I am Steve Young, Founder and Janitor of Kickstarter success SYNEK - The Keurig of Beer! AMA!
Hi! I’m Steve Young, the founder and inventor of the world’s first countertop consumer beer dispenser for craft beers, SYNEK. I quit my job as a retail stock analyst because I believed in a vision - that craftsmanship deserves to be shared, and craft beer is a great place to start!
SYNEK launched through Kickstarter in July 2014 and raised $650,000. We fulfilled our product orders over the Summer/Fall of 2015 -- something very few hard-manufactured products can claim. Like most Kickstarters, we had a rough start but survived and are now making big changes in the Craft Beer Industry!
I’m hoping our backers and customers will let me have it. I want to talk with complete transparency about the trials and difficulties, setbacks and victories, and where we’re headed next! Plus some deep dark secrets. My favorite color is red and my favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s get started!
www.synek.beer http://twitter.com/syneksystem http://facebook.com/SynekDraftSystem
My Proof: http://imgur.com/gallery/2WnUh2V/new
EDIT Alright guys, I'm wrapping up here! Thanks for all the fun, laughter, tears, and nightmares. Cheers to you all...PEACE!
EDIT Also, if you have additional questions, email [email protected] and we'll get you a response within 48 hours!
Sorry to hear about your experience. This is a prime example of us being unorganized and things falling through the cracks due to changing fulfillment centers. Please send a response to our customer service and we will get that taken care of and will throw in a few extras for your troubles. Thanks for your patience!
Is your customer service just email driven? You should use a ticketing system. If I were you I would personally check the tickets before I went to bed because I wouldnt be able to sleep at night. It doesnt matter how great your product is if customer service sucks.
If something like this is able to fall through the cracks for several months my gut instinct is you're not going to be in business long.
Yes it is ticket driven. We use a program called Groove and it keeps our team very organized. Usually the issues with delivery resulted from our lack of inventory or fufillment center. That should be less of an issue in 2016.
We have put in a lot of automated systems to eliminate the need for human interaction...auto deliveries, inventory reports, etc. A lot at the beginning was 100% manual.
I know that many were frustrated, but a HUGE shout out to our Customer Service team that was able to endure the tidalwave of service tickets.
Your totally right about customer service, we will be better in 2016. Thanks for bearing with us.
We use a program called Groove and it keeps our team very organized
Well, clearly it's not.
This is a prime example of us being unorganized
We use a program called Groove and it keeps our team very organized.
Good catch. Sometimes things slip through the cracks.
well, create a ticket?
Did you enjoy playing for the 49ers?
Yes. I loved trying to overcome the legacy of Montana. Plus I had the best damn WR in the league which made it easy on my arm...but not my head.
And what do you think of the Chip Kelly hire?
I would have loved to play for Chip.
Did you know that Peyton Manning has more TDs then you and Montana combined?
I hate Peyton. Just kidding. He's the real deal.
You just got yourself a new customer.
Got or lost? Please say "got". #milk
I was one of your Kickstarter investors and waited anxiously to get my unit. After several delays was finally able to pick it up in St. Louis. Had some problems with that such as empty CO2 cartridge, bad regulator, bad hoses, leaky tap, etc. When all that was finally resolved it was great to finally put that first cartridge in the machine although bending all the hoses to make everything fit was an engineering exercise! Unfortunately, that's where the fun ended. I have since been to 5 St. Louis breweries listed on your website and NONE of them can fill the cartridges. The most common info I get is that "yeah, Synek was in here 3 or 4 months ago but we've never seen anything more from them - no paperwork, no info, no tap adapters or hoses." What's the deal dude? I paid good money for your device and want to use it! Why can't I find anybody to fill it? Especially in St. Louis!
Wow, you have had a horrible experience. STL was our first launch market so you had to endure the majority of the hardware issues - sorry about that. Hopefully it is working a lot better for you.
