In this chapter of Start-Up Stories, we got to sit down with Phil Layton, owner of Play Brew. A craft beer brand with a nostalgic twist! Have a read to see all about Phil’s journey and how he’s bringing 80’s and 90’s nostalgia to life…
Tell us all about Play Brew! How did it start?
We’re a diverse, nostalgic craft beer brand producing core craft beers of the world, whilst showcasing real life 80’s memories! Probably 2 years ago, I was sat there thinking, I want to bring my own beer out. It needs to be something different, but it needs to have something meaningful. That’s when I looked at all the toys I had in my living room at the time like Mr Frosty and Guess who, things like that and it suddenly dawned on me, I just started writing down all the old things I used to like, like arcade machines. Then that was that! I just thought it’s never been done before and I wanted to take people back down memory lane.
Do you think it’s the brand that makes you different?
“Definitely, I’m not trying to change the wheel.”
I just want my beers to be showcased in a real life story, so it had abit more meaning.
Tell us about your crowdfunding venture: How much are you wanting to raise, what will you be doing with the money?
We’re going to need £150,000, that will be the minimum requirement. We would like to overfund to £250000. Having £150k will give us ‘Plan B’ and that’s a smaller unit of probably 4000-5000 square foot with its own tap room. Potentially, if there was money left over we could open a place in Leeds to sell the beers, an outlet. But it’s going to be spent on the actual brewery kit itself, working capital, building costs, marketing, licensing, professional fees. If we get £250K the plan A is, we’ll be getting a bigger premise. One I was looking at has an 8000 square foot yard. That would give us scope to do our own events, things like that. Like our own food festival or get other
breweries to come down and have a little event. It would be the same cost for the brewing equipment, but there would be more building costs involved. That’s essentially where the money will go.
What made you go for 80’s/90’s nostalgia?
Because I was born in 1979 so the 80’s were a massive part of my life. So, I listened to lots of 80’s music and played
lots of video games. Then the 90s started creeping in. We didn’t want to be in a box of just the 80’s. we wanted the
brand to show aspects of both the 80’s and 90’s.
What might your next series of beers be based on?
Well, it could be a range of things. I was very keen on doing a ‘He-man’ can. You’ve got to be wary with copyright though. I got inspiration for the artwork from arcade game cabinets. We didn’t want it to be a copycat thing, we just wanted it to be inspired by these games.
“It needed to have its own identity.”
With some arcade machines, there isn’t a lot to go on, so I have to use inspiration from what’s there. Attention to detail is essential.
I just wanted to touch on the advantages of social media to compete with other brands, what are your thoughts on that?
I think each platform is different. Facebook’s a hard one to crack, it’s a good tool. I did a paid campaign last week to tell people about a pre-investing round. I got 5 or 6 thousand impressions. I think with advertising you’ve got to spend a lot of money. The good thing about Facebook is even when you pay for campaigns, even if people aren’t clicking on it they’re seeing it and you can pick your audience.
“But you’ve got to have the relevant content as well. You can’t just keep putting rubbish up.”
Twitter’s quite a good one, especially when you get in with the right people.
What would you say to those who are just starting up and building a craft brew business?
Networking! I didn’t have the opportunity to network with other craft breweries as much as I wanted to because I have young children at home, work stopped me from doing it on Saturdays.
“In this day and age networking is a big plus”
and in using the contract method that I did. Find a brewery who can brew recipes for you, just to get your product out there in the market place and build a little bit of traction online and social media.
Where can people find Play Brew?
There are about 33 outlets altogether that took them through Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Harrogate, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham.
What’s the next step for you after crowdfunding?
Go to the property, sign the deal. Go speak to the local authorities to make sure I can get the licensing. Get my beer consultant to come to the property and evaluate it. Get an architect to sign the brewery. Licensing is probably the main thing. Just need the cash! I’ve worked on this for about 3 years now and people are saying “Well done Phil” and I’ve not even done anything yet, this is just the start. I’ve got a lot to offer, I’ll make mistakes and I’ve got things to learn but I’ll always take things on board.
Play Brew have a very bright future ahead of them! We can’t wait to see the next series of brews they bring out, one thing’s for certain: they’ll be awesome!