comment below from someone in AZ, am being told that filling anything other than a brewery-specific growler is illegal in this state. Did you know about this, what are you doing about it and what can I do to help? very frustrated so far
I was there personally there a month ago and met with 20+ breweries in MA and NH. It is completely legal in Boston and have gotten confirmation from several breweries that they are filling. Which ones specifically should we reach out to?
We are going back in two weeks and will get them up and running!
Will cartridges even become reusable, or cheaper, or eliminated altogether for some other method? When I saw the Kickstarter for the first time I wanted one so bad, but the idea of constantly having to buy new cartridges for every beer was the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger. I still want one, but that aspect is still preventing me from getting one. Will this ever change? Keep up the good work, I enjoy follwong you guys and love that this started in my hometown, St. Louis.
Totally understand your perspective. We have considered all of those options, but there are inherit flaws with all of them.
Reusable - creates a contamination issue. Most breweries express great concern in filling used growlers, even after washing themselves. They can get pretty musty.
Cheaper - If we want quality, it cannot get any cheaper. They are only $1-2 to have the best quality at home beer you've ever tasted. Not a bad deal.
Eliminated - How would we eliminate a transportation vessel?
Very shortly, you won't have to buy cartridges - the breweries themselves are starting to buy them directly from us so you don't have to remember to take anything into the brewery but the cap for exchange.
Wait to you see what we come out with next, you will be a SYNEK owner very soon :)
When you visited Vancouver BC, a list of breweries was mentioned that would have tap adapters by the end of the month (end of october). I have called these every few weeks and none of them have them still so I can't fill my synek. Any update on when they will get them and when vancouver will be on your map so that i can see that they have them? Also, several have mentioned being willing to fill if i bring in my own tap adapter...Any update on when those will ship?
Sorry that you haven't been able to use your SYNEK yet. That should all change shortly because we have signed a contract with a fantastic Canadian distributor that has a very close relationship with the Canadian breweries.
However if you wanted to email email@example.com we may be able to open up your favorite one sooner than that.
I got one thinking they would be reusable, and was honestly a bit pissed when I found out they weren't, but it's really not that big of a hassle. Just buy a whole bunch at once and you don't notice the difference.
Also, I've read on the reddit that some people have jerry-rigged growlers to work with the unit. It kind of defeats the purpose of the flexible packaging, but it's still pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Also sorry about the Rams bro. Is Stan Kroenke now the #1 STL sports villain? He seems like the absolute worst.
Yes, you can rig growlers to work with SYNEK. We haven't done any testing ourselves, but the beer community has made some pretty cool discoveries. Totally not out of the question for us.
If you take emotion out of it, Stan made a business decision. Not happy about it, but understand his position.
I was one of your Kickstarter investors and waited anxiously to get my unit. After several delays was finally able to pick it up in St. Louis. Had some problems with that such as empty CO2 cartridge, bad regulator, bad hoses, leaky tap, etc. When all that was finally resolved it was great to finally put that first cartridge in the machine although bending all the hoses to make everything fit was an engineering exercise! Unfortunately, that's where the fun ended. I have since been to 5 St. Louis breweries listed on your website and NONE of them can fill the cartridges. The most common info I get is that "yeah, Synek was in here 3 or 4 months ago but we've never seen anything more from them - no paperwork, no info, no tap adapters or hoses." What's the deal dude? I paid good money for your device and want to use it! Why can't I find anybody to fill it? Especially in St. Louis!
Wow, you have had a horrible experience. STL was our first launch market so you had to endure the majority of the hardware issues - sorry about that. Hopefully it is working a lot better for you.
As for the breweries on our website, we have confirmed that every brewery on our site in STL that says is filling, has actually filled cartridges. We wouldn't put ourselves at risk if they weren't. If you want to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know the ones who denied you, it would allow our Warhawk team to work with them to get them up and running.
That's great to hear, because I'm not getting anywhere. I stopped into Wachusett Brewery because they were listed as having requested the starter kit, and then I contacted Mayflower Brewing in Plymouth; both told me they can only fill their own growlers and not anything else per the law (which sounded a little suspicious but not totally out of the question in the People's Republic of MA). I also emailed several others including Harpoon but never heard back. I did get a thumbs up from Downeast Cider, but I also want some beer options Do you have the list of breweries that ARE filling?
Whether or not they realize it, they are legally able to fill Synek. I will make sure my Warhawk team is on top of it. Most cases all it takes is a simple follow up from us.
