Despite the fact that his friends told them they were crazy, Jaime Riesgo and his partners quit their marketing jobs in San Francisco, plucked up the courage of the American entrepreneur and decided not to think about the possible consequences: “We came from a culture in entrepreneurship is good whether things are going well or badly. There is no fear of failure there, if something goes wrong you close and have another idea. It’s better than not doing it,” affirms the co-founder and production manager of Cervezas La Virgen.

Since he and Ana Coello (co-founder) made the decision to return to Spain, they have not stopped working. “We had very clear ideas from the start. We came from the world of marketing and we knew how to write the project. The beginnings were complicated, especially when applying for a loan because we went to the bank and they told us no. Now the bankers are even offering us money,” explains the production manager.

It took many hours of dedication and an initial investment of 500,000 euros to get there. “We got part of a loan from the bank and we brought in the rest. We ended up collateralizing ourselves with our houses, cars and everything we had. We invested what they could lend us and what they had, and that’s how we started the business,” explains Risk. The bet worked and now they declare themselves satisfied because the numbers they wrote in 2011 are becoming reality. So much so that at the end of 2015 they inaugurated new 2,000 m2 plants – in which they have invested 1.6 million euros – in which they will produce more than 400,000 liters this year (although their capacity could be much larger). That’s about 3,000 liters per day, compared to the 4,000 liters per month they were producing when they started in 2011.

Risk also emphasizes the importance of having a good team to achieve goals and grow. “Now we are 40 people working in the bar, in the factory and in distribution. Which is scary because the three of us started out.”

Ongoing Learning

Experiences in the world of marketing helped them lay the foundation for their business. They knew how to communicate the idea and how to better reach their audience. “When we started the idea, we wrote the business and marketing plan, but also a set of principles that we wanted to apply. These principles have guided everything we do and much of our marketing is based on them,” explains Risk. Among these principles, authenticity stands out, which he believes is the key to the company. “The best marketing tool is to be authentic. Everything that comes out confuses the consumer.”

During these years he has also faced difficult situations, but far from being intimidating, he has emerged victorious and learned at every step. “In the old factory we made beers in small batches, a kind of test bed for customers who know the most about the product. And with some batches we said: We shouldn’t go this route, people don’t like it,” Risk recalls. And he adds: “You have to learn to listen to the customer.”

Maybe that’s why they created the taproom, a tasting area in the factory where anyone can have a beer and understand the product and the concept of the location. “The taproom has allowed us to have a very direct relationship with the customer,” says the co-founder and production manager of Cervezas La Virgen.

Key to success

The success of Cervezas La Virgen since its inception is made up of many factors that create the perfect balance. They don’t just make a living from beer production: they have expanded their business to reach the widest possible audience and, above all, to pass on their passion for beer to as many people as possible.

Various lines of business. The company has built its business on two very different worlds. That from shop to shop (Business to Business) which involves the distribution of beer to other businesses (bars, restaurants and even supermarkets). And the Business to consumer (Business-to-Consumer), which includes the service of taproom. They also have a position in the Vallehermoso market. “We converted an old fish market into a very special bar” and two food truck “With whom we attend events such as motherfood‘ explains Jaime Risk.

Local and own distribution. They mainly sell in Madrid with their own distributor. For the rest of Spain they have an agreement with an external one, which will reach all points of the peninsula. “We have personally started and continue to distribute Cervezas La Virgen. Our distribution is very different from that of the big distributors, which is why it’s most difficult to enter stores that the big brands have a monopoly on,” says Risk.

Balance between investment and production. From Cervezas La Virgen, they look for balance in all areas of their business, so they invest little by little as demand increases. “We are currently selling everything we produce. Last October we increased the fermentation capacity by around 24,000 liters,” explains the co-founder of the company.

Artisanal manufacturing process. One of their hallmarks is being a brewery that respects the traditional way of making the product but never neglects innovation and new technologies. “We take the good from the old and the good from the new,” admits Risk.

Pure beer. Among the ingredients of their beers we do not find any additives, rice or corn. “We use 100% malt and barley. Our beer is called La Virgen because it’s a pure beer, we use the ingredients in their purest form,” explains the production manager.

For every taste

This company produces different types of beer so that everyone can find the one that best suits their needs. They have three annual beers in their portfolio: das Madrid camp (a lager traditionally fermented at low temperature), the ham holder (top fermentation) and the Madrid 360 (a Light showerrather hoppy and bitter).

In addition, they usually produce different seasonal beers, such as chestnut beers in autumn, black with oats in winter, and summer beers with a touch of citrus. Since 2010 Cervezas La Virgen has produced around one million liters of beer and the billing forecast for 2016 is 2.3 million euros.