With 35,000 Investors, This Scrappy Craft Brewer is Just Getting Started

craft brewery and crowdfunding

This post was originally written by Amy Cortese, Founder and Editor of Locavesting, a leading site for local investing news, education, and resources

What is it about a locally brewed, hop-infused beer that makes people so eager to part with their money? Microbrewers have been crushing it in crowdfunding—both on rewards-based sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo as well as investment crowdfunding platforms like Localstake and CraftFund.Large_brewdog-logo

Now, a colorful Scottish brewer called Brewdog has hit a new crowdfunding milestone by raising £10 million ($15 million) in its latest “Equity for Punks” crowdfunding campaign—a sum it claims is the world’s largest equity crowdfunding raise to date.

That’s all the more remarkable given the fact that it was funded by thousands of small investors and conducted largely on the company’s own web site. As with its previous crowdfunding campaigns, Brewdog has bypassed not just traditional banks but the crowdfunding establishment, too, preferring to run its own campaign (although it recently listed a minibond offering on British site Crowdcube as well).

“Equity for Punks is all about shortening the distance between us and the people who drink our beer, and enabling us to keep putting passion in people’s beer glasses without resorting to begging funding from big monolithic banks who don’t care about the beer,” said CEO James Watt inannouncing the £10 million milestone.

The campaign, which was launched last April and will continue until April 2016, is seeking a total of £25 million.

In many ways, Brewdog is a paragon of the collaborative age. It’s counter-culture ethos and punk sensibility play to the crowd, and it has leveraged that support to grow from a scrappy operation to one spanning several countries.

Martin Dickie and James Watt
Martin Dickie and James Watt

Brewdog was founded in 2007 by Watt and Martin Dickie, who sold their small batch beer from the back of a van in NorthEast Scotland, accompanied by their dog, which inspired the young brewery’s name. Today, the company has grown to more than £30 million in sales and 350 employees. Its brews, such as Punk IPA and Vagabond Pale Ale, are sold in more than 50 countries, including some 30 Brewdog-owned craft beer bars. It’s building a new eco-friendly brewery in Scotland, and earlier this month broke ground on a new $30 million brewery in Columbus, OH that will serve as its U.S. headquarters.

Most of this was accomplished without the help of banks or venture capitalists (although bank loans financed its first brewing operation in 2007). Instead, Brewdog has relied on the support and engagement of its customers and fans.

“Our crowd is our business’ most valuable asset,” says Watt, a law graduate and former trawler captain. “It underpins everything that we do.”

Crowdfunding was a natural for the Brewdog founders. Just 24 when they started Brewdog, they did what many in their generation have done: they documented and shared their journey into business on social media. In need of capital and wanting to put their fans at the heart of what they did, they offered shares to the crowd through a DIY equity crowdfunding campaign back in 2009—a year before there were any commercial crowdfunding platforms in the UK, and three years before the US would pass the JOBS Act. More than 1,300 people invested.

The self-styled punk businessmen blazed a new trail that others have subsequently followed. But none have done it with such success.

Brewdog followed its first DIY raise with two more, in 2011 and 2013—the latter raising £4 million in oversubscribed issue. With six months to go in its current campaign, the company boasts 35,000 investors.

Throughout, the formula has remained essentially the same: egalitarian offerings with minimum investments under £100, and a social media-fueled campaign with attention-getting pranks, which have included dropping taxidermy “fat cats” from a helicopter over London (pictured above), driving a tank down a Camden street, and posing in the window of a Red Light District.


The Equity for Punks IV prospectus is part manifesto, part financial disclosure. It begins with this declaration:


The minimum investment is £95, which buys you two shares. In return for their investment, “punk shareholders” receive voting shares (although company founders own 75% of the stock), and perks such as a lifetime discount on Brewdog products and an invitation to the company’s popular annual general meeting, or AGM. The company says all profits will be reinvested back into the company.

The exception is the minibond offering on Crowdcube. The Brewdog Bond confers the same perks and discounts, but for the first time offers a steady dividend of 6.5% over the four-year life of the bond. The bond requires a minimum investment is £500.

“The financial benefit of crowdfunding is one of the less important aspects in the overall scheme of things,” says Watt, “These investors are not only our best customers, they are also our best ambassadors.”

The crowd engagement goes beyond funding. Brewdog crowdsources the location of its bars as well as its small batch brew selections (the crowd has favored brews including Pumpkin Head and Dead Metaphor).

Brewdog’s success has prompted some grumbling from the crowdfunding establishment. And, as with many private investments, the pay off for investors is uncertain. The shares are not listed on a stock exchange, so for now are illiquid (although Brewdog says investors can sell them once a year on its proprietary trading platform). The shares do not pay dividends. And according to the FT, Brewdog is valued at a lofty £305 million, implying a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 115. On top of that, Brewdog lists the usual laundry list of risks in its prospectus.

Still, none of that has stopped tens of thousands of people from owning a piece of Scotland’s fastest growing beer maker.

