Queensland craft brewery Black Hops has raised $2.2 million in equity crowdfunding, closing its campaign in less than 24 hours.
The successful Birchal campaign makes Black Hops the fastest ever brewery to close an equity crowdfunding round and top the $2 million mark, beating out WA brand Spinifex which raised $2 million in two days in September last year.
Black Hops was founded in 2014 by Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael McGovern, hobby homebrewers who struck a chord with their eggnog stout and started fielding increased demand.
The founders got some cash together to make their first batch of beer at a real brewery, and one thing led to another, Norris tells SmartCompany.
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They have since built two breweries of their own and released hundreds of creative flavors, including 100 new beers in 2021 alone.
In 2021, Black Hops appeared at number 24 in The Australian Financial Review’s Fast 100, having seen revenue growth of 106%.
Revenues for the 2021 financial year were about $13.5 million, Norris says.
“It’s been pretty solid growth nonstop.”
Getting on with the job
This is not the founders’ first equity crowdfunding rodeo. The business raised $17,000 through rewards-based crowdfunding in 2016 to build its HQ brewery in Burleigh Heads.
In 2019, it raised another $400,000 to build a second site. This time around, the founders were obviously thinking bigger.
“It’s just the nature of the business — it’s always the right time to raise capital, it’s so expensive,” Norris says.
This funding will be used to ramp up production to the next level, to put in a new canning line and upgrade the breweries, he explains.
And the latest round went better than he ever expected. While he had hoped to raise the full amount, the fact that it happened so quickly frees up the team to crack on with the job.
“We’ve got all kinds of things happening this year, and we can just get straight back to work, which is perfect.”
A good thing for craft beer
Norris says he’s “really stoked” with the success of the Birchal campaign, but not only because of the cash.
“I want crowdfunding to be a good thing for this industry,” he says.
“I wanted to lead by example.”
This is the kind of business that lends itself to equity crowdfunding, he explains. Norris and his co-founders have always tried to be open and transparent — sharing their business stories openly and bringing their fans along on the journey with them.
“They see what we’ve done, they can see it done really well and they feel like they’re part of it,” he says.
“We’re always sharing information and helping other breweries get started,” he adds.
“That kind of culture that we formed around the brand is really important for us.”
At the same time, of course, Black Hops has just secured another 996 investors. They’re generally beer lovers who are engaged with the brand and the craft beer scene, and now they make up a vast sounding board for the business.
Between the investors, the 80 staff and a 3000-strong Facebook group, “we’re just constantly talking about different beer ideas”, Norris says.