Graham Sherman and his business partner, Jeff Orr, are two “high level geeks” who met in Afghanistan in 2007. At that time they were working on contracts for the Canadian and US government and military, installing encrypted, tactical communication networks. By day, they rolled around the war zone in armoured vehicles, geeking out in the world of satellite communications. By night, they aimed their obsessive, high level geekery at mastering coffee, competitive BBQ, controlling their respective homes back in Calgary with their iPhones….and finally, with mastering the craft of brewing artisan beer. Now, only four years after the very first batched brewed in Graham’s backyard, Tool Shed Brewing Company has a new 15,000 square foot home in Calgary with beers being sold in over 1000 locations across Western Canada, and has been nominated as Canadian Entrepreneur of the year. The team were also named as co-winners of the “40 Under 40” recognition from Avenue magazine. Graham and Jeff’s meteoric rise in the beer industry is due to a level of authentic, infectious passion rarely witnessed in any industry combined with an incredibly unique approach to the social media world we live in. The moment you hear their story you understand that simply drinking a Tool Shed beer represents an appreciation of the grassroots struggle of quitting your job and going after your dreams AT ALL COSTS!
The question of entrepreneurs being either born or made is irrelevant! The passion for the entrepreneurial journey is what’s important. This mindset begins simply as a spark, a business idea, a longing, a feeling. What follows next is often a lifetime of intense struggle, fear, sacrifice, and isolation. Why would ANYONE want a life of this? With no money, no experience, and only four years after starting home brewing in his 8×10 back yard tool shed, Graham Sherman and his business partner, Jeff Orr, successfully transformed Tool Shed Brewing Company into a 15,000 square foot brewery. Sized in the top 5% of breweries North America wide, they sell their beer in over 1,000 locations. Most importantly, however, was the complete entrepreneurial metamorphosis Sherman and Orr underwent as individuals, from their background working throughout Afghanistan on government and military IT infrastructure, to being nominated as “Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year”, as well as being named among Calgary’s “Top 40 under 40”. The entrepreneurial passion in within us all simply needs to be ignited. Sherman explains how to get there, and what to do with the spark when it happens.