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Hellyers Road Distillery

Equity Crowdfunding Case Study

May 2024, $4.3m raised

In May 2024, Hellyers Road Distillery closed the third largest crowd-sourced funding campaign in Australian history. It is the largest beverage/alcohol raise in Australian CSF history, and the largest raise of 2024 so far.

Through equity crowdfunding, Hellyers has welcomed over
1300 new shareholders and brand ambassadors from across the country, raising a total of $4.3m. With short-term plans for a liquidity event, Hellyers is now focused on expanding distribution channels and ramping up production. 

About Hellyers Road Distillery

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Established in 1997, Hellyers Road is Australia’s oldest operating whisky distillery and was the largest until the late 2010s. The company began as a milk cooperative before transitioning to whisky and offers products across two key segments: cask-aged whisky and whisky cream.


Currently, the company has distribution agreements in place both domestically and internationally with reputable retailers, including BWS, Dan Murphy’s, as well as directly via Hellyers’ website.


Revenue in the 9 months to 31 March 2024 was $6.13m, with the company set to improve profitability via successful investment into marketing and brand recognition. It was the most awarded Australian distiller at the 2024 World Whiskies Awards.

Hellyers boasts an impressive $49m wholesale value whisky inventory in more than 5,700 full-sized barrels, ranging in quality and value. This includes more than 90% of all Australian whisky aged 18 years or older. With total volume in cask amounting to 2 million bottles and 500,000 in annual production capacity, Hellyers is well-positioned for scalable growth. Inventory value is forecasted to grow from $49m to over $100m by 2026 in wholesale value.


Hellyers’ reputation as a uniquely Northwest Tasmanian distillery has underpinned its status as a premium and limited whisky producer. The company’s tiered product offerings provide consumers with access to the Hellyers range at all price points, whilst maintaining the premium and prestigious feel of the product.

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"For the 1,302 shareholders themselves, we wanted them as advocates of the brand, and they're going to be advocates as they are now, business partners."

Derek Charge, Managing Director & CEO 

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Largest Australian Equity Crowdfunding Raise in the Alcohol Sector

Hellyers Road Distillery set out to raise capital via equity crowdfunding, not just for the funding but for the opportunity to expand their shareholder base from 125 individuals who had primarily inherited their shares through the years. Their goal was to build an army of brand ambassadors who would become 'business partners' and work with them to raise awareness of their whisky.


Hellyers created a comprehensive campaign strategy, engaging both digital marketing and PR services to escalate their ability to reach Australians. Their strategy was nothing short of successful, attracting 3067 expressions of interest and expressed interest of $17.25m (as a midpoint). 

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 People are seeking a community. People want to connect. That's the gap in the market at the moment. So if you've got a product and the ability to build a community, it's a very smart capital raising method."

Lara Wheby, Head of Marketing & CFO

Media Features During The Campaign

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Why Did Hellyers Choose To Raise Funds via Equity Crowdfunding?

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“The rationale for approaching crowdfunding was that we already had this infrastructure of governance and we were already used to operating with a diverse, shareholder base. So, there’s no disincentive from going from 125 to say 1500 shareholders. And if you look at the different sources of capital that are available, the opportunity for a consumer facing business like us to raise funds from people who are going to become ambassadors and who are going to be passionate about their whisky, the distillery that they own, made it really attractive.


But it’s been brilliant. The reaction has been fantastic. We’ve had a lot of people in that $7500 to $10,000 range, which really signifies for us that there’s people who want to be genuinely invested in being ambassadors for our brand.”

– Derek Charge, Managing Director & CEO, Hellyers Road​

Social Media Posts During The Campaign

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Insight from Derek Charge, Managing Director & CEO, and Lara Wheby, CFO & Head of Marketing

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What advice do you have to others that are contemplating undertaking an equity crowdfunding campaign?

Be clear on why this is the right fundraising approach for you, because that will help you crystallise your key messages from the outset. So, if crowdfunding is the last resort for funding because you can't get it anywhere else, then maybe that should tell you something about the strength of your business plan. Be very clear about why you’re raising and what you want to achieve because that clarity will help you sculpt your marketing messages and every piece of documentation.

