Thom Foss has taken the leap many of us only dream about when he left the corporate world and opened his own brewery six years ago with his brother, Dane. At Burning Brothers Brewing in St. Paul, Minnesota, Thom has leveraged his years of corporate work to serve as general manager and co-founder of the brewery.
Q: What devices do you use daily?
A: Like most entrepreneurs, Thom uses several devices to help him run his business. In Thom's case, he relies on a Windows desktop machine and his Android phone.
Q: What technology do you use to get ahead of your competition?
A: "It might sound trite, but search engines and social media," Thom responds. He uses search engines for research and information on both business enhancements, like operational efficiencies and process improvements, and brewing ideas and recipes. Social media is important because Thom can go beyond advertising. "(We) are actively using multiple social media outlets to engage with our audience, not just advertise at them," said Thom.
Q: Is technology a significant enabler for your business?
A: Technology helps Burning Brothers in several ways. "It really helps level the playing field against our larger competitors," Thom states. "We can more easily monitor and measure multiple aspects of business performance." Technology also enables communication for the business, making it easy and quick for Thom and his team to respond to changes and communicate to all involved. Leveraging technology also allows for the automation of some tasks, making sure that tasks are completed correctly and consistently.
Q: Has social media influenced your business at all, from internal employee policies to how you promote your company?
A: Social media hasn't presented challenges to Thom and the brewery from a policy standpoint, but it's been a big influence when it comes to promoting the brand. But social media promotion isn't without its problems. "Our biggest challenge with social media," Thom explains, "is the sheer number of channels and outlets available and the near constant change that is happening in each. Keeping up with everything is a constant struggle when balancing it against other business priorities."
Q: Have you had to adapt your business because of security concerns brought about by the increased use of technology?
A: Business concerns around IT security haven't been a significant factor yet for Burning Brothers Brewing. "Since we haven't delved into the e-commerce realm, we haven't really opened the door too much with collecting user information," Thom explains. However, he does take precautions with security when it comes to credit card payments onsite in the taproom. To address concerns around payment processing security, Thom says, "We make sure that we stay current with our hardware and software and train our staff in proper card-handling procedures."