One year on for Yeastie Boys

Exactly a year ago we were ringing the bell to begin our PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign, at a launch party in Wellington’s Golding’s Free Dive. A meagre 31 minutes later we were celebrating the successful raise of $500,000 with a whole bunch of our 200 new shareholders.

Moments after the high-fives, backslapping, and congratulatory hugs died down I distinctly remember thinking: “Uh, oh!! Now I’ve got to actually go out and do what I said I could.” It suddenly dawned on me what a difficult year 2015 could become.


Photo credit: Bryn Price (who is an awesome photographer — you can follow him on Instagram or check out his site here — as you can tell from Jess’ candid expression of amazement).


It has been even more difficult than I could have imagined but, also, so much more rewarding than I could have dreamed.

Having 200 shareholders is the opposite of what everyone would have had me believe when we looked at our capital raising options.

What is pitched, by those more familiar with traditional investment, is the burden of looking after shareholders. The reality, for us, has been shareholders as a source of inspiration and a constant reminder that we’ve followed the right path.

When I broke both my arms on a trip to USA, in July 2015, who was there to do my washing and be my tour guide at the end of each work day? Two of our fantastic shareholders. I couldn’t ever imagine the folk behind a private equity firm washing my undies!

Who would touch Stu's undies. Gross!

Stu with his helpful undie-washing Portland shareholders.

Our shareholders are engaged in positive ways — from buying their beer to share with friends, to being brand ambassadors all over the world, through to providing excellent analysis and thought provoking feedback on our business.

In the year since we raised the capital to grow I have spent 40 weeks in UK, a couple in USA, and only a small amount in New Zealand. I’ve now moved my entire family (and a dog!) to England to pursue the great opportunity we see here.

We could never have pursued this opportunity without the capital invested and our crowd.

The most important thing we have done since raising capital is to take on Zane Smith — Yeastie Boys’ Master of Everything. Zane now runs everything in New Zealand and, although I’m still heavily involved from afar, I couldn’t have made the move to the antipodes (with no UK revenue coming in) without someone like Zane.

I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur — that is, someone who simply loved beer and fell into business — the urgency that I feel on a day-to-day basis probably pegs me as a natural business owner. I’m impatient about everything and it is never done as well as I’d like!

But you soon come to realise that it takes perseverance, and not visionary skills, to get a business kicked off in UK. Perhaps the next time we raise money, I’ll be able to hire the people who can take over the perseverance tasks!


When I look back at the year, we’ve done some things which we couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) have ever done without our shareholders… we have:

  • more than doubled our staff (albeit only from 1 to 2.5),
  • raised our revenue by 50% since we started producing in UK, and that could have been a lot higher if not hampered by bureaucracy,
  • moved to a model of self-distribution and online retailing in New Zealand, which will result in significantly higher margins and better connection with our customers,
  • embedded the right relationships in UK to build our business from the ground up.

There’s a list, far too long to write here, of what I’d like to have done but haven’t been able to manage yet. But I’m not sure what I’d actually do if that list didn’t exist!

Most importantly, I couldn’t be much happier about changing tack on the way we have done things in 2015.

All this makes the year ahead tremendously exciting. With our processes and bureaucracy (mostly) sorted… Expect to hear big things from Yeastie Boys in 2016.

One year on

It’s one year ago today that we had our first successful equity campaign – for us.

It was a scary move, going out with our own campaign and asking our crowd to join us on our journey. I joke that it’s effectively the same as getting naked and running through a crowd of friends (and critics). It’s a no holds barred, warts and all approach to growing your company, and it’s not for the faint hearted. But, it worked. In 23 hours we raised our maximum goal of $100,000, and we grew from a team of 2 FTE’s and a board to a family of 186 shareholders, directors and team members.


And, we got so much more from our crowd than just the funds. In the last year we’ve gotten everything from strategy sessions to home cooked meals to contacts in Australia to campaign leads to attendees at our pitch kitchens to another round of funding. We’ve been supported commercially and personally. We’ve strengthened existing friendships and made new ones.

