Craft brewer Luke Nicholas is a keen advocate of Google Docs, which he says allows him to run his company from anywhere in the world.
With exports projected to exceed 50 percent of production in the next 18 months, Nicholas is a frequent traveller. The major export markets so far for the Epic Brewing Company are Australia and the US. The range of beers are also found in Italy, Belgium and Sweden, with four other countries trialling them.
“I’ve always been an early adopter of technology,” Nicholas says. “I started using Gmail when it first became available and then Google applications — I wanted to be able to access everything from the cloud.” (He also uses Xero.)
“I am currently playing with Google+ to see how that might integrate.”
He has been involved with brewing since 1997. “In 1999, I worked for a US-based web design company that sold websites to the industry. “I began selling beer and ingredients to brewers online but I went back to contract brewing after the dotcom crash.”
In 2006 he was general manager for the Steam Brewing Company in Auckland. The company decided to create a new brand – Epic – but a year later chose to invest in pubs, Nicholas says.
“I bought the brand in 2007, but still do the brewing in their Otahuhu brewery.” There are currently three permanent lines of Epic plus several seasonal beers and he employs three full-time staff.
“Google is very cost-effective and it really scales,” he says. Nicholas thinks Epic is among the top-five selling craft beers in the country, “but no one shares figures”.