Crystal Wiebe, founder of Beer Paws, talks dogs, craft beer, entrepreneurship and more in The Pitch Questionnaire

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Name: Crystal Wiebe

Occupation: Founder of Beer Paws

Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska

Current neighborhood: Waldo

What I do: I work with craft breweries to turn their byproduct — spent grain — into a delicious, healthy snack for dogs. I also make the Midwest’s only craft beer for dogs.

What’s your addiction? Social media. I spent the last four years managing social media for a promotional products company. But, let’s face it, I’ve always been addicted to my social feeds.

What’s your game? Entrepreneurship!

What’s your drink? Craft beer, duh. My pick varies, based on where I am and what’s on tap. Generally, though, the hoppier the better. I’m an IPA girl.

Where’s dinner? For the past few months, I have been spending so much time working on my business, baking dog treats, traveling and selling them, that I often forget to feed myself. I’m lucky to have friends who show up with food or force me out of the kitchen for a bite out. I end up at 75th Street Brewery quite often.

What’s on your KC postcard? Last year, my friend Jacob Meyer took an amazing picture of my dog Coconut, looking out over downtown from Liberty Memorial. She’s rocking a collar my dad made that’s studded with Boulevard Brewing Co. bottle caps. It’s stellar.

Finish this sentence: “Kansas City got it right …” Embracing arts and entrepreneurship. We love our creative community in this city.

“Kansas City needs …” Better public transportation. I’ve lived in Chicago and Washington, D.C. It would be great to be able to hop a train to anywhere in the metro, north or south, either side of the state line. Someday …

“As a kid, I wanted to be …” A veterinarian!

“I always laugh at …” Myself and my dogs. I spend a lot of days interacting with just my pups. Luckily, they are mischievous goofballs who keep me from freaking out when the biscuits burn or I send a business e-mail with an egregious typo.

“I’ve been known to binge-watch …” Spartacus. And Squidbillies.

“I can’t stop listening to …” The voice in my head telling me to keep going, even when I’m super-exhausted from chasing my dream.

“My dream concert lineup is …” Minus the Bear, Broken Bells, the Faint.

“I just read …” #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso.

What’s your hidden talent? I’ve been told I’m good at getting people to do things for me, without even meaning to. I am hopeful this means I will be an awesome delegator as my company grows.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Is it guilty if you have friends who will enjoy it with you? I like Florida Georgia Line. A lot. There. I said it.

The best advice I ever got: Go fast and break things! As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to want your product and plan to be perfect before you launch. But that takes too long. I was lucky to have a few people around me who helped me push through the failure fears and start selling. You can always tweak as you go along.

Worst advice: Buy a house! Just kidding, I’m pretty glad I own my own place, especially since my business is based there. But there are days when I envy my friends who can just call a landlord when they have plumbing problems.

My sidekick: My dogs, Coconut and Kona

What is your spirit animal? Whales are the only animals I’ve obsessed about as much as dogs. I basically cry when I go on whale-watching tours. So, I guess they’re my spirit animals.

What is your nemesis? Negativity. We all succumb to it sometimes, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. I hate having conversations with people who just complain.

What’s your greatest struggle right now? I’m in that spot where my company is growing but I need a financial boost to increase production. Baking thousands of dog treats every week in a home kitchen is not cutting it, so I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a bigger, better industrial kitchen on my property.

My dating triumph/tragedy: I survived the heartbreaks. That’s a triumph, right? Dating is weirder as you get older. I don’t know most days if it’s a tragedy or a triumph that I’m currently unattached.

My brush with fame: I met a lot of cool musicians back when I wrote about rock and roll for a living. One of my favorite stories involves an incredibly nervous me sitting next to Tori Amos. My stomach started making weird gurgling sounds, and she got very concerned for me.

What was the last thing you had to apologize for? I often run late, but I recently read that people who are perpetually late all have something in common: We’re optimists. So, sorry not sorry?

Who’s sorry now? There are a few people in my life who didn’t take my business ambitions seriously. I don’t know if they’re necessarily sorry now, but I hope they admire what I’ve accomplished so far.

My recent triumph: A few months ago, I left my full-time cubicle job to see how far I can take my Beer Paws brand.

Find out more about Beer Paws’ Indiegogo campaign, see indiegogo.com/projects/beer-paws-blast-off. Wiebe is a former Pitch events editor. 

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