With your help, in the last year we’ve gone from $2.9million total pledged through the platform to $8.2million pledged. We’ve had 11 other equity campaigns funded, covering a spectrum of industries – from beer to wind turbines to solid hair care bars. And, we’ve almost hit the 1,000 mark on total funded campaigns. Yep, that’s almost 1,000 campaigns that got the funding they needed to go ahead. Since 2012.

So, I want to take this moment to say thank you. Thank you to our supporters, shareholders, and the growing PledgeMe team. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. We also wouldn’t be who we are today without you.



What does the next year hold?

  • More kiwis funding the things they care about.
  • Us pushing to hit our goal of $8.2million pledged this financial year.
  • Different ways of supporting our crowd, be it new ways help campaigners to new products we offer.
  • More inspiration. More learning. More you.
And for me? Turning 30.
ps. Here are some other campaigns you might want to check out on the anniversary of our funding:


Learning from Ooooby’s success

Ooooby closed off their campaign last week (29 Sep) raising $286k from their crowd.  To celebrate Barry and I, equipped with a couple of Yeastie Boys, headed over to Waiheke celebrate Ooooby’s success — success #12 for PledgeMe Equity!

Will and Barry on the way to Waiheke

It was great to sit down and informally to talk through the highs and lows of Ooooby’s campaign. Chats like this allow PledgeMe to evolve in how we help companies raise funds through their crowd.

Here were some of the success indicators Ooooby and PledgeMe reckon helped them run a successful campaign.

  1. Did it the Ooooby way: Things were authentic and genuinely Ooooby from start to finish. This was highlighted by putting the mission — helping to rebuild local food systems — before money. Working through this took (a lot of) time but its outcome ultimately resonated with the founders and their crowd (note: but required a lot of #2 & #3).
  2. Brought in professionals: Ooooby relied on professionals to help in spaces and places outside the team’s core capabilities. Their lawyer, accountants, PR agent, videographer and graphic designer all provided very valuable feedback and content in preparing their campaign.
  3. Prepped their crowd: Prior to launching, Ooooby had started telling people they were going to be running a campaign. By the time they were ready to launch they had more than 800 interested investors wanting to know more about their offer. This was done through effective communication and properly generating campaign awareness.
  4. IRL events: Although it was a pretty full on week one — Ooooby nailed it by setting up real life events with their crowd. Additionally, these events created new/shareable content along with an important understanding of the questions and feedback they received from their crowd given the uniqueness of the offer.
    Crack photographer Barry G takes a snap of James and Pete.

    Crack photographer Barry G takes a snap of James and Pete.


  5. Original content: As I alluded to above, Ooooby created original video content during their roadshow… but it didn’t stop there! The team properly planned and excellently delivered a range of communications — images, videos, blog posts, press releases etc — from the outset and throughout.
  6. Collaboration: Ooooby strategise in Google Apps and communicate or chat in Slack. Which is great, because so does PledgeMe. Open communication and collaborative tools can help get the most out of everybody.
  7. Knew there’s no such thing as a crowd in the cloud: As the campaign progressed Ooooby focused on the network their business and this campaign had generated to drive investment. It was a huge success.
  8. The Ooooby culture: Culture is a pretty big buzzword for startups and in many ways it has lost its true meaning. Sometimes media portray company culture as working in a hip(ster) office with table tennis/foosball tables and free drinks every Friday. To me, culture is the intangible how and why a team does what they do day in, day out. After the campaign closed at 8pm I’m pretty sure Ooooby single handedly almost brought down Auckland’s internet and mobile networks with phone calls and Skype as everyone was thanked and reminded for their roles in achieving this.

It’s been amazing to see a technology with global scalability help to make tangible local differences by exporting bytes not bites (as well as delivering delicious local food to Aucklanders doorsteps weekly).

Equity Crowdfunding doesn’t sleep

Remember the movie Wall Street?

It’s that 126 minute long(fictional/realistic) summary of what’s completely wrong with the finance industry. There’s this particularly famous quote by the main character Gordon Gekko:

“Money never sleeps, pal!”


I’ve heard this quote recycled by Investment Bankers and Fund Managers in relation to their occupation and to capital raising.

We get it: you go hard or go home.

