Thanks to crowdfunding, California’s Stone Brewing Co. raised $2.5 million in just six weeks this summer to sell some so-called “beer futures,” but the initial mixed reaction to the campaign caught co-founder Greg Koch off guard.
The campaign, which Koch has described as a “limited beer pre-sales event,” ran into some crowdfunding fatigue when the U.S.’s tenth largest craft brewer offered to sell advance orders for beers that will be brewed at the company’s new facility in Germany.
Though Stone Brewing’s campaign is the second-most successful effort on Indiegogo’s website, the company’s chief executive admits there were some challenges. Stone initially sold the campaign as an opportunity to buy special edition beers, while also sharing details about using the proceeds to speed up the timeline for Stone’s expansion plans in Germany and at a new location in Virginia.
“Some people were infuriated by that,” Koch told Fortune. “We found we hit quite a sensitive nerve. People were like, ‘You are coming to us for a handout, you are a profitable, successful company.’”
Koch was surprised by that reaction, as he thought transparency would be appreciated by Stone’s fans. But Stone Brewing reacted quickly, altering its message and sticking to a promise of selling quality beer. The negative online chattered faded away immediately.
The campaign’s story is the latest example that shows craft brewers haven’t perfected the crowdfunding formula, even as many turn to strangers on the Internet to raise funds for a new project.
There are 23 breweries actively raising money on Kickstarter today.