Episode 12 – Dan Norris – Serial Entrepreneur

August 29, 2019

This week, I sat down with Dan Norris. Dan’s a serial entrepreneur from Australia’s Gold Coast and has started a number of businesses over the years. He was the founder of WP Curve, and more recently has been working on Black Hops Brewing, a craft brewery, with his two co-founders.

In this chat, we talk about the ups and downs of running a brewery, and Dan’s career in entrepreneurship – starting a lot of businesses, closing a lot of them down (some, too early according to his peers), before eventually starting WP Curve.

Sites and Resources Mentioned:


Kevin Graham: Hey guys, Kevin Graham here. And today on the podcast, I have Dan Norris with me. Dan is a serial entrepreneur who's started many businesses, including WP Curve and more recently, a craft brewery in the Gold Coast in Australia called Black Hops. But to tell you a bit more about him and his story across these multiple businesses, please welcome to the show Dan Norris.
Dan Norris: Thanks for having me, mate.
Kevin Graham: It's good to have you on. So for the listeners who might not know about you and your current business, can you give us a brief rundown on who you are and what you're working on today?
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, so these days I work in a brewery called Black Hops. But most of the things I've worked on, I guess from 2006 until now, I've had my own businesses and I didn't really have any ... I guess no one has any experience as an entrepreneur before they become an entrepreneur, but I just went straight from a government job to running my own businesses and just had years and years of ups and downs. I mean, that's 13 years ago now. So over the course of 13 years, probably I'd say three things have gone well and hundreds of things have not gone well.
Dan Norris: But yeah, the brewery has been my full-time job and life for the last three years, and that keeps me very busy now. Before then, I was sort of into online marketing and websites and that kind of stuff, which is still what I do for the brewery. But yeah, it's turned into a whole beast of a thing. It's a big local ... not a big business, but it's a business that employs 30, 40 people and is pretty full on job. My old ways of building 35 businesses at once and working out what's going to work have sort of gone away. But yeah, I'm in a happy spot right now.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I would imagine that for a lot of guys, starting their own brewery is one of those projects that everyone always talks about. It would be great if we could start a brewery, but you actually went and did it. So can you tell me a bit about how that process started of starting a brewery?
Dan Norris: Yeah, I mean it is, it's every guy's dream. To be honest, a lot of very fortunate events followed by other fortunate events. I had a business called WP Curve, which again was successful, in some ways, successful enough to sell and do quite well with it. I got to the point with that business where we had someone who was interested in buying it and while that was happening, we'd sort of built that business, me and Alex, in a way that enabled us to do other things. It was a very good business in hindsight in that respect. It sort of let us do other things.
Dan Norris: And so I was playing around with a few other projects and so was he, and one which was probably the most unlikely for me to actually focus on was a couple of mates of mine, Eddie and Govs, were playing around with home brew and we brewed a beer that Eddie invented called the eggnog stout. And this happened towards the end of 2014, but over the course of the next few years ... I think I ended up selling the business at the end of 2016 ... but over the course of those two years, things just grew and grew from this home brew.
Dan Norris: I got carried away with the marketing. We came up with the name, we put some labels on the bottles. We thought, "Okay, let's put it into kegs and see if we can sell it to a bar." And then we thought, "Okay, if we can do that, can we get our own tanks and make our own brewery? Okay, let's do that. How are we going to do that? Do we do some crowd funding? Do we get investors in? Do we talk to the bank to put our own money in?" Trying to figure out how we're going to do this. And before we knew it, we're opening up the doors to a brewery.
Dan Norris: Back then it was a small brewery in a 12 square meter tap room. And now we have two breweries. And that was three years ago. And now we have two breweries, 20 full-time staff, 21 full-time staff and probably 10 more casuals, two venues, just a big complicated operation compared to a few guys making home brew, and just happened very organically. Every step we were like, "Okay, should we go for this? Yeah. All right, let's do it. Should we build the brewery? Let's do it. Should we expand the brewery? Let's do it. Should we build another brewery that's 10 times as big and requires 10 times as much money? Yeah. Cool. Let's do that, figure out how to do that," and one thing led to another and all of a sudden we've got this pretty exciting thing on our hands.