The irony is that they’re pretty wrong. They sleep, eat and (hopefully) exercise. Their work – unless seamlessly and continuously transferred from New York to Singapore to London – pauses with life outside the suit and glass skyscraper.

Equity Crowdfunding actually doesn’t sleep.

When we take breaks to live our lives like the rest of the world our technology and platform keeps turning over: pages load, videos stream, offer documents are read and money is invested. At all hours.

PledgeMe is now ten successful campaigns deep since Nov 2014. When our second capital raise closes at 6PM tomorrow we will have raised somewhere between $2.8 and $3.2 million dollars for Kiwi companies.

Ten successes later here is when pledgers utilise our our platform to invest**


  • All 24 hours have seen investors pledge on our platform
  • 45% of investors pledge between 6pm-midnight
  • 47% of investors pledge during ‘regular’ hours (9am-5:59pm)


Financial Technology has made Gordon Gekko’s mantra a reality in the investment context and PledgeMe is here to use the power for good not evil, pal.


** Yeastie Boys aren’t included because they’re awesome and raised a world record half a million dollars in half an hour and this would have messed all the data up (yes Yeasties’ you are the exception & not the norm)
** PledgeMe 2 – our second equity raise ins’t included because it closes tomorrow at 6PM

Our Equity world is pretty crowded… and we love it

Equity Crowdfunding turned one year old on the first of April (no fooling). It’s been a crazy year in the PledgeMe office, which has included:

At the same time we’ve also:

  • Grown our team (including two Auckland based staff!);
  • Moved into one of the coolest offices in Wellington (/NZ/the world), and;
  • Launched 5 equity campaigns at one time (ahem ↓↓).


We’re really excited about the recent addition of equity crowdfunding to our platform and are very fortunate that the NZ Government has decided to make our country world leaders in this space by being the one of the first countries to introduce new legislation allowing equity crowdfunding. This has opened up a whole new channel for companies to raise funding, and we hope it’s bridging a capital chasm that a lot of companies face when they’re starting up or growing.

Since getting our license we have had more than 500 people contact us because they’re interested in using equity crowdfunding as a way to help fund growth in the businesses they care about. It never ceases to amaze our team what some Kiwis are getting up to in their back sheds and offices, and how passionately they are creating value with their businesses.

This week opened strongly as SellShed surpassed its $250,000 target meaning their campaign is now sitting in the success column and interested investors who have not yet pledged have until 7PM 9 April to do so. Congrats to the team at WebSoft Ltd on their campaign and we look forward to a strong finish as they push towards a $1M maximum.

Although this is a cause for celebration we’re a wee bit too busy with a further four more live campaigns including Pineapple Heads who also close Thursday, BE Intent Youth which just went live, and Parent Interviews & Chariot both currently in the middle of their campaigns.

In the past few weeks we’ve had more than $500,000 of pledged investment towards our five current equity campaigns and look forward to seeing more funded campaigns and excited new shareholders by month’s end:

The Closers:

SellShed by Websoft Ltd. – FUNDED
Raised: $275,100
Target: $250,000
Maximum: $1,000,000
Closing Date: 9 April – 7PM

SellShed is an easy to use social marketplace. It provides a locally relevant and socially integrated platform for it’s buyers and sellers, allowing them the opportunity to easily trade right from their pocket.

SellShed is free for individuals to use and is designed for mobiles and offers an attractive alternative to existing desktop focused pay-to-list or pay-upon-success online platforms.  The future is social, and SellShed have a marketplace available in iTunes and Google Play which is already enjoyed by more than 13,000 people.

SellShed has reached its target of $250,00 but investors have until 7PM 9 April or an investment cap of $1M.

Here’s what two pledged investors said about this offer:

“For me Websoft Ltd is a cutting edge technology platform providing huge growth opportunities with genuine global potential for investors” – Ian Gleghorn

“I invested in SellShed through PledgeMe as I see huge potential. The app is so easy to use and free and I’m excited to own a part of a New Zealand based Tech Startup that has huge scope. Can’t wait to see where it goes” – Kellie Deuchar

For more information on this offer check out the campaign page


Pineapple Heads Ltd.
Raised: $102,150
Target: $189,000
Maximum: $389,000
Closing Date: 9 April – 7PM

Pineapple Heads is a range of eight children’s hair and bath products made in New Zealand. They are sold throughout New World supermarkets, 70 other retailers throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as through their own online shop.

