300 Suns hopes Indigogo will help it become Longmont's fourth brewery
So far, crowd-sourcing hasn't been the most successful way for would-be breweries to raise money in Colorado: There are already so many top-notch beer makers, and so many more in the works, that beer lovers probably figure it's not necessary to pour out their own hard-earned cash in order to help get the next one off the ground.
But Dan Ditslear and his five business partners hope the community in Longmont will be the exception, and they've done some research that they're banking on to make the difference for 300 Suns, the brewpub they'd like to open by the end of the year.
"We started a Facebook page in December and overnight, we had 200 likes...so I think we have a pretty good idea for the buzz and excitement in Longmont over getting a fourth brewery," Ditslear says. "With our Indigogo campaign, I think that will increase."
Since the idea behind crowd-sourcing campaigns is that they promise special benefits and swag to people who donate money, the group also looked at successful brewery efforts elsewhere in the country on Indiegogo and Kickstarter to get an idea of what people would like to receive in return for spending different amounts of money.
"We researched the kinds of levels that people typically fund and what is given away at those levels so that people get their money's worth," he says.
The 300 Suns page has eleven funding levels, from $10 to $3,000. As an example, for $50 bucks, backers will get a brewery pint glass, a coupon for two free beers, a bottle opener, a 300 Suns sticker and their name on the brewery's website.
For $200, they get a brewery T-shirt, two invites to a private pre-opening party, a punch card for one free growler with six fill-ups (or a pint glass and fifteen free beer coupons), a bottle opener, a sticker and their name on a website. And for $1,000, they get all of that plus their name on the bar top as a founder and a day with an assistant brewer.
Ditslear and company started their 39-day campaign on Monday and hope to raise $45,000, which should be enough to get them well on their way. Although they don't have a location yet, the group wants to buy a seven-barrel brewing system with which to brew their beers. They also want to have a kitchen to make upscale bar food.
"We have been sitting around for years talking about opening a brewery, and we finally got up the gumption to do it," says Ditslear, who runs a graphic design firm with his wife. The name, 300 Suns, comes from the lore that Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine per year, he adds, "and a lot of us in the group come from places that aren't that sunny."
Several other would-be brewers in Colorado have tried crowd-sourcing in the past, typically with poor results.
In April 2012, a would-be brewery called Alpine Dog failed to reach its $40,000 goal, while an existing brewery, Grand Lake Brewing, was unsuccessful in an effort to raise $26,000 for a proposed expansion. A brewery-in-planning called Crooked Keg was able to raise $5,000 last September; however, the owners are still trying to find a location and a new name for the brewery.
Another planned brewery, Twin Hops, kicked off a Kickstarter campaign in July, hoping to raise $20,000, but the owners pulled down the campaign a few weeks later and have since changed their name to Clockwork Brewing.
And finally, Black Shirt Brewing came up short in an attempt to raise $25,000 back in 2011; Black Shirt was able to find funding elsewhere, though, and has been open since October in Denver's RiNo neighborhood.
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