Fail Slow. This Stuff Takes Time

Dublin Whiskey CompanyOne of the many core principles among entrepreneurs, especially tech start-ups, is to “fail fast.”

This is the concept of getting something to market — sooner rather than later — to test if your product or software is viable.

The idea is to let your customers tell you if you are on the right track or not. If not, you pivot and avoid wasting resources building out a product that will never be used or bought.

“Fail fast” has become an article of faith in tech start-up land and is still embraced in companies like Google and Facebook.

So what to make of a company that produces a product and then waits for three years to see what it tastes like?

Worse still, if it doesn’t meet the exacting expectations, it gets put away for another year.

That’s a timeline that would give a tech entrepreneur apoplexy. But, for some businesses, the wait is required.

Whiskey, for example, cannot be called “Irish whiskey” unless it is aged for at least three years and 1 day, in a wooden cask on the island of Ireland.

And therein lies the time issue, according to Marie Byrne, Managing Director of the Dublin Whiskey Company.

She was speaking at a talk jointly organized by the Founder Institute* (@founding) and the Ireland Israel Business Network (@IIBN) at the distillery’s Dublin 8 location.

Seeking to capitalize on surging worldwide demand for the “water of life,” the Dublin Whiskey Company is Dublin’s first new distillery to be founded in 125 years.

The start-up faces many challenges, Byrne noted. However, she laid them out and told of the steps being taken to mitigate the risks.

One odd one is licensing. The last new distilling permit was issued in the late 1880s, she said. Referring to Ireland’s tax authority, she joked, “Excise are currently dusting off their manuals …but, we are working through it together.”

Another huge challenge is funding. A lot of money gets tied up in equipment and stock for years until revenue is generated, Byrne said.

Risks here are reduced by advanced sales and promoting the distillery as a tourist destination (it’s not very far from Ireland’s busiest attraction, The Guinness Storehouse).

Another important source of income will be advance sales. Casks holding hundreds of bottles of whiskey can be bought and held until they mature.

Then there is the building and the equipment and dealing with planning regulations.

But like entrepreneurs everywhere, Byrne relishes the task.

“I got involved because I love a challenge,” Byrne said. “I don’t think there’s any risk of getting bored.”


* Wee disclosure: I am Co-director of the Founder Institute in Ireland.

Image is a partial screen shot of the Dublin Whiskey Company’s website.

One thought on “Fail Slow. This Stuff Takes Time

  1. Lean Start-Up is best fit in scenarios where both Problem and Solution are unknown.
    Aging a Whiskey is a venture with known problem and somewhat known answer.

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