Kickstarter is an online resource for big ideas to receive potentially big donations for big results. Many of them allow you to donate money to a start-up in exchange for something like a shirt, but in Minnesota, these businesses cannot offer you a stake in their business. That's a huge hurdle in using the internet to raise money, but a proposed law could change that.
Zac Carpenter and Joe Giambruno are building a brewery called Bad Weather, which was inspired by Minnesota's bad (and sometimes good) weather.
Minnesota's business climate is not so inspirational. To raise money beyond their friends and family, Bad Weather had to be creative and started a very expensive beer club. A prospective member can pay them $1,000. Lots of prizes and two beers per visit in perpetuity, all in the name of raising money.
Bauhaus Brew Labs, another local brewery started a Kickstarter campaign is accepting money in exchange for steins or shirts, but won't be giving donors a share in the business. They can't.
Enter Ryan Schildkraut. He's sort of a beer barrister, a lawyer representing many Twin Cities breweries.
"You're allowed to go talk to your friends your family, ask them if they want to invest. But to outside people you're not allowed to advertise," he said.
Schildkraut and Zach Robins are the two Winthrop and Weinstine attorneys pushing for a law they call MNvest, which would allow businesses to advertise for investors.
"It allows small businesses based in Minnesota to use the internet to connect with other Minnesotans who may want to be investors," he said. "With MNvest, what we're doing is taking those donors and converting them to owners."
Bad Weather hopes to have the brewery and tap room open this July, and perhaps with a better Minnesota business climate to inspire them.
The Bad Weather founders said MNvest would have allowed them to start building their St. Paul brewery about six months earlier. The bill has been introduced in the state House and Senate, and has bi-partisan support. Fifteen states have similar laws on the books, and another 15 are considering it.
Learn more about the bill at http://www.mnvest.org