As for the breweries on our website, we have confirmed that every brewery on our site in STL that says is filling, has actually filled cartridges. We wouldn't put ourselves at risk if they weren't. If you want to send us an email at [email protected] and let us know the ones who denied you, it would allow our Warhawk team to work with them to get them up and running.
Hi Steve! Two question: -How would you respond to people who suggest that a kegerator setup is a better buy, given that it is cheaper and holds more beer? -If you could make a dream six-pack of craft beer, what would go in it?
A kegerator is a fantastic buy if you want to drink 165+ glasses of the same beer. Plus it takes up a tonne of room. However, if you care about convenience and variety, then SYNEK is the only way to go.
Dream Six pack: Great Lakes X-mas ale, Perrin's Chocolate malt ball, Lakewood's Temptress, Downeast Cider's Hard Honey, Urban Chestnut's Schnikelfritz, Funky Buddah's Maple Bacon coffee porter, and 4 Hands Warhammer.
Will cartridges even become reusable, or cheaper, or eliminated altogether for some other method? When I saw the Kickstarter for the first time I wanted one so bad, but the idea of constantly having to buy new cartridges for every beer was the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger. I still want one, but that aspect is still preventing me from getting one. Will this ever change? Keep up the good work, I enjoy follwong you guys and love that this started in my hometown, St. Louis.
I got one thinking they would be reusable, and was honestly a bit pissed when I found out they weren't, but it's really not that big of a hassle. Just buy a whole bunch at once and you don't notice the difference.
Also, I've read on the reddit that some people have jerry-rigged growlers to work with the unit. It kind of defeats the purpose of the flexible packaging, but it's still pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Also sorry about the Rams bro. Is Stan Kroenke now the #1 STL sports villain? He seems like the absolute worst.
Yes, you can rig growlers to work with SYNEK. We haven't done any testing ourselves, but the beer community has made some pretty cool discoveries. Totally not out of the question for us.
If you take emotion out of it, Stan made a business decision. Not happy about it, but understand his position.
Totally understand your perspective. We have considered all of those options, but there are inherit flaws with all of them.
Reusable - creates a contamination issue. Most breweries express great concern in filling used growlers, even after washing themselves. They can get pretty musty.
Cheaper - If we want quality, it cannot get any cheaper. They are only $1-2 to have the best quality at home beer you've ever tasted. Not a bad deal.
Eliminated - How would we eliminate a transportation vessel?
Very shortly, you won't have to buy cartridges - the breweries themselves are starting to buy them directly from us so you don't have to remember to take anything into the brewery but the cap for exchange.
Wait to you see what we come out with next, you will be a SYNEK owner very soon :)
Being active on the Synek subreddit, the number #1 with the Synek functionality is likely the hose kinking issue because of the lack of room in the unit.
Are there any fixes to that issue? Some folks really have difficulty and even being a seasoned pioneer, who has filled 10+ bags and put them in my unit, its difficult to do on the first try and not spray with beer.
Any regrets going with the Kickstarter backers who revolted on the initial production design with the tap in the middle because it was too big. I bet a lot of them would like that extra space now rather than deal with tube kinks like is happening now!
1) We added the highest non-kink hose in the industry: Kuriyama tubing. It is the top of the top. The room inside is tight and our future models will address that. If you insert the cartridge diagonal, it opens up more room for the tubes.
2) I have a regret anytime I upset a customer, but our focus has to always be making the best unit possible. The new design was created from feedback of 30+ breweries, designers, and our factory. The tight space allowed for direct cooling contact and greatly reduced foaming issues.
I think we discovered a way to satisfy both concerns in the next model.
Thanks, by the way, for all your support on Reddit. It wasn't always this positive...
Steve, thanks for doing this! Will Kickstarter backers be given early insight into what the 2.0 product will bring? Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to get my 1.0 up and running yet - regulator issues (supposed to be getting a new one soon), and some possible cap and hose issues. I'm hoping that by sticking through this, when a 2.0 product comes around, I'll be able to get a better deal on a more polished product. Hopefully I'll get the 1.0 actually pouring beer soon...