Kevin Graham: Yeah, and one of the other little interesting collaborations that you did with the brewery that I discovered during my research for this episode was you did a collaboration with the Call of Duty Black Ops game and released a special beer for them. Can you tell me about how that happened?
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, this was one of those very fortunate and random things that happened to us. We'd called the business Black Hops and we were home brewing and putting beers out commercially by brewing them at other breweries, but only at a very small scale, but the beers were good. They weren't massively well-known, but they were unique and interesting styles and we're starting to get a bit of attention for it.
Dan Norris: I actually only just found out last week, there was a guy approached to do a beer for Call of Duty. He had marketing contacts. His name's Mark. He runs a pub in Sydney, and he suggested to them that they talk to Black Hops. And I don't think I'd even met him at that point, but we'd been there once. I'm actually surprised he'd even heard of Black Hops. And he referred them onto us. We got the email. We thought it was spam. Eventually we're like, "Oh, actually, maybe they do want to do something," and we said, "Yeah, we can do that." Even though we didn't have a brewery, we thought, "Okay, we'll figure it out," and ended up doing it and it was just one of those things we got a huge amount of attention for and we sort of used that to springboard into a crowd funding campaign, which we used to springboard into building our own brewery and our own brand and yeah, kicked off the whole thing.
Kevin Graham: Right. So if we go back 13, 14 years ago, and you've mentioned before that you were working in the government before your entrepreneurial journey started, so can you tell me about how that transition went from working in the government, which was what I was doing myself before starting my entrepreneurial journey, into becoming an entrepreneur?
Dan Norris: Well, I mean, I just left. I got a promotion I think in December I'd been there only ... I'm trying to think ... In 2006, I'd probably been there three or four years. No, it would have only been three years, and I was getting promotions every year. It was good. It was a great job. I was meeting great people, having a lot of fun, had enormous amount of flexibility, and they put me through lots of training. I was employed there as an HR person and I was bored with HR, so I started doing all this online IT stuff and they put me through a multimedia course and did a cert for project management, a cert for training, and they promoted me to sort of manager of the online learning part.
Dan Norris: I mean, it was pretty cool, but I don't know. I just kind of felt ... I don't know. I just wanted to ... I guess I felt the itch to do something for myself and I just figured I was young. I was reasonably secure. I'd bought a house by then. I mean, we had a huge mortgage. It was actually pretty silly in hindsight, but anyway, I just left and kind of figured that the only way to really do it was to just jump and see what happened and try and figure it out. I figured I'd be able to get a job somewhere if it all went to shit and I kind of didn't expect ... I guess what I thought would happen was I would figure it out. I saw a lot of other people doing entrepreneurship, seemingly doing very well and I kind of thought I could do that, too. And I fully expected that to happen, or I thought it would just spectacularly fail and I would just go back to getting a job.
Dan Norris: And in reality, neither of those things happened. What happened was I was just painfully, moderately successful in that I was able to earn enough money to kind of just pay back half of the home loan barely and I'd get by and always kind of feel like success is coming. I'm going to finally get to a point where I'll be able to pay myself as much as I was when I was working for the government and have some financial freedom and just personal ... It was kind of never really about financial freedom, to be honest. It was more just personally feeling good that I'd done something that I'd be proud of that I've done myself, and just, yeah, it took a very, very, very long time before anything really clicked. But yeah, the leaving of the job, I don't recall it being all that hard. It was just like, "All right, well, I'll just leave and if it doesn't go well, I'll get a job somewhere else."
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And I guess that's the thing with the government jobs is that if you have bounced around a couple of departments and built up a few contacts, it can be pretty easy to get back in there or you can leverage that to go into pretty much any other job you wanted.
