Yeastie Boys will seek $500K crowdfunded equity through PledgeMe

Z Energy man quits his day job for beer. Capital raise values his company at $4m.

Yeastie Boys will launch a crowdfunded equity campaign on PledgeMe from January 28, seeking to raise $500,000.

The craft beer maker's co-founder, Stu McKinlay says the partial float values the business at $3.5 million or $4 million if fully funded.

The Wellington-based company was co-founded by Mr McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie. The pair describe themselves as brewers without a brewry. Instead, their "super-premium beer is contract-brewed at various locations and sold in NZ, Australia, New Caledonia, USA, Malaysia, Hong  Kong, China, Japan and the UK. It's collected a number of awards, including the Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation at the Brewers Guild of NZ Awards for its Rex Attitude label.

Mr McKinlay says it's been a case of slow and steady growth, with the Yeasties making a small profit each year since the company was formed in 2008.

It has yet to put detailed financials on the table ahead of its crowdfunding, but the cofounder says last year turnover was around $700,000. He anticipates doubling that if the capital is raised.

The new funds have been earmarked for brewing Yeastie Boys' beer in the UK. The company is already on 900 taps in Britain following success at the Wetherspoon’s International Real Ales Festival.  The new money will be used to establish a contract brewing operation to supply the European market.

Mr McKinlay only gave up his day job as a business analyst at Z Energy sixteen weeks ago (before that he crunched meta data in the health sector; he graduated from Victoria with a Commerce degree). The Yeasties are aiming for faster growth from this point, he was still after more of a community backing feel than hard-nosed private equity players.

“We’re looking for people who want to high-five and hug at AGM’s rather than people who want little more than for us to make them more paper,” Mr McKinlay says.

“Equity crowdfunding is a step back to the traditional ways that businesses started – friends, family and a whole lot of passionate people who actually want to make the world a better place while they drink great beer and make a few dollars.”

“Yeastie Boys has a large and loyal crowd who have been pestering Stu and Sam for a long time to let them invest," PledgeMe CEO Anna Guenther says.

The new crowdfunded equity scene was created by the Financial Markets Conduct Act earlier this year. 

Its handful of listings so far have already included another craft beer outfit: Renaissance Brewing, which took just a week and a half to raise $700,000 from small investors through PledgeMe rival Snowball.

PledgeMe has had three listings so far. It successfully raised $100,000 in quick time to fund its own growth, but crowd funded equity efforts for a hovercraft tourism venture and a computer museum fell well short of their targets.

Mr McKinley says if the Yeastie Boys' January effort goes well, then his company will likely return to the PledgeMe well within a year.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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