With our roots firmly planted in the OKC market and investors on board, we needed to verify that we could receive a loan for the business. As I have already developed a good relationship with MidFirst Bank it was easy for us to approach them with our idea and see if it would be something they were interested in. I got the sense from my many conversations with the bank manager and business manager at a nearby branch that it would be. It probably also helped that the company I work for had a significant relationship with the bank and I had recently moved most of our business over there.
Upon completing an application and providing some necessary paperwork we were approved in the span of 72 hours. I know our contact over at MidFirst really helped to push our application along, because not only was that really quick, but it is a little unusual for them to receive apps from business start-ups seeking capital.
With that in hand we needed to decide which marketing firm to go with. We had been talking to a company called Taphandles, which obviously specializes in beer, and develops some really great graphics. They were actually much cheaper than the Dallas firms we had spoken with and really understood our business. I felt it would behoove us to speak with some local firms before we cut the check to Taphandles. I did a simple web search for “brand building Oklahoma City” on ye ol’ Google and came up with some less than stellar results. After sifting through the top 10 I narrowed my list down to 3 companies. One didn’t answer, one of the numbers didn’t work and one was MidWest Media. Midwest Media was very excited about the project and wanted to setup a meeting. I was also referred to 3 other larger firms in OKC that I met with. At the end of the day the difference was the enthusiasm they showed for us, the extra deliverables they were going to provide. The competitive price also helped.
Now with the marketing in place we needed to finalize our equipment order. All of this is going on at the same time mind you. I just wanted to chronicle the events in the order they were finalized. By the time the loan was approved we had about 6 different quotes in hand. Unfortunately it became apparent that we would be forced to order equipment from China, the reason being is that it is about half the cost. Of course there are some advantages to not ordering from China. The quality is typically better, you don’t run into fitting size problems and you don’t have to wait near as long for shipping. But with us already needing every penny we had, we just couldn’t afford to buy American. But for everything else we were going to try and Keep It Local, as we hope you do ;)
We had really narrowed down our search to two companies offering basically brokered services on importing the equipment to us. We had recently stumbled upon a new broker on probrewer.com. He was substantially less than the broker we were planning to go with and was very helpful and quick to respond to our questions. This new guy was a startup and we realized were taking a big chance. If something went wrong we would have been screwed. Upon receiving his contract I thought it looked ok, but when given to our legal counsel he thought differently. He pointed out the clear problems with the contract, which in essence would allow our broker to walk away from the deal should anything happen. This is why you have good counsel. We were really unable to agree upon anything, and needed to get something ordered ASAP as the time clock was now ticking. We decided to go back to the other vendor, and will hopefully have the equipment by early December.