Awesome Merchandise has launched a Crowdcube campaign to raise £350,000 to support the upcoming launch of its new US facility in Austin, Texas this summer.

Luke Hodson, who founded the business in 2005 and owns it with his wife Charlotte, says the money will be used to “roll out production lines so that our US offering is on par with our UK offering much quicker”, as well as supporting Awesome’s continued growth of its UK operations.

The campaign launched privately on 1 August and has already raised over £100,000 through 138 investors. The official Crowdcube campaign launched publicly this morning (7 August 2018); people can buy shares in the company from as little as £10. “Investors get equity in Awesome Merchandise and both the A and B shares that are available include the right to participate in dividends and capital distributions,” explained Luke. The total amount of the company being offered up to investors is 5.83%, although Luke added: “If we reach our goal we will consider overfunding to 12%.” Awesome’s turnover for 2017 was £5.5 million, with a projected turnover of £7.5 million for 2018 that includes US sales; the US business is a separate company that is controlled by the UK company.

Luke is expecting a wide range of people to invest, including customers and suppliers. The company decided to go down the crowdfunded route rather than approach banks for financing after seeing other companies use it successfully. “A lot of craft breweries and a bunch of our customers have used equity crowdfunding to great success. Camden Town, Northern Monk and Brewdog have shown what is possible through having a crowd of investors rather than relying on banks or venture capital alone. Banks prefer tangible assets such as property or machines – what we are doing as a company doesn’t necessarily fit with their more traditional view on business.

“The internationalisation aspect also adds a dimension here. We looked at alternative capital, but for where we are at right now this became our favoured route.”

Awesome will be raising awareness for Crowdcube via the company’s mailing list, social media, personal outreach, PR and the Crowdcube platform.