“Before I started my business, I worked a lot of different jobs. My first experiences as an entrepreneur came from selling burned CDs and lifeguarding in high school. I worked many service industry and corporate jobs (selling cars, renting cars, parking cars, selling manufacturing equipment, stocking inventory) all of which profits I used to reinvested into my company and used to further advance my education in commercial development and beer science.” says 30 year old New Orleans East native Jon Renthrope, owner of Cajun Fire Brewing Company.
Jon is a proud husband and father of 2 and is actually able to trace his family history back to and is documented in the United Nation of Houma Indians. He is a Lead Project Director of Bridge Forest Investment Corporation, a Nationally Recognized Brewmaster, member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., as well as, a graduate of St. Augustine High School and The University of Florida.
Q: How long has your business been in operation? Is this business your main source of income or do you have other jobs or ventures you also participate in?
A: Cajun Fire Brewing Company has been in operation since 2011. Currently, I am also Project Director for Bridge Forest Investment Corporation.
Q: How did you get started? Tell us your motivation for starting this business.
A: My motivation for starting this business was to generate economic growth in the community I grew up in and produce a world-class beverage. Experiencing the destruction, impact, and the displacement that occurred to my city pre and post-Katrina is the impression in my life that motivates me day end and day out to put in the effort to sustain my business and see my business objectives through to completion.
Q: As an African American/Black entrepreneur, what were some of the biggest challenges and/or surprised you faced when starting your business?
A: Starting a business is challenging in general. Funding acquisition difficulties and preexisting institutional nuances that have traditionally impacted Black entrepreneurs are still here and fulfill their jobs agenda quite well and will make a creation of starting a business that much more challenging. The data and experiences are cataloged across the web. You will mostly surprise yourself with just how unconventional you can be to get overcome your business challenges.
Q: New Orleans is such a “robust” entrepreneurial ecosystem. What are the resources (people, networks, organizations, programs, books, articles, etc.) that you have found most useful in starting and/or growing your business?
A: New Orleans is a more social/family based entrepreneurial system. Take of advantage of the robust festival opportunities to meet those who are looking for your product. We live in the festival capital of the world. This presents many opportunities for business owners to participate in, plan, test prototypes, conduct pop-up retail, and take advantage of.
Q: What are you most proud of (related to your business)?
A: I am most proud of being a role model to those young and old. In my efforts to create a business it has prompted others to take that risk and invest in their selves creating their own businesses. I am frequently contacted by people from all backgrounds of life that I have never met and in some cases are in entirely different countries. I recognize that my company is representative of the black diaspora and I am most proud that my company is a pillar in preserving opportunities that will exceed my own lifetime. I am proud that I have been able to craft and market a product is that authentic substance and true to historical roots.
Q: What advice do you have to fellow African American/Black entrepreneurs starting a business?
A: Never stop learning and trust your own intuitions. If you are able to, it is in your best interest to document everything. You never know when you will need all tools in the toolbox.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your business or your personal story?
A: As of December 2017 going into the first quarter of 2018, groundwork began development in constructing a 10BBL manufacturing craft-brewing facility in a Cultural Hub development in New Orleans East that will offer commercial kitchen accommodations, indoor event space, outdoor courtyard feature that will occupy 2,600 sq. ft., and a host of other amenities. The facility will capture receptions/weddings and also house an 850 sq. ft. taproom space (the first in New Orleans East, an area that holds over 83,000+ residents) that will tie the Brewery and Event area together, all under a 5,000 sq. ft. facility. To date, we have already completed excavation, surveyed land, and made the location more commercially viable by grubbing the 9+ acres of overgrown brush and debris that was once on the commercial parcels amidst a record season of unfavorable weather. This process alone has allowed for greater visibility for the 75,000+ passing vehicles that commute I-10 East daily.
40897 Vincent Rd. New Orleans, LA 70128