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How to turn a great idea into a great business idea was the conundrum facing Access to Finance (A2F) when it began working with Lancashire brewing start-up Cannabrew. 

Beer with benefits

Set up by Elliot Horner, the latest in a long line of family brewers, the company’s USP was the inclusion of cannabidiol (CBD) in its craft beers. Derived from cannabis, but without the THCs (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has been shown to have many medicinal properties, including mood enhancing and calming qualities. 

The business also has an ethical out-look, planting a new tree in a Madagascan mangrove forest for every case of beer it sells. 

Access to Finance Boost

Elliot was referred to A2F Lancashire by Boost Business Lancashire and began working with A2F advisor Cassim Patel at a particularly challenging time, with lockdown just beginning and the hospitality industry starting to struggle. 

The beer, which is available on-line, had already received excellent reviews and Elliot was looking to grow the business with a range of new products. However, without significant trading records, the company couldn’t follow traditional funding routes, such as equity investment; it was a Catch 22 situation. 

Cassim analysed the company, working on a growth strategy, cashflow forecasting and business plans. He also helped Elliot prepare a pitch to investors which successfully helped to raise some of the money the business needed. 

Further investment using alternative platforms

Cassim also introduced the idea of using Crowdfunding to finance the business’s growth. He explains: “We worked on prioritising ways in which Elliot could incentivise potential investors, and the importance of getting the marketing right because the first 48 hours can make or break any campaign.” 

Using mailing lists of potential ‘seeders’ (seed money, sometimes known as seed funding or seed capital, is a form of investment in which an investor invests capital in a company in exchange for an equity stake or convertible note stake in the company) and individuals who had expressed an interest in the business, the campaign proved a huge success, raising £220K against a targeted £150K in the first 24 hours. Investors received 17% in return and in total 220 people have now invested in Cannabrew. 

As Elliott says: “We are creating something really special here at Cannabrew, the demands on our products are growing, we are building a team to deliver the best products using the company values and we are absolutely grateful for the support we have received from Cassim who has believed in us from our first interaction in early 2020, we have had all the support we could have needed from Access to Finance. We are looking forward to exciting times ahead” 

The business is now ready to move on to the next phase of development, which is to bring production in-house – at the moment Cannabrew is brewed and canned by a third party. 

And with the company now having a track record of growth, with sales increasing from 20K to £100K in the last 12 months, other traditional funding routes have opened up too. 

Fully funded support

Funded via the European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund, and by Lancashire County Council, Access to Finance Lancashire provides local businesses with fully funded support to help them source the finance they need to unlock business growth.  

Finance specialists, with expert knowledge of public and private sector funding channels, help to identify the most relevant sources of funding, offer support around financial forecasting, and help business owners become investment ready before discussions with potential investors. 

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