People’s Captain – the beer helping men to open up

How a pro rugby player turned a beer with a friend into a brand and a social enterprise encouraging men to look after their mental health.

male mental health beer


Greg Bateman is a former professional rugby player for Leicester Tigers and Newport Gwent Dragons, before announcing his retirement earlier this year. He began brewing beer as a hobby, but after a difficult period of mental health struggles, he had a life-changing beer with a best mate who got him to open up. He decided to create the craft beer brand People’s Captain and is now on a journey to make social moments count. Ten per cent of all profits goes to The People’s Captain Foundation – supporting mental health initiatives across the UK.

We asked him about being a beer entrepreneur and how he combines his job with his community mission.

Tell us the story about that fateful pint with your mate?

Luckily, my mate was aware enough of my change in behaviour and how distant I was being and pursed this beer – and we’ve all had these right? It’ll blow over, ah, I’ll get back to him next week but only through a bit of persistence did it happen. In that moment, he saw a different bloke to what he knew and I was really honest, not just with him, but myself as to how bad things really were.

How tough is it setting up a new beer brand?

Very, but when you’re doing it to make a positive social impact I’ve found focusing on the good stuff we’re doing makes the struggles pale into insignificance.

How do you combine the company and its social enterprise aspect?

The company is a business that has to make money to provide to support we want to through our sales, but the way we’ve structured it is that anyone, anywhere can get involved and help fill the void. [There’s] much more to come on this.

Is it tough balancing the demands of a professional sportsman with being an entrepreneur?

I’m fortunate now it’s not something I have to worry about, but it was I guess – is it any harder than anyone else setting something up on the side of their day job? I don’t know.

Some might say the stress of starting a company is not good for mental health! How have you found it?

It depends how you look at it, doesn’t it. If you constantly avoid things that push you, challenge you, sure, you’ll experience less discomfort, but I love challenging myself, I love learning and doing it in this format, where we’re actively making a difference socially – worth it in my opinion.

Men are still not talking enough and too many are still killing themselves. What do you think is missing from the mental health space that would improve the situation?

Where we’re focusing our efforts is on the social level, providing more and more content, to allow people to know themselves and others better, have better conversations. For me, there’s an enormous amount socially we need to fix as a society – our individualistic view of life holds us back in many cases.

How do you see People’s Captain progressing moving forward?

We’re in some exciting conversations at the moment. The business as usual is like every beer company – taps on bars and people visiting the website, but what’s happened lately has been the interest in strategic partnerships where we solve a lot of problems for people but perhaps don’t have the distribution they do, so let’s see…

Read more:

Ugo Monye: talking about dad struggles is crucial

Five tips for dads creating a new brand from home

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