James Watt and Martin Dickie, both 31, used to brew American-style beers in their garage in Aberdeen on the weekends until they decided to turn their hobby into a business. Fuelled by quirky marketing and great beer, BrewDog has averaged 160 per cent growth annually during the past five years. To fund expansion, BrewDog has pioneered its own form of crowdfunding, an online scheme called Equity for Punks for people who want to invest in the business.
"We are completely selfish in that we only make beers that we want to drink ourselves. We don’t make what we think will sell"
James Watt, Co-Founder, BrewDog
James Watt explains: "I was working on a fishing boat and Martin was in the whisky industry in 2007 when we quit our jobs, borrowed £20,000 from the bank and leased an industrial unit from the local council to set up the business. Everything was cobbled together on a shoestring and we were literally two 26-year-old men and a dog at that stage, but our mission was to make other people passionate about beer. Now the business has 210 employees and we sell our beers to 40 countries.
"What sets us apart from other businesses is a combination of selfishness and ambition. We are completely selfish in that we only make beers that we want to drink ourselves. We don’t make what we think will sell or what focus groups say will appeal to customers.
160% – BrewDog’s average annual growth during the past five years
"We have also taken huge gambles to help the business grow. The first time we did Equity for Punks we gambled the entire future of the company, and that has been a success. We have now had three online share offerings, to let people who like the beers that we make buy shares on the website. We have raised about £7 million, and 12,000 people have invested in our company. It builds up a culture and community around what we do. They now own about 15 per cent of the business.
"We are continuing to invest heavily – this year  we will have invested £8 million alone. The big opportunity for the future is changing the way people think about beer in the UK. We want to elevate its status and show people that beer doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless."
Sector: Food & Beverage