International Inspiration & Home Truths: Sports clubs

Our series “International Inspiration and Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from far and wide, brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa and hears from the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of kiwi organisations. The next type of organisation spilling over the top of our box of inspiration is sports clubs.

Sport is an essential part of many of our lives. A good chunk of us build our identities around the sports we play, watch and follow. Whether it’s rugby or racing, surfing or squash, there’s a little bit of us that belongs to that sport. Our team are no different: for Tan it’s tennis, for Kelsey it’s football, for Barry it’s futsal and for Anna…well, is cheese a sport?

At the core of our sporting-lives is a community of people that get the same buzz that we do ourselves – club members that get such joy out of being involved with and having a sense of ownership over our clubs. Sports clubs are constantly building crowds of members, players, fans and followers.

So have sports teams borrowed from their crowds before? Indeed they have. German football club Hertha Berlin F.C. broke crowdlending records a year ago when they raised €1million in ten minutes from their fans and members. As part of their “Hetha 4.0” strategy, they wanted to refresh their online identity and become the most innovative and inclusive club in Germany.

It’s not just big professional outfits that crowdlending can work for. Fin McCool Surf School on the shores of Donegal in Ireland borrowed €20,000 from their crowd to refurbish their clubhouse last March.

What could happen closer to home?

Imagine, a kiwi surf lifesaving club borrowing interest-free from their members to refurbish their wind battered clubhouse. Rallying their crowd to improve their common home whilst rewarding them by paying them back over time.

The enthusiast who’s inspired us

Geoff Lewis got us thinking about crowdlending for sports clubs when he and Anna crossed paths last year. He’s a proud member and President of Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club in Wellington.

Who are you, and what do you do?

We are the Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club.  As a tennis club, we were established in 1879 making us, we believe, the oldest tennis club in New Zealand.  Even Wimbledon started only a few years before the Thorndon Club! Our vision is to be a thriving, dynamic tennis and squash club in the heart of Wellington. To help achieve our vision, we are striving to upgrade our facilities, some of which are showing their age!  One important project is to upgrade our two existing lawn tennis courts into modern, high-quality playing surfaces for all-year-round use.

What do you think about crowdlending?

Upgrading our lawn tennis courts requires a substantial capital spend. We are hoping to fund this partly with grants from gaming trusts and partly with additional income from a larger member base and from using one existing court as a mid-week parking facility. To bridge the timing gap between the capital spend not covered by grants and future income, we think crowdfunding via loans from our members and supporters is the way to go.  Our lenders will earn interest on their funds, feel good about helping the club, and feel secure about getting their money back over time.

What are your concerns about crowdlending in New Zealand?

Crowdlending in New Zealand is still relatively unknown. At the same time, more stringent financial regulations in New Zealand require a professional approach to raising funds.  We think for a modest-sized sports club such as ourselves, it makes sense to use a crowdlending platform like PledgeMe to ensure that all the legal and technical boxes are ticked.

What excites you about it?

If crowdlending helps Thorndon Club to build two brilliant new tennis courts, and upgrade other facilities such as our four squash courts, it will be a very exciting achievement for us and for the inner-city community of Wellington who I’m sure make great use of them.

A little bit curious about how crowdlending can work for your local club? Chat to us!

International Inspiration & Home Truths: Craft Beer

Our series “International Inspiration & Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from across the globe, and brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa. You’ll find out what’s happening overseas, but also hear from some of the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of kiwi organisations. The second area we’re diving into is craft beer (one of our favourite things).

The UK is dominating the craft beer crowdfunding market

BrewDog are arguably leading the way internationally on the crowdfunding front. They’ve done four rounds of Equity for Punks, and have raised over £26million ($49million NZD) from 50,000 investors for their Scotland-started craft beer company.

It all started with two men and a dog. Their first pitch video in 2009 shows much younger, less hip versions of the founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. They stand earnestly in front of their brewery kit sharing their big plans for their beer.


Equity for Punks from BrewDog on Vimeo.

They took a huge leap, from starting in 2007 to becoming a publicly listed company in 2009. Their first round closed in February 2010 and saw the punk founders raise over £642,000 from 1,350 investors. Their early supporters not only got shares in the company, but also beer discounts and an invite to the annual general meeting, which you could literally call a piss up in a brewery. Though, now it’s a piss up over 10 different bars. Here’s a video recap of their latest AGM:


#PUNKAGM17 Recap from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Not ones to shy away from bold statements, in 2015 during their Equity for Punks IV round the founders took to a helicopter and dropped taxidermied “fat cats” onto the city of London. Over the following 12 months they raised over £19m from their crowd, making it one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in history.


Equity for Punks IV – Death to the Fat Cats from BrewDog on Vimeo.

But, their latest move into the crowdlending space is arguably their most exciting move yet.

“This is funding for the 21st century”

Their BrewDog Bonds II were launched late 2016, and they raised their maximum goal of $10million from 2,699 investors in less than 30 days.


The BrewDog Bond from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Their mini bond offered their investors a 7.5% interest rate over four years, as well as beer discounts. The bonds were focussed on accelerating growth, both in the UK and in America where they are currently building a new factory in Ohio.

Today, Brew Dogs have held the title of the fast growing food and beverage company in the UK the last four years, and have been profitable since 2008. They have revenue exceeding $70million, over 800 “passionate people” working for them and 50 brew bars all over the globe.

