National Small Business Week

Sam Adams Founder: Waiting for That 'Light Bulb' Moment? Don't.

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
5 min read

The finalists are in: Food and beverage entrepreneurs were invited to submit their best video pitch for a chance to win a $10,000 business grant and extended mentoring from Samuel Adams execs. Vote for your favorite here.

It may be tempting to think that there’s a certain, single moment in which a person knows he or she has hit upon a brilliant, billion-dollar business idea. If successful entrepreneurs have this “light bulb” moment, then those of us who dream of launching our own businesses can just sit and wait for our divine inspiration. For the lucky ones, there will be a light-bulb moment. Right?

Not so, says Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company. What started at his kitchen table in 1984 has since grown into the leader of the craft brewing movement in the U.S. Boston Beer Company, the maker of Samuel Adams, sold $739 million worth of beer in 2013. That’s an impressive feat; when Koch started out, he would have been over the moon to one day see his brewhouse turn $1 million in sales.

“There was really no single epiphany in starting Sam Adams. It was more like a commitment -- and a passion about great beer and about the brewer’s art,” he said at a National Small Business Week event in Washington, D.C. Slowly and surely, one employee and one barrel at a time, he grew Sam Adams over three decades.

Koch comes from a long family heritage of brewmasters, and despite his father’s warnings about entering an industry dominated by goliaths, he believed in the “simple and powerful” idea of bringing rich, flavorful beer made in the U.S. to people in the U.S. and delivering it fresh.

Watch this video to learn about the birth of Sam Adams beer and hear how Koch shouldered through skepticism on the back of passion and determination to build the leading craft brewer in the U.S. today.  


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