To those people who have been following KBC social media for the past several years, many of you have probably noticed that we’ve been scant on posts aside from our taproom updates as well as providing information on beer releases. It’s not for want of trying to get updates your way, it’s just that so many things have been in flux until recently. This post is designed to provide you some context on why that was the case and to also kick-off a series of posts coming out over the next several weeks that showcases what we have in store in 2021.
A Little Context:
To say that 2020 has been a trying year for the company would be an understatement. It does of course pale to the suffering of individuals, families and communities that have been impacted directly by the pandemic. Nevertheless, there were a few moments in 2020 where we saw a cash-flow crisis looming that could have closed the brewery. We write this update with deep gratitude foremost in mind for all the people that have supported us through this extremely trying time.
In the first few years of business, KBC grew very quickly. However, that growth had come at a cost. During that period, the founders were constantly fighting fires and crises. Everyday was different and we were getting an adrenaline rush from the chaos of simply trying to ride that growth wave. However, that kind of situation can only last so long and you get to a point where you have to move onto the next stage of business maturity. Normally, as you exit the honeymoon, you are forced to make a decision on where you want the company to go. Unfortunately, all the firefighting had left us in a state of burnout and we therefore kept delaying those difficult but extremely important conversations. Inadvertently, we were creating our own crisis and it was ironically becoming our biggest fire.
As the first wave hit Japan in Spring 2020, we were finally forced to confront our fire. The previous year, 97% of our sales stemmed from kegged beer but as our customers across the country were closing up, our revenue crashed and incoming cash slowed down to a trickle.
As a five year old business with a team of 16 people, 90 million JPY in bank loans and 20 million JPY in invoices to pay and 8 million JPY in our bank account, we were forcibly shaken from our stupor. Our decisions from that point forward, though simple, stemmed from 3 commitments:
- 1. create a safe work environment
- 2. do whatever it takes to weather the storm
- 3. no ones loses their job
In the weeks following, KBC would reach out to our partner banks and undergo a borrowing spree that eclipsed the amount of money it took to get KBC off the ground.
With that lifeline in play and our commitments to our team burned fresh into the three of our minds, we were given new impetus to not only deal with the immediate impact of Corona but to more importantly have the hard conversations that would hone a sense of company purpose. Truly, there is nothing like being on a precipice to help foster clarity.
With the context now provided, we are using it as an starting point for coming out with several posts in relative quick succession over the next few weeks.
We will be writing them as a sort of ongoing series and each post will tackle an individual topic. We want to shed light on what we’ve been getting up to, what we plan to do in 2021, and more importantly, provide further context on our decision-making process.