How it Works: The Process

Browse companies and products/projects (anyone)

  • Create user profile
  • Browse and follow companies

View Offers and Invest (WI residents only)

  • Create user profile by entering username, password, and certifying residency
  • Browse offerings in WI
  • Review Disclosure Document and do due diligence on companies
  • Complete investor account under "Become an Investor" tab 
  • Agree to investment terms, enter investmetn amount and click “Invest” to make investment commitment
  • Mail check in amount of investment commitment to Wisconsin bank serving as escrow agent (address will be provided)
  • Funds disbursed to company and investor becomes owner if minimum target hit
  • Engage company through CraftFund shareholder portal

Showcase Products/Projects (any food/drink company or real estate developer)

  • Create and submit company profile for approval
  • Showcase products/projects

Raise Capital (WI food/beverage companies and real estate developers only)

  • Create and submit company profile for approval
  • Apply for fundraise on CraftFund
  • Complete background check questionnaire
  • File Notice, Disclosure Document, and Escrow Agreement with Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions through DFI’s website
  • Launch campaign 10 days after filing with DFI
  • Receive funds held in escrow by state bank once target hit
  • Engage new owners and deliver required quarterly report via CraftFund shareholder portal

Disruptive Capital For a Disruptive Industry

Craft is disrupting the food and drink industry. Artisan makers are disrupting the food and drink market by focusing on variety and smaller batches.  Specialty foods seized over $85B in sales in 2012.  Craft beer continues double digit growth as the overall beer market contracts.

Equity crowdfunding will disrupt financing.  State and federal regulations are changing such that small businesses will soon have access to a much greater pool of capital through the sale of equity online. The potential to sell equity to customers will disrupt and democratize the traditional finance model.

The perfect pairing.  As an alternative source of capital, equity crowdfunding will help craft food and drink makers gain more market share.  Additionally, equity crowdfunding is a grassroots source of capital that is more consistent with these craft brands.

Investment VS. Rewards Crowdfunding

Rewards crowdfunding.  The rewards crowdfunding model popularized by sites such as kickstarter is the process of sourcing capital online from a larger group of individual contributors.  The contributions are best understood as donations. In exchange for a donation, individuals receive “rewards” such as a sample product or gear.

Equity crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding is the process of sourcing capital by selling equity online to a larger group of investors.  Previously, companies were only permitted to sell shares to the very wealthy.  Because of recent regulatory changes, small businesses will be able for the first time to sell shares directly to the general public.  Therefore, an investor receives a stake in the company as opposed to a t-shirt.

Turning customers and local residents into owners and advocates. We believe investment crowdfunding is the future for food, drink and place makers. Startups will have access to more seed capital.  Existing companies will have an opportunity to grow in a more grassroots manner by turning customers and local community into owners and advocates.

A Disruption Based Out Of The "Brew City"

Join Our Disruptive Mission >

CraftFund Story

The CraftFund story is firmly rooted in the "Brew City"--Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The story began with two good friends sharing a beer and discussing our passion for craft beer and the city of Milwaukee. We discussed our love for how craft beer disrupts the status quo as well as our passion for seeing our local place thrive. We also discussed visiting new places, discovering local makers, and experiencing others' passion for where they live. It became clear that what we wanted was the ability to take ownership of our local places.

Around the same time we were having these conversations, a grassroots campaign to purchase one of Milwaukee's storied breweries--Pabst Brewing Co.--was underway. The attempt was wildly successful, receiving over $200 million in pledges from over 5 million potential investors. Unfortunately, the campaign technically violated securities laws and was shut down by the SEC.

We then realized we were part of a broader consumer demand for ownership experiences in craft makers. This demand went unmet due to decades old laws that precluded general public from investing in local companies. So we set out to create a solution.

Using his legal and regulatory background, David Dupee worked with the Wisconsin legislature to adopt one of the first state equity crowdfunding laws and the first to be passed through the legislative process.  Wisconsin is now at the forefront of a growing movement to democratize capital by allowing residents to invest in small businesses online. As a result, consumer demand for ownership experiences will finally be met.  In addition, local food and place makers have access to a new source of capital that is more consistent with their brand and projects.

