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Entrepreneur's small business sees big success in the Circle City and expanding company, staff

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-14 18:30:53-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — It is a brand seen in Central Indiana since 2015, but now, Circle, a beverage company, is seeing the success of years of work in the Central City.

Sip and savor the sweet treat brewed in Indy's backyard. It is a simple drink loaded with ingredients to make your body feel good.

"At its base: it is a fermented tea," Skylar Williams, co-founder and head brewer at Circle said. "Tea, sugar, water, and whatever you like to flavor it with."

It is called kombucha. Williams has been brewing it both professionally and recreationally for a decade.

Alongside his friend, Matt Whiteside, the two founded their locally-crafted kombucha company. It started in 2015 as a small operation in Irvington. RTV6 first met the entrepreneurs in the former location in June 2018, when they were still known as "Circle City Kombucha."

PREVIOUS | Circle City Kombucha is making the fermented tea right here in Indianapolis

"Our old space where we last saw you was small but we made it through the last couple of years in there," Williams said.

This beverage line has grown so much in the past year they had to move out of it's original 2,000 square foot headquarters into a downtown location eight times it's size. The new facility is along Washington Street on the near-east side, neighboring the Holy Cross neighborhood.

"Maxed it out and it was time to move on to something significantly larger," Williams said. "Little bit more advanced in how we are building it out that is more customized around our brew process."

Plus, more sales means the need for more people. The company has grown from two full-time employees to about 10, with 20 part-time staff members on the team.

"We plan to add jobs as we are able to," Matt Whiteside, co-founder and CEO of Circle said. "And right now our operation is fully here in Indy, so we hope to be adding jobs in our community everyday."

Along with the move and employee count growth, the company's brand name adjusted too over time, dropping a few syllables to simply "Circle."

"A circle is the most perfectly balanced shape and it is never ending," Whiteside said. "It pays homage to our roots in the Circle City but it also represents our perfectly balanced products."

Circle has a whole new look, stepping away from the glass bottles they originally sold their kombucha in.

"For us as a brand it is one where we are community focused and also we are a Midwest company," Whiteside said. "And kombucha is a product where we want everybody to enjoy, which means it needs to be financially approachable. So cans have been able to allow us to improve our price point further to make this more of a drink that you can enjoy everyday. Plus, aluminum cans are much better for the environment. "

It's an effort to get their Midwest focused product into more Hoosier hands—the hands of the people who helped these two men build their brand into the successful business they are today.

"The biggest thing is the support system in Indy for people that are starting businesses is very unique," Whiteside said. "The sheer outpouring of mentorship and guidance, technical knowledge, just things that are provided to you in Indianapolis, it really just don't match up anywhere else."

The company continues to fill up to new levels, the team is proud of their success thus far.

"As my dad said, 'remember when this was a jar on your kitchen counter and now this,'" Williams said. "It's a bit surreal at times but honestly I am just proud of the people around me and happy to see what the future has to hold here."

Circle and its team behind it stays grounded in their mission to grow a feel good community, one pour at a time.

"It will always come back to the roots of taste, community, environment, and health," Whiteside said.

The co-founders say the new Circle facility downtown should be fully operational by August. Along with adding more products outside of kombucha, they also say they have big plans to add a retail space and possibly a tasting room.

You can learn more about the Circle and their products here.

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