Absolutely, you were the ones that made this a success so you will get: 1) early announcements on major updates, 2) perks on future models, and 3) the option to have an active role in everything we do.
Don't worry, we will get you up and running shortly! Send me an email of a photo of you pouring when it happens!
Who designed the hardware?
We have an excellent design team that did the initial design. They work very closely with our factory to ensure that the design can actually be produced. I cannot say the specific firms involved but they have extensive experience in beer and refrigeration appliances.
The ugly guy you see in this video:
Any updates on an improved tap adapter for vented taps? I'm a huge fan of my Synek (just had my 10th cartridge filled recently), but bartenders with vented taps clearly don't like filling them as much as growlers -- most seem to have lost the "splash guard", etc. You had mentioned once about a more "encompassing" tap adapter for vented taps in the works...
Absolutely. We are releasing the "sling" in a few weeks. It discretely fits over the faucets and is designed for vented caps as a permanent solution to leaks. A brewer in California made this discovery and allowed us to mass produce the slings. An awesome example of this industry working together to push it forward!
I am sitting in a brewery that is on your map as "fill kit requested" Will you be sending out fill kits to pioneers and/or breweries soon?
From the time we send a brewery a fill kit, it takes on average 30 days to get them to train their staff and be green lighted. Some do it within days, some forget that we sent it to them completely.
We realized we need to laser focus on breweries we send kits to in order to make sure that turn around is swift.
Hopefully by the summer of this year, every major city will have plenty of brewery options available.
Don't you think it's a bit hypocritical for a Mormon former professional football player like yourself to sell a beer dispenser?
I am a progressive Mormon that believes beer is good for all.
Do you hold any grudge against Aeneas Williams for sacking and concussing you? Do you miss the NFL?
I don't remember that even happening.
People keep mentioning the 49ers, I was in the NFL? Life was a blur.
It seems that the cartridges don't really fill for two growlers but I get charged at that rate. Have you tested how full they get when filled?
They do hold a gallon if they are filled properly. We are training the breweries to make sure they are filling to the fill lines. Let us know if you see any issues and we can follow up on it.
How do you feel about concussions in the NFL?
They need to be addressed and taken seriously.
Been a supporter of the Synek since the Kickstarter. Helped at the NYC event with you guys.
For Synek 2.0 will there be any upgrade plan, or a purchase option for KS backers?
Is there any change to the bags upcoming?
Thanks for the fun time in NYC (Bronx Brewery)
Of course, you backers made this a success and our team will never forget that. You should expect to receive perks for every new product we release. In addition to that: 1) privileged information, 2) exclusive SYNEK events and many more...
You have rocked out NYC for us and we couldn't be more thankful.
If you were to hire 1 Greek God or Goddess, which one would it be, and what would they do for SYNEK?
You want me to say Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer. Nope. Not going to do it. Instead I will throw you a curveball and say Chronos, God of time.
Why? Time as been our biggest struggle. We have so many ideas/innovations that we want to introduce. If that bastard Chronos would relax a little and open up some more time for us, that would be fantastic.
Lastly, in case you look at Chronos in Wikipedia, I have no intention of eating any of my children.
Do you still plan to release the "Octopus"? Since so many are having trouble finding a fill station, it would be great to get local Synek owners to host a keg/fill party. Get a few kegs of different type of beer and everyone goes home happy.
Yes we do. The octopus is sweet. We actually have a provisional patent on it. The goal is to get every brewery using the octopus instead of filling from the taps because it: 1) eliminates waste, 2) allows for 15 gallons of beer fills with only 30 seconds of time spent 3) maximum shelf life.
I do not have a specific release date in mind, but maybe we will unveil it this spring after most major markets are up and running.
Maybe roll it out to a few of your key pioneers in problem areas first... since they are probably not in the "most major markets" and need some love. :)
Patrick on our team is in the middle of that right now!