Sorry for this frustration, we are on top of it.
As for Harpoon, I personally met with them a month ago and they are running their own internal quality tests. I will see if they have any updates for us.
what is the status on support for nitro beers?
The pressure needed is very high. We have to develop a different packaging to hold that pressure. However, we will have temporary solutions for that coming in summer-16.
I am sitting in a brewery that is on your map as "fill kit requested" Will you be sending out fill kits to pioneers and/or breweries soon?
From the time we send a brewery a fill kit, it takes on average 30 days to get them to train their staff and be green lighted. Some do it within days, some forget that we sent it to them completely.
We realized we need to laser focus on breweries we send kits to in order to make sure that turn around is swift.
Hopefully by the summer of this year, every major city will have plenty of brewery options available.
I've heard "its a pain to fill" as well, from the manager of the pub where the local launch party was held and he is not filling anymore!
He likely has a vented faucet and he is waiting for our Sling to be introduced in a few weeks to solve most of his issues. With that being said, SYNEK isn't a perfect solution for everyone and we respect that.
Could you email us at Fill@synek.beer and let us know the brewery? I want to make sure we are giving him the support he needs.
Been a supporter of the Synek since the Kickstarter. Helped at the NYC event with you guys.
For Synek 2.0 will there be any upgrade plan, or a purchase option for KS backers?
Is there any change to the bags upcoming?
Thanks for the fun time in NYC (Bronx Brewery)
Of course, you backers made this a success and our team will never forget that. You should expect to receive perks for every new product we release. In addition to that: 1) privileged information, 2) exclusive SYNEK events and many more...
You have rocked out NYC for us and we couldn't be more thankful.
I asked at the local saucer and was told they can't fill growlers because they also server liquor. Since then I've noticed all the local growler fill places only sell beer. I don't know if that was a City/County/State restriction. (Sugar Land / Fort Bend / Texas)
Texas is an awesome market of SYNEK supporters but they still have some goofy laws. We are there now working on that.
I was a quick supporter via Kickstarter and picked up my SYNEK at GABF in September. I'm still so hopeful that my experience will get better, but am sad to say that so far it's been a bummer. Can you please comment on where we stand with the following issues?
1) After getting my first gallon filled, I only had it 2-3 days before the plastic spout on the bag split, emptying my CO2 tank by the leak, and ruining my beer. Is this a common problem? Frustrated by losing all that money, beer, and time, I haven't tried to get another fill since then.
2) I still don't have my own personal fill kit. There's only one brewery nearby that has the fill kit themselves and I'm not a huge fan of their beer. Every time I ask this I just get put off more, but how long for real until we backers get our fill kits?
3) I keep requesting fill kits to give to nearby breweries who have expressed interest to me in signing up as a partner (a Pioneer, of sorts), but I always have to say whether their taps are vented or not. Not all of the folks I talk to or call at the breweries even know which style they have. Any chance we'll get a universal kit of some sort to bypass this issue?
We are neighbors! Sorry to hear your experience wasn't the best, but we have a solution for all your issues.
1) Yes, as of this week we have a new wave of cartridges developed with a blended plastic opening. This will allow for greater flexibility at high pressures and has eliminated cracks in our initial tests. Should be a thing of the past.
2) Due to the overwhelming interest from breweries we have to be selective with the distribution of fill kits so that we can give them the support they need to get up and running. Since we are based in Denver now, email us at email@example.com to let us know the brewery and we will get em on board.
3) Same with #2. Denver/Boulder should be ramped up shortly.
Thanks for all the continued support!
There is almost no chance that Vinnie will get on board with this.
Hopefully he will :)
Have you made any changes to the manufacturing of the synek bags that would cause them to be stronger, or to the pressure relief valve that would make them more responsive? I had been told that I could prime in the bags, but lost all 3 of my first 3 attempts to carbonate in the bag due to ruptures in the bag. I bought the system to use as a homebrewer, and am leery of losing more beer.
Sorry to hear about you lost beer. We will make it up to you. Most of the breaking issues have been with homebrewing.
Yes, we have one wave coming this week that will show significant improvements to the hard plastic on the bag and have a reinforced handle. This should eliminate a lot of the issues.
The wave in April will have a completely different structure that should answer all the breaking issues. There is another response in this AMA where I went into more depth.
