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It was a little over four years ago that I decided to open a brewery, and just last week I received my first check from my first investor. I'm constantly running into people who have lots of questions about the process I'm going through to open the brewery. Here are a handful of the most common questions.
Why did it take so long to get your first check?
Well… there was the MBA program (2 years), the Master Brewer program (1 year), and I spent the past year writing a business plan, creating detailed financial projections, doing research, and working with an attorney to write operating agreements and shareholder contracts for investors. 3 weeks ago, those contracts finally went out to the initial small group of very patient investors, some of who had been waiting as long as 10 months to write checks. Now that contracts and checks are being signed and handed over, things are starting to feel very real.
Where is the brewery going to be?
I've been working with a commercial real estate agent, and I've looked at a half dozen spaces. Right now my search is focused in the Third Ward to Bay View corridor.
What can I do to help? How do I buy a share of Brenner Brewing Co?
It's really not as easy as just buying a share. Wisconsin state law says that I can only have 35 "unaccredited" investors (folks with less than $1M of net worth or have made less than $250K/year the past two years). A single membership interest in Brenner Brewing is $5,000. I don't want to discourage anyone from investing, but right now I'm primarily looking for accredited investors interested in committing $20K-$250K to the project.
So when will you open?
That's tough to say. I'm juggling a million different details right now. It's like trying to do the perfect seven-minute pilsner pour. Some investors are waiting to see that other investors have written checks before they'll kick in. I can't secure a space until I am absolutely sure there's enough cash flow to grow a viable business. And I can't really purchase equipment until I have a space and know my height restrictions for fermentation vessels. Then there are other investors that probably won't jump on board until all of those other details are figured out. Realistically, it'll be 6-12 months before you'll be able to come down to he brewery and fill up a growler, but I'm doing everything I can to speed up the process.