Wisdom of the crowd? Or drunk on Kool-Aid? Only time will tell. But for now, the punks are having a ball.

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Invest in franchises — with ApplePie Capital’s Denise Thomas


Don’t know about you, but owning or investing in a franchise business has always captivated me. Something about local ownership, the brand, a business in a box. But minimum investments were typically too high and who really wants to run a small restaurant or bagel place?

ApplePie Capital enables individual investors to build diversified portfolios by investing in franchise debt. Co-founder and CEO, Denise Thomas joins me, your Tradestreaming Podcast host, Zack Miller, to talk about this interesting “asset class” and how to invest in a portfolio of top franchises using ApplePie Capital’s crowdfunding platform.

Listen to the FULL episode

About Denise

Denise Thomas, CEO of ApplePie CapitalDenise Thomas is the co-founder and CEO of ApplePie Capital. She has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in business and market strategy development.

Resources Mentioned In The Podcast

  • ApplePie Capital (Denise’s company)
  • FRANdata (a research company Denise mentioned during the podcast that has the largest library of Franchise Disclosure Documents — yearly reports about franchise businesses that she recommends as a get-smart resource for people interested in investing in franchise businesses)

Even More Resources


Invest In Small Businesses With An Ecommerce Twist — Kickfurther’s Sean De Clercq

kickfurther interview with Sean DeClerq

Many people have grown tired of passive investing. Sure, the data show that the more remove the human elements — our evolutionary biases — the better we perform in the stock market.

But many investors are getting more and more excited about participating more with their investments (I believe that’s what’s behind much of the excitement behind angel investing).

Enter Kickfurther. Part investment platform, part crowdfunding platform, and part ecommerce site, this new company enables people to finance small businesses and earn an equity-like return. I’m Zack Miller, your host on Tradestreaming Radio, and I’m joined by Sean De Clercq, Kickfurther’s founder and CEO to discuss how investors are rolling-up their sleeves and helping the next generation of small businesses grow.

Listen to the FULL episode

About Sean

Kickfurther's Sean De Clercq Sean is the founder and CEO of Kickfuther.

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Even more resources

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Visual hunt / CC BY

006 How Groundbreaker is helping real estate investment firms find new investors

Probably the hottest sector in crowdfunding right now is real estate.

Investors are flocking to real estate crowdfunding platforms to get access and invest in real estate and they’re doing it in different ways: some platforms focus on investments in loans, others in equity, and others in professionally-lead large scale real estate projects.

Groundbreaker.co, a new player in the real estate crowdfunding space, has taken a different approach. The company works closely with some of the largest global real estate firms to use crowdfunding to raise money from its existing investors and to attract a whole new class of investors.

Co-founder and CEO Joey Jelinek joins your hosts, David and Zack, to talk about how the real estate industry is adjusting to this entirely new model for fundraising and what the future looks like for the entire real estate industry now that crowdfunding is proving itself viable. (Joey also shares some good resources with us to learn more about investing in real estate).

In our news segment, we talk about whether or not there exists a new crowdfunding bum class — and whether we need to donate or back every Tom, Dick, and Harry who throws up a crowdfunding campaign.

Watson on Crowdfunding talks about $4 million — the size of the recent investment in Spotify that occured on crowdfunding site, Microventures.

Lastly, Starkup Nation delivers on his favorite crowdfunding campaign of the week and (not) surprisingly, it has to do with water balloons.

Listen to the FULL episode

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Resources mentioned by Groundbreaker.co’s Joey Jelinek

Running successful crowdfunding campaigns with Roy Morejon

retirement investing

It may look easy to launch a crowdfunding campaign, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, and hit your targets…but it ain’t.

The secret behind many of Kickstarter and Indiegogo’s largest and most successful crowdfunding campaigns is that they have professional help behind them.

They hire guys like Command Partners‘ Roy Morejon to run integrated Internet marketing campaigns, outreach with guerilla PR, and produce awesome crowdfunding videos. David and Zack bring Roy on to TWiC to discuss what’s tips and techniques are working for project backers.

In our news roundup, we talk about the growing internatlization of crowdfunding and the Kickstarter Film Festival 2014 in Brooklyn and the rising importance of platform branding in crowdfunding.

Lastly, co-host Zack “Attack” Miller digs deep into his experience producing over 20 crowdfunding videos and takes us through the 5 steps to make a captivating and successful crowdfunding video.

Listen to the FULL Episode

About Roy Morejon

Roy Morejon picRoy is the President of Command Partners, a full service marketing agency focused on crowdfunding.

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Roy Morejon’s Resources

004 Crowdability and educating investors on the crowdfunding opportunity

retirement investing

On this week’s TWiC podcast, we interview the guys behind Crowdability — a great resource for investors thinking about getting a bit more serious about equity crowdfunding. Matt and Wayne are 2 extraordinary entrepreneurs in their own right and have a bold vision of providing an educational and decision-layer to help investors make better decisions when investing in startups online via equity crowdfunding.