What things did you do to get your kickstarter campaign in front of so many people? Can you give any tips or advice to launching and distributing a successful kickstarter campaign?
The single greatest move we made was pivoting our focus. We originally launched as a hombrew specific dispenser as a way that you 1) never had to clean bottles ever again, 2) better trade with friends, and 3) dispense right on your kitchen counter vs in the basement or man cave.
A week into our campaign, we only raised $30k and had a 0.01% of successfully funding it. However, the feedback from our interested backers was inquiring about craft beer. We knew we could get craft beer in our cartridges, so we pivoted our focus to craft beer and it took off.
Almost half our backers are also homebrewers, so SYNEK is a great option for them. But it never had legs without the craft option.
Bottom line, listen to your feedback and pivot as quickly as possible.
Thank you for the response. How did people find your kickstarter or how did you get the word out? What channel was the best at bringing people to your campaign and then getting them to fund it?
We got lucky and had a couple big publications pick it up. The tech channel is the best chance on Kickstarter type products...
It sounds to me like you partially based the successful launch of your latest campaign on the backers of the previous campaign. How did you get the work out enough to raise 30K in that one?
The majority of the first $30k were related people - friends and family. We didn't reach the masses until the Craft beer focus.
One more question from St. Louis. In several responses you've talked about the improvements and changes you see in the guts of the 2nd generation units. How will that affect those of us who got in first and have original units?
We held several events in STL and Cincinnati to swap out those original units. There were only 100 delivered that we recalled. If you still have one, then email us at [email protected]
Let be be clear about 1.0. Everything on the market right now is a 1.0 dispenser. There are varying waves of this model - the earlier waves had more issues, we made improvements in the latter waves. If you are having issues email our customer support team.
The 2.0 model will be a complete redesign and will not be available for a while. We will give special perks to anyone who invested in the 1.0 model.
What is the outlook for 2.0? Will it be a complete redesign of 1.0 and will the bags still work with the Rev 1.0
The bags will most likely work with 2.0. It is still in the early design stages so there is really not that much more I can share except for we aim to eliminate all the issues with the current model.
Anyone who invests in the 1.0 model will have special treatment for the 2.0 model.
What are your thoughts on expanding to offer a product similar to Pico Brew?
Pico Brew is a fantastic company and their new Pico will change the game. If anything, there is a large opportunity for our companies to partner: they brew, we package and dispense.
Online feedback is they need a better dispensing option (SYNEK).
I have a PicoBrew and a Synek. Both are great, but I have no easy way to go from PicoBrew to Synek since the bags don't play nice w/ homebrew.
For now...we are working on that transfer process.
Only the ones that give me the support I need...
What is your favorite sandwich?
Dave's Cosmic Subs #1. Cleveland based shop. Their sauce is incredible.
slow clap. Our team is high fiving over your response. Thanks for sticking with us. These stories are the reason our team works so hard!
Really like my unit (had kickstarted it), hoping the Canadian distribution is up and running soon. I'm still short a bunch of cartridges, functional caps, and a replacement tap.
Had to get a new tap as the piece that actually controls the flow was missing, so all my pours were extremely foamy even with pressure set pretty low. Also as a person stuck without a brewery within a 3 hour drive the fill adapter will be a godsend.
I'd signed up to be a pioneer, but with the distances involved I felt that I wouldn't be able to help out with training the local breweries. Myself and a couple of other owners have reached out to the provinces breweries and pretty much all of them have seemed very interested in the product. Is there anything more I could do to help get the word out?
Brynm - You should see dramatic changes coming to Canada over the next few months. Our distributor is fantastic and has great relationships.
I am pretty confident that things will start to turn positive for you starting in February. We will likely send out an update email very shortly introducing all our Canadian backers to our distributor.
How long until you get Pliny the Elder?
There is almost no chance that Vinnie will get on board with this.
