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Meet Charles Bierbrier, entrepreneur-in-residence

The brewery founder and new mentor at the John Molson School of Business shares his hard-earned wisdom
August 30, 2017
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By J. Latimer

Charles Bierbrier: “My heart and passion is in the craft of beer making.” | Photo by Rina Albala Charles Bierbrier: “My heart and passion is in the craft of beer making.” | Photo by Rina Albala


What do you call someone who founded a brewery, following in the footsteps of his ancestors?

“Chief bottle washer!” jokes Charles Bierbrier (MBA 03), president and founder of Bierbrier Brewing.

Now Bierbrier has another handle: entrepreneur-in-residence at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB).

The position, created as part of the National Bank Initiative in Entrepreneurship and Family Business, provides support for graduate and undergraduate students in the field of entrepreneurship and family business.

“I have a full schedule of activities planned, including a live Facebook event and a speaker series,” says Bierbrier. He has already recorded a series of podcasts about mentoring for Les Affaires as part of their Les Dérangeants series on young Québécois entrepreneurs.

As entrepreneur-in-residence, Bierbrier will visit business classes at JMSB to share his experiences and the wisdom he gained from starting his own company. He will speak to students in the school’s undergraduate, graduate and PhD programs.

“I’m a young guy, so the students can relate to me,” says the 41-year-old, “but I still have 15-plus years of business experience from which to draw.”


‘You have to follow your gut’

Bierbrier left a successful career in banking and investment management to found his brewery in 2005.

His family were brewers in Eastern Europe in the 1700s. Later, his great-grandfather moved to Quebec and opened several liquor stores. They were eventually nationalized and absorbed into Quebec’s liquor commission, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ).

Now the family is squarely back in the beverage industry. This summer, Bierbrier Brewing expanded its distribution network beyond Quebec, into Ontario and the United States.

While building the company from scratch, Bierbrier wore every hat – brewmaster, chemist, engineer, sales manager, marketer and head of finances.

“You need the tenacity and mental fortitude to push forward and ignore any negativity around you,” he says. “If you’ve done your homework and created a solid business plan, don’t doubt yourself. You’ll be a one-man show at first, but eventually the team will grow.”

In his mentorship role, Bierbrier is often asked about timing: how do you know when to start a company?

“There’s never a perfect moment,” he says. “There’s always a reason not to do something. There’s always an element of risk, but at a certain point, you have to follow your gut and have the self-confidence to keep going and not be deterred. Trust yourself.”

Bierbrier replaces Greg Adelstein, president of iGotcha Media, and the first National Bank entrepreneur-in-residence.


Find out more about the
National Bank Initiative in Entrepreneurship and Family Business at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

 



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