Kickstarting A Brewery – Former Future Brewing Company – Part 2

The Kickstarter campaign from Former Future Brewing Company is now into the home stretch with less than 10 days remaining. We talked with Sarah Howat, founder and community builder with Former Future, a few weeks ago to get a sense for how breweries in planning approach the Kickstarter process.

Now that Former Future’s campaign has passed the halfway mark, Sarah took the time to share some additional thoughts with us on how the firs half of the campaign unfolded and what she’s looking for in the remaining days.

Hops in the house

Hops in the house

Q: What type of initial response did you receive from fans and the local brewing community?

A: Leading up to the launch, many of our fans expressed overwhelming excitement. Much of that was for the membership, however many wanted to see the video and sign up for our educational events. So, we expected quite a rush of support. For the first day, all was going splendidly; we sold out of our first round of memberships (25/100) and raised over $1,000.  We were off to a great start.

Over the next few days, support seemed to drop off. While we’ve been promoting it and have had the support of many bloggers and other media (DOTW, John Turk at the Colorado Craft Beer Radio Show, Jonathan Shikes of Westword, etc.), we noticed that our promotions weren’t getting a great response on Facebook. It caused us a bit of head-scratching for sure.

Q: Have you considered making any tweaks to the reward offerings due to feedback from backers?

A: We’ve asked for feedback from Facebook, friends, etc., and we’ve haven’t been asked to make any changes. We’d certainly be open to feedback! We thought about adding a few additional smaller rewards such as pint glasses, but at this point we don’t think that will help. We need to have a couple of large backers to really help us reach our goal.

Q: How have your memberships been selling?

A: We’ve sold over a quarter of those that we’ll be offering. We don’t expect to sell all of them prior to opening – we understand that when people sign up for brewery memberships, they need to taste the beer first. And we wouldn’t want it or expect it any other way! Many, if not all, of the memberships we’ve sold have been to those that have attended our private tasting events.

Q: How confident are you that FFBC will reach its campaign goal?

A: We’re not too confident we’ll reach our goal. And that’s ok. It is a bit of a let down, but also very humbling. One thing we’re learning is that many folks are not as enthused about Kickstarter as we expected. We always viewed Kickstarter and the whole community behind it as a vehicle for helping the company/artist/producer/etc., provide something to the customer with their help. We thought people would be excited to be a part of our business. But, we’ve learned via comments online and in talking with people that there has been a shift in the minds of the consumer. So many breweries have been using Kickstarter – all for various projects or even just to help them open – and I think many are starting to wonder “why aren’t these breweries raising money in traditional ways for these projects instead of asking for money?” And we totally get that. We thought people would excited to help – and get a reward in return – but instead I think that people are starting to get annoyed with the whole process. If it isn’t successful, we are working on ways to get the equipment we want ASAP through other avenues, but there is always the possibility for a huge fundraising push during the last week.

Q: With some time to look back, is there anything you would have changed about the launch?

A: There are always things you can improve upon. It’s difficult to look back and wonder about all the “what ifs?” Instead we’re looking forward, asking how we can better serve and connect with our future customers. Will we still pursue our goals outside of the Kickstarter? Absolutely. And we’ll keep growing and learning in the process.

Q: Is fully funding the campaign the only way the process will be considered successful? If not, what else would be a success?

A: If we don’t fund, we don’t fund. Either way we’ll learn from it, and that in itself would be worth it. Many successful ideas have met failures along the way. It’s part of the process of life. But “failing” or falling short of a goal can either be just a failure, or it can be a learning process and a stepping stone for the next phase. If we don’t reach our goal, can we still say we succeeded? No, I suppose not. But I wouldn’t call it a lost cause either. We’ve learned so much already, and I expect we’ll learn much more before Oct. 5.

(All images from Former Future Brewing Company’s Facebook page)

About Peter MacKellar

A native Coloradan who thinks our fine state offers the best beer and snow anywhere in the U.S., Peter recently moved back to Denver after spending a few years in New York City.