Dan Norris: Yeah. Well, I was in a very unique job, too, because this e-learning was sort of just coming out and I'd really got excited about it and it was a lot of really bad online training around at the moment, like chicken flick stuff that was just not training anyone anything. I'd gotten sort of deep into the psychology of learning, and I'd taught myself how to program in Flash and build in gamification into these online learning courses. And I introduced these courses into the company that had all these things sort of built into them. And because it was a new industry, I could sort of elevate myself to a bit of an expert in that field even though I'd only been doing it for ... I got the job as managing their e-learning after I'd only been doing it for less than a year and convinced them that I was the best applicant of internal and external applicants because it was kind of a field where no one was really an expert.
Dan Norris: There wasn't anyone that knew about e-learning at that point. Sort of knew about the old style of e-learning that wasn't really teaching anyone anything. It was just compliance. And this new interactivity was coming out with Flash taking off and a lot of opportunity for building really cool training modules that weren't just about compliance. Yeah, and I'd become a bit of an expert. I just kind of figured, there's a lot of different companies now getting into e-learning. I was in the association. I would have been able to go back into one of these other companies and do some kind of project management or even be a developer. I knew enough at that point to probably even program e-learning courses and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I wasn't too concerned about it. I mean, I was concerned as anyone would be completely quitting a job that they would have died to get in the first place. But yeah, I mean, I've certainly taken much bigger risks since then.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. What was the first business that you started when you left back in 2006?
Dan Norris: Well, I figured I could build websites for people. I'd never really done it before, but I'd gotten all these books and I'd sort of trained myself in all these technologies. This was before ... I guess there was a point where we were calling things like WordPress a CMS, a content management system. These days it's just not even really called that. But before seeing CMS, you had to build websites from scratch. And so after hours, I taught myself how to code, bought al these books, paid a colleague's son to show me Photoshop and show me all these technologies and learned Dreamweaver and I learned PHP and JavaScript and Flash and all this stuff.
Dan Norris: I thought, "Well, I can build websites for people and I can also build e-learning courses for people." I didn't really have anything to go onto, but the consultancy where I worked, my first job, my partner at the time was still working there and I still had a good relationship with them and they needed a new website. So I was like, "All right, well, I'll start on that and I'll just go talk to him. I'll go take some photos of the office and build him a website." And I think I charged him $1,000 or something like that. And yeah, that was my first customer.
Dan Norris: And then my partner actually just left the consultancy, but I still had a good relationship with them. She was working for another agency that wanted a website, so that was my second project. They wanted a content management system built on ASP and I didn't even know anything about ASP, but I just said, "Yep, I can do that." I went out, bought all these books on ASP, learnt that, built them this custom content management system, which for the love of God, I hope is still not running because it's probably insecure as all hell. But yeah, just learnt as I went and eventually got to the point where I could pay other programmers, barely, pay other designers, because I was doing all the design and stuff myself. I taught myself that as well, and generally not doing a particularly good job at anything but doing enough to just get a few jobs here and there and sort of build up this business, or try to.
Kevin Graham: Right. So what happened after the website design stuff? Did that eventually lead to WP Curve or were there other businesses in the interim?
Dan Norris: Yeah, not really. I mean, I did that for six years and it was just really, really up and down, generally very unsuccessful. Taught me a lot of lessons. But after six years, I actually went to the very first tropical ... What do they call it? The tropical MBA thing in the Philippines. I'm trying to think of what they called it back then. They don't do it anymore. They only did a couple of them. It's like a bootcamp of sorts, and it was a few months before the very first DC Bangkok. I guess if anyone's listening that doesn't know what the DC is, it's the Dynamite Circle. It's an online group of entrepreneurs who kind of travel the world and help each other with things, and I was an early member of that group.
Dan Norris: And I went to this tropical MBA sort of bootcamp thing and just said, "Okay, well, I'm going to sell this agency and I'm going to start something new," and I sold it for bugger all. It was like 50 grand or something like that, and I had hundreds of clients by then. It just wasn't very profitable. I mean, I did hosting and stuff as well, which was of value to other companies. And I started this analytics dashboard called Informly and found a programmer and got him to build this thing for me. Did that for a whole 12 months. Got a lot of attention for it, started writing blog posts and getting people behind the story, but I couldn't sell it. No one wanted to pay for it.
