Mead brand Greedy Bear launches crowdfund

Startup mead brand Greedy Bear has begun a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to fund its first commercial batches.

The campaign, which was launched via crowdfunding platform Pozible, started with an initial goal of $25,000 and a maximum goal of $35,000. As of writing, the campaign has raised $33,433 with 15 days left.

Since launching in 2010, many craft beer companies have utilised Pozible for various crowdfunding efforts including Your Mates Brewing, Black Hops Brewing and most recently Sobah Beverages. In 2017, Pozible founded equity crowdfunding platform Birchal as a sister platform.

The Greedy Bear campaign is not an equity crowdfund, instead following a rewards-based crowdfunding formula where reaching certain stretch goals unlocks different levels of rewards.

“So we hit our $25,000 base goal, we hit that in less than 24 hours, which is mind blowing,” Greedy Bear founder and CEO Tim Engelbrecht told Brews News.

“Then we smashed through our $30,000 stretch goal, which unlocks a saucy ASMR video with just me and one of our cans of mead, which is going to be coming up later on.

“Now we’re currently just trying to push that last $35,000, which is essentially our sold out goal.”

The base funds will go towards the first commercial batch of its Original Mead product before going towards experimental batches.

“[It] gives us a lot of kind of financial relief, as well as taking out the guesswork of knowing if people are going to buy it or not, because they’ve already bought it, which is pretty cool, a massive advantage of crowdfunding, or pre-ordering,” Engelbrecht said.

“And then essentially pay off designer debt liquor licensing debt, which my wife would be really, really stoked about.

“Then if we hit 35[000], that’s getting into territory where we’re going to have enough money to seed our next batch, which is hopefully, if all goes to plan, a pavlova mead, which I’ve been testing and working on.”

Engelbrecht said a crowdfunding campaign was the right choice for a startup looking to build its product on community feedback. This reasoning is similar to many breweries which have undertaken equity crowdfunds, however, equity crowdfunding campaigns usually raise much higher amounts.

“We really want this to be, I guess built from the ground up from community people, in order to listen to people who might be purchasing this stuff in the future,” Engelbrecht said.

“So we started this [Facebook] group called the Greedy Bear inner circle. Even before it was called Greedy Bear, we had a podcast and we still do, it’s called Making Ends Mead.

“We learnt a lot from those guys and the whole idea was to then offer these guys the opportunity to kind of jumpstart our whole project and to be the first to taste it because they’ve been with us for such a long time.

“It’s just sharing the journey with people, I thought that was the best way to kind of essentially have a pre-order, but with more of a communal kind of grassroots approach.”

Founded by Engelbrecht and head brewer Josh Tomlinson, Greedy Bear currently doesn’t have a meadery, but is looking forward to creating one along with a taproom in Sydney.

“Since day one, the plan has always been to have a taproom and a facility and the plan is to hopefully start off pretty small, but enough to be able to generate some income to kind of fund the facility back end,” Engelbrecht said.

“But between now and then we’re just going to focus on working with our friends at the Rocks Brewing in Alexandria, just to kind of keep contracting just to get our feet in the ground.

“I’ve never done this before. I’m a freaking wedding photographer. It’s just figuring out all that other stuff and making mistakes in a much smaller kind of game rather than, dropping half a million dollars of my kid’s inheritance into a massive facility and losing it all. So trying to be smart about it.”

Marketing mead in Australia

While Tim Engelbrecht first began brewing mead over 10 years ago, it wasn’t until he met One Drop Brewing’s Nick Calder-Scholes years later while working as a photographer at a wedding, where he realised the potential of mead in Australia.

“We were chatting and I said I used do a lot of meads and he said ‘Did you know mead is going gangbusters in America?’,” Engelbrecht said.

“I checked it out and I was like ‘oh my gosh, he’s actually right.’ So I was looking into what they’re doing differently and this time, they have been carbonated, they’ve been mixed with fruit and hops and canned.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been needing this whole time to kind of take my mead journey to the next level’ and that’s kind of where it went from there.”

From here, Engelbrecht researched various methods on how mead can be made more palatable for a modern consumer, rather than focusing on traditional styles.

“What we’re really kind of focusing on is that session style of modern craft mead,” Engelbrecht said.

“It’s carbonated, canned and we’re aiming for a very dry mead, so about a quarter of the sugar that you would find in a Strongbow or whatever commercial cider you can think of.”

In a constantly evolving market, it can be difficult to find a selling point of difference. For Greedy Bear, it aims to find a space between ciders and seltzers with its “modern” take on mead.

“Ciders, generally speaking, like a very broad stroke, they’re usually very sweet. People who like them have a sweet tooth, but the people who don’t drink them, think they’re too sweet.

“And then you got the seltzers, which are nice and low carb or low calorie, but they kind of lack a bit of body and a bit of depth.

“So I think we kind of fit really nicely in between that and then you’ve got beer which goes the other way where it can be a bit too much body, too heavy to carry down. So I guess we kind of solve that problem as well.

“But I guess in terms of fitting that market, I think, from what we’ve tested, people really really love the dryness of it, but also like the complexity of it over something like a cider or a seltzer.”

A sustainable drink

Whether it’s through packaging, or larger milestones such as carbon neutrality or B Corp certification, many breweries continue to actively work on improving sustainability within their businesses.

Mead, which is made by fermenting honey and water, already lends itself to sustainable practices, according to Tim Engelbrecht.

“Firstly, bees are wonderful and they promote biodiversity through pollination so that’s a great thing to start off with,” he said. “But secondly, we’re going to be using honey which is essentially a by-product of our food system.

“When you’re making wine, or beer, or cider, you’re literally planting apple orchards, or you’re planting vineyards, or you’re planting a massive monocrop, but what we’re using is the by-product of bees commercially going out and pollinating our food, so if you’re eating cucumbers, avocados, anything citrus, there’s a huge list that commercial bees pollinate.

“We’re essentially taking that stuff, that leftover that they make, and converting it into amazing alcohol.”

The unpredictable nature of honey can be a feature or flaw, as Engelbrecht explained.

“Essentially it’s a natural product and nature’s constantly changing so is honey, each batch is going to be different and unique,” he said.

“But to some extent you can kind of level out those changes by mixing winter harvests, late summer harvest, [and so on].

“It’s kind of like wine where you get your terroir and you can literally taste a suburb.

“If you harvested from a bunch of local beekeepers in Marrickville, or wherever you can, you can have a drink that tastes like Marrickville. That’s another angle we really want to explore, this whole terroir business.”

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