Office of the Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch
Office of the Lt. Gov, Rebecca Kleefisch - Press Release

Brewing Start-Up Success Stories

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - Press Release

Wisconsin’s craft brewing industry often leads the nation for the best beers on the market. Never mind. It just plain leads the nation for great beer. One Wisconsin company, MobCraft, is leading in a new way: letting crowdsourcing essentially do their market research, determining the products they actually brew. Mobcraft is also the first company in the state to take advantage of our new crowdfunding option, which allows Wisconsinites to invest and buy equity in Wisconsin companies entirely online.

In 2012, MobCraft launched a new business model for making beer based on the crowdsourced opinions of its online supporters to determine what gets brewed and when. Initially, MobCraft used crowdsourcing to collect ideas for beers, including descriptions of brewing techniques, thoughts on ingredients, and even recipes. But now, MobCraft will embrace the online support from its customers by raising investment capital. Named the 2013 Best New Brewer in Wisconsin, this company is also the nation’s first completely crowdsourced brewery. And just last week, they won the Governor’s Business Plan Contest for the best model for advanced manufacturing, a clever mashup of social media and beer brewing.

For a small business start-up, the biggest obstacle is often attaining the funds necessary to launch. The ability to solicit investments from a large group of people, especially from your customers and community rather than from traditional investors, can better equip small businesses to raise the equity they need. And in today’s world, where we check our bank balances, pay bills, and even deposit funds from our cell phones, the opportunity to make capital investments online is not only advantageous for small businesses but also convenient for the everyday citizen. That’s why it makes sense that this new form of capital investment, called crowdfunding, is accelerating equity investing and creating an entirely new market for the dollars necessary to start a small business. It’s angel investing for the regular guy: and you can invest in beer!

Currently, federal regulations ban all but a small slice of our nation’s most financially successful citizens from access to these forms of investment. To address these regulatory shortcomings, last November Gov. Walker signed into law a crowdfunding bill that lets the rest of us take a risk and hope for reward, right along with the business owner. The legislation allows all Wisconsin residents, regardless of economic status, the opportunity to invest in Wisconsin companies.

With this new law, Wisconsin is now at the forefront of a growing movement to democratize capital investment by allowing residents to invest in small businesses online. By embracing 21st century technology to the benefit of Main Street businesses through a broader base of investors, we can provide market-driven solutions which will allow start-ups to raise the capital they need to grow and create jobs.

This is just one more way we are working to solve Wisconsin small businesses’ long-standing challenge of access to capital. We also recently lifted the cap on angel investment tax credits, opened a $25 million Wisconsin venture capital fund, and supported revolving loan funds at local chambers of commerce throughout Wisconsin. Across all these efforts, state government is fully committed to championing our small businesses and entrepreneurs like Mobcraft—to give them every opportunity to grow and succeed in Wisconsin.