Mason “Dude” Hembree, 27, co-founder

Since Dad’s and Dude’s Breweria inception in 2010, Mason Hembree has pushed the creative envelope of just what a brewery can do. From his Dank IPA dilemma to being the first brewery to openly embrace cannabis partnerships, Hembree inspires the community to celebrate creativity — that’s exactly why he started the company with his father during the 2008 recession: as a way to inspire his friends and family.

Life lessons you’ve learned:
Humility is great, but you cannot connect with important businessmen if you’re bashful about your achievements. Don’t get into business with family members or friends if you have not established a firm, loving foundation. You cannot ride a dead horse.

What’s your best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
There is a difference between an entrepreneur and a businessman. If you know what you are, be sure to network with the other.

What’s the best part about your job?
Seeing an idea manifested in product form on the shelves is awesome.

Tell us about how you envisioned this company.
It all started with a game of beer pong and a few blunts. After retiring my internet business, my friends would ask me what I would do after. I jokingly told them I was going to use my home brewing passion to make craft beer and trick college students into drinking flavorful beer by calling it “pong beer.” The idea survived the hangover and, shortly after, I told my father the idea.

Why did you start this company?
I started this company as a way to express myself artistically and politically. Additionally, my family and friends were all still in shell shock after the 2008 economic collapse. So, I created this company as a way to bring joy (and money) back into their lives.

How did you finance the business in the beginning?
Bankers were not lending, and businesses were not hiring when we started. I was blessed to have recently sold an internet business that lead to 100% of the capital required to open, and grow, the concept.

Did anything come close to holding you back?
I did not want to invest in a business that could potentially ruin my relationship with my father. I needed to know he wanted to join me for the right reasons. I asked him if he wanted to partner with me out of desire to make money or to quell the passionate force that has been eating at his soul for years. Needless to say, he answered correctly.

Did you ever question if you had what it took to start, run and operate a business?
A dreamer never doubts the impossible. In fact, I wish I had questioned more of my abilities in the beginning; I would have preferred to learn some of those lessons “the easy way.”

Toughest challenge you’ve faced to date?
Learning to use spell check in advertisements.

How do you decide which opportunities to pursue?
I meditate [pray] a lot in order to keep in tune with myself. If my biological drug factory tells me it’s a bad idea, I keep it away from me; if it tells me it’s a good idea, I shoot from the hip.

Do you ever doubt yourself?
Every day I play a mental tug-of-war with optimism and pessimism. Typically, this doubt was seeded deeper than the current moment. At those times [of doubt], I take a step back and retreat to meditation and deep thinking.

Is there an upside to mistakes?
There is no upside to mistakes, but there is a downside to repeating them.

How do you approach failure?
Since failure is prone to maul its victims to death, it is best not to approach it often. But, if I must, I try to over analyze every aspect as to “why” failure came to exist. Then, I try again.

How do you overcome stages of adversity?
If you know where you are going, adversity will help to either shake a bad idea, or perpetuate a good idea. I overcome adversity by allowing it to serve its [true] purpose as a tool of wisdom and/or the spark of a new idea.

Is there an exit strategy?
Exit strategies are like lifeboats. Businessmen are wise to have them. Entrepreneurs, however, will sink or sail with the ship like every good captain.

What’s does the future hold for your company?
We have a few surprises in store for 2015. However, the plan is to take the inspiration of “localism” and take it global.

Have you accomplished what you’ve set out to do?
Yes. My friends and family have all weathered the storm, and I have manifested some pretty awesome art projects.