Blowfly Podcast

James Cherkoff and I have had some interesting email conversations with Liam Mulhall a co-founder of Blowfly Beer. Last night I was able to interview him in Sydney, via Skype, to find out more about his story.

17m 50s podcast, 16.2MB MP3

RSS feed for iPodder etc.

Blowfly is a beer whose marketing is inspired by Open Source (Liam’s background includes a period with the Linux consultancy, Red Hat). He explalns how they created an open source model to create demand for their beer by word of mouth – a David and Goliath tale of using networking to challenge the brewing duopoly in Australia.

Here’s how it runs…

0.22 Liam explains how Blowfly started – from his time working at Red Hat. He saw how a lot of the benefits of Open Source worked – it’s where a lot the ideas for the brewery came from

1.03 Developing open source beer. A challenge to the duopoly on brewing in Australia and the search for new ways to bring a beer to market. Thinking about consumer interaction with the advent of Big Brother. Combining getting the word out the open source way with the principle of getting the consumer involved in developing the product. It started as a marketing experiment.

3.35 90% of things they tried didn’t work. It was stick-at-itness that made it work. Making sure you woke up every morning and kept trying, and involving the consumer at every stage. They didn’t actually expect it to work and they didn’t do a lot of conventional things to succeed.

5.35 You’ve got to keep moving (reference to Madonna and continuous reinvention) and really listening to customers. We’ve gone away from selling a proprietary product to custom-made and customer-made product. People can create their own brand of beer using Blowfly as the source. A kind of mass customisation.

7.25 Offering shares in the company to people who buy the beer. The need for physical ownership, not just emotional ownership. Getting a share in the company for buying or recommending Blowfly.

8.40 How Blowfly has created stories to appeal to different media – a business story, a retailing story, a marketing story. Building a million dollar business for a product that didn’t exist from a company they’d never heard of. Playing David and Goliath, mocking the big players in the beer industry. Lifting the bonnet off the car, showing how much it costs to make beer. Being willing to be controversial.

10.58 It’s not about the beer, it never has been.. we don’t talk about the brewery, it’s more about branded entertainment.

11.20 How the other breweries have responded to Blowfly’s success – in fact it can be a collaborative relationship.

12.12 Doing beer for Yahoo, Columbia Tri Star, Paramount Pictures, MTV – often as a result of introductions from the two big breweries. How that relationship may change if Blowfly grows.

13.20 Wanting to continue with the Open Source business model, it’s where the future is. We ended up in the beer business by accident, we really shouldn’t have done it!

14.00 On not having a business plan… the busness plan is a fluid moving thing dictated by the customer. How the customers are central to their success.

15.11 The attitude of “hey, it’s beer, people won’t die without having it.” It sort of liberates you, puts things in perspective.

15.35 What other markets could benefit from an Open Source approach? Digital radio and financial services.

17.15 Liam asks for anyone who’d like to bankroll his next venture to contact him at

Listen here.

UPDATE: Virtual viral brewery to list ZDNet Australia: “A ‘virtual brewery’ started by former employees of Red Hat and Computer Associates could be listed on the Newcastle Stock Exchange by the end of the year.”

10 thoughts on “Blowfly Podcast

  1. AdPulp

    Aussies Know Proper Way To Open Beer

    Johnnie Moore spoke to Liam Mulhall, a co-founder of Blowfly Beer, via Skype last night. Today he makes the conversation available as a podcast. Here’s a quick look at the brewer’s pitch. It’s an Open Source beer company. You drink…

  2. Bazaarz

    Open Source beer – Aussie style

    I didn’t believe it at first but a bunch of loony Aussies has banded together to create an open source brewery. Mad? Not really. They’re taking ideas from Web 2.0 marketing and applying it to something with which everyone (apart…

  3. Jayme Maultasch

    I love your blog and I’m interested in the story but don’t know if I’ll find time to listen to the podcast. I tend to read marketing/advertising blogs at work and cant really listen to podcasts.

    I know I can read much faster than I can listen – I’m curious if anyone else had the same issue?

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Jayme – thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you love the blog. That’s the sort of comment that keeps me writing.

    I don’t listen to that many podcasts myself for the same reason as you.

    And I think it’s sometimes interesting to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth, which is why I am experimenting with the occasional sound file.

    It’s also why I try to do the show notes with timecodes, to make it a bit easier to zoom in on bits of the recording rather than listen to the whole thing.

    I think the whole podcasting thing is in its infancy and we’re all learning how to make it interesting and accessible. I think it’s about understanding the differences between the written and spoken word, just as you point out.

  5. frostopolis

    Open-source beer?

    I just read about some crazy Australians who sell what they call Open-Source Beer. The outfit’s called Blowfly and they make what looks like a good beer, marketed very irreverently. (Apparently the microbrew scene in Australia isn’t as rich…

  6. Johnnie Moore

    Great post! I’ve saved the podcast and will hopefully have a chance to listen to it later.

    I also have that problem with podcasts… I tend to save them and then more often than not I don’t get around to listening to them.

    For me it made a big difference that you gave a written summary. I’ve been thinking lately that it would be the best of both worlds if people got in the habit of transcribing their podcasts.

    Of course that’s not very realistic for most podcasts, but for ones that get popular or are considered important for some other reason, wouldn’t it be nice if you could read the transcript as well?

    Maybe this is something the community could organize, possibly using Wiki systems. Food for thought.

    Anyway, again thanks for this, I found it through Hugh’s link and it was the first I’d heard of Blowfly.


    Hi Kevin: I agree. I certainly think it’s worth the effort to do good shownotes (the best examples I know are Nev and Shel‘s which must take a lot of work.

    I’ve only had a few stabs at this and I also think unless you have the talent of Adam Curry, it’s really smart to keep things short too. This one, at 17 mins, is probably as long as I would want to go.

    My lazy workaround suggestion is to read the blog pieces sparked by the podcast – which often fill in the details in commenting.

  7. gapingvoid

    links etc.

    [BLOGGERS:] The the M.I.T. Weblog Survey. [VERY COOL:] “Chicken cartoons on sticky notes.” [Thanks to Alexoid for the link.] [DITTO:] “Open Source Beer”. Great podcast, too. [DITTO:] “Open Source T-shirts”. One guy in France making 36K Euros (ca. $43K …

  8. Bazaarz

    Open Source beer – Aussie style

    I didn’t believe it at first but a bunch of loony Aussies has banded together to create an open source brewery. Mad? Not really. They’re taking ideas from Web 2.0 marketing and applying it to something with which everyone (apart…


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