AWARD-winning Glaswegian lager maker Genius Brewing will ramp up production in 2020 with a £60,000 loan from UMi Debt Finance Scotland, a £12 million fund that forms part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Growth Scheme.
Genius Brewing was established in 2016 with a mission to make healthier drinking a pleasure, not a compromise. In April 2018 the company launched Gen!us Craft Lager, which won Best UK Craft Lager at the 2019 LUX Life Food & Drink Awards.
Creative Director Jason Clarke said: “The UK craft beer market is crowded but Gen!us is the UK’s first light craft lager, with just 3% ABV and only 79 calories per distinctive gold can.”
Jason continued: “The lightbulb moment for co-founder Charlie Craig and I was realising that the wider trend for healthier lifestyles would change people’s drinking habits.”
Genius Brewing is taking advantage of this worldwide trend, where consumers are reducing their alcohol and calorie consumption: “In the USA, the three bestselling beers are all light beers – and where America leads, Britain often follows, so it’s no surprise to us that UK sales of low and no alcohol beer went up 50% last year.”
Jason and Charlie are in no doubt about the benefits of financing: “Too many start-ups believe they can scale up by relying on organic growth. This is very hard to do – and, even if they do manage it, it tends to slow the company’s growth, giving competitors a chance to enter the market or overtake them.”
“There’s also something of a ‘culture gap’ in the UK, whereby we see debt or fundraising as risky or a weakness – but great ideas need capital investment.”
Tom Brock, fund director at UMi Debt Finance Scotland, said: “The team at Genius are passionate about their product and are innovators in their sector. They understand their market and changing consumer tastes, and we are delighted to support their ambitious growth plans.”
Charlie said the UMi Debt Finance Scotland loan process was simple and quick: “For a small business, applying for debt finance from banks or commercial loan funds can be a long, laborious process – but we needed to move fast. It was clear that the culture at UMi Debt Finance Scotland, which is government-backed, was driven by a desire to support ambitious, small companies. Their default mindset is ‘yes’ rather than ‘computer says NO’, and the application process was as ‘light’ and transparent as we could have hoped for.”
Genius Brewing is using a combination of equity and debt to finance the growth journey, Charlie explained: “Both have their advantages, and in the case of the UMi Debt Finance Scotland loan, the fact that it is unsecured gives comfort to our current and future equity investors.”
The £60,000 loan is helping Genius produce their next 150,000 cans and also scale up their marketing, and in September 2019 they took on their first employee, Murray Johnstone, as our Sales and Account Manager for Scotland.
Looking back, Jason said: “Our first couple of years were all about building foundations, probing the market and developing our brand. Now it’s all about growth – and the future looks bright…gold, even!”