NEWS

July 9, 2015

Wood Warren & Co. and Wharton School | San Francisco

hosted their second Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion for another

sell-out crowd featuring 21st Amendment, Drakes and Speakeasy.

 

Wood Warren & Co. and The Wharton School | San Francisco of the University of Pennsylvania hosted their second Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion on July 9, 2015 featuring the owners of  21st Amendment, Drakes and Speakeasy.  The event was held at the School's world class San Francisco campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay and was sold out again with more than 200 people registered to meet the brewers, sample the beers and learn about the companies and industry. Wharton | San Francisco instructor and former Vice Dean, Doug Collom opened the event and Wood Warren Partner, Brian Kerester (W'81) provided an overview of the dynamic $20 billion craft beer industry and moderated the panel discussion and numerous questions from the audience.

Wood Warren is highly focused on the craft beer industry as part of its broader practice in the food, beverage and agriculture sectors.  The Firm and Wharton| San Francisco co-created the first Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion event in 2014 and featured David Walker of Firestone Walker, Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River and Dave McLean of Magnolia. Based on its success, The Wharton School and Wood Warren organized the second event. The purpose of both events was to provide Wharton alumni and numerous guests with a fun and informative evening and exposure to entrepreneurs who continue to build successful businesses in the rapidly growing craft beer segment.  Attendees included craft beer enthusiasts, attorneys, accountants, bankers, brewers, consultants, CEOs, CFOs and private equity investors from numerous firms. 

 

CRAFT BREWERY PANELISTS

 

The panel featured three craft brewery owners representing a range of business models and strategies - Nico Freccia of 21st Amendment, San Francisco and San Leandro, CA; John Martin of Drakes, San Leandro, CA; and Forest Gray of Speakeasy, San Francisco, CA. The panelists discussed their own breweries and addressed a variety of questions focused on business models, strategies, customers, branding, distribution, personnel, and other topics.


Before the panel discussion, the brewers poured their own beers, which provided an opportunity for the attendees to talk with the owners while sampling six excellent and unique craft beers paired with outstanding food provided by The Wharton School | San Francisco.

 

 

Nico Freccia, Co-Founder & CEO

21st Amendment, San Francisco/San Leandro, CA.

Freccia co-founded 21st Amendment Brewery with his partner Shaun O'Sullivan in 2000 in San Francisco. Together they opened their brewpub a few blocks from the Giants baseball park, providing incredible exposure to the millions of fans who have visited the park over the past 15 years. While the brewery serves a variety of beers, one of its most popular brands is Hell or High Watermelon. 21st Amendment was one of the first craft breweries in America to package its beer in cans and is one of the 50 largest craft breweries in America. In the summer of 2015, the Company opened a state of the art 250,000-barrel capacity craft brewery in San Leandro, CA. The new brewery features a taproom and provides tours on a regular basis.  

 

 

 

Forest Gray, President & CEO

Speakeasy, San Francisco CA. 

Gray and his "cadre of bootleggers" founded Speakeasy in foggy San Francisco back in the summer of 1997. Starting with a single, iconic beer that immortalized the spirit of those who persevered when America's taps ran dry - a bold, hoppy amber ale known as Prohibition Ale - Speakeasy now brews a wide array of acclaimed beers from sessionable pale ales to bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts, including Big Daddy IPA, which has become Speakeasy's kingpin and San Francisco's best-selling IPA. Speakeasy has grown by leaps and bounds, opening The Speakeasy Tap Room in 2011 and gaining national awareness, yet still producing many of their beers on the original hand-cranked, steam-fired brewhouse that started it all.

 

 

 

John Martin, President

Drakes Brewing Company, San Leandro, CA.

Martin acquired Drakes in 2008 with his business partner Roy Kirkorian. Drakes was founded by in 1989 by Roger Lund who had worked for Martin at Triple Rock Brewing, a Berkeley based brewpub. In the late nineties, Drake's began bottling its beers for the first time, then in the early two-thousands, Drake's IPA took Gold at the Great American Beer Festival for American IPA and the brewery had created the now cult phenomenon of a monster Imperial IPA Denogginizer. Since then Drake's has been constantly expanding, growing in production by an average 50% each year and constantly working to create new and fascinating beers for the fans and fellow hop lover.

 

 

SPONSORS

 

 

 

The Wharton School | San Francisco 

In 2001, the Wharton School established a campus in San Francisco, located in the heart of the entrepreneurial community in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. This campus also serves as an important gateway to the business and financial centers of Asia and the Pacific Rim. The Wharton | San Francisco MBA Program for Executives is the core academic program at the campus; it provides business leaders the opportunity to earn a full Wharton MBA while continuing to work at their jobs.  Senior Wharton faculty travel to the West Coast to conduct classes with the California cohort using the same rigorous curriculum as the traditional MBA program. Wharton | San Francisco has become a center for campus life in the Bay Area and has strengthened the School’s ability to serve the West Coast and global business communities.

 

 

 

Wood Warren & Co.