Recently, BrewDog’s sold 23% of their company to TSG Consumer Partners for £213m, which gives their investors from their first round in 2010 a 2,800% return (though, they are capped at selling 40 shares in this round of shareholder buy backs).

And the UK influence has sailed across the sea to Ireland

You don’t have to be a monumental punk-backed beer behemoth to borrow from your crowd. Local independent brewery from County Wicklow (where Barry’s clan are from!), O Brother Brewing, borrowed a modest €20,000 from their crowd to expand their brewery and create an experiential tour for the passers-by.

One of the three-brother strong team, Padhraig O’Neill reflected on their experience “The idea of peer-to-peer lending really appealed to us. Promoting our business and the hassle-free process was great, it is the future of business finance.

Closer to home

While these have been intriguing developments in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve been really excited about what it could mean for craft beer companies closer to home. Because craft beer and crowdfunding seem to be a match made in a beer-fuelled heaven.

We’ve seen two swift and well supported campaigns through PledgeMe for Wellington-based craft brewers. First up with Yeastie Boys, who raised their half a million goal in half an hour in 2015, followed by the Matts at ParrotDog raising their goal of $2million in two days the following year.

So we’ve asked some of our smart friends (and alumni) to tell us what they think. What could crowdlending mean for the beer makers in (or from) Aotearoa?

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Stu McKinlay, accidental entrepreneur, Benevolent Dictator and co-founder of Yeastie Boys. I make people happy with delicious beer in pretty designs.

What do you think about crowdlending?

My initial thoughts around crowdlending is that it’s fantastic to see the modern market adapt to the opportunities that present themselves from us being so connected. To me funding and lending through the crowd is simply an extension of the way many people used to fund businesses and projects, via their friends, but the process can be sped up now thanks to technology.

Could something like the BrewDog bonds happen in New Zealand?

It will happen in New Zealand! I have no doubts.

What are your concerns about crowdlending in New Zealand?

The concerns I have about crowdlending are pretty much the same as crowdfunding… simply that people are educated around what the risks and rewards are.

What excites you about it?

I’m always excited by things that create more opportunities for competition… crowdlending, like crowdfunding before it, gives so many more people the opportunity to build their business in a way that would not have been available to them a few years ago. With people who would have never known that the business even existed, let alone been looking for capital. It builds a community around business growth rather than having a bunch of banks doing everything.

 

Inspired? Curious? Want more than a sip? Chat to us!

International Inspiration & Home Truths: Community Energy

Our series “International Inspiration and Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from far and wide, brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa and hears from the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of kiwi organisations. First up is the transformative world of community energy projects.


How can a sustainably-minded community create a more resilient energy landscape for themselves? The Great Dunkilns community in Gloucester, UK decided to take the problem of funding into their own hands by, along with conscious investors throughout the country, collectively lending £1.4million to construct a community scale wind turbine on their turf. The energy produced is being used to power local houses, with the excess being sold back to the grid. The money earned from the energy is used to pay back their lenders their investment plus an annual interest rate of 7%.

 

There’s been some big government support in Britain too. Swindon Borough Council, to deliver on their vision of developing a low carbon economy by 2030, co-funded a common solar farm – the £1.7million contributed by the crowd was double-matched by the council.

How could empowered local communities power New Zealand?

Imagine, an off-grid wind turbine – built by and for the local residents of a wind-battered coastal community – being funded by that community and the many renewable believers all over both islands, North and South. Now imagine many of these renewably-powered pockets, from Dunedin to Wellington to Kaitaia, enabling New Zealand to achieve our goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2020.

We’ve seen a few great examples of clean energy crowdfunding through PledgeMe already, with Blueskin Energy crowdfunding to build a measurement tower, and Powerhouse Wind equity crowdfunding their single bladed wind turbine (below).

The enthusiast who’s inspired us

Renewable energy fanatic and our friend, Ian Shearer, first opened our eyes to the potential of crowdlending for community energy initiatives from his experience in the UK. Here’s Ian’s perspective on crowdlending:

What about crowdlending appeals to you?

I’m a community-minded person – always have been. I was involved with co-operative lending many years ago, which has partly paved the path for crowdlending. So that’s how I began to see the mechanism of crowdlending come together. But what really appeals to me is being able to invest in my passion, to invest in renewable energy.

What good things have you seen achieved in the community energy space?

What first brought me into the community energy world wasn’t necessarily my passion for renewables. It was my involvement with small communities in Scotland, and seeing the desire of these small communities to own their own the systems to enable them to power themselves. Community Energy Scotland were an extremely progressive organisation and they recognised crowdlending as the way to go to not just make community energy projects viable, but also to allow the people in the local area to benefit financially from the success of those projects. They were one of the first to take that step to help small island communities create and fund self-reliant wind-powered energy systems.

Biggest benefit beyond the money?

Collective ownership of something that matters to you.

Compared to the UK, what major obstacles do you see lying in the way of community energy crowdlending in New Zealand?

Two things really. A first successfully funded project that leads the way for others to follow. And secondly, once we find some traction, not being able to trade your investment may be an obstacle to grow the involvement of investors.

 

Are you inspired by what you’ve read, and interested in turning to crowdlending for your community energy outfit? Chat to us!