In this week’s news roundup, David and Zack look at the differences between raising money via crowdfunding or turning to more traditional sources of capital. BitTorrent is using its massive network of 170 million users to crowdfunding new forms of content. Lastly, is beer the most perfect of crowdfunding projects? David thinks it just may be…

We review CrowdBrewed, a crowdfunding site that encourages (you guessed it), funding of beer-related enterprises.

Listen to the FULL episode

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Recommended resources for investing in startups from Crowdability

**You can now listen to TWiC on iTunes (nice!). If you’re listening to our podcast and enjoying it, finding some value, or just using it to stay on top of everything crowdfunding, please give us a good rating on iTunes. We’ll mention you on the show with a shout-out. We’re really appreciative of your feedback and continued listening — we’re all in this together and your support helps keep our show fresh and growing.

Create better consumer products, make more money with Quirky


Listen to this episode on Stitcher and on SoundCloud.

Creating a new consumer product used to be a somewhat solitary process.

But what if you could throw thousands of your closest from around the world into a virtual room to harness only the best ideas for the names, designs, and functionality for really cool, new consumer products? And (here’s the kicker), what if you could get paid for your contribution?

Quirky is a community of hundreds of thousands of passionate people from around the world who enjoy ideating, designing, and producing novel consumer products — collaboratively. Quirky’s Nethaniel Padgett, Community Director, joins us, David Stark and Zack Miller, to talk about how developing products and making money selling them has changed forever — on this episode of the ThisWeekinCrowdfunding Podcast.

During our News segment, we discuss whether we’ve reached peak crowdfunding. Are you being hit up to contribute to all your friends’ weddings via crowdfunding? Co-host David Starkup Nation is and he’s pretty sick with it.

Lastly, we review Kicktraq, an analytical tool backers and project owners use to determine strategies to optimize their campaigns and participation.

Listen to the FULL episode

Resources mentioned in the podcast

Investing in real estate via crowdfunding – with Realty Mogul’s Jilliene Helman

Crowdfunding is changing the way many people invest. Real estate crowdfunding, in particular, has seen massive interest as investors now have the opportunity to invest in some of the top properties in the world, alongside top institutional investors — all from their laptops or tablet computers.

Jilliene Helman is the co-founder and CEO of Realty Mogul, one of the leaders in the real estate crowdfunding sector and she joins me on the Tradestreaming Podcast to talk about how investors are using her platform to invest in cash flows and hard assets.

Listen to the FULL episode

About Jilliene

0a232fcJilliene Helman is the co-founder and CEO of Realty Mogul.

More resources

Even More Resources

Visit our Sponsor

OurCrowd is a better way to invest in startups. Identify and invest in the next Facebook, Google, and Apple on OurCrowd’s investment platform of vetted and diligence of startup investment opportunities. Check out OurCrowd at www.ourcrowd.com

***Thanks for joining us on Tradestreaming Radio — I’m very grateful for your time. It’s awesome learning about these new tools and technologies together.

If you’re listening to this episode on iTunes, please give it a ranking and rating so that others know of the value you’re finding in it. Thank you ahead of time.****

Investing in students — with Pave’s Oren Bass

M&A crowdsourcing

What do you get when you put the college debt problem together with crowdfunding?

An entirely new investable asset, that’s what.

Oren Bass, co-founder of Pave.com, joins be to talk about how crowdfunding has created an entirely new type of investment: people. Instead of shouldering hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt early in their career, some forward-looking students have turned to Pave to raise money via a human-capital contract.

It’s this contract investors can invest in, providing them with a socially-responsible activity along with a return on their money.

This isn’t passive indexing. Let’s dive in and learn more.

Listen to the Full interview

More resources

Even More Resources

Visit our Sponsor

OurCrowd is a better way to invest in startups. Identify and invest in the next Facebook, Google, and Apple on OurCrowd’s investment platform of vetted and diligence of startup investment opportunities. Check out OurCrowd.

Do you have something to share? Let me know in the comments and subscribe below to be notified of new podcasts and articles.

Photo credit: Alex //Berlin _ Alexander Stübner / Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

Investing in distressed mortgages — with Jorge Newbery

The Internet is opening up all kinds of new investment opportunities that many of us didn’t have access to before.

One way real estate investors have made lots of money over time was by investing in distressed mortgages. But for an individual to buy a single mortgage is pretty complicated, let alone risky.

Jorge Newbery founded American Homeowner Preservation (AHP), a crowdfunding site for accredited investors to invest in pools of distressed mortgages earning between 9-12% per year — all with a focus on helping people stay in their houses longer.

Jorge joins me on the Tradestreaming Podcast to discuss how investors should think about investing in distressed mortgages, the types of returns they should expect, and the growing popularity of this investment.

About Jorge Newbery

Jorge Newbery of American Homeowner PreservationJorge is the CEO and Founder of American Homeowner Preservation. He has been a principal in mortgage, property management and real estate brokerage firms

Listen to the FULL episode

More resources

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