You know what I miss as a Brit living in Finland? I miss pub culture. I miss popping down to your local with a couple of friends, having a pint or two, catching up and generally just relaxing in a warm pleasant local surrounded by locals who feel like an extended family. And I’m not the only one inconvenienced that, as Sori Brewing’s story shows.
Alcohol taxes in Finland are so high that the habit of social drinking just doesn’t exist here like it does in the UK, unless you can afford to blow through the equivalent of a family’s weekly shopping budget to buy in one round that is. Finland’s beer taxes and brewery regulations are such that even a young, enterprising Finnish startup like Sori Brewing has chosen to move its operations across the Baltic Sea to Estonia to be able to make their craft beers at an affordable price and without so much bureaucratic red tape.
Sori Brewing, which was founded by three Finnish university students from business and microbiology backgrounds, have announced that they have raised over $620,000 through an equity-based crowdfunding campaign. That’s a great success for them, and goes to show just how popular their brewing has become.
"We didn't use any platform and did all by ourselves, which saved us about €32,000 euros to invest in machinery. After all, in equity based crowdfunding, platforms didn't really have anything to offer besides the knowledge and the crowd. The problem is that platforms like Invesdor work for technology business and their audience is more from that area." Pyry Hurula, CEO of Sori Brewing tells us.
Intrestingly, central Helsinki brewer Bryggeri successfully crowdfunded €658,950 from 65 investors in June 2013 on Invesdor, but unsuccessfully raised follow-on funding in a later round. They aren’t the first brewery to try using equity crowdfunding to raise their finances. The most well known is the Scottish brewery, BrewDog who’ve been making great strides in the last few years expanding their operations outside of the UK and into Europe and the Nordics.
From their inception Sori Brewing brewed their beers in local Finnish breweries and sold them in Finnish craft beer restaurants. They must be making good beers too because they’ve said that demand has always exceeded expectations and all batches have sold out in less than a week. With that excellent start and some strong word of mouth they’ve been able to secure the investment they require to take their business to the next level.
However that’s where they’ve run up against the wall that Finnish law has put up in their way, and why they’ve chosen to found their business operations in another country to be able to grow. For example breweries aren’t allowed to sell beer on premises in Finland, and beers over 4.7% alc. can only be sold in government owned alcohol monopoly stores.
So it looks like I might have to jump on the ferry to Tallinn a little bit more often to sample their wares, drinks such as Investor IPA, Investor Porter and Investor Double IPA, all names inspired by the crowdfunding campaign. Sori Brewing brewery is scheduled to be operational by the end of this year, but hopefully we won’t have to wait until Christmas!