We had the good fortune of connecting with Jay Ressler & Lukas Syka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jay & Lukas, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
How capital intensive it is to start a brewery or alcohol company. This is a major hurdle to enter the industry unless you come from money or are able to raise significant capital ($500k-$1MM).
What should our readers know about your business?
Jaybird Hard Kombucha Company’s mission to deliver a health-conscious alcohol with great taste and unmatched drinkability. We want to break down the stereotypes associated with kombucha and hard kombucha, such as its harsh vinegary taste and reputation of only being enjoyed by yogis, rock climbers, and Burning Man-types.
It has been a difficult journey to get to our most recent milestone, the opening of a 4,500 sqrft brewery and tasting room in Mira Mesa, San Diego. Jay Ressler (C0-Founder & CEO) began tinkering with a hard kombucha recipe nearly 4 years ago and was brewing out of his garage. Luke Syka (Co-Founder) joined 2.5 years ago and believed in the unique drinkability of the product Jay had created. Neither Luke or Jay had any savings or the family circumstances to raise the $500k+ required to reach legal alcohol sales. Jay and Luke have been friends since 4th grade since they were on the same little league baseball team.
The two Co-Founders began pitching the vision and product of Jaybird to anyone who would listen in fall of 2019. Without an office (or money to afford one) they conducted many of their first pitches with angel investors in Encinitas library. Between fall 2019 and winter 2020 they raised just enough capital to enter a brewery ignitor lease, a program that contracts with start-up breweries to rent the equipment and facility required to reach legal sales. Nearing final negotiation of the ignitor lease, COVID hit the east coast and the co-founders made the decision to hit pause. Jaybird pushed hard to raise money during the pandemic and used the time to refresh the brand with a group of copywriters and designers from New York City.
Jaybird finally acquired a facility in April 2021. With limited financial resources, the Jaybird team performed the construction of the tasting room largely on their own under the lead by design & build architect Ali Keenan and a community of friends/family.
Jaybird’s grand opening is on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 from 12-10pm. To give back to the San Diego community that has supported and insert positivity into a tragic day of American history, Jaybird will donate 20% of the proceeds of the grand opening to Veterans Village of San Diego (“VVSD”). VVSD is a non-profit that helps veterans overcome homelessness, PTSD, and other related challenges.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
1. Gliderport overlooking Blacks Beach and La Jolla for the view. 2. Wind’n’Sea beach to lay in the sand and bodysurf
3. El Pescador in La Jolla for lunch
4. ViewPoint Brewery in Del Mar for sunset drinks and appetizers
5. Dinner in Encinitas, Pacific Beach, or Little Italy
6. Bar hopping in Enci/PB/or Little Italy
San Diego is made up of so many communities that offer unique experiences, beverages, and acitivites. The hiking, biking, BBQ, fresh water fishing, and beer in East County is amazing. All along the coastline there’s amazing beaches, casual (but delicious) Mexican food. Jay and Luke were born and raised in San Diego and are still learning so much about all the subset communities.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We’ve received a lot of mentorship and support from craft beer breweries, business owners, angel investors, and friends/family. To name just a few We’d like to give a special shout-out to the teams at Viewpoint Brewing Company, Burgeon Beer Company, Original Grain, and Resident.
Facebook: Jaybird Kombucha