BrewDog's Latest Crowdfunding Effort Falls Short
Crowdfunding—or more accurately, selling shares in its business directly to investors via the Internet—has been a major part of Scottish brewer BrewDog’s business plan. To date, the company has raised over $40 million from over 55,000 shareholders during its five “Equity for Punks” campaigns, its sole source of outside capital. But as the brand continues to expand around the world, the results of BrewDog’s latest round of investment may indicate that beer lovers’ interest in backing the global juggernaut is waning.
Last week, BrewDog announced that its most recent, six-month “Equity for Punks USA” campaign had raised $7 million. Though that’s certainly an impressive number, it’s significantly lower than the brewery’s previous campaign in 2015 and even further below the company’s stated goal of $50 million. Still, always the optimists, BrewDog had no mention of that aforementioned goal in its posting on the brand’s blog. “We couldn’t be happier that we’ve managed to welcome almost 9,000 new US shareholders to our madcap global family,” the post states. “It’s been humbling to see the amount of people in the USA who support us and support our mission to make great beer, and to make other people as passionate about it as we are.”
BrewDog originally offered Equity for Punks back in 2009, only a couple of years after the brewery opened. The company raised £750,000 during that first campaign. The brewer raised an additional £2.2 million in 2011, and matched that number again in 2013. Then, in 2015, BrewDog had by far its most successful Equity for Punks offering, raising £19 million (over $24 million at the current exchange rate).
The brewery’s $50 million target was clearly ambitious, but based on the 2015 results, $7 million still feels like an under-performance. So why the drop? One potential explanation might be that earlier this year, BrewDog sold a 22 percent stake in the company to the private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, which has also invested in Pabst and Sweetwater Brewing. That sale resulted in a nice potential payday for some previous Equity Punks, with investors seeing a return of anywhere from 117 to 2,800 percent based on which round of funding they bought in during. Though those profits are eye-popping, potential investors may have felt like the ship had already sailed. Another potential pitfall is that maybe BrewDog has simply gotten too successful. Early BrewDog crowdfunding campaigns had a true grassroots vibe about them: It’s hard to maintain that image when your recent private equity firm sale was based on a £1 billion valuation.
Regardless, BrewDog plans to use its cool $7 mil to do what it does best: brew more beer and continue to expand. The money will go to help pay for the company’s new Columbus, Ohio-based production brewery which is already churning out beers for the American market.