Pineapple Heads are raising funds to onboard two Sales Reps and an in-house Digital Account Manager to roll out Pineapple Heads across New Zealand, aggressively opening up Nationwide distribution along with growing partnerships in Australia.

Megan is a solo-business owner/mother who has had some pretty awesome press all around the country about her capital raising mission.

Here is feedback on the offer from two invested pledgers:

“Fully supportive of a great lady, great product and all New Zealand made.” – Erika Burt

“I love your products and believe in the company.” – Sarah Chainey

Upon reaching their target, Pineapple Heads is offering one lucky family the chance to visit the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast along with a year’s supply of Pineapple Heads Products! Contest open to all pledgers (past, present & future!)


For more information on Pineapple Heads offer check out their campaign page


New Kid on the Block:

DevicesBe Intent Youth Ltd.
Raised: $87,000
Target: $150,000
Maximum: $580,256
Closing Date: 28 April – 5PM

BE Intent Youth is a cloud based technology platform and toolbox that delivers positive education and solutions that inspire and support students to meet their potential, increase their well-being and helps them to get more out of their day, their lives, and their study.

BE Intent Youth are raising funds to finalise the research that is specific to youth and implement their marketing and sales strategy.

Based on positive psychology, neuroscience and neuroplasticity research their technology aims to change the way that schools around the world support their students with issues like bullying as well as help youth become mindful, motivated and resilient.

For more information on Be Intent Youth’s offer check out their campaign page


For a full list of our current equity offers

Half a mill in half an hour

Yeastie Boys made it big yesterday. They equity crowdfunded half a million in half an hour. This is the fastest equity crowdfunding raise so far in New Zealand and one of the quickest in the world!

Down at Goldings Free Dive the atmosphere was electric. The venue was packed with people thirsty to become investors.

electric crowd

Just before 6 Stu got up and thanked their crowd for coming down and all those who were about to pledge. At the stroke of 6 Anna hit the publish button on the campaign, Stu rang the bell, and confetti exploded into the air.

Yeastie Stu

People dived onto their phones and laptops to get in. Within four minutes the campaign had hit $100k!

Pledges were flying in thick and fast. Not just from in the bar, but across New Zealand. There was a steady progression of pledges over the half hour. Could they have hit a million? We reckon so. Maybe something to consider next time Stu 😉


Between refreshing the laptop and updating the crowd Stu was quietly chuffed when, a mere 17 minutes in, they hit their minimum goal. pledgemepugThe crowd went wild at that point and Anna and I feared that the dreaded PledgeMe pug of unavailability might make an appearance. Luckily the team at Rabid had prepped the servers so they were ready for the onslaught of Yeastie Boys and Girls.

It was great to see Yeastie Boys bringing their campaign into the real world. Stu had travelled up and down New Zealand over the past week handing out business cards and talking about the equity raise. He also issued the financials and company documents over the weekend so people could read up and decide whether to invest over their Sunday brunch. Help was on hand with Stu answering questions and team PledgeMe helping people to pledge.

The buzz was great and it meant that on top of putting together a slick business plan and brewing great beer they activated their crowd and got a magnificent result.


All good things must come to an end. Just before 6:30 the party was over with the maximum goal of $500,000 was hit. More huzzahs and hoorahs! The revellers went  home with a warm fuzzy feeling in their hearts and shares in their back pockets.

Yeastie Boys now has 212 new shareholders. We’ll they’re not just shareholders they’re champions. Stu has bought his crowd into the company and now they have an interest in seeing Yeastie Boys succeed. Big congrats to them for going out to their crowd and making it work.


  • $505,019 raised
  • Time: 30 minutes exactly
  • 212 new Yeastie Boy shareholders
  • Average pledge: $2382
  • Largest pledge: $50,000
  • Happy Yeastie Boys: 2


Pitch Kitchen

While you’ve been on your summer holiday we’ve been preppin’ the kitchen, the Pitch Kitchen that is.

