Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Quest for cash a hard slog

Some businesses raise thousands in hours, others fail completely.
Yeastie Boys creative director Stu McKinlay. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Yeastie Boys creative director Stu McKinlay. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Raising half a million dollars in half in hour was an experience that "absolutely blew my mind", recalls Stu McKinlay, one of the founders of Yeastie Boys.

The craft brewer was one of the early firms to raise capital through New Zealand's relatively young equity crowdfunding scene, raising its full target of $500,000 from 212 shareholders, who took a total 12.5 per cent stake in the firm.

McKinlay says that although he could only see the negatives in their campaign while it was running, he later recognised a range of factors that made it a success.

For example, they had built a presence among beer drinkers that people liked and wanted to see more of, he says, then let people know early what they were doing with the campaign and constantly updated interested parties.

"And we didn't try to change anything about the business to appeal beyond our base group."

It is important to note that not every equity crowdfunding campaign plays out this way.

Figures from interest.co.nz, which follows nine equity crowdfunding platforms, show nine of the 44 campaigns that ran in New Zealand were fully funded.

A further 20 were funded after reaching their minimum target, and 15 failed.

These campaigns require hard work and serious attention.

Andy Evans founded Bow Wow Box, which made it past the minimum target line of its equity crowdfunding campaign, but wasn't fully funded.

Evans said that for the amount his company ultimately raised, his time would have been better spent pitching directly to a couple of high net worth individuals.

In March last year Invivo Wines raised $2 million through an equity crowdfunding campaign that netted 439 investors, who took a 20 per cent stake in the firm.

One of the company's founders, Tim Lightbourne, says the company started working on its campaign about six months before going live.

Efforts to promote the campaign included travelling the country pitching to potential investors face-to-face, months spent preparing the investment memorandum, regularly communicating with its database of around 4000 people, and a billboard advertising campaign.

"It was a very busy time and I think people do underestimate the amount of time involved in crowdfunding, and still keeping your business reaching sales targets."

Coming up in Small Business: How do owners balance running a business while travelling, what are their strategies for coping with travel and getting the most out of business trips? If you've got a story to share, drop me a note: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

- Herald on Sunday

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