Beer may or may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about TechCrunch Disrupt, but today, CrunchFund’s MG Siegler took the stage at our New York conference to talk to Churchkey‘s founders: Adrian Grenier, who is well-known for his role in the TV series Entourage, Justin Hawkins and Ryan Sowards. Churchkey, which was founded in 2010 and is based in the Pacific Northwest with offices in the beer-loving cities of Seattle, Wash. and Portland, Ore., recently attracted a number of tech investors, including CrunchFund.
The company, which quickly made a name for itself thanks to its retro can with its flat top design, is currently only available in the Pacific Northwest, but the company has plans to quickly expand to new markets, including San Francisco, which as the founders announced today, will get its first taste of Churchkey on June 5.
After a short beer tasting hosted by CrunchFund founder and former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, the obvious first question asked by Siegler, who is also an investor in the company through CrunchFund, was about why there is a beer company at Disrupt and why tech investors are interested in investing in a beer company. Churchkey, Siegler noted, had one of the best pitch decks he had ever seen. Investing in Churchkey, he said, was an easy choice because it has the potential to disrupt the beer industry with its new design.
As for the founders’ reasons for starting a beer company, Grenier noted that beer is a cultural thing and that the old-style beer, and with it, the beer cans from 50 years ago, had just disappeared. Over dinner with Ryan Soward, the two spontaneously decided that they were the right people to bring it back and disrupt the beer business.
Talking about the design, which is obviously one of the most remarkable aspects of the product, the founders noted that its obvious heritage allows it to be distinct and still easily recognizable enough on a store shelf. The steel can, the founders also noted, doesn’t just give it a distinctive feel, but is also environmentally friendly because it includes recycled material and because it’s easy to pick out of waste stream.
The company is expanding quickly and besides an forthcoming San Francisco launch, it is also planning to expand to Austin, Los Angeles and New York as soon as possible.
As Adrian Grenier notes, “a lot of tech is online, it’s not in the real world,” but the human experience in the digital world is being minimized. With beer, he said, you can pause and take time with other humans.