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MassChallenge profile: Cape Commons Brewing

Posted by Chad O'Connor  October 24, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: This week we are featuring MassChallenge startups as the anticipation builds towards next week's MassChallenge Awards Ceremony]

Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

Cape Commons Brewing Company is a social impact craft brewery that has a dual mission: to brew great craft beer and to invest in communities without access to clean drinking water. We do this through what we call our ‘batch-for-project’ model, which is our take on the popular ‘one-for-one’ model employed by various other social impact companies.

Our ‘batch-for-project’ model is simple: for every batch of beer we brew, we build one community water project through our on-the-ground partners. One Batch. One Project. Beer for Water.

Our first water aid partner is Rainwater for Humanity (R4H), an organization that builds rainwater catchment systems in the Kuttanad region of Kerala, India. We chose to partner with R4H because they represent a core value of our approach to water aid: actively engaging a community in its own development. R4H does this by using an innovative microfinance model that ensures community ownership of the rainwater tanks through gradual repayment of the upfront cost. For Cape Commons, it is imperative to identify, partner with, and ultimately invest in organizations like R4H that use microfinance as a means of empowering the communities they serve.

Looking forward, we aim to become the largest, most adaptive source of funding for water aid that just so happens to make damn good craft beer. To us, this vision really speaks to the heart of why we started Cape Commons in the first place: to rally beer drinkers around a huge global challenge. But first, we have to brew some beer!

At the close of MassChallenge, Cape Commons will be relocating to Brooklyn, NY to begin construction on our brewery and taproom (you can follow the journey here). In Brooklyn, we will be able to commercially brew our flagship style, the CC lager, which is a reinterpretation of an all-American style of beer known as the California Common. Kegged or canned, it’s a style that’s always ready for easy, celebratory drinking.

As excited as we are to get to Brooklyn, we truly value the time we spent in Boston, which has been incredibly advantageous for fostering both innovation and growth.

We first showed up to 1 Marina Park for the first day of MassChallenge over four months ago, we had no idea what to expect. As a craft brewery, we weren’t sure how we’d fit in, what type of connections MC could afford us, and what we were looking to get out of our time in the accelerator. Four months later, we can safely say that MassChallenge ended up being one of the best things that could have ever happened to an early stage start-up like ours. In fact, the best way we can describe it is like a boot camp that literally kicked our startup into shape.

From the mentorship, to the industry connections, to the media exposure and the pitching competitions, MassChallenge isn’t lying when they say “We help entrepreneurs win”. Our favorite MC moment was a final tasting we had during one of the Thursday Happy Hours (yes, entrepreneurs deserve a beer every once and a while). It was one final chance to share the CC Lager, gather our fellow start-ups and celebrate what an invaluable experience MassChallenge has truly been.

Victor Bartash and Lily Ricci are the Co-Founders of Cape Commons Brewing Co.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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