Brewing Great Ideas Requires the Right Ingredients

Coffee often receives credit for stimulating great ideas, but two Upstate organizations-Beer & Napkins and Grain Ideas-would like to challenge the roasted beans with a pint of fermented hops.

These groups help local entrepreneurs make their idea a reality with an opportunity to make pitch and receive feedback from seasoned professionals in a relaxed atmosphere. They also bring in successful leaders to share their secrets to help push businesses ahead.

Beer and Napkins, founded by Phil McCreight and Tony Miller, promotes the importance of presentation skills-on paper and in person-to turn the seed of an idea into a reality. With weekly challenges on their website, Beer and Napkins encourages entrepreneurs to try something new, explore the creative side of their mind, and challenge your current problem-solving approaches. Beer and Napkins' approach helped to springboard SouthYeast Labs, a biotech start-up in Greenville, SC.

At their recent meeting, Phil Webb of Bamboo Bikes by WebbWorks shared his vision and how he created a sustainable, international business. Jeff Poole and Colin Young presented how the Swamp Rabbit Trail has grown throughout the last few years and how entrepreneurs can help this area treasure continue to become a central feature in the Upstate.

Grain Ideas, built upon Craig Kinley's idea, allows Upstate entrepreneurs share their ideas and get feedback throughout each stage of execution. Their program has four simple steps: idea planning, business mapping, funding, and storytelling.

And it seems the Grain Ideas approach is working! Two program participants-Health in Hand and Paisley Paws-received funding and support for their business launches at the City of Spartanburg's Main Street Challenge. In addition, the group is launching a "dog bone" campaign for the downtown Anderson dog park and facilitating a mini charrette for the City of Anderson to gather the communities input on downtown bike trails.

For more information about Beer and Napkins, visit or

For more information about Grain Ideas, visit

*Photos provided by Beer and Napkins and Grain Ideas.

Jamie Gillenwater owns Transcend Text, LLC, an Upstate technical communications and training firm. Her writing focuses on her Upstate community, technical communication, and corporate training. She is an active member of the Connect Young Professionals, Society for Technical Communication's Carolina chapter, and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Women's Leadership Council.