In the summer of 2019, Neleman raises no less than half a million euros in just under two hours through crowdfunding. That much enthusiasm sets Derrick Neleman thinking. It involves a loan with 4% interest in cash and 2.5% interest in wine with a term of 5 years. 309 people invest. And it turns out that most of them are customers: each and every one of them very committed to the sustainable wine brand. Derrick Neleman is overwhelmed. And the first seed has been planted: you can share your business with customers.
Derrick goes in search of more examples of alternative cash flows in wine. He is introduced to Naked Wines, a brand that promises artisanal wines at supermarket prices. Naked Wines has 350,000 members: the Naked Angels. Each month they pay £25 in advance to the wine piggy bank. That money goes into their personal account, and with it the Angels can buy wine at an extreme discount. Definitely super interesting. But in the Netherlands, you need a banking licence for something like that: that's both expensive and complex.
In 2020, the platform De Ondernemer (The Entrepreneur) proclaims Derrick Neleman as the most inspiring entrepreneur of the year. Which prompts journalist Alex Ruitenberg of the FD to ask Derrick if he can join him for a few days at the Neleman winery in Valencia, Spain. They talk endlessly. And Derrick follows the advice of an old friend: share your dream and be amazed at what happens. He tells Alex that he wants to share his business with customers, but doesn't know how to go about it. Alex writes about Derrick's dream and after publication in the FD, the phone doesn’t stop ringing. Derrick gets some great tips. One call is about sharefunding. Something Derrick, like so many entrepreneurs, has not heard of. The idea of exchanging shares for growth capital appeals to him immediately.
Because there are no great examples of success in sharefunding in the Netherlands as yet, Derrick set out to investigate. He ended up at the English company Brewdog, a brewery that, through a form of sharefunding, managed to attract more than 200,000 shareholders in ten years and grew into a mega-company. Derrick gets to work with sharefunding himself. It’s trailblazing work. For there are few companies that have raised serious capital in this way. Neleman has operating companies in both the Netherlands and Spain, which does not make the process and structure any easier. Eventually everything is placed into a cooperative under which all the operating companies operate. Along with the trademark rights. Because Derrick believes it is important that people share in the whole business: from vineyards and winery to webshops, shops and trademark rights.
Just before Christmas 2020, the first round goes live through the Netherlands' first sharefunding platform, Eyevestor. 1 million euros are raised in a few days and Neleman is 938 shareholders richer. The money from round 1 is used to pay off debt and convert it into equity. Round 2 is also a success, and this time the funds are invested in growth, the purchase of vineyards and the remodelling of the winery. Within 12 months, 5 million euro has been raised: Neleman is 3,000 shareholders richer.
This group now accounts for 21% of purchases in the Neleman webshop and shops. And it is thanks to their investment that Neleman’s wines are now in 740 Jumbo supermarkets.
*"Sharefunding has helped us enormously with our growth. We now sell our organic wines in no fewer than 30 countries. This would never have been possible with traditional funding methods. It gives us such freedom to work with equity instead of debt. And how cool it is that we are fulfilling our mission with 4.000 co-owners so far." Derrick Neleman, Neleman Organic Vineyards
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