Any updates on an improved tap adapter for vented taps? I'm a huge fan of my Synek (just had my 10th cartridge filled recently), but bartenders with vented taps clearly don't like filling them as much as growlers -- most seem to have lost the "splash guard", etc. You had mentioned once about a more "encompassing" tap adapter for vented taps in the works...
Absolutely. We are releasing the "sling" in a few weeks. It discretely fits over the faucets and is designed for vented caps as a permanent solution to leaks. A brewer in California made this discovery and allowed us to mass produce the slings. An awesome example of this industry working together to push it forward!
Helped at the NYC event (Bronx Brewery) and had a blast, will there be another round of events this year?
Yes, that is our goal. Once we can get the training wheels off and the industry is up and running, we will host a ton of exclusive SYNEK events.
Thanks for helping.
You just got yourself a new customer.
Got or lost? Please say "got". #milk
It seems that the cartridges don't really fill for two growlers but I get charged at that rate. Have you tested how full they get when filled?
They do hold a gallon if they are filled properly. We are training the breweries to make sure they are filling to the fill lines. Let us know if you see any issues and we can follow up on it.
Hi Steve! When are you/SYNEK coming to Canada?
There now, but a big wave is coming in February.
Do you die in the season finale of walking dead?!?!?!?!
I couldn't even come up with a creative answer to this...
Are you aware that at the current level of brewery interest that you keep stating; 2200, and the number WarHawk teams you have working; 7, that if they did one brewery every single day with no days off it would still take them almost a year (314.3 days actually) to train all the breweries? What are you plans to account for increased interest if this becomes a popular model for beer distribution? How can you feasibly expect to then scale a business model that requires individual training of every location to include grocery stores etc.?
Great question and feedback. As of right now, our focus is on getting great quality training in specific cities. What we have found is that when a brewery gets great training, they love SYNEK, and then start to train all their brewery friends.
We have 5 Warhawks that do about 5 great training sessions every day. They alone should be able to open up at least 50 a week as a team. That is a low ball estimate. From that we see a little viral action take place where breweries train each other.
In some cases we still rely on our Pioneers with great local brewery relationships to do the training themselves until we can get there.
When will the next round of caps be shipped?
Are you planning on creating a 64oz bag to help out those who live in states where breweries won't fill due to ABC law concerns?
1) We recently had to switch fulfillment centers and will be shipping new product 3rd week of Jan. All of the orders going forward will be automated for a faster turnaround time.
2) Yes, we had the rug pulled out from under us in a number of states (MN, VA, NC) that unveiled anything over a gallon is illegal. Most of the breweries in these states were not aware of it either. Long story short, we are in the process of designing a 64 floz cartridge now and they should be available in early summer.
You can make everybody in the entire world follow one rule and only one rule, forever. What is this rule?
Anyone parking over the designated line in a parking lot must listen to Nickelback on repeat for the rest of their life.
Any info about this future kickstarter you're hinting at?
There will be a big announcement coming in the next 45 days to our Pioneers. :)
What things did you do to get your kickstarter campaign in front of so many people? Can you give any tips or advice to launching and distributing a successful kickstarter campaign?
The single greatest move we made was pivoting our focus. We originally launched as a hombrew specific dispenser as a way that you 1) never had to clean bottles ever again, 2) better trade with friends, and 3) dispense right on your kitchen counter vs in the basement or man cave.
A week into our campaign, we only raised $30k and had a 0.01% of successfully funding it. However, the feedback from our interested backers was inquiring about craft beer. We knew we could get craft beer in our cartridges, so we pivoted our focus to craft beer and it took off.
Almost half our backers are also homebrewers, so SYNEK is a great option for them. But it never had legs without the craft option.
Bottom line, listen to your feedback and pivot as quickly as possible.
Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. Let me start off by saying that I love my Synek. Notwithstanding some of the logistical problems, I think congratulations is in order for all of you on a really cool product.
When can Canadian customers expect shipping to resume? I've been waiting for caps and bags for over a month.
What do you suggest someone who lives in an area with prohibitive laws on the sale of growlers at microbreweries do to persuade a change in the law?
If you were to start again, would you still go the kickstarter route? Why or why not?
I really appreciate that compliment!
Canada is very close to getting fully up and running. We established a relationship with a great Canadian distributor last month and are working through the nightmare that is customs. We are still on track with the promised date of rolling out in February.
If you were to hire 1 Greek God or Goddess, which one would it be, and what would they do for SYNEK?
