In any new business venture, funding is key. No money, no business. It’s just that simple. All of the next steps I need to take in setting up the Megalith Brewing taproom – from getting the necessary permits, signing a lease on a space, and assembling my brewing setup – will require more money than I have at my disposal right now.

My original financial plan relied heavily on being able to secure a sizable loan from a bank, hopefully one backed by the insurance provided by the SBA. The remainder of the financing was going to be raised through a combination of equity partnerships, and reward-based crowdfunding. Since reaching out to a local SBA-backed bank, though, it’s been explained to me that traditional lenders don’t like lending to high-risk borrowers, such as a nonexistent start-up being operated by someone with a history of credit problems like myself. In my situation, finding equity partners and relying more heavily on crowdfunding for initial capital are going to be the only real solution for me.

My biggest hesitancies with reward-based crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or IndieGogo are simply the costs involved with actually producing the rewards. Stickers, mugs, glassware, shirts, posters – these would all be fun rewards to help me spread the brand around a bit, but the cost of fulfilling those commitments will eat into the small amount I think I’d be able to raise (and that’s after taxes and fees are paid to Amazon and Kickstarter for helping me raise the money). Creating promotional merchandise is definitely on the long-term plan, but it wasn’t something I was planning to need to do straight away, before even starting the permitting process.

Kickstarter’s biggest saving grace in that regard is that you can’t collect the money unless you reach your funding goal, so I could simply increase my goal until it would cover all of the reward costs AND leave me enough to do what I need to do to take the next steps in getting my permits and licenses. Indiegogo doesn’t have that same benefit, so I’d be immediately on the hook for producing the merchandise whether I raise enough money to do it or not.

Any crowdfunding approach relies heavily on one’s social network, of course. In order to promote the Megalith Brewing plan and get people excited about the beer, and let them know about the impending crowdfunding campaign, I’ll be hosting a series of tasting parties this summer, where I’ll be providing free samples of Megalith beer to folks, and talking about my plans and goals. The first tasting party is coming together now and it should be happening in the first week of June, 2014. I’ll have more firm details here and at the Megalith Brewing facebook page soon. The first party will be invite-only, but I’m inviting everyone who’s Liked the Facebook page, so go do that if you want your name on the list!

I’m also happy to talk to potential investors during this process, so if you’re interested (or know someone who would be), please get in touch and I’ll run you through my plan for issuing stock in the brewery. The final legal structure of that will require my having a conversation with a business lawyer, though, and of course that will cost money as well.