We spoke to James Watt, Captain of BrewDog, to find out about their Dragons Den pitch nine years ago and how they've got to where they are today - a £1.8bn multinational company.
In 2009, you pitched on Dragon’s Den and got turned down! Can you tell us about the investment proposition and why they didn’t bite?
After we had proven the brewery’s value over two successful business years, my co-founder Martin and I applied to go on Dragon’s Den. Having got through the initial application process, we were invited down to the BBC studios in Manchester to participate in a screen trial. Despite pitching our hearts out, offering a 20% stake in our revolutionary Scottish-based craft beer company for a £100,000 investment, the producers of the show decided that the offer wasn’t unique enough to go the distance. At the last minute, we were told that we were no longer going through to the next stage to pitch our business to the Dragons. At the time, we were gutted. Now, we couldn’t be happier that they knocked us back.
Did this rejection affect you as founders and the business at all?
At the time, the decision by the Dragon Den’s producers not to progress us through the show was a bit of a kick in the teeth, and we were obviously disappointed with the decision that was made. But we didn’t let it stop us! Our interest in finding creative and alternative solutions to drive our mission of making other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are is what drove us to launch our record-breaking Equity for Punks crowdfunding programme. Since then, we have raised over £47million from over 80,000 craft beer renegades around the world, and they’re worth more than any one Dragon ever could have been.
When did you realise that crowdfunding might be the right route for you?
Shortly after being turned down on Dragon’s Den, we took an unprecedented step and became a PLC, pioneering a new business model; a 21st-century blueprint of alternative finance, named Equity for Punks. Offering the public the opportunity to buy shares in our company, our first round of Equity for Punks raised £750,000, from over 6,000 beer drinkers who took their chance to own part of a brewery! Fast-forward 9 years, and we’re currently live with our fifth crowdfunding equity raise, having welcomed over 34,000 new Equity Punk investors into our community since October last year.
BrewDog is now valued at £1.8bn - how much would the Dragon's investment be worth today?
Since 2009, BrewDog has gone from strength to strength, producing and shipping more and more amazing craft beer to 60 countries around the world, growing our community of Equity Punks to 80,000, and now being valued at £1.8billion. The £100,000 stake we pitched for in Dragon’s Den would now be worth an insane £360million, which would have made us the most lucrative pitch in Dragon’s Den history…!
How do you plan on using the investment and what are BrewDog’s growth plans?
Equity for Punks V surpassed its initial £10m target in under 90 days, which has enabled us to finalise our first sour-beer facility, the OverWorks, expand our state-of-the-art brewery in Ellon, Scotland and invest in our crew. We’re now sitting at over £20m invested, with the funds we’ve raised being used to open more bars around the world, including Angel, Milton Keynes, Reading, Seven Dials and our first BrewPub Tower Hill in the UK, and a bunch outside the UK as far as Norrköping, Sweden, and Itaewon, South Korea, enabling us to get more awesome craft beer into the hands of more people around the planet.
So far 2018 has been a great year, and we’ve recently announced some huge plans, such as launching our very own TV network and opening the world’s first crowdfunded craft beer hotel, The DogHouse, which wouldn’t have been possible without investment through Equity for Punks V. Next up is BrewDog Australia, which will be our third brewery, opening down under. Who knows where we’ll head next!
Did you ever think you’d have a global crowd of supporters like you do today?
When we started, we had no idea what would happen. Our mission was, and still is, to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are, and that is at the forefront of everything we do. It’s amazing that what started as 2 guys (and a dog!) from Aberdeenshire, Scotland has grown into a company with two breweries on two continents, distribution into 60+ countries, a 50-strong BrewDog bar network and more than 1,800 incredible, passionate people on our crew. We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had over the past 11 years – cheers to all you hop heads around the world!
You can invest in BrewDog today, just head over to the investment opportunity here.
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