You want me to say Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer. Nope. Not going to do it. Instead I will throw you a curveball and say Chronos, God of time.
Why? Time as been our biggest struggle. We have so many ideas/innovations that we want to introduce. If that bastard Chronos would relax a little and open up some more time for us, that would be fantastic.
Lastly, in case you look at Chronos in Wikipedia, I have no intention of eating any of my children.
Do you have an update on when the tap adapters are shipping out to pre-order customers? I know it stated that they were being sent out to bars and breweries first since they had priority.
We sent out a survey a few times -- if you filled that out, we'll be shipping to you end of January.
Do you still plan to release the "Octopus"? Since so many are having trouble finding a fill station, it would be great to get local Synek owners to host a keg/fill party. Get a few kegs of different type of beer and everyone goes home happy.
Yes we do. The octopus is sweet. We actually have a provisional patent on it. The goal is to get every brewery using the octopus instead of filling from the taps because it: 1) eliminates waste, 2) allows for 15 gallons of beer fills with only 30 seconds of time spent 3) maximum shelf life.
I do not have a specific release date in mind, but maybe we will unveil it this spring after most major markets are up and running.
Steve, an "official" growler cap would be welcome! Are you considering it?
Yes. Our #1 focus is getting breweries up and running, but a polished growler cap isn't out of the question.
That's wonderful news- of even more importance, are there any plans to use this as a pseudo distribution method? Think mail order beer delivery.
We are trying this method internationally and if it works we will bring it back to the US.
What are your thoughts on expanding to offer a product similar to Pico Brew?
Pico Brew is a fantastic company and their new Pico will change the game. If anything, there is a large opportunity for our companies to partner: they brew, we package and dispense.
Online feedback is they need a better dispensing option (SYNEK).
It sounds to me like you partially based the successful launch of your latest campaign on the backers of the previous campaign. How did you get the work out enough to raise 30K in that one?
The majority of the first $30k were related people - friends and family. We didn't reach the masses until the Craft beer focus.
Really like my unit (had kickstarted it), hoping the Canadian distribution is up and running soon. I'm still short a bunch of cartridges, functional caps, and a replacement tap.
Had to get a new tap as the piece that actually controls the flow was missing, so all my pours were extremely foamy even with pressure set pretty low. Also as a person stuck without a brewery within a 3 hour drive the fill adapter will be a godsend.
I'd signed up to be a pioneer, but with the distances involved I felt that I wouldn't be able to help out with training the local breweries. Myself and a couple of other owners have reached out to the provinces breweries and pretty much all of them have seemed very interested in the product. Is there anything more I could do to help get the word out?
Brynm - You should see dramatic changes coming to Canada over the next few months. Our distributor is fantastic and has great relationships.
I am pretty confident that things will start to turn positive for you starting in February. We will likely send out an update email very shortly introducing all our Canadian backers to our distributor.
Maybe roll it out to a few of your key pioneers in problem areas first... since they are probably not in the "most major markets" and need some love. :)
Patrick on our team is in the middle of that right now!
What is your favorite sandwich?
Dave's Cosmic Subs #1. Cleveland based shop. Their sauce is incredible.
Is this pretty much a counter top kegerator?
Pretty much. Our backers tell us the taste is way better than a growler and the experience of having access to draft quality beer on your counter is revolutionary for many.
So... by interest, you mean they read the email you sent to them? 5 for 5 in San Antonio said they won't fill a bag with beer.
It is illegal for most breweries in Texas to fill. We are partnering with retail locations to do that.
Hi Steve, thanks for doing the AMA, I think this is a really cool idea and I probably already know the answer to this but I'll ask anyway.
I'm a poor engineering student, If i pay shipping will you send me one for free?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org - we may have a project for you to 'earn' that dispenser... :)
If we gave one away, Reddit responses would go wild haha
How would you recommend efficiently cleaning the unit in between bags to ensure a safe use of the system?
After a cartridge is depleted, rinse it out well with water...then you can run clean water through the line (just like you would with beer). Or, if you're fancy and have cleaning solution, totally use that too!
So it's a growler kegerator essentially? Any potential for nitro pours?
Kind of. Our packaging perfectly captures the beer fresh from the tap with very limited O2 exposure. The beer tastes like it is poured right from the brewery.
We should have a temporary nitro solution this summer.
One more question from St. Louis. In several responses you've talked about the improvements and changes you see in the guts of the 2nd generation units. How will that affect those of us who got in first and have original units?
