I've fearfully mentioned this before, but I do not love alcohol, No, not even beer. I know – I am the only one in the Midwest, especially Wisconsin, who feels this way. But I fully appreciate the culture! Wisconsin is synonymous with beer, so how could I not? Whether it's brewery tours or collecting beer caps, it's always fun and interesting to learn more about Wisconsin's connection to the beer industry. That's why I thought Beer Cap Maps was such a cool concept. Instead of tossing your beer caps or tucking them away in some drawer, why not put your collection on display?
Since Beer Cap Maps are such a cool addition to your home, office, wedding, or anything really, we've teamed up for a killer giveaway! One lucky winner will get a wood state map. Head over to Instagram to find out how to enter.
My Midwest Is Showing: Describe your business.
Beer Cap Maps: We sell products that are all based around bottle caps, which we see as small works of art. Our original product was a laser cut map in the shape of Wisconsin. We expanded over the years to include all states, many countries, new materials, coasters, openers and games. Our company is family run, friendly and dedicated to providing fun products to beer lovers everywhere. We especially love engaging with our customers through social media and at a few Midwest beer events every year.
MMWIS: What's the history of Beer Cap Maps?
BCM: We are two engineers and product developers in Madison, Wisconsin who had always dreamed about creating a product that would make people happy and allow us to experience the thrill of owning our own business. We didn’t expect that Jesse’s son would start us down the path of the product that has become Beer Cap Maps.
When Jasper was six years old he started collecting caps at backyard cookouts and dinner parties. He asked his parents to help him keep his caps safe. Liza, his mother, gave him a zip lock bag, pushing her creative limits. Jesse, on the other hand, was in a creative spirit and had access to a laser cutter. He created the first Beer Cap Map (the state of Wisconsin) and it was a hit with Jasper and anyone else who saw it.
MMWIS: How did your careers help in developing your products and company?
BCM: Our day jobs as mechanical engineers and product developers gave us a huge head start in understanding how to design, prototype and manufacture a consistent high quality product. Owning this business has also given us a new perspective on what it is like to be on the other side of the client-consultant relationship. So in that way Beer Cap Maps is now helping us in our engineering careers.
MMWIS: What's a normal day like for you?
BCM: After wrangling our kids (Jesse has two, Steve has 2 with one on the way) in the morning and getting them off to school, we both settle into our jobs helping businesses develop a wide variety of products with a concentration in medical devices. We do our best to avoid looking at Beer Cap Maps emails but sneak away at lunch and breaks to make sure we keep up. Evenings are spent with family before the computer turns on or the basement photo booth lights up at night to get back to work on Beer Cap Maps. It is not uncommon for a couple good craft beers to be consumed while we toil away at the work that makes Beer Cap Maps what it is!
MMWIS: What's your favorite beer cap map in your collection?
Steve Latham: Metal USA.
Jesse Darley: Desktop USA.
MMWIS: Favorite microbrew?
SL: Lake Louie Brewing.
JD: Toppling Goliath Brewing Company.
MMWIS: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
BCM: One of our mentors once told us “If you wait for all of the lights to turn green before you start driving across town, you’ll never get there.” Far too many people seem to aim for perfection before starting their business and miss opportunities, solve the wrong problems or spend too much time and money on an idea that never gets out there. Sometimes jumping in and learning as you go is the most important thing you can do. It’s scary and messy but we feel it was one of the keys to our success.
MMWIS: Greatest business accomplishment so far?
BCM: Getting through our first orders in the weeks following our launch. We were staining and packing maps in our basements at that time and quickly realized how much work goes into getting products out the door. It was super stressful and the biggest learning experience we’ve had to date. It made finding a strong, dependable manufacturing and fulfillment partner the number one priority for the following month.
MMWIS: What are you currently reading? Watching? Listening to?
SL: NPR junkie. Also listening to Mogul and wrapped up Crimetown recently.
JD: How I Built This.
MMWIS: If someone was visiting Wisconsin for the first time, what would you tell them to do first?
BCM: Take a trip to the Driftless Region along with a stop at New Glarus Brewery. Then make a trip to Madison on a Saturday for the Farmer’s Market and an afternoon beer and brat at the Memorial Union Terrace.
MMWIS: Favorite thing about the Midwest?
BCM: The Midwest is beautiful, affordable and “livable”. There is a huge variety of places to live and visit and the people are just gosh-darn nice.
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show through your personality and/or what you do?
BCM: Jesse has an extreme aversion to conflict, a pretty common trait in the upper Midwest.
Steve has an extreme attraction to conflict, a pretty common trait of people raised by parents with an extreme aversion to conflict, which is a cycle that is pretty common in the Midwest.
But seriously, we are both calm, serious, hardworking Midwesterners who like to have a beer and a good time.