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The Behind-The-Scenes Story of Bira Shapira, Jerusalem Startup & Micro-Brewery

Last night I learnt a lot about salesmanship and the hard work reality of most business ventures, from the mouth of beer micro-brewer and engaging Jerusalemite, Itzik Shapira.

Itzik Shapira - Bira Shapira Founder, Dan Werthammer of PICO in background

SifTech and PICO (People, Ideas, Companies and ?? Orange cola? 😉 ) hosted the event here in my neighbourhood of Talpiot, Jerusalem, featuring a Shapira’s experiences building Bira Shapira .

Shapira told the story of how he and his brothers built a micro-brewery in Israel, in part pioneering a product that hadn’t yet existed in Israel. He started out brewing 20L at a time at home, for friends, family and himself.

Eventually, he ran into the founder of some popular Colorado micro-brewery, whom he eventually went to work for to learn about the business. It reminded me of Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s advice given at some SifTech and other entrepreneur-oriented events recently, to join a startup before creating your own.

What was particularly remarkable about the talk was the approach to sales.

Itzik goes [bar] door to [bar] door, carrying kegs of beer in his vehicle and invites the bar owner to sit down and have a drink with him. In addition to building a personal relationship by spending up to an hour with these potential clients of his, Itzik also makes follow up deliveries himself. And he periodically visits pubs, stores etc that carry his beer to see how they’re doing, how sales are coming along etc. In Itzik’s own words, “our customers feel they’re part of Bira Shapira. It’s not every brewery where the owner does deliveries and remembers his customers’ birthdays.”

Itzik gives you the impression that he’s one of those guys with an easy going manner. He’s an attentive listener and you can see how people get along with him easily.

This approach generates success in the human resources department, as well, Shapira demonstrated.

Regarding the graphic artist he worked with on the company’s branding, Shapira emphasized how pleased he was to have worked with an outstanding talent he could trust with his eyes closed.

Similarly, regarding the actual brewing process, Shapira and his siblings attracted a top flight specialist. This brewer co-founded a micro-brewery in the past, and even obtained a brewing degree from Germany. And if there’s one thing Germany is known for (besides selling nuclear equipment to Iran), it’s brewing beer.

All in all it was a fun time, an intimate setting with few participants so you’re not just a number, and is another testimony to the hugely beneficial work SifTech’s  doing to develop entrepreneurship in Jerusalem. 

(עלו והצליחו (סיפתך ושפירא

Stav Erez and an entrepreneur who recently completed his army service

Dan Werthammer, former entrepreneur and VC, founder of PICO, who hosted the evening

Machon Lev grad Ithai (left) and other attendees, including Ayelet of Siftech and Chen Sadeh (left of whiteboard),  with glasses of Shapira Jerusalem Beer

Liran a Hebrew U economics graduate

Stav Erez of Siftech (taking photo) and other attendees

Posted in Business.


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