Dan Norris: And it's funny now because I do ... A lot of my job now is looking at data and dashboards and things, and I still, as someone who I would have thought would be a perfect customer for that kind of thing, I wouldn't pay for that now because what I want is so custom that you just can't really configure it in an application like that unless it's really advanced. And the idea of that application was it was just going to be simple, like really simple charts, connect MailChimp and it gives you a little bit of data on your growth each month.
Dan Norris: After a year of that, it was very obvious that that was not going well, and I was probably a couple of weeks away from just having to go back and get a job, which was a frightening proposition. And I just launched WP Curve. I'd just had the idea and launched it really, really minimum. I downloaded a theme, registered the domain WPLiveNinja.com, and posted in the DC and said, "Does anyone want to sign up for this?" And that ended up ... I shut down the analytics thing, started this, and within a week I had as many customers as I did with the analytics. And within a year I think we had a couple of hundred customers and within three years it was a million dollar business and a good solid recurring, 100% recurring revenue or mostly recurring revenue business.
Kevin Graham: Right. So what was it like basically putting a year worth of time and obviously a bunch of money to paying that developer into building Informly to then have to shut it down? What was that shut down moment like in terms of coming to that decision and then the actual day of having to turn it off?
Dan Norris: Well, it's not fun. I've done it plenty of times. I've started things and realized after a point of time, normally too late, that it wasn't working, and it's awful. It's really not a fun thing to do, but you always know it's the right thing to do. It's kind of like ending a bad relationship. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but after you do it, you can't understand why you didn't do it sooner. And ending businesses is very much like that. It's very, very emotional. It's something you've created. You put so much of your self-worth into that.
Dan Norris: Up until that point, I'd never really done anything in life that I would have considered successful really. I'd kind of put myself out there as this entrepreneur and I hadn't really had any success with it. It was awful. I mean, it's awful to shut down these ideas. But the only reason I'm in this position now ... I can trace everything from this point back to shutting down business ideas. The fact that I've got a brewery now, which is just my whole life, and an amazing group of people and an amazing brand and an amazing story, dream of a business, is because I shut down things that weren't that. I left it a little bit too long in some cases. Perhaps I shut down some things too early. I was definitely criticized for that, sort of starting things and then shutting them down too early. But I think when something's going well, you tend not to have to push it too hard.
Dan Norris: And that's what I found with the brewery. I mean, the brewery has just exploded. We still don't have any marketing people here and we're one of the most well-known craft beer brands in this part of the country. It just gathers momentum, and the product does a lot of the work for you, and just when it goes well, it goes well, and WP Curve is very much the same. We put content out but we didn't do any marketing or paid advertising. It just grew because it was ... Well, who knows why, but it did. And I think sort of the mindset change was like, well, instead of trying to analyze why things are going well and why they aren't, why don't we just step back and be like, "Well, have I put enough into this to know if this particular idea at this particular time with me driving it and all of my resources are going to make this happen?" And if the answer is, "Yes, I put enough into that," then that idea gets shot down and you try something else.
Dan Norris: And a lot of the time it's probably not the idea. I mean, you think about that. Beer's been around for thousands of years. Our idea of making beer is not new at all. It's not really about the idea. It's just a lot of things combining together, executing things well and having a lot of luck, and you find yourself in a position where things are going well. And if you're not in that position, it might be hard to understand why. And people I think try to explain why, but I think a lot of times people don't really know. Just sometimes things work. Sometimes things don't, and all you can do is execute your ideas well and when you feel you've done enough and they're not going well is to be ruthless in shutting them down and trying something else.
Kevin Graham: Right. And on that sort of point there of trying something else, you actually released a book called The Seven Day Startup that documents the process of starting up on these ideas. Can you give us a brief rundown on what that book covers and what that process is about?
