Swedesboro Brewing Company crowdfunded part of their brewery’s buildout with a Honeycomb Credit crowdfunding campaign!
Swedesboro, population approximately 2,500, is one of the oldest towns in the state of New Jersey. Founded by Swedes and Finns (hence the name) in 1638, the town is small but has deep historical roots. What it was missing, however, was a brewery.
In 2020, Marvin Bowe and Kevin Bain set out to change that, and opened Swedesboro Brewing Company. As two healthcare marketing professionals, they saw a need for not only a good craft brewery in their community, but also the need for a local watering hole.
Swedesboro Brewing Company is founded on traditional styles of brewing, and Marvin and Kevin pay particularly close attention to the quality of their brews and also make sure that their beers pay tribute to the town in which they’re brewed. Many of their beers are named after local historical figures and unique aspects of the town, like the Flying Steagle lager or Harker’s Glory pale ale.
These beers needed a place to be brewed and served, of course, so Marvin and Kevin set out to open a location for their brewery. As they were beginning to move into their new location and build out the brewhouse, the coronavirus pandemic hit. Marvin and Kevin needed to offset some of the increased costs of construction due to the interrupted supply chain, meaning they needed more capital.
Swedesboro Brewing Company funded $120,600 of this brewery pivot with a Honeycomb Credit crowdfunding campaign, funded by 69 investors, many of whom came from their community!
We talked with co-owner Marvin Bowe about Swedesboro Brewing Company’s beginnings, their Honeycomb campaign, and the future of the brewery. Read on to find out more about their crowdfunding journey, and the community connections they made along the way.
Raise a glass with the customers who invest in your business
Swedesboro Brewing Company is pouring out beers for their loyal customers today, thanks to the community investing in them with their Honeycomb campaign.
Learn more about how a crowdfunded small business loan can help you access fair capital for your craft brewery and boost your customer relationships at www.honeycombcredit.com/beer, and fill out the form below for more information!
Craft brewing at the intersection of art and science
One of the things that Marvin is most proud about Swedesboro Brewing Company is the quality and care that they put into every single one of their beers.
“We're always evaluating and approving and making sure the quality control is there. One small variable can really change the whole batch of beer,” he says.
Part of this is due to the background of Marvin’s partner and co-founder, Kevin, who also happens to be a pharmacist and academic. Both Marvin and Kevin became interested in brewing back in college, and began homebrewing as a hobby.
Swedesboro Brewing Company co-owner Marvin Bowe in the brewery’s tasting room
Both men went on with their careers, Marvin working as a Creative Director in advertising and Kevin as a pharmacist and public health expert, while continuing to homebrew. Everything changed after a cross-country road trip that Marvin took about 10 years ago, where he and a friend visited craft breweries in almost every state on the way from California to Illinois.
“I met a lot of lovely people in the brewing industry. That's when I decided that professional brewing was going to be in my future some way, somehow,” says Marvin.
After that road trip, Marvin and Kevin, who were working together at a marketing agency, teamed up and decided to start a craft brewery, and the seeds for Swedesboro were sown. Kevin would be the scientific mind behind the brewing process, and Marvin the creative director of the business.
While scientifically crafted, most of the beers that Swedesboro Brewing Company makes are very traditional, brewed much the same way they have been brewed for the past 300 years. The brewery owners knew they wanted to stick with the classics when it came to brewing, and not be swayed by trends in craft beer.
“I guess the term these days is bougie beers,” says Marvin, “you’re not going to find those here. In fact, one common response I give when somebody comes in with friends and says, “Oh, I don't drink craft beer,’ and I say, ‘We don't make craft beer, we make good beer.’”
Kevin Bain, co-owner of Swedesboro Brewing Company, amongst the kettles in the brewhouse
They began the process of planning the brewery in 2019, and by the time that things were getting off the ground, the coronavirus pandemic hit. This meant that construction costs went up exponentially, about 30 percent more than they were expecting.
