Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Bad Summary

It's been a couple of weeks since I've written anything here.  What can I say?  Raising money is boring.  In an effort to balance the homebrewing content, here's a timeline of our startup process:

-Summer 2006: loved my job at J.T. Whitney's, but the pay was lousy. Reasoned that if I wanted to earn a decent living, be in charge of a brewing operation and stay in Madison, I'd need to open my own business. Decided it would be a distributing brewery so I wouldn't have to mess around with food service.
-Late 2006 or early 2007: asked Jane to be my business partner. I'd brew the beer while she marketed and sold it.
-February 2007: Moved to Vermont for a 10-month job at Otter Creek Brewing so I could familiarize myself with bottling.
-Sometime in 2007: Vermont was beautiful, my co-workers were great and the pay was good, but the nature of brewpub work was a lot more fun. Jane and I decided the business would be a pub.
-December 2008: contract at Otter Creek ended. Moved back to WI and stupidly decided not to get a job so I could open the business faster.
-January 2008: began researching information and writing a business plan.
-February 2008: decided to call the business RePublic Brewpub.
-May 2008: met with a lawyer about business structure and hired him to write an operating agreement (the LLC equivalent of corporate by-laws).
-July 2008: began looking for locations in Madison. Reviewed projections with an accountant. Started writing a Private Placement Memorandum (PPM), aka a formal investment offering. Registered the business as an LLC.
-August 2008: received our initial operating agreement. Obtained an Employer ID number from the IRS.
-October 2008: Finished the initial business plan. Began meeting with securities lawyers to discuss investor solicitation strategies and ensure that our PPM complied with securities laws.
-November 2008: Started working with a commercial realtor.
-December 2008: retained a securities lawyer to review our PPM. Started working with an architect.
-January 2009: hired a graphic artist and a web designer. Opened a money market account to deposit investor checks. Finished the initial PPM and started looking for investors.
-April 2009: began talking with bankers about loans.
-May 2009: began looking for locations in Sun Prairie.
-June 2009: chose a location and began negotiating our occupancy.
-July 2009: began working with a construction manager and received our initial construction estimate.
-August 2009: secured the location. Registered as a future payer of Wisconsin business taxes. Received our initial floor plan.
-September 2009: registered our investment offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission as exempt under Regulation A, Rule 504.  Wisconsin's "25 or fewer non-accredited investors" exemption didn't require registration. Took a food safety course to comply with state regulations (the business needs a certified food manager. It'll eventually be Jane, but she won't be able to take the course for a while and we didn't want that to slow us down).

Throughout this process, Jane and I gathered knowledge to refine our business plan. Understanding what we're trying to do has definitely been the most time-consuming aspect of this project, and it's become obvious to us how the owners of brewpub chains are able to open their subsequent locations much quicker than their initial locations.


Megan said...

You guys have come so far. Keep up the good work! We all believe in you!

paul said...

It's great to follow this, and fantastic that you've provided the resources you have. I'm working with a partner on the very early stages of a similar venture in Richmond, VA. We're at the point of drawing in some potential partners who have developed distilleries, wineries, and restaurants and working through the question of brewery-plus-pub or classic brewpub. The information you've shared has made the early planning stages much smoother so far.