Dan Norris: Yeah, I can. It was seven years ago now. It's been a while since I read it, but I guess the idea, the whole idea behind the book was, just stop analyzing and start doing and it was like all of these assumptions that you have about what this business idea is going to be like are probably things that you can either test pretty easily or you actually don't need to test and you just need to actually start because you just get caught in this kind of position of just watching other people and analyzing what they're doing and learning stuff that you probably don't need and being overly concerned about different things like signing up with the latest software and all this kind of stuff, and just thinking and planning and doing business plans and just thinking all of this is going to ultimately lead to you being successful.
Dan Norris: But I stand by the sentiment in that book even today. It's like the only thing that's going to make you successful, and it may not, but the only thing that may make you successful is if you start something and then you stop something when you feel like you put enough into it and you start something else. All the analyzing and everything else is kind of a waste of time, and I think a really big one is this idea of validating your idea. At the time it was all the rage. It was like, "Validate your idea, validate your idea." And it was like, how many of these ideas actually have to be validated? Most of this stuff's been done and most of the good companies are based off ideas that have already been done. It's very rare for a company to start off a completely new idea that has never been done. That's really rare.
Dan Norris: Most companies start something around about the same time that other companies are starting it or even 10 years after other companies have started it. And for whatever reason, they find themselves in a position where it's going well. I mean, that's not completely out of their hands. They might've executed something well or the timing might suit them better or there might be a bunch of other factors in there. But the idea itself doesn't really need to be validated. I think what needs to be validated is whether you at this point in time can actually make this work. And the only way you're going to answer that is to launch it.
Dan Norris: With WP Curve, I launched it within seven days and I found out very quickly whether or not it was going to be successful. And I hope that a lot of people who have read that book have done the same thing. I know a lot of people have read that book and started an idea and it hasn't gone well. And maybe that's just as good. I mean, what's the alternative? Not start the idea and just think about this idea for two years and miss the opportunity to actually realize that it's not going to work and therefore not be able to something else or put your energy towards something else? I think the sentiment in that book is very much relevant now as it was then.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. Let's change gears for a moment here and talk about Black Hops as it stands today. Can you tell me about the point in the business where you start to get initial traction and what would you attribute that success to?
Dan Norris: Well, again, I mean, this idea of attributing success, it just doesn't sit well with me. I mean, I don't know. I mean, we've had traction all along the way. From our very first home brew, the idea was good. Eddie had this unique idea. He offered it to another brewery. They didn't want it. And so we sat around the table and Govs is like, "I've got this home brew kit. I might as well try to brew it." We tasted it. It tasted really good. It tastes exactly like the way Eddie described and hoped it would taste. We gave it out to a few bloggers and they started writing about it. I put labels on it to make it look a bit more legitimate, which now I look at and am just embarrassed about. But at the time it was like, "I'll just call this a new beer that's coming out."
Dan Norris: And I mean, I don't know what you attribute that to. There's so much that's gone in through the last few years to get to here. There's a huge amount of risk and just a huge amount of money and it's the complete opposite of a seven day startup. I guess the sentiment is the same because we didn't build a brewery until we had a bunch of customers paying us for the beer, telling us that it was good and getting traction with it. The sentiment is very much the same. But in terms of what you can pin the success on, I don't really know. We've got a cool story. We ended up building a really cool brand around what we do. Our cans and our marketing look really good.
Dan Norris: The beer is some of the most awarded beer in the country. Last year we won Champion Brewery at the most prestigious beer awards in the country, Champion Small Brewery. This year we won Champion Brewery at the Queensland Beer Awards, and so the product's very good. The timing was very good. The industry here was just starting to take off and we came in right at that time. We came in right at the time when cans are taking off and we put our beer into cans. Just a whole bunch of stuff just went our way. A few really fluky and lucky financial things, like we've built this business with basically no money. I've had to get about 50 traditional investors since the day we started and 500 plus equity crowdfunding investors, bank loans, every kind of finance you can imagine, normal crowd funding, equipment finance, leasing, any kind of finance you can think of, we've been able to get for this business and sometimes right at the last minute, so a lot of luck as well. There's just so much that goes into it. It's not something I can really pinpoint, I don't think.