Untitled design (1)

Yesterday we turned up the heat on two companies who are going to be doing equity crowdfunding campaigns with us.

The slicing and dicing isn’t like a Ramsay’s Kitchen where Anna and I sit there and make people cry. In fact it’s more like Jamie Oliver where we cook up good, healthy ideas with a group of friends giving feedback and support on ways they can make a crowdfunding campaign better. It’s an afternoon for honest feedback, streamlining your pitch and working on the getting your equity campaign to gourmet quality.

The first two entrepreneurs put under the grill were Stu from Yeastie Boys and Tom from Chariot. Also in the room we had some of our shareholders, team, and alumni: Jacky Laverty, Nat Boltt, Breccan McLeod-Lundy, Dave Allison, Julia Campbell, Will Stewart, Nick Lewis, Anna and I. We were there to provide that friendly and nourishing advice. We all had these sweet name tags →

Stu kicked us off running the group through his pitch for Yeastie Boys and then the teaser video they’ve put out. Stu announced just before Christmas that the brewery would be equity crowdfunding later this month.

Tom then pitched us Chariot, it’s a super slick car-sharing app which will be launched very soon. They’re also going to be launching their PledgeMe equity campaign soon too — SO WATCH THIS SPACE!

From there the group asked questions, gave feedback, and shared ideas for the two companies. Stu and Tom were busily writing down notes and Anna was assigning people tasks of small chunks of work that we could do there and then.

For example, Jacky and I helped Tom whip up a basic communications plan for their equity campaign while Nat and Julia helped channel Stu’s creativity for a new pitch video (it’s going to be hair-larious). There were also discussions about financials, events, and messaging.

Both Tom and Stu came away from the afternoon with clearer pitches and a clearer vision what it takes to activate a crowd and run a successful equity crowdfunding campaign  — a recipe for success.

We’ll be running the pitch kitchens when and if companies need ’em. If you’re hungry for one let me know.

Yeastie Boys fights for the right to fund


First up: you need to turn this on while you read below.

We’ve been working with Stu at Yeastie Boys for 9 months so the equity campaign they announced today is kinda our beer/crowdfunding baby. In fact, Stu coined the title of our blog about equity crowdfunding a few months back with: “It’s not dumb money, it’s love money”, and they brewed us up a mean Teal Steel beer for our equity launch celebrations.


 Yeastie Boys feel like Wellington to me. Everyone knows Stu, because Stu without hesitation will help anyone, even his competition. In fact, Stu doesn’t want to build a brewery, he wants to build an industry. Stu, Sam and their brews are iconic in Wellington — but they’re bigger than just the capital. Co-head boy, Sam is based Auckland, they contract brew in Invercargill, they’ve won international accolades and now they are gunning for global domination / collaboration.

In fact, they’re already on their way to that: last time they sent a container to the UK they sold out before they got past Singapore, and they have sold their brews in over 900 pubs across the UK.

The best thing about the way Yeastie Boys are taking over the planet is that they’re doing it differently. They don’t want to keep hold of their intellectual property — “IP” might be a statement of fact after a few beers — they want to set it free.

They contract brew and get their recipes made all over the world. They collab with a raft of brewers in New Zealand and in other countries. They make friends, and then help their friends with their work (yes — they introduce their competition to their distributors!). Their focus on people, and making the best goddamn beer possible, inspires us here in the PledgeMe office.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 3.13.52 PM.png

 So, we’re stoked Stu and Sam will be launching their campaign in late January. They are going to help us pave the way for a different way of raising capital, and a different way of doing business — with your crowd who wants to be raising a glass with you, not just to you.

Sign up here to hear more pre-launch.

There ain’t no party like a PledgeMe party

Over 100 people descended on the Sustainability Trust in Wellington last night — despite wind, rain, hail, and a lightning strike that busted up the Zephyrometer by the airport — to celebrate PledgeMe getting its equity crowdfunding license.

PledgeMe Equity has landed

Photo Cred: Aurynn Shaw

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