We held several events in STL and Cincinnati to swap out those original units. There were only 100 delivered that we recalled. If you still have one, then email us at email@example.com
Let be be clear about 1.0. Everything on the market right now is a 1.0 dispenser. There are varying waves of this model - the earlier waves had more issues, we made improvements in the latter waves. If you are having issues email our customer support team.
The 2.0 model will be a complete redesign and will not be available for a while. We will give special perks to anyone who invested in the 1.0 model.
Thanks for the response. When I spoke with you at Jagged Mountain in Sept, you told me you'd planned to move to Denver. Hopefully the transition has been good.
Regarding the bags, is the splitting a common problem? I've now got ten bags I'm scared to use because I don't want to lose another $45 worth of beer like happened last time. It's an expensive mistake. Will there be a way for me to exchange my bags or anything?
I appreciate your new approach and will send (another) email to firstname.lastname@example.org with all of the info about the breweries I want you to talk to.
But the real question I had is, "When can I expect my very own fill kit?" Is it a manufacturing shortage or what? I'm friends with several owners and brewers who would totally be willing for me to walk them through the process and let me buy a gallon of their beer off the tap...if only I had a fill kit to take with me when I'm there.
Half of us got to Denver about a week ago and it has been fantastic.
The bag splitting issues have occurred but have been very limited. Most of the issues are in homebrewing. We have several waves of improvements coming as early as next week!
If your cartridge breaks we will do everything we can to make it up to you, just let us know.
The fill kits are now distributed on a very organized and select basis. Due to heavy demand from breweries (2,200), we needed to give the initial breweries the direct support before we distributed them to more. Think quality over quantity. With you being in Denver it shouldn't be an issue for you for too much longer. :)
Don't you think it's a bit hypocritical for a Mormon former professional football player like yourself to sell a beer dispenser?
I am a progressive Mormon that believes beer is good for all.
What is the outlook for 2.0? Will it be a complete redesign of 1.0 and will the bags still work with the Rev 1.0
The bags will most likely work with 2.0. It is still in the early design stages so there is really not that much more I can share except for we aim to eliminate all the issues with the current model.
Anyone who invests in the 1.0 model will have special treatment for the 2.0 model.
Do you sell B-cups?
Only the ones that give me the support I need...
I this is actually really helpful. Personally i have been putting the tubes on farther into the unit before inserting.
We all learn together!!
Steve thanks for taking the time out to answer all of our questions. I have a 2 parter for you.
I was wondering what you found to be the hardest part of going from idea, kickstarter, full blown launch and if you could do anything differently looking back at it now what would it be?
Thanks for the support Tantheman67!
The hardest part is making all the pieces come together with a limited budget. With a hardgoods product, one failed piece could result in a entirely failed design. We have been very public about our defects and appreciate all the patience in allowing us to solve those.
Here is one example: our regulators. They worked in our factory after rigorous quality tests, but somehow weren't working on the market. Without a regulator, our dispenser cannot pour. It turns out the regulators were getting de-calibrated during shipping. We could have never anticipated this happening, but it was a simple change in packaging that fixed the issue. That took 3 months to fix.
If I could do anything over again, and we will be doing this in future Kickstarters (hint), is have a mini launch to a group of early early adopters and wait for 3 months until we launch to the rest of the backers. The 3 months would allow us to identify most of the issues and sufficiently fix them making everyone happy.
Hey Steve! Huge fan. I was just wondering how you handle having such huge balls on a day to day basis? Do you ever use them as a hippity hop? Seems like they could be a pretty convenient mode of transport. Just sayin'.
I am actually an 'unofficial spokesperson' for Hanes. They give me the support I need to do the things in life that are necessary. My giant balls are very thankful for their added support and comfort.
What is your favorite dinosaur?
Raptor. Because they are misunderstood. Unlike Steven Speilberg depicted, raptors are tiny and covered in feathers. They don't mean any harm, hell they could even be used as pets. Wouldn't you want a pet raptor? I mean, come on!
T-rex's are self conscious of their tiny arms. T-Rex's hate CPR.
Wait! Were you actually struck by lightning?
That would explain that stupid haircut.
Do you hold any grudge against Aeneas Williams for sacking and concussing you? Do you miss the NFL?
I don't remember that even happening.
People keep mentioning the 49ers, I was in the NFL? Life was a blur.