Rick | From university to beer brewery
By Charlotte Jongejan
Oedipus is Rick, Sander, Alex and Paul. We did very different degrees at university; Arts, Psychology, Anthropology and Hydrology but shared apartments, friends and a common love for beer.
During our studies in the mid 2000’s we all had part-time jobs in beer specialty cafes around the city. We started learning more and more about the craft beer scene. Especially the beers coming over the Atlantic from the US stood out; young brewers experimenting with new methods, different flavours and interesting designs. This highlighted to us how closed and uninspiring the Dutch beer landscape was at that time and our own beer plans started “brewing”.
5 THINGS ABOUT
RUDE JOKES | PUMPKING BEER | INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION | NEW BREWERY | MAMa
Pretty soon our student kitchens were doubling as beer breweries. Big pans, YouTube tutorials and lessons from our beer friends led to our first successful brews (the Halloween-themed pumpkin beer) and our first failures (the Klapscheet, reminiscent of a mouldy curry).
We took bottles to parties and events, sold some on the sly or gave them away to get feedback. Through friends in the food and festival scene we developed an organic ‘marketing team’ in the city spreading the word about our beers.
We cover off the various roles within the company between the four of us. Rick is in charge of creative direction and marketing, Alex focuses on Sales and Sustainability, Sander is our craftsman in charge of Production and Paul heads up Sales in other Dutch cities and abroad. Tristan is the newest member, he focuses on the general strategy and helps with the financial part.
We wanted a name that had nothing to do with beer, recognisable but open to interpretation. We love our mothers, and women in general, hence Oedipus. Once we started appearing at events and festivals, the orders from the hospitality industry started rolling in. The company took shape very organically with first Rick working fulltime from late 2013 and as of May 2014 all four of us work fulltime at Oedipus.
We believe in diversity and want to offer approachable brews as well as more complex and experimental flavour combinations. There’s a story behind the name and character of every beer.
THE TOUGH TIMES
Oedipus is growing quickly and that means we are increasingly faced with new business problems we can’t solve alone. We’re used to getting our hands dirty and doing it all ourselves, now we need other people’s expertise and have to plan and strategise more. That’s a transition.
There have been a few failed brew experiments, bad sales at events, and the occasional disagreement. But overall we have been lucky and haven’t run into huge issues so far.
When we first started in our student kitchens, we each invested €300 euro to buy brewing equipment. Sales at parties and events financed our first official production; a batch of the beer “Mannenliefde” which sold out in one weekend. Since then we gradually started working fulltime and have been able to make a living from the company. None of us have ever had any other fulltime job. The financial side of the company is becoming more complex as we grow. That’s why we hired our first external partner last year. Tristan joined the team as our fifth man to bring more focus and organisation to the mix.
5 INSIDER TIPS
Your biggest chance of success is when your product is close to your heart.
Don’t follow fads, or the money but ask yourself; is this truly your passion?
Stay fresh by connecting with other people, companies, art forms, products.
Give yourself the time to do other things that interest you, stay inspired.
Don’t undertake a business alone, always find partners. And meet frequently to level each other's ideas and expectations.