New brewery locks in space, looks forward to local investors

Relying on crowdfunding, recently signed into law by President Obama

Schubros Brewery has secured a San Ramon location for its headquarters and has some new hope for its financial future with the recent passage of a bill that allows for crowdfunding -- raising capital from lots of small investors instead of a few big investors.

Ian Schuster, Schubros' president, said the company has leased a space in San Ramon near the intersection of Alcosta Boulevard and Norris Canyon Road for its corporate offices, distribution center and its research and development facility, as well as -- after getting the necessary approvals -- a "small, small, small batch" brewery. For now, he said, the company will keep its main brewery in Santa Cruz, although Schuster hopes to move everything here in the next few years.

Schuster had a mixed review of the JOBS (Jumpstart our Business Startups) act. He said the original version passed in the House of Representatives was exactly what small businesses had called for. It allowed startups to bypass Securities and Exchange Commission filings that can add $40,000 to $70,000 in costs.

That changed in the Senate version, Schuster said.

"The problem with the bill is that there was an amendment that was added on, that put on it several times 'subject to SEC approval.' That sort of put it out of reach of a lot of startups," he said. "As a company you will have to register with the SEC and will have to file annual reports with the SEC. It's no longer a bill for startups."

Schuster said Schubros lucked out by getting some bigger investors that will allow the company to pay the SEC filings and will be ready to use crowdfunding as soon as it's signed off by the SEC.

"We just will eek into being able to do it," he said. "Beer is a very charismatic industry. We were lucky enough to get some notice, such as in the Yes In My Back Yard campaign."

Despite the JOBS act's passage last week, he said it will be more than a year until small businesses will be able to take advantage of crowdfunding.

"It's going to be 18 months until the SEC will have all its papers in order," Schuster said. "Eventually, when the SEC signs everything off, you're going to have a bunch of websites emerge that are halfway between Kickstarter (a website that allows people to fund specific arts projects) and E-trade."

Even though Schubros will be able to use crowdfunding from jump, Schuster said the company is promoting some changes in the law that could be implemented right away and would help all small businesses start crowdfunding. Schuster is part of a group that's just launched a Facebook page, 35To350, which calls for just adding a zero to the amount of investors allowed before SEC involvement.

Although the company will still brew in Santa Cruz for now, Schuster hopes San Ramon will be its permanent home.

"When we do sell (shares), we're going to try to make it a local sell," Schuster said, adding, "Our shareholders will be our best customers."

It helps, he said, that San Ramon has "a lot of people with disposable incomes."


Like this comment
Posted by Beer Advocate
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Woo hoo! This is great news.

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