Equity crowdfunding platform for craft beer and food industry to launch

Sep 30, 2013
<p>Breweries and food companies could benefit from public stakeholders once JOBS Act passes</p>

An equity crowdfunding platform set to be launched later this month will link investors with the artisan beer and food industries.

Breweries and food companies are now able to create basic profile pages on CraftFund.com in advance of changing federal and state laws that will allow private companies to sell shares to the general public. The profile pages currently allow companies to post general product and brand information for free. Even creating a profile, however, does not commit a company to then raise funds on the CraftFund platform.

CraftFund’s founder, David Dupee, says opening up the site to new members is the first of several steps to be implemented over the next few months. ‘Just as beer and food companies carefully handcraft their products, so we are crafting our own platform to meet the unique needs of the industry,’ he notes.

He also maintains that artisan food and drink will attract a particular breed of investors who are innately passionate about the companies they back. ‘Other platforms are about facilitating transactions; we are about facilitating owner experiences,’ Dupee adds.

Any capital-raising plans are on hold until the passing of Title II of the federal JOBS Act in the US, which is set to be ratified in September. The need for regulation, Dupee says, is one of the foremost reasons for this. Once it is in place, companies will be able to advertise their equity stakes and seek proper investors, in keeping with the terms of Title II.

Title III of the act, expected to come into place later this year, will allow private companies to offer stakes to potential retail shareholders for the first time in the US. Dupee says the freedom allowed by Title III could function as an opportunity for companies to offer a mini IPO, with breweries and food firms allowed to provide passionate customers with a unique opportunity to own part of the companies they care about.

‘Craft beer and food is very much about engaging consumers and creating experiences for consumers to participate in,’ says Dupee. ‘Ownership is the ultimate form of engagement, but there are very few ownership experiences in craft beer and food right now due to regulation.

‘We hope every brewery and brewery in planning creates a profile it can then choose to activate at some point down the road. We want to become the go-to store for investments and ownership experiences in craft beer and food.’

All of Dupee’s hopes for the platform hinge on how the SEC chooses to write the final set of rules, though he believes Title III might well provide a fairer route for breweries to get backing from the right investors.

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