Five years ago, Shannon Long was a student at MSU who decided to do a class project about beer. The assignment was to take a product and export it to market–she chose craft beer. Today, Brew Export works with 150 craft breweries and ships beer to 22 countries. As they celebrate 5 years of connecting people through beer, we look back on their progress and their growth since their beginnings in East Lansing.
In her research for her project, Shannon talked to a lot of craft brewers who were turning down opportunities to ship internationally because they didn’t have the time or didn’t understand the process.
“Beer is one of the great things that the US can contribute to the world,” says Shannon. “I decided to start Brew Export to let the breweries focus on making amazing beer.”
The result? A company that manages the international sales of craft beer around the world. Brew Export helps craft breweries with the export process, marketing, logistics, labeling compliance, and more.
To start her business, Shannon turned to the resources available to her as a student at Michigan State University (MSU). Brew Export began in the Hatch as a member of the MSU Entrepreneurship Association. Shannon entered Brew Export in the pitch competition The Hatching and won the funds to get her LLC and establish Brew Export as a business. Through the Hatch, she got additional funds to launch her website and while Shannon eventually moved Brew Export to Metro Detroit, she says the business wouldn’t have happened without the community and support that East Lansing and MSU offered.
When we first talked to Shannon not long after her Hatching win, she had big goals for Brew Export’s shipping efforts. Today, she has far surpassed her original 5-year goals. Five years ago, she said she’d like to be shipping to ten countries but over the last five years. Today, Brew Export has shipped to 22 countries including Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. She works with 150 craft breweries, including Ellison Brewery and Spirits in East Lansing to ship their beer internationally.
Over the years, Shannon has overcome many of the challenges she worried about facing when she was first starting out, like learning about the regulations and processes around shipping internationally, and is now looking at the challenges that any growing business faces–like managing and hiring. She has big goals for the future and needs a reliable team to help her reach those goals. In the next five years, Shannon hopes to be shipping to every country in the EU. She’d also like to turn the tables and start importing beer from other countries for special events. She also has her sites set on exploring non-alcoholic beer.
Brew Export is all about growing relationships through beer, and through Brew Export, Shannon will continue to connect people through beer and work to build a better world. “Beer is beer is beer,” says Shannon. “Different languages don’t matter, it transcends borders and oceans.”