Ted Fleming Is Taking Non-Alcoholic Beer Mainstream With Partake

Partake is now the bestselling non-alcoholic beer brand in Canada
Partake founder and CEO Ted Fleming

Ted Fleming is on a mission to make alcohol-free beer that’s just as tasty as anything you’d find at your local craft brewery. In 2017, the teetotalling entrepreneur founded Partake, a Calgary-based non-alcoholic-craft-beer business that has since expanded across the country and into the U.S. In the past year, Partake has raised US$16.5 million in funding and become the bestselling non-alcoholic beer brand in Canada.

Age: 45
Based in: Calgary
Degrees: B.A.Sc. in geological engineering and B.A. in economics (Queen’s University)

I thought I’d grow up to be:

Well, my parents were very keen on professional pursuits, so I was pushed to become a doctor. I don’t particularly like the sight of blood and guts, though, so I wasn’t destined for it.

My major break:

I launched Partake as a Kickstarter. I had a goal of raising $10,000 and ended up raising $30,000.

My biggest growing pain:

Growing our team while trying to retain the core elements of what has made us successful, like innovation, nimbleness and the culture we’ve had as a small group. Making work fun sounds simple, but it’s a challenge to manage remotely with a decentralized team. We work hard to overcome this with regular social nights, group training and team-building events.

My most memorable mistake:

Our first batch of beer was not brewed correctly. I decided to be honest with customers and say “This batch was a mistake.” As it turned out, many of them said “I’ll take it anyway,” and I was able to sell quite a bit of the batch. We eventually got the recipe right and were able to meet the demands of the other customers. It was a pivotal moment for the company.

I never confuse:

Perfection with the right choice. It is better to make good decisions relatively quickly than try to make “perfect” decisions that you may never arrive at.

One thing that needs to change in my industry:

A lot of us need to be more open to conversations about mental well-being and more purposeful in creating support for our community of customers, our stakeholders and our internal teams.

The words I most overuse:

“Less is more.” I’m intentional about simplifying what I do in my business and personal life. Asking myself how I can make things simpler helps me manage priorities. This keeps complexity and overwhelm in check.

This article appears in print in the fall 2022 issue of Canadian Business magazine. Buy the issue for $7.99 or better yet, subscribe to the quarterly print magazine for just $20.