Interview with Mike Simon, Chief Revenue Officer, Precision Fermentation
Q: Tell us a little about you and your role with Precision Fermentation:
A: My name is Mike Simon, Chief Revenue Officer. I lead our growing global sales & marketing organization, including sales, sales operations, partnerships and client service, with a focus on ensuring an overall great customer experience. As a principal of the company, my responsibilities also include shaping corporate strategy, while driving our revenue-generation programs. I graduated from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and previously, I worked for over 25 years in the banking and capital markets industries. I’m a beer enthusiast with a preference for Belgians, porters, stouts, and an occasional IPA.
Q: Where is your company headquartered and give us a fun fact about the city/state?
A: Precision Fermentation’s headquarters is in beautiful Durham, North Carolina. Fun fact 1: Historic Durham Athletic Park, where the film Bull Durham was filmed, is 2.8 miles down the road from our headquarters. Fun fact 2: The Research Triangle Park area has among the highest concentration of PhDs in the US.
Q: What role does Precision Fermentation play in the brewing industry?
A: Precision Fermentation is a technology innovator for the brewing industry. Our flagship product, BrewMonitor®, is the world’s first comprehensive, real-time fermentation monitoring solution, providing brewers with always-on visibility and an ongoing historical record of fermentation data – dissolved oxygen, gravity, pH, temperature, pressure and conductivity. Further, it powers a more advanced paradigm for understanding and managing fermentations than has ever been possible before. For the first time, brewers can rely on automatic tank sampling and an expansive fermentation performance database to help them solve problems, benchmark batches, conduct comparative analysis, and so much more. It helps brewing teams reduce labor time and cost, save tank time, and gain ultimate control over product consistency and reproducibility, thereby increasing operational efficiency, streamline quality assurance, and boost profitability.
Our role might be seen as disruptive since we are enabling such a radical change in managing efficiency and outcomes, but as we see it, the use of advanced sensor technology and cloud computing to save time and enable broad data reporting is a completely natural evolution of the art, science and business of brewing. And so, we see ourselves as catalysts for this inevitable change and are proud to help elevate our industry.
Q: What kind of trends are you seeing in the brewing industry that may be moving the industry as a whole in a different direction than where it’s been?
A: From our vantage point, we see an increased willingness to embrace automation, due to the recognition of its impact on product efficiencies, and therefore cost and success. Brewing organizations are increasingly focused on improving product and process, not just to reduce costs and other operational positives, but specifically to free up time and effort to allow them to innovate flavors and brands that can engage as broad a demographic of consumers as possible. Should brewers want to test the market for sours, NA beer, seltzers, and more, automation greatly assists that effort.
Q: How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected Precision Fermentation?
A: Craft Brewing has always been about personal interaction and socialization, whether serving customers or interacting with suppliers. And so, Covid-19 greatly impacted our ability to engage with prospective customers about an innovative new technology that is aimed at making them more efficient.
Once production slowed early on, and breweries had to pivot and adjust in order to keep their businesses running, efficiencies were not top of mind. As a result, we had to rethink our engagement process for the first few months. During that time, we tried to support the guilds and communicate within our networks to encourage visits to breweries to fill growlers, buy crowlers and packaged products if they were available. As we fell into summer and the “new normal,” like the rest of the world, we were forced to engage virtually and for many of us, this was a brand-new experience.
We responded to the challenges of our market during the pandemic and are now gladly listening closely to our customers about the challenges of managing their businesses as we evolve into a post-pandemic marketplace.
Q: How have you seen the brewing industry come together in these unusual and changing times?
A: The brewing industry has always been collaborative, so supporting one another and sharing ideas and resources is a very natural condition. The past year’s challenges have only built on these exciting qualities. To some extent being forced online has done more to connect breweries across wider geographic areas than was ever practical before, so in this way the pandemic actually created some positive outcomes for the industry.
Q: How have Precision Fermentation’s priorities shifted for 2021?
A: Our priorities did not shift dramatically this year. During 2020 we focused a lot of effort on enhancing BrewMonitor in every way and that effort continues – we have some very exciting innovations coming up. We recently announced our partnership with The 5th Ingredient, whereby key fermentation data from BrewMonitor is sent directly into their Beer30 brewery management software, and are intent upon expanding such partnerships across the industry.
We’re optimistic with the slow reopening of the US, but since we operate internationally, we see that our 2020 approach to connecting with breweries will continue in some regions for longer than in others. We of course are looking forward to more in-person meetings whenever possible, in order to serve our customers better, and of course, to have conversations at their breweries so we can try their beers! Overall, we are excited about the reopening, it’s allowing breweries to resume their focus on improving processes and overall operational efficiencies, and that’s where we can help.
Q: What are Precision Fermentation’s top priorities for 2021 and early 2022?
A: I’d say we have two top priorities for 2021 and early 2022. In no particular order, one is continuing to enhance the BrewMonitor System with features that will directly impact our customers’ operational success, whether it’s through improved recipe creation, faster tank turns, increased profitability or simply peace of mind – all toward allowing them to attain their production and business goals. Second, we are focused on engaging with brewers to understand their restarting challenges, including supply chain, personnel and distribution because all of these have been affected by over a year of adapting to the pandemic. Our plan is to listen to our customers and prospective customers to better serve them, as we continue to develop our technology and grow our business.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of ASBC and/or the 2021 Virtual ASBC Meeting?
A: ASBC is a wellspring of information for a segment of the industry with whom we spend much our time. We enjoy working deeply in the most technical and challenging parts of brewing, and ASBC’s membership is incredibly focused on the practices and learnings that can help elevate everyone’s ability to create great beer. We are grateful for such a well-run and friendly organization to provide a meeting of the minds and a vast library of education and research to access any time.
About the 2021 Virtual ASBC Meeting, we are very excited to be a sponsor and our technical team members are looking forward to the sessions. As always, we expect it to be very well run – whether in-person, or virtual, the management of these events is impeccable. We are particularly excited about the virtual networking opportunities. Although we’d rather be in person of course, we are grateful for the opportunity to chat with like-minded, technical brewing professionals, whenever possible.
Q: What is the best way for someone to connect with your team?
A: The best way to connect with our team is to send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at
You can download our free white paper, “The Connected Brewer: Data-Driven Fermentation for Better Beer & Business,” please visit www.precisionfermentation.com/asbc.