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Entrepreneurship in Belgium: Dario Ceccarelli and Belgibeer
Ah, Belgian beer… it flows, frothy with hoppy goodness throughout these lowlands. With more than 1000 varieties and 160 breweries here, it’s a shame to simply stick with the bestsellers like Jupiler. But, where can you go to buy artisanal varieties and how can you choose with such delicious diversity? This was the question Dario Ceccarelli wanted to answer when he founded Belgibeer, an online business to deliver craft beer directly to your door. Communications specialist Meg Stringer from Word.eu sat down with Ceccarelli to talk about his venture.
Name: Dario Ceccarelli
What is Belgibeer and how does it work?
Belgibeer is a subscription service that delivers rare, craft beers produced in Belgium that we hand select each month. We deliver your #beerbox directly to your door not just in Belgium, but wherever else the law allows. We curate the monthly selection with beers that you could almost never find at the supermarket or elsewhere online.
You deliver beer in the post? It wouldn’t last a second outside my door.
That’s why we deliver incognito. We use simple brown boxes with no logo, just your address. Your neighbours or local vagabond would never know that the box is filled with the best beer that Belgium has to offer. If for some reason your box gets lost, stolen or tampered with, we’ll deliver a new one ASAP.
So, who is buying?
A whopping 80% of our customers are women who want to buy the beer-loving guys in their life a gift they are sure to like. It’s really the perfect present not only because most guys would never buy it for themselves, but also because it’s the gift that keeps on giving with monthly deliveries. Belgibeer is truly the holy grail of gift making for guys.
Alcohol is heavily regulated. How do you manage the complexities of sales and delivery within Europe?
We have to study the regulations in each country and figure out the best way to sell and send our beer boxes. Although there are some European countries that we simply can’t deliver to right now, we are working in the biggest and most important markets with customers in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Of course, we have a strong presence in the Benelux too.
This online subscription and delivery concept for speciality food and beverages has had a lot of success in the United States and some European countries. What made you decide to adapt it in Belgium?
I love Belgian beer almost as much as Italians love pasta. And I’m a millennial who grew up buying and selling stuff online. When I realised that no one was selling my favourite beers online in Belgium, it was a no-brainer. I just had to do it. It was obviously encouraging that this business model has had proven success too.
You embody the melting pot of cultures in Brussels, raised by Italian parents and educated at European Schools. You’ve travelled and lived around the world from South America to Asia and you’re in love with an American who lives in Chicago, making nearly monthly pilgrimages to see her. How has your mixed heritage and globetrotting impacted the way you do business?
I’ve been exposed to so many different ways of life and businesses that people tell me that I simply see the world differently. It’s made me open to new ideas and challenged me to take risks that I probably wouldn’t have if I had just stayed in Belgium. I have an intrepid spirit. Whether I’m at work or trekking in the woods (my favourite hobby), I set my own path. I’m in control of my destiny, and I have big plans.
Oh yeah? Tell us about your plans for Belgibeer in the future?
My dream is to expand to the United States with an office in New York. Americans especially love Belgian beer and there is sharply rising demand for craft productions there. And, of course, Americans are big online shoppers who have more trust and confidence in online businesses than the average European…although businesses like mine are helping to change this perception in Europe.