Since December, we (Margaret, Charles and Catherine) have been competing in a nationwide competition called The Last Plan Standing 100K hosted by a marketing and communications firm based in Kansas City, MO, Nicholson Kovac.

Here’s the inside scoop about our journey becoming the LAST PLAN STANDING!

The original deadline submission for LPS was December 31, 2010 and as we were gearing up to create our video back in December, Nicholson Kovac announced that the deadline was extended to February 14, 2011. With that being the case, we picked up where we had left off back in December about a week and a half before the new deadline.  The three of us live in three different east coast states right now so we drafted our script using GoogleDocs and recorded the audio for the video via a conference call line – all our voices are featured in the video. It took us about 15 takes to produce one that we were happy with.

Stage 1 – Quarterfinalist (Top 20) – Announced 3/1/11

The quarter-finalists were selected based on the product/service concept – it needed to be interesting, relevant, and ingenious. In addition, the judges were looking for products, ideas, services, businesses, etc., that 1) are original 2) have market viability and 3) have evidence (research or market insight) that the idea could be successful.  To our benefit, production quality of the videos was not considered as you will note that the audio track in the video needs improvement.

Original YouTube Video Submission

Stage 2 – Semifinalist (Top 11) – Announced 3/21/11

The next stage of the competition involved enlisting the help of family, friends and well-wishers to visit YouTube, view and “Like” our 1-minute video.  This stage lasted for about three weeks from March 1st -20th.  We sent e-mails, posted our video link to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, garnered the support of the Babson Community and everyone else we could along the way.  The videos receiving the most “Likes” advanced to the semi-final round.  Of the 11 semifinalists, we received the 2nd highest amount of “Likes”!  Thank you for moving us forward!

Stage 3 – Finalist (Top 3) – Announced 4/16/11

From the field of 11 semifinalists, we had to submit a short essay describing our product/service in detail including the intended customer, why it is relevant for that audience, what is unique or ingenious about and how we plan to sell it.  In addition to sending the short essay, we included a diagram outlining how our Brewing Studio Program Process will work.  This proved to be an asset as it truly helped illustrate what is “ingenious” about our business and why it is relevant in the brewing industry.

Our fellow finalists were Flava’ Cap and White Brights Teeth Whitening.  All of the finalist companies represented very different industries and flew to Kansas City, MO to give a 45-min presentation with a 15-min Q&A session followed by a reception on May 4th at the Nicholson Kovac offices.  Presentations were conducted in alphabetical order – we presented second.  Rather than creating a standard MS PowerPoint presentation, we used another presentation software, Prezi.  This software acts like a large canvas that allows the presenter to strategically zoom-in and out of different parts of the canvas. Our audience, made up of NK staff and local business associates, found our presentation and use of Prezi very engaging. During our presentation, we also provided a homebrewed Bavarian hefeweizen beer sample and dessert pairing of Margaret’s Lemon Drop Cake (it may just appear on the menu one day) and gave a short “show-and-tell” about a few family artifacts we brought along with us–bottles, tip tray, sewing kit and bottle opener.Portner Beer BottlesTip Tray

Nicholson Kovac’s staff were wonderful hosts and welcomed us warmly to their office.  NK flew us out to Kansas City and arranged for us to stay at the Hotel Phillips, a lovely 4-star historic boutique hotel.  The photo below was taken in the hotel’s lobby just before we left for our presentation. Around the corner from the hotel, we found a fantastic food market, Cosentino’s Market, which is half underground and as you walk on the sidewalk outside the store you have a bird’s eye view into it.  The local beer brewery is Boulevard Brewing Company, and while we did not have chance to visit, it is easy to find their tap handles around town.  We tried the Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, a nice medium-bodied Saison (ABV 8% IBUs 38). If you make it to KC, please check them out for us! After a few recommendations, we knew we couldn’t leave Kansas City without trying some BBQ and decided on Jack Stack.  Not only was their BBQ good but also a number of their sides including the cheesy corn and baked beans.  We spent that night licking fingers in t-shirts and jeans after our day of suits and slide-clicking.  The perfect way to end our trip. Now the hardest part of all – the waiting!

Preparing for LPS Finalist Presentation

Stage 4 – WINNER (One and Only) – Announced 5/23/11

Under the guise that NK had more questions to ask of us, they scheduled a conference call with us for the morning of May 23rd.  Catherine was in China but was able to make the call even on the other side of the world (thanks to Skype and a few good friends!) Not knowing what additional questions NK may ask of us, the three of us held a brief call about an hour before our official call with NK.  Once we were all on the final conference call, NK wasted no time letting us know that we had WON!!  Not a single question for us – just celebration.

We will be working with NK this summer further building and re-building our family’s beer brand to bring its glory back to Alexandria, VA. Thanks for all the love and support we received along the way!  We can’t wait to open the doors of Portner Brewhouse and welcome everyone in!

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