Hopefully he will :)
We've been talking to Vinnie and Natalie...they supporters and we're hoping to make a breakthrough soon!
That's wonderful news- of even more importance, are there any plans to use this as a pseudo distribution method? Think mail order beer delivery.
We are trying this method internationally and if it works we will bring it back to the US.
Do you die in the season finale of walking dead?!?!?!?!
I couldn't even come up with a creative answer to this...
Are you aware that at the current level of brewery interest that you keep stating; 2200, and the number WarHawk teams you have working; 7, that if they did one brewery every single day with no days off it would still take them almost a year (314.3 days actually) to train all the breweries? What are you plans to account for increased interest if this becomes a popular model for beer distribution? How can you feasibly expect to then scale a business model that requires individual training of every location to include grocery stores etc.?
Great question and feedback. As of right now, our focus is on getting great quality training in specific cities. What we have found is that when a brewery gets great training, they love SYNEK, and then start to train all their brewery friends.
We have 5 Warhawks that do about 5 great training sessions every day. They alone should be able to open up at least 50 a week as a team. That is a low ball estimate. From that we see a little viral action take place where breweries train each other.
In some cases we still rely on our Pioneers with great local brewery relationships to do the training themselves until we can get there.
Hi Steve! Any plans to make a smaller unit?
Yes. The next model will be smaller and should hit the market in 2017
what is the status on support for nitro beers?
The pressure needed is very high. We have to develop a different packaging to hold that pressure. However, we will have temporary solutions for that coming in summer-16.
Hi Steve, thanks for doing the AMA, I think this is a really cool idea and I probably already know the answer to this but I'll ask anyway.
I'm a poor engineering student, If i pay shipping will you send me one for free?
Email [email protected] - we may have a project for you to 'earn' that dispenser... :)
If we gave one away, Reddit responses would go wild haha
You can make everybody in the entire world follow one rule and only one rule, forever. What is this rule?
Anyone parking over the designated line in a parking lot must listen to Nickelback on repeat for the rest of their life.
Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. Let me start off by saying that I love my Synek. Notwithstanding some of the logistical problems, I think congratulations is in order for all of you on a really cool product.
When can Canadian customers expect shipping to resume? I've been waiting for caps and bags for over a month.
What do you suggest someone who lives in an area with prohibitive laws on the sale of growlers at microbreweries do to persuade a change in the law?
If you were to start again, would you still go the kickstarter route? Why or why not?
I really appreciate that compliment!
Canada is very close to getting fully up and running. We established a relationship with a great Canadian distributor last month and are working through the nightmare that is customs. We are still on track with the promised date of rolling out in February.
Any info about this future kickstarter you're hinting at?
There will be a big announcement coming in the next 45 days to our Pioneers. :)
Hey Steve! Huge fan. I was just wondering how you handle having such huge balls on a day to day basis? Do you ever use them as a hippity hop? Seems like they could be a pretty convenient mode of transport. Just sayin'.
I am actually an 'unofficial spokesperson' for Hanes. They give me the support I need to do the things in life that are necessary. My giant balls are very thankful for their added support and comfort.
What is your favorite dinosaur?
Raptor. Because they are misunderstood. Unlike Steven Speilberg depicted, raptors are tiny and covered in feathers. They don't mean any harm, hell they could even be used as pets. Wouldn't you want a pet raptor? I mean, come on!
T-rex's are self conscious of their tiny arms. T-Rex's hate CPR.
I ordered my Synek 11/9/15 and was told I'd have it by the end of November. Needless to say, I was left hanging and didn't actually get it until12/24/15. When it finally did arrive, there was no tap!! Contacted customer support and was told they'd send me one ASAP. Here it is 1/14/16 and still not one drop of beer from this countertop ornament. I feel like i've been given nothing but empty promises from your company and am pretty disappointed with your inability to deliver on what you said you would do. Why lie to your customers if you're trying to be completely transparent?
View HistoryShare Link