Kevin Graham: That's cool. I mean-
Dan Norris: And also, just to answer that a different way, there's different levels of this term success, too. At many points along our journey, we could've had some of this finance fall through or something else happen that could have crushed the business and it been put and be done with. And I mean, that could still happen. It's not like we've built this completely bulletproof operation that's going to last for thousands of years. We're still right in the middle of building a company that's really only going to hit its stride when it's at scale and it's going to cost millions and millions of dollars to get there.
Dan Norris: It feels like things are going well right now, but it's very, very up and down and we're a couple of kilometers away from another brewery that is by far the fastest-growing brewery in the country. Opened around the same time, one of the most successful recent brands I can think of in the country. There's kind of levels to success. It feels like things are going well for us at the moment. But yeah, you don't want to really talk about something like it's finished. And I think that term success kind of leads you to talk about something like it's finished.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that's a good point. It definitely sounds like even three years into this business, you're still very much in the thick of it and doing all the blocking and tackling stuff that needs to be done to see that business grow and be successful.
Dan Norris: Well, it's also the nature of this sort of business. I was talking to the other company I mentioned down the road called Bolter. They're a brewery company that was started by Mick Fanning and a bunch of surfers and a guy from America and a marketing guy here. And I was talking to him yesterday, and as successful as a business could possibly be within three years, they are in the same situation that they're working their asses off. I mean, they love it. It's consumed their life, but they're working their asses off. [inaudible 00:00:25:11], their co-founder and marketing guy, has been running international brand campaigns for decades and he's the one that's up late at night lurking on social media to see if people are asking questions about Bolter, and I'm the same.
Dan Norris: Literally, before I did this interview, I'm sitting there on Photoshop getting ready for tomorrow's IPA event, just putting together the social media for it. I'm doing stuff now that I was doing 10 years ago. It's not like we've gotten to a point where we just sit back and everyone does all the work. We're all working our asses off here. And it's just the nature of this kind of business. It consumes your life and it's absolutely what we want to be doing. But yeah, it's certainly not gotten to a point where it's easy, and even, I fully expect it never to get to that point. I think it's kind of the sort of business where if you don't enjoy actually doing what it has you doing, then you're not going to last too long because it's never going to get to the point where we can sit back and relax.
Kevin Graham: Right. On that topic of it still being not very easy, can you tell me about an unexpected crisis that happened in the business and how you handled it?
Dan Norris: Well, I think, yeah, again, I think unexpected crisis wouldn't be the right word because I fully expect crises to happen very regularly in this business. I mean, I don't really know if I could pick one. There's just been so many things. I mean, some of the financial stuff I probably can't really talk about too much. But there's definitely been situations where we've needed rounds of finance. I mean, just to give you an example, we signed a lease to build our second brewery because we realized this one that I'm at at the moment was just never going to be big enough.
Dan Norris: We knew that when we got the lease for it, but this brewery we put about a million dollars into, and this was into a brewery that, this company we started for $2,000 originally and by this point, over two or three years, we put $1 million into this brewery knowing that we couldn't build it anymore and we needed to build another one and the next one was going to cost at least three and a half million dollars and was going to be about 10 times as big, and we didn't have any money in the bank.
Dan Norris: Equity crowd funding wasn't legal at that point. We didn't have investors desperate to give us more money. I'd never got a loan from a bank in my life for anything, for a business, for starters, but for anything other than a car or a house. It was completely foreign to me, the idea of getting money from a bank. I just didn't think that would even be possible. And we signed a 15 year lease on this humongous building knowing all that and knowing we were going to have to figure it out on the way.
Dan Norris: And I mean, it came very, very close. We got approval and our finance, I think, the week before we opened. I raised finance from a whole bunch of different sources, but the bank finance only came the week before we opened. And our approval to open came the day before we did our soft launch. And this is for a project over $3 million. I mean, that's kind of reasonably standard. It's kind of the nature of this beast. You're up against some pretty hefty competition and everyone does everything really well, so you kind of have to take some big risks and hope things go in your favor.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. And that sounds like you were right down to the wire, both financially and permits and everything, to actually get that new venue open. I can imagine just the feelings that you would've been going through at that time and how difficult that would have been.