CraftFund is therefore the next chapter in a beautiful story about customers and community members turned owners and advocates. Our mission is to provide local residents with a platform to craft better communities through investments in food, drink and place makers. Join the movement to democratize capital. Own Craft. Own your Place.

David Dupee, Craft Beer Enthuisiast & Founder

Read His Latest Blog Post >

CraftFund Team

The CraftFund Team

CraftFund was founded by a passionate attorney who has advocated for new laws and is advised by individuals with significant finance and industry background.

Learn More about the CraftFund team.

Advancing Industry Growth By Turning Local Customers Into Owners

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Intrastate Crowdfunding

How We Got Here

Raising capital is a highly regulated exercise.  The general rule is that to raise capital by selling equity a company must first register the offering with federal and state governments unless it is able to meet a federal exemption. Traditionally and generally speaking, the exemptions have only applied when selling to high net worth individuals called “accredited investors.” This appeared set to change when Congress passed the JOBS Act in 2012, which created an exemption to allow companies to sell smaller amounts of equity online to the general public nationwide so long as certain conditions. However, the JOBS Act has still not gone into effect due to prolonged rulemaking. 

What It Is

Frustrated with pace of JOBS Act implementation, states have begun to proactively create their own solutions.  Pursuant to the federal intrastate exemption, several states have passed or are considering state investment crowdfunding laws to make it easier for state business to sell equity to state residents.

Wisconsin Example

Wisconsin was the third state to create an intrastate crowdfunding law and first to do so through the legislative process.  CraftFund was very involved in getting the law passed, which will go into effect June 1, 2014.  Below is a high level overview of  Wisconsin Assembly Bill 350:

  • Wisconsin companies that generate at least 80% of their business from operations in Wisconsin can raise up to $1M (no audit) or $2M (audit) from Wisconsin residents every 12 months;
  • Every Wisconsin resident may invest up to $10,000 in a Wisconsin company; Wisconsin residents making at least $100,000 per year may invest an unlimited amount;
  • Wisconsin companies must limit the offer and sale of equity to Wisconsin residents;
  • Companies wishing to advertise the offering must conduct the raise through an internet portal registered with the Department of Financial Institutions;
  • Companies must provide Department of Financial Institution and investors with a required disclosure document;
  • Funds held in escrow with Wisconsin bank until target amount is hit or exceeded;
  • Companies with successful raises required to deliver quarterly reports to shareholders.

 

Latest Blog:

Wisconsin Offers Preview of Equity Crowdfunding Under JOBS Act

CraftFund was formed to help food and beverage companies raise capital from passionate customers and local residents.  It’s based on the deep-seated conviction that the opportunity to invest should depend on how much one knows about the company, not how much money one makes. From the outset this has required changes in securities laws to allow for democratization of investing. Therefore, we are excited that the SEC is poised on Friday to release final rules that will...

F.A.Q.

CraftFund is an online platform that allows local residents to craft the future of their communities through investments in food, drink and place makers.

CraftFund is a platform for place makers. Just as we enjoy exploring new places and local products, so too would we like to see an online market for place-based investments. A platform where you can go to learn more about products/projects in your area as well as invest in companies that might need funding. We believe this new funding model will work best with products and businesses that people are familiar with and are passionate about. Right now we are only open to food/beverage companies and real estate developers.

Food and beverage companies can create a profile to advertise local products. Real estate developers can create a profile to highlight certain projects. Companies in need of capital can seek investments from local customers (only in WI right now). Customers can browse company profiles to learn more about local food products and real estate projects. Customers can do due diligence on and invest in these companies raising capital on the site (only WI residents right now).

CraftFund is an equity platform. This means that instead of donating to companies, investors on this site purchase shares or investment interests in the companies. In short, every deal on this site turns customers into actual owners of the companies they are passionate about.

Food and beverage companies will offer equity (a percentage of the company) to investors. Real estate developers will have the option to offer equity or debt.

Simply put, an investor in an equity deal becomes a part owner of the company. The actual percent ownership is determined by dividing the investment amount by the company's valuation (what the company determines it is worth). In a debt deal, the investor does not become an owner in the company. Instead, the investment functions as a loan that the company agrees to pay back in addition to interest accrued.

