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Cognition

Crafting a Business Ecosystem

Sure, do it for money. But just as importantly, do it for fun.

We’re currently working on a digital redesign for Lagunitas Brewing Company. It’s our first foray into the craft beer world and a bucket-list item for me personally, having long been a fan of Lagunitas. Many of their beers are complete style mashups (they are not staples at the Great American Beer Festival in part because their beer doesn’t fit neatly into judging categories). Their brand is decidedly lo-fi, but filled with personality. If you haven’t read a story on one of their beer bottles or some of the prose on a case, just have a gander.

Here’s our team, fully tanked.

Here’s our team, fully tanked.


Craft brewers have a special knack for shaping their own world and thriving in it. I’ve written about my admiration for how craft brewers collaborate. Despite being competitors, many craft breweries embrace the idea of making their collective market share bigger by making their shared world smaller. By banding together, they take advantage of their collective know-how to increase their slice of the pie—a pie dominated by a handful of mega-brewers. They are exactly who they appear to be: passionate hobbyists turned professionals who are making something they truly love.

Music and beer at dusk

Music and beer at dusk


Beer has been at the center of the Lagunitas world, but it’s only part of it. Music is an increasingly strong area of focus. Lagunitas’ CEO and founder Tony Magee is a musician, and his passion sparked their entire philosophy. The beer, in large part, made their ability to promote musicians and events possible, and the music in turn sells beer. And while many big-time breweries have done this for decades—creating venues just to sell beer—I can’t help but think that Lagunitas is doing this for themselves first: They promote the people and the music they feel good about. They’re creating their own utopia. And when we experienced this firsthand when we visited the Petaluma brewery, I was smitten. After two days, I started to think I should stay.

Spent grains from the brewing process feed local livestock. They only charge the farmers the cost of transporting the grains.

Spent grains from the brewing process feed local livestock. They only charge the farmers the cost of transporting the grains.


To paraphrase Jack Alger, Lagunitas’ Beer Whisperer: “Beer is at the center of people’s worlds. Beer is good times. Music makes beer better, and beer makes music better. Lagunitas is at the center of what makes people happy.”

If there’s one thing I took away from my time with the Lagunitas team, it’s this: Use your core success to build things that excite you even more.

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