The Thirsty Beagle: Kolibri Ale Works seeks Kickstarter success

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kolibri Ale Works seeks Kickstarter success

Wanting to start a brewery is one thing. Having enough money to do it is something altogether different.

There are several funding avenues potential brewers can pursue. You can seek investors who then get a share in the success of your company. That's certainly an expedient route to build out a capital-intensive project -- think about how fast Anthem rolled out its brewhouse.

That's also a way to have a lot of outside influence on your day-to-day operations. See Anthem again, when founder and brewmaster Matt Anthony suddenly parted ways with the company.

A second alternative is taking out bank loans and/or putting up your own collateral. You get to keep all the control, and nobody can run you out of town. But you're putting your own family's neck on the line if you can't make a little money and pay the bills.

Those aren't the only options, of course. One novel approach has been tried by a handful of Oklahoma brewers, with mixed results. That approach is the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign.

The latest brewer-in-planning to go that route is Kolibri Ale Works, which is seeking $27,000 for a variety of items intended to help finish out its Tulsa brewery. Kolibri hopes to brew a variety of beer, including full-flavored gluten-free offerings.

The money would go toward the "purchase of a boil kettle, miscellaneous parts for the keg washer and bottling line. A trench drain system will also be installed in the building, along with assorted plumbing components."

With roughly two weeks to go in the campaign, Kolibri is still well shy of its goal. So far, they've collected pledges of $3,244 from 32 backers.

Four other Oklahoma brewers (that I'm aware of) have attempted Kickstarter campaigns over the years. They've actually batted 2-for-4 on those campaigns.

In 2013, Prairie launched a $10,000 campaign, and ultimately garnered $23,698 in pledges. For a pledge of at least $1,000, Prairie offered to name a beer and create a label in honor of the donor. Nine people took advantage of that offer. (Pretty sure Fred's Blend and Tulsa Rugby Ale were both a result of that offer -- anyone know of any others?)

In late 2012, Roughtail launched an ambitious campaign seeking $30,000 to build out a canning line. The campaign did not pan out, with $6,810 in pledges coming from 67 backers.

About the same time, Black Mesa faced the same fate as Roughtail. The longtime gypsy brewer sought $17,990 in order to purchase space at the now-defunct Oklahoma City Brewing Cooperative. Black Mesa secured pledges of $6,173 from 65 backers as the deadline expired.

Like Prairie, another brewery with Tulsa ties found Kickstarter success. Dead Armadillo's 2013 campaign garnered pledges of $11,380 -- more than its $10,000 goal. They did it mostly with small pledges. Only two people chipped in more than $500.

The basic premise of a Kickstarter campaign typically includes some type of swag or special perks offered up for those making pledges, with bigger pledges yielding bigger rewards. The campaigns are timed, and if the goal isn't reached before time is up, none of the pledges/rewards are collected/distributed.

Kolibri's offerings range from a $1 pledge in exchange for a Facebook shout-out, to $30 for a Belgian glass, to $1,000 to have a fermenter named after you, to $4,000 to name the company's mascot.

You can find the campaign page by clicking right here.

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