Nico Ortiz needed money in 2001 after exhausting the startup capital that helped him launch Turtle Mountain Brewing Company in Rio Rancho two years earlier. But without a five-year track record, he said, “no lender would touch me.”
Loan officers suggested Accion New Mexico, and there Ortiz’s luck changed. “It wasn’t a big loan,” he said. “Maybe $20,000. But it enabled me to get over the hump” and sustain the business until its fifth birthday, when traditional lenders were willing to lend. Today the company employs nearly three times as many people as it did in 1999, and its gross revenue has quadrupled.
“Accion is critical, because the (business) failure rate for zero to five years — especially for restaurants — is ginormous,” Ortiz said. “They help fine companies survive.”
Gabe Jensen, a board member of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, also borrowed from Accion to open Albuquerque’s Bosque Brewing Company in 2012. “A traditional lender wasn’t interested in lending to a startup with no experience in the industry; at the time, breweries were lumped into the ‘restaurant’ (category) — a much riskier segment to finance.”
His first loan was for $100,000 to buy fermenters, serving tanks, barrels and other equipment. Jensen later returned for expansion money — a total package of $300,000. The brewery produced 4,000 barrels — about 124,000 gallons — of beer in 2015. “The paperwork and process of getting a loan (with Accion) is easy,” he said. “It feels like you’re part of an extended family.”
Jensen will share his expertise with other aspiring brewers and entrepreneurs on Feb. 23 in a free business-coaching event sponsored by Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program in partnership with Accion; the Accion U.S. Network is the largest nonprofit micro- and small-business network in the United States.
He’s not representing the guild in an official capacity at the speed-coaching event, he said, but plans to “tout the benefits of membership to anyone who will listen. I have experience in other industries, like software development and commercial real estate appraisal, so I feel like I can provide a well-rounded platform for advice.”
The event aims to help entrepreneurs in food- and beverage-based businesses get solid answers to questions about marketing, packaging, sales and distribution and legal and financial challenges. It’s scheduled for 5:30 to 8 p.m. at FatPipe ABQ co-working space, 200 Broadway Blvd. N.E., in Albuquerque.
During the networking reception at 5:30 p.m., participants sign up for the consulting stations most relevant to their concerns. At 6 p.m., they begin their circuit, spending 20 minutes at each station receiving personalized coaching from local pros and experts from Accion and Samuel Adams, which grew in 31 years from a small, regional microbrewery into America’s leading craft brewery.
Organizers urge registrants to bring specific questions and samples of packaging, point-of-sale items and other materials on which they seek feedback. Registration is required at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/samuel-adams-brewing-the-american-dream-speed-coaching-albuquerque-tickets-20772156078.
Accion has helped a growing number of breweries and distilleries in New Mexico, including Firkin Brewhouse, Distillery 365 and Quarter Celtic Brewpub — in its 22 years of serving small businesses. For information about an Accion loan, call 505.243.8844 or visit www.us.accion.org.