By Robyn Molloy

West Winds Gin has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars via public equity crowdfunding and is among the first in Australia to access capital by the new source.

The company, which has been through the CCI-backed Entrepreneurs’ Program, kicked off its campaign via the Equitise website on May 15 with the offering to close next week.

It will also launch its first gin bar at Bill’s in Leederville on July 12, open to the public from 8.30pm.

Investors can spend as little as $500 to own a piece of the distilling company, which has products stocked in all major liquor stores around the country. The company raised $593,000 within a week of kickstarting the campaign and had $740,000 in the kitty this week.

“As one for the first ones off the rank, we’re happy with it,”co-founder and CEO Paul White says, with the capital raising to fund the company’s expansion plans domestically and overseas.

After the closing date, all shareholders will be notified and issued with share certificates with details of the investor program – such as invitations and early product access – to be revealed.

“The benefit for investors is having a stake in the company as we grow,” he says.

“The ideal end state is that everyone makes a return on their investment and has some fun in the process.

“It’s $500 minimum, so it’s not an overly expensive way to have a play in a gin business.”

Program propels expansion

White says completing several programs as part of the federally-funded Entrepreneurs’ Program was a catalyst for the next stage in the company’s expansion.

He says the first program, which covered process optimisation and documentation, helped with entry management and accounting systems.

Other programs covered inventory management system with the new accounting system and marketing.

“You look at it from the perspective that we have 10 product SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) in the market and some of them are made up of 20 different components. Then we have warehouses all over Australia,” he says.

“Now we can track our costs. So, in terms of giving visibility into the company’s costs and margins, it’s been fantastic.

While Paul has a wealth of experience in IT, electrical engineering and management consulting, he said you can never know it all.

“The Entrepreneurs’ Program in some ways has been a catalyst to move to the next step in terms of improving the fundamentals of how we run the business,” he says.

“In terms of approving process and system, and preparing us for growth and manageable growth, it’s been a really good program for getting that infrastructure in place.

“We have a really good board of directors, but having access to a pool of advisors across a range of industries is great. We’re willing to learn from anyone we can.”

Entrepreneurs’ Program Business Adviser Geoff Brazier says West Winds Gin had its business evaluation in July 2015 and a growth plan in September 2017.

“As business adviser to West Winds Gin over the past three years or so, I am proud to have been involved and witness to the successful growth and evolution in the processes and capability of this innovative company,” he says.

West Winds Gin has won multiple awards and opened a gin-focused cocktail bar at the Leederville Hotel in June.

New way to source funds

Crowd-sourced funding is a new avenue for businesses to access capital to develop and grow, especially attractive to small to medium enterprises.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission issued the first seven licenses to crowd-sourced funding intermediaries in January.

Free workshop on Lean training

The Entrepreneurs’ Program will run a free workshop on August 9 on demystifying Lean. 

WA businesses including Character Cabinets, Enduraclad and Aquatic Leisure Technologies have all reported cutting costs and greater production rates after putting staff through Lean training.

Think Perform’s Barrie Bowler, who spent 16 years developing an understanding of Lean principles at Toyota, will run the workshop at CCI in East Perth.

For more information contact Kim Moss on (08) 9365 7561 or kim.moss@cciwa.com or register here.

The CCI-run Entrepreneur’s Program can be a catalyst for growth. Find out if you’re eligible for matched grants of up to $20,000 by visiting cciwa.com.