Wood Warren & Co. is a boutique investment bank focused on serving middle market companies throughout the supply chains in the food, beverage and agriculture industries. Wood Warren focuses on capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance advisory services.  The Firm is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and was founded in 1991 with the mission of bringing Wall Street experience to its middle market clients. All of the partners have in excess of 25 years of corporate finance experience and worked for some of the largest investment and commercial banks in the world, including:  Morgan Stanley, Kidder Peabody, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan, Bankers Trust and ABN AMRO.  The Partners have been focused on middle market companies for more than 20 years.

Brian Kerester, a partner at Wood Warren & Co., joins a panel discussion of investors, venture capitalists and investment bankers addressing business funding strategies at the Central Valley Venture Forum held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Auditorium. CRAIG KOHLRUSS — THE FRESNO BEE

November 6, 2014

 

Electric skateboard maker Best of Show at Valley Venture Forum in Clovis

 

By Tim Sheehan

The Fresno Bee

You can’t run a business without money, but finding that money can become a formidable obstacle to budding entrepreneurs and their start-up companies.

At Thursday’s ninth annual Central Valley Venture Forum in Clovis, a panel of investment experts offered their advice for how small businesses can maximize their opportunities to raise the capital they need to get their product off the ground or grow their companies.  One, however, might not have that problem for much longer.

 Intuitive Motion Inc., which manufactures its innovative ZBoard electric skateboard in Modesto, won the Best of Show award from a slate of investment bankers and venture capitalists in the Valley Entrepreneur Showcase, the climax of the daylong business forum. Historically, the winner of the Best of Show trophy has received investment offers from prospective backers, said Tim Stearns, director of Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and one of the organizers of the Venture Forum.

 

Ben Forman co-developed the ZBoard — imagine Marty McFly’s hoverboard from the “Back to the Future” movies, only without the hover — with a classmate for a senior-year engineering project at the University of Southern California. Forman said the company was looking for a $600,000 investment for a 20% stake in the company, which began selling the motorized boards in 2012 and expects to rack up $2.5 million in sales this year. Each skateboard sells for between $650 and $1,200, depending on the speed and range — the top-of-the-line model can run at 17 mph with a range of about 18 miles on a full battery charge.

 

The ZBoard differs from other entries in the powered-skateboard market, Forman said, because the rider shifts his or her weight forward or backward on weight sensors that control the direction of travel. Other electric skateboards use hand-held controls with push buttons to determine forward-backward motion.

 

“We like to say it took three months to make it go and three years to make it stop,” Forman said of the product’s genesis and the engineering effort it took to develop a reliable regenerative-breaking system.

 

If his company succeeds in finding investment backing, Forman said about half of the money would go into expanding production capacity in Modesto to keep up with demand. All of ZBoard’s sales are online; Intuitive Motion doesn’t have the ability to make more boards now for the retail market despite interest from skateboard stores.

 

Forman’s company was among five hopefuls making pitches to the showcase competition judges with an eye toward prospective investments. For businesses on the hunt for capital, the expert panel said entrepreneurs need to be realistic with their expectations and have a solid plan to justify what they’re looking for from would-be investors.

 

“Small businesses spend an inordinate amount of time raising money, and too much time defending their valuation,” said Jim Hale, managing partner of of Brown Dog Partners, which seeks investment opportunities in agricultural technology and other commercial tech applications. By obsessing on what they believe their company is worth without a track record to justify it, they run the risk of losing out on opportunities. “Sometimes, if you agree to a lower evaluation, you’re better off taking the money and then you can go and achieve some milestones, prove some sales … and then go out and raise some more money.”

 

David Merwin, who oversees various categories of investments for CalPERS, the state employees retirement system, concurred. “You have to live in reality,” he said. “You may have smart people and great products, but the valuation may be another thing.”

 

Institutional investors, the panelists said, not only examine a start-up’s revenue and expenses, but also look for a solid business plans, a strong management team and potential for growth. “We look at how it will get done as well as who is going to get it done,” said Ed McNulty of the Central Valley Fund, an investment group with a focus on mid-sized enterprises in the San Joaquin Valley.

 

Brian Kerester of Wood Warren, an Emeryville-based investment banking firm, added that “a great product does not make a great company.” He said businesses needs to have “a good plan and a good team in place” to develop more than one product on which success depends and to build a company for the long haul. In addition to the hazard of being being headstrong about a company’s valuation, Kerester also warned against entrepreneurs wedding themselves to closely to a particular plan or product. “People shouldn’t get locked into just one way of thinking,” he said. “They need to listen to feedback from the market, from their customers. They may need to take a different path, and adopt to changes in the market environment.”

 

Stearns said additional resources are available to start-ups through the Fresno State center, including a new partnership with Silicon Valley powerhouse Cisco Systems Inc. for tech-oriented small businesses in the San Joaquin Valley. Cisco is establishing an Entrepreneur in Residence program through Fresno State in which it will provide expertise and mentorship — and, Stearns said, the potential for a financial investment from Cisco — to a half-dozen selected businesses. Fresno State and Bitwise Industries, a downtown Fresno hub for budding tech companies, are working to recruit the first crop of participating businesses now for a six-month program that will begin in January.

