Ryan Flynn is trying to mirror the success of Facebook with another social network — for beer.
Kaljaa.com is what Flynn, a 2009 Virginia Tech economics and hospitality and tourism management alumnus, and his team hopes will be the next big thing — a social network that “puts the entire beer world at your finger tips.”
Kaljaa.com is the first website of its kind designed specifically for beer and the aspects of the brewing world.
The website’s name, Kaljaa, is Finnish for “beer.”
“Pretty much all English words are taken in the domain name world,” Flynn said. “That’s why you have site names like ‘Google’ or ‘Twitter.’ You pretty much have to make up a word.”
Flynn said the name is somewhat fitting, considering the Fins “probably drink more than most Americans.”
Flynn’s passion for fine beer was noticeable as he poured a German Pilsner for tasting. When he spoke about the specialty beers his website will revolve around, his face lit up.
“All beers have the same four main ingredients: yeast, water, hops and barley,” listed Flynn. “This beer is pretty much a better version of Coors Light or Bud Light.”
Flynn said Kaljaa.com will introduce its viewers to a vast range of beers. The site will also provide information about Indian Pale Ale, which has a higher alcohol content than traditional beers.
“They’re called IPAs because when Britain would ship beer to India they would up the hops, which in turn increases the amount of alcohol content,” Flynn said. “So the beer would keep during the trip over.”
Flynn has an impressive list of his favorite fine beers, but he said his favorite college beer is Natural Light because of the nostalgia.
When Flynn was an undergraduate student at Tech, he and some friends took a stab at brewing their own beer. Their creation recieved positive feedback from others, and it was enough to inspire Flynn to travel to Colorado to see what starting his own brewery would be like.
“But while I was out there, I was doing a bunch of research and was trying to find breweries and stuff like that. And I realized there was no one central place for everything to be together at once — that’s how I came up with Kaljaa.”
Flynn had also been reading an article about the founder of “Plenty of Fish,” an online dating site. The founder hit it big and now earns millions of dollars from advertisements, while doing about an hour of work each day.
“I thought, ‘Well this is dumb. If this guy can do it, I certainly can,’” he said.
Kaljaa.com is up and running, but the site has been an ongoing two-year process. Although it is functioning and has over 100 users, not all of its capabilities are fully developed.
For now, the users are strictly social. Very shortly, the website will be complete, and breweries and other users will be able to access the site.
“It’s 90 percent done, and the last 10 percent is the business side,” Flynn said.
But Flynn isn’t worried about business.
“I’ve talked to breweries about the site and they’re like, ‘Oh wow, can I get on?’” Flynn said. “And I have to unfortunately say, ‘Not yet.’”
It is clear why Kaljaa.com has taken so long to complete. It offers an array of features and is detailed. The basic design offers five different profiles that divide the beer world.
Kaljaa.com will also offer brewery profiles for licensed breweries and pubs, which will make up a large part of the site’s business. The profiles will display the brewery’s location, activities, and history. There will even be a map where viewers can zoom in on their exact locations. Each profile will show the brewery’s beer selection, special events and customer reviews.
Besides brewery profiles, there will also be social profiles for beer lovers to display their favorite beers and reviews, media and critic profiles for beer magazines, guilds and associations, as well as supplier and distributor profiles. There will also be profiles for restaurants and other vendors.