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 Naughty Otter
 Naughty Otter
Ryan Peterson, Robbie Mitchnick, Donald Gawel and Cord McGee

Naughty Otter

While at Queen’s, Ryan Peterson, Robbie Mitchnick, Donald Gawel, all BCom’13s, and Cord McGee, BCom’13, GDA’13, shared a brew now and then. After school, they launched Q4Q Beer Company, maker of Naughty Otter beer products. Ryan, the company’s president (pictured left), explains the business: 

Why we started the company: We set out to fill a void that we felt existed in craft brewing. There was a lot of great craft beer starting to come out of Ontario, but we felt the industry was losing sight of the fact that craft beer is meant to be fun. We wanted to form a brand and a beer that recaptured that, by creating super sessionable, easy-drinking, fun craft beers that were still of the highest quality.

What sets our beer apart: Naughty Otter is a brand that stands for fun and playfulness. It’s about staying connected to good friends and the best times of your life. For us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of that is the great times we all shared together at Queen’s. Our “Stay Naughty” slogan is more than just a mischievous appeal; it’s a deeply felt call to keep alive the fun and rebelliousness of those great times.

The most fun we’ve had so far: Last summer we significantly increased our beer festival presence and were part of more than 20 festivals. It made for some hectic weekends, but we had a ton of fun pouring beers, meeting passionate beer drinkers, and finding out what people love about ours and other craft beers.

Something we tried that didn’t work: Last year we tried to brew a funky style of beer that no one else was doing, and we settled on an English bitter. It was better in theory than in practice. That particular brew never made it to market. And that’s probably for the best.

The most important thing we’ve learned about starting a business: Focus on the people first. In our first year, we experienced the highs of working with some really great people and the lows of working with people who didn’t live up to expectations. So, build the right team and you will succeed! 

A Smith School of Business connection: Two years ago, we established the Queen’s 13 Brewers Award. Our company contributes one per cent of all sales to this fund, which is awarded each year to one entrepreneurial-minded student entering the Queen’s Commerce program on the basis of demonstrated financial need, academic achievement, proven leadership skills, and involvement in school or community activities. In addition, two more Commerce grads, Cyrus Symoom, BCom’15, and Andrew lu, BCom’11, have become partners at Naughty Otter.

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