Dan Norris: Yeah, but it's not just that time. That's happened countless times. Our plan was originally to open the first brewery in January and we didn't end up opening it until June, and we'd had it ready more or less that whole time, but for the last two months, we were waiting on one person to connect our gas boiler. And it was only one guy who could do it and he just wouldn't turn up. And this just went on for weeks and weeks and weeks, and it was just like we were paying money in rent. Govs and Eddie had quit their jobs. I still had WP Curve at that point, thank God. But we were sitting around doing nothing and it was just costing us money and we were like, "We're going to lose everything here." So yeah, I mean, that's another example. This stuff happens all the time. It's a bit of a scary proposition starting a business like this.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. What's one thing about your business that makes you excited today then?
Dan Norris: Everything. Black Hops is my whole life. It's an amazing group of people. It's an amazing brand to work with. It's a really amazing industry. The physical business is not something I really thought I would get into. I kind of thought maybe one day I'll do some sort of physical product, which I didn't think through the implications of that, but I didn't really think I would ever have a building with people in it. But I find myself now as cofounder and CEO, because we've given ourselves roles of a team of 30 people. And it's just an awesome industry. I mean, who wouldn't want to ... We've made a hundred beers since we started in that four year period. Who wouldn't want to make different beers and go around events talking about them, designing beer labels and running two amazing taprooms and doing beer launches and all of that stuff? It's a dream life and a dream business despite all the stuff I said before.
Kevin Graham: Yeah. Just on that, when are we going to see Black Hops available in Thailand?
Dan Norris: No time soon. We're very much focused around local. We're sending beers into state in Australia, but we do sort of 85% or so of our beers locally in Queensland and I don't really have any intention of changing that. It's not the kind of product that travels particularly well. The best I can offer is if I happen to travel over there, I'll bring some with me and share it out.
Kevin Graham: Awesome. Well, hopefully you can make it to this year's DC Bangkok.
Dan Norris: I had thought about it. When is it? It's like end of October, right?
Kevin Graham: I think mid-October, but yeah.
Dan Norris: Mid-October. Yeah, I saw it come up. Yeah, I'll have a look at the dates. Now it's really hard. We have beer events three or four times a week sometimes, and I don't go to all of them, but getting a free weekend is almost impossible unless I'm on holidays. But yeah, I would love to go again. It's been a while. I went to I think three of them or four of them over the course of doing the WP Curve before and met some amazing people.
Dan Norris: Actually, Sam was the first investor in Black Hops and I met him at the very first DC BKK in 2012, and he only recently came over here. This whole time, he sort of invested and just looked at it from afar and only recently come over and checked out the brewery site. In many ways, all of my entrepreneurial endeavors can be sort of taken back to the DC, so I'm eternally grateful to Dan and Ian and the crew there and that whole group of people. And yeah, I guess that's why I sort of try to stay active in the forum, but I'm just not that good at being active in the forum. But I'm always happy to talk to people from the DC and owe that community a lot.
Kevin Graham: Right. I know we're coming up towards the end of our time together. I've got two more questions and then we'll wrap it up. Firstly, what books do you think had the biggest impact on you in deciding to become an entrepreneur?
Dan Norris: Well, I'm not much of a reader of books. I kind of joke that I probably wrote more books than I've read. That's probably not actually true though. I do read books sometimes. I just kind of struggle to get through them. But I do have a very clear one for this. And its Rich Dad, Poor Dad, because I remember reading this. I remember walking home and reading it. I must've actually bought a physical copy of it. It was probably before the Kindles and whatnot came to Australia, just reading that walking home work when I was working this government job. And that really is a very clear turning point for me of being like, "Actually, I'm going to do this starting a business thing." And it wasn't long after that that I just decided to do it. So yeah, that was a clear winner for that question.