The offerings presented on CraftFund are possible under the intrastate exemption to federal securities laws. WI is one the first states to create a state crowdfunding law under this intrastate exemption. We will explore additional markets as laws change.

CraftFund does not hold investor funds. Instead, state law requires that companies enter into an escrow agreement with a bank located chartered under Wisconsin law. All investments are in the form of a check that gets deposited into an escrow account with a Wisconsin bank serving as escrow agent. Investors mail a check directly to the Wisconsin bank.

Investors have the right to cancel a commitment to invest and have funds returned by escrow agent if the company does not reach its minimum target. However, the investor can also choose to proceed with the investment. CraftFund will follow up with each investor to determine how they wish to proceed.

The President signed the federal JOBS Act in April of 2012. Once implemented by the SEC, the JOBS Act will allow companies to sell equity online to the general public nationwide through funding portals and/or broker dealers. There are concerns over whether the JOBS Act will be cost prohibitive for small companies. Regardless, we are closely monitoring regulatory developments.

Any WI resident can invest up to $10,000 in a Wisconsin company. WI residents with at least $100,000 income or $750,000 net worth can invest an unlimited amount.

Only residents of the state where the offering company is located may invest in deals. Right now the platform is limited to WI companies. Therefore, only WI residents may invest in WI companies.

 

Yes. Investing in private/and or early stage companies is always risky. You could lose all of your money. Read our Investor 101 for more details.

Investors. CraftFund’s initial due diligence is limited to checking for any bad actors associated with the company. The fact a company is listed on our site simply means that our reasonable investigation has not turned up any such bad actors. It should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement. Instead, our investor community is responsible for performing its own due diligence on attractiveness of each deal. We believe members of local community are in best position to evaluate these companies.

This will depend on the terms of each investment. Ownership interests in private companies can entitle investors to dividends. Also, companies may choose to provide discounts or other shareholder perks. Ultimately, every investment allows an investor to become an actual stake holder in local companies they are passionate about.

Shares purchased on this site cannot be resold for a certain period of time (often 9-12 months) except under very limited circumstances. Regardless, investments in private companies are often illiquid, meaning investors should be prepared to hold the investment indefinitely.

Your company must be organized and do substantial business in the state that you seek to seek capital from. The general rule of thumb for proving substantial business in a state is that a company derives at least 80% of its business from the state.

It is free to sign up and invest in companies. It is also free to create a company profile. Wisconsin companies raising funds will be charged a due diligence and listing fee. We do not take a backend success fee.

Right now only WI companies may raise funds on the site. However, we expect expand as more states adopt crowdfunding laws and/or federal JOBS Act develops.

Yes, any U.S. food and drink company can create a free basic profile. Basic profiles are limited to general brand and product description and cannot include any solicitation or offers. CraftFund reserves the right to remove any content that goes beyond brand and product description.

Equity crowdfunding is a desperately needed new source of capital for small businesses. Additionally, equity crowdfunding is an innovative way for companies to connect with and engage customers.

Yes. Companies are encouraged to create ownership experiences for investors.

Yes. State laws require companies to provide a quarterly report to investors.

Yes. Our shareholder portal is a mechanism for companies to deliver required reports and engage/communicate investors.

The Numbers

Craft beer and crowdfunding are two nascent and trending industries. For the past several years, the craft beer market has grown double digits, including 17% growth in 2012. Today there are over 2400 breweries in the U.S., the most since the 1880's. Despite this growth, craft beer still only claims 6% of the total beer volume and 10% of total beer dollars. The craft category is expected to continue its steady growth and become a $17 billion industry by 2017. Crowdfunding is also in its early stages, having raised around $2 billion in 2012. However, new laws will open investment crowdfunding to average investors, which could dramantically expand the market. For example, the crowdfunding market would stand at $300 billion if the average investor invests just 1% of assets in crowdfunded projects.

Total number of breweries in 1978:

89

Total number of breweries in 2012:

2416

Dollars crowdfunding raised in 2009:

$530m

Dollars crowdfunding raised in 2012:

$2.8b

Sales
of craft beer in 2007:

$5.7b

Sales
of craft beer in 2012:

$10b

Craft Investors who have joined the craftfund community, as of today:

2574