Let’s take a break from drinking all this beer and talk about the Ultimate Dream. You know, the universal desire we all have to open a brewery!
Now you can own a brewery! Well, sort of. It’s the ULTIMATE DREAM… eh, sort of. What can you get for $50 bucks? Something? Maybe? But you have to pay $50 again next year…
That is my confusing introduction to beerbankroll.com, a confusing idea to use crowd funding to brew, bottle, and sell beer. For just $50 bucks they promise to deliver “ULTIMATE DREAM.”
They need to get $50 from 200 people, who will be members, and then they will use that $100,000 to hire consultants on how to start their business. Oh, and the $50 is a yearly fee.
Crowd funding is a cool idea, but beerbankroll.com is doing it wrong.
First off is the design. The whole vibe is wrong for building a community. It feels like a contest and offering “the ultimate dream” and free gifts adds to that sense of it feeling big and fake. The vibe of the site is explained by looking at the “Who are you?” question in the FAQ: A marketing guy, a PR lady, and a finance guy. This explains why there is a lot of hype in the design and copy of the site.
They take the “ultimate dream” thing too far. It comes off sounding like a big company that hired a marketing firm. Here’s an example:
“In exchange for your $50 bucks (c’mon, it’s not that much!) we’ll give you a yearly membership to BeerBankroll where you’ll get to live the ultimate dream – you’ll be part of a community managed brewery! Are we the next Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Heineken, Corona, Sam Adams, Beck’s, Guinness, or Stella Artois? Come find out!”
Real people don’t talk to other real people like this. And the hard sell starts to raise some flags. If I want to help, the reason has nothing to do with getting “the world’s coolest T-shirt.”
Secondly, members are in no way “owners” of anything. They can vote on things and they earn reward points to spend on schwag. This is only entrepreneurial for the founders. Control is very much outside the hands of the members as “BeerBankroll LLC reserves the right to choose what the members will vote on.”
Third, the idea of gaining on-going revenue from the members, even after profitability, seems a little shady to me. “If the company is profitable, this money will still be essential in funding business interests such as marketing, product development and other important actions needed to run the company.” No, that is what profits are for. In addition to members they also have sponsors, which is basically advertising.
It all feels fake. Good beer and good restaurants are created by people who are committed to creating high quality food and drink. That is not the feeling this website gives. Rather, it feels like they are taking advantage of people by promising the world and delivering a t-shirt.
I don’t think that Matt, Julia, and James are trying to rip people off. They are taking an interesting idea and applying it as they know how, as marketing and PR people. They probably had a lot of meetings and put a lot of energy into business plans and marketing materials and a flashy website and a killer commercial.
Unless they make major changes, this project is doomed. No brewpub will open, no beer will be brewed, and I suspect they will not make the $100,000 they think they need to hire consultants. (Really, that is their plan.)
It doesn’t help that their idea of good beer is “Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Heineken, Corona, Sam Adams, Beck’s, Guinness, or Stella Artois,” but maybe that’s just the beer snob in me?