Kevin Graham: And what about books that have had the biggest impact on you and the last few years?
Dan Norris: I honestly don't think I've read a book in the last few years. I'm trying to think. I listen to lots of podcasts. Yeah, I don't think I've read a book in the last few years, to be honest. I can't really think of one.
Kevin Graham: Okay. Do you want to give a shout out to a couple of your favorite podcasts here then?
Dan Norris: I mean, I listen to all kinds of weird podcast now. I don't tend to listen to that many entrepreneurial sort of ones anymore. The online marketing ones, I don't really listen to that much. I listen to lots of beer ones, lots of sort of comedy ones. I always thought the podcasting content, it's sort of like a medium that I feel like has to be a little bit entertaining or interesting. Just the interviews with entrepreneurs I do still listen to and I definitely did still listen to a lot early on, and that's probably what attracted me to the Tropical MBA one originally. It was sort of entertaining. It was sort of upbeat and fun. Those are kind of the ones. I still listen to This Week in Startups from time to time, Tropical MBA from time to time. There's not a huge number of sort of businessy ones I listen to any more to be honest.
Kevin Graham: Cool.
Dan Norris: I feel like I have really bad answers to these last few questions. But that's what happens. Maybe I was really, really into these podcasts and things when I was sort of trying to figure it all out, and by the time I got to a place where things were just taking off, it's just not something I feel ... I learn a lot from the people around me. I follow a lot of accounts on social media from other people in the industry and I'm consuming a lot of content in the industry now and I feel like that's more what I need. I don't so much need the inspiration or the ideas from the entrepreneurial podcasts so much anymore, but it's definitely what I did need back then. And those are the ones I was listening to.
Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, just finally to wrap it up here, where can our listeners connect with you and find out more about Black Hops as well as all of the books and other things that you've released in the past?
Dan Norris: Yeah, so all the books on Amazon. I'm sort of pretty hands off with that stuff now. I don't really do much in that field, but they're all on Amazon and Audible. Actually, my book I released a few months ago was called The Answer. Actually, it's called This is the Answer because I think someone else took The Answer, which makes sense, but I haven't done the audio book for that, but that ones on Amazon.
Dan Norris: We also have a podcast for the brewery, so if you're into listening to podcasts, we've got one called Operation Brewery. And actually, the last episode I did, which I just talked about with the brewery down the road, Bolter, it's one of my favorite conversations I've had and the one before that I did with the founder of Stone and Wood, which is one of Australia's most recognized craft beer brands. And this content, these interviews are amazing for me because they're just ... I kind of felt like back in the day I'd get into all these sort of hero online marketers and things and now it just seems like, I don't know, now I talk to people in our industry who just, they don't have big names, they're not big online influencers or anything. They're just normal people doing work. But the stuff you learn is amazing.
Dan Norris: And I'll give a shout out to that interview. I haven't put it up yet, but it'll be the latest episode on our podcast. I'll put it up this weekend. And it's about marketing and it's about building a brand and I just loved it because it's not the kind of stuff you hear about on an internet marketing podcast. It's just really about story and brand and touch points and design and videos and events and just encapsulating all of what this company Bolter does, and they just do it so well. So yeah, I'll give a shout out to that.
Kevin Graham: Cool. And any social media links or anything else that I should include in the show notes for you?
Dan Norris: Yeah, just the Back Hops ones. I mean, I don't really do much social media myself anymore. Black Hops is @blackhopsbeer on Instagram and on Facebook, and I mean if you're not in Australia, not into craft beer, it's probably not something you really want to follow. But yeah, I manage all of those accounts and all of our marketing there and the content and the podcast and that's kind of what I'm focusing on now, so if you want to check that out, you can check that out, and BlackHops.com that I use for our website. But yeah, me personally, I'm not really putting any content out anymore. I'm not really doing a lot of social media stuff either.
Kevin Graham: Cool. Well, it's been great having you on the podcast and hearing about you and your story and your journey. I hope our listeners enjoyed this interview and thanks again for your time.
Dan Norris: I hope so, too. Thank you.

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