July 10, 2014

Wood Warren & Co. and The Wharton School | San Francisco

hosted a Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion for a sell-out crowd featuring

Firestone Walker, Magnolia Brewing and Russian River.

 

Wood Warren & Co. and The Wharton School | San Francisco hosted a Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion on July 10, 2014 featuring the founders of Firestone Walker, Magnolia Brewing and Russian River.  The event was held at the School’s world class San Francisco campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay and was sold out with more than 200 people registered to meet the brewers, sample the beers and learn about the companies and industry. Wharton Vice Dean, Doug Collom opened the event and Wood Warren Partner, Brian Kerester moderated the panel discussion and provided an overview of the dynamic $14 billion craft beer industry.

Wood Warren is highly focused on the craft beer industry as part of its broader practice in the food, beverage and agriculture sectors.  The Firm co-created the Craft Beer Tasting and Panel Discussion event with The Wharton School | San Francisco to provide Wharton alumni and numerous guests with a fun and informative evening and exposure to three entrepreneurs who continue to build successful businesses in the rapidly growing craft beer segment.  Attendees included craft beer enthusiasts, attorneys, accountants, bankers, brewers, consultants, CEOs, CFOs and private equity investors from numerous firms. 

 

CRAFT BREWERY PANELISTS

 

The panel featured three craft brewery founders representing a range of business models and strategies – Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA; Dave McLean of Magnolia, San Francisco, CA; and David Walker of Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA.  The panelists discussed their own breweries and addressed a variety of questions focused on business models, strategies, customers, branding, distribution, supply constraints and other topics.

 

Before and after the panel discussion, the brewers each poured beers, which provided an opportunity for the attendees to talk with the founders while sampling six excellent and unique craft beers paired with outstanding food provided by The Wharton School | San Francisco.

 

 

 

David Walker, Co-Founder

Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA

Co-manages Firestone Walker with brother in-law and co-founder Adam Firestone (the Bear).  David (the Lion), a British expatriate, brings a European twist to Firestone Walker’s unique style of brewing. He co-founded the brewery in 1996 and has grown Firestone Walker from brewing a few gallons of beer in oak wine barrels to an expected production in excess of 225,000 barrels in 2014, placing it in the top 20 breweries nationwide.  Firestone Walker has won numerous awards for its beers at the Beer World Cup and Great American Beer Festival and has been named the best mid-sized brewery in the US multiple times.

 

 

 

Dave McLean, Founder & Brewmaster

Magnolia Brewing, San Francisco CA. 

Manages all aspects of Magnolia, including its founding in 1997 and the 2014 opening of the Smokestack brewpub in the Dogpatch section of San Francisco. Magnolia is focused on brewing English style beers and is currently self-distributing kegs in San Francisco to a limited number of bars. Dave co-founded the San Francisco Brewers Guild and SF Beer Week and is dedicated to producing outstanding beers and promoting the craft beer industry.  Dave recently was interviewed on Wharton’s Business Radio on Sirus.

 

 

 

Natalie Cilurzo, Co-Owner & President

Russian River Brewing Co, Santa Rosa, CA

Manages all aspects of the business, including the brewpub, human resources, finance, sales, marketing, PR and distribution.  Natalie’s husband, Vinnie, is the Brewmaster, Co-Owner and creator of some of the most respected beers in the world, including Pliney the Younger. Russian River has won numerous awards at the Beer World Cup and Great American Beer Festival for its beer, produces approximately 14,000 barrels annually and employs about 80 people.  The beer is self-distributed in the Bay Area and through distributors in California, Oregon, Colorado and Philadelphia.

 

 

SPONSORS

 

 

 

 

The Wharton School | San Francisco 

In 2001, the Wharton School established a campus in San Francisco, located in the heart of the entrepreneurial community in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area. This campus also serves as an important gateway to the business and financial centers of Asia and the Pacific Rim. The Wharton | San Francisco MBA Program for Executives is the core academic program at the campus; it provides business leaders the opportunity to earn a full Wharton MBA while continuing to work at their jobs.  Senior Wharton faculty travel to the West Coast to conduct classes with the California cohort using the same rigorous curriculum as the traditional MBA program. Wharton | San Francisco has become a center for campus life in the Bay Area and has strengthened the School’s ability to serve the West Coast and global business communities.

 

 

 

Wood Warren & Co.

Wood Warren & Co. is a boutique investment bank focused on serving middle market companies throughout the supply chains in the food, beverage and agriculture industries. Wood Warren focuses on capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance advisory services.  The Firm is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and was founded in 1991 with the mission of bringing Wall Street experience to its middle market clients. All of the partners have in excess of 25 years of corporate finance experience and worked for some of the largest investment and commercial banks in the world, including:  Morgan Stanley, Kidder Peabody, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan, Bankers Trust and ABN AMRO.  The Partners have been focused on middle market companies for more than 20 years.

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