Furthermore, the brewery owners realized that in order to operate in the middle of a pandemic, they’d have to devote more resources to canning and distribution, if people wouldn’t be able to visit their brewery immediately. So, Marvin and Kevin sought out ways that they might be able to finance these new necessities for their brewery.
Tapping into the power of community capital
“In full transparency, I was a bit reluctant at first about the Honeycomb campaign,” says Marvin. “My concern wasn't about the financing or even their ability to raise the capital for us. My concern was that we were asking people to invest without ever sampling our product.”
Up to this point, Marvin and Kevin had been funding the startup of Swedesboro Brewing Company out of their own personal savings, no bank loans or other means. However, the emergent costs because of the pandemic meant they needed to find an external source of funding, and they found Honeycomb Credit.
“I quickly overcame my concerns when the process started and we found that the community was in love with the idea of having a brewery,” says Marvin.
Marvin’s reluctance was assuaged after they began working with Honeycomb to launch their crowdfunding campaign. He especially liked the process of filming their professional pitch video with a videographer. Not only did the video focus on the brewery itself, but also on the town around it, emphasizing the brewery’s importance to the community.
“I thought that whole experience was great,” says Marvin. “Honeycomb went above and beyond.”
A draft from Swedesboro Brewing Company’s tasting room. Interested in marketing your beer? Read up on some of our collaborative marketing tips for craft breweries
Marvin also was impressed with the project management side of running a Honeycomb campaign, from his work with the customer success team to operations.
“Honeycomb was very responsive and adaptable. All those things are really key,” Marvin says. “It makes it really challenging sometimes with large financial institutions. If you don't fit their model, you have to find a way of adjusting yourself, and, and that's what I like probably most about Honeycomb, their willingness to adapt for us.”
Crowds are already filling up Swedesboro Brewing Company’s taproom, in only months since opening in May 2021.
When it came time to start raising money for the brewery’s crowdfunding campaign, Marvin and Kevin found that people were excited about the idea of having a brewery in their neighborhood.
“The first early investors were friends and family, but it got the ball rolling,” says Marvin. “I'll tell you, I still receive emails and messages. ‘I would like to invest, is that opportunity still open?’”
Ultimately, Swedesboro Brewing Company raised over $120,000. This crowdfunding campaign not only gave them the ability to raise capital for their brewery, but it also helped Marvin and Kevin market their new business so that when they did open, they already had a loyal customer base.
“We've only been open for two months, but we've already established such a genuine relationship with the locals, that if we were to reach out for help, I don't think we have any challenges whatsoever receiving that help.”
“In fact, the investors are now part of the business, and now they feel that it’s their brewery, which was the most important thing about investing today,” says Marvin.
This community connection will remain important to Swedesboro Brewing Company long after the Honeycomb crowdfunding campaign has ended. In fact, the townspeople’s investment in the brewery cements its significance as a gathering place for the neighborhood.
Marvin says, “We wanted to be the local watering hole, so those individuals are really important to us, as well because they continue to come back. They bring their friends back, and it's their place as much as it is ours.”
The tasting room staff at Swedesboro Brewing Company. Looking to hire staff? Check out this guide to hiring, training, and keeping employees at your restaurant.
Brewing a legacy in a small town
Since opening in May of 2021, Swedesboro Brewing Company has amassed a mighty following from their loyal customers (and investors), and Marvin and Kevin have an eye on the future.
“The number one goal was to brew exceptional beer, good tasting beer. Number two is to establish a good rapport, our reputation,” says Marvin. “Quality service, good, friendly support staff, things like that are really important when people are coming in to learn about beers, and so we're always doing tours and stuff like that.”
He continues, “Our third goal is to perfect our operation to make sure that we can continue to scale in the manner in which we intended. So we're following our business plan very rigorously and we're off to a great start. I mean we're only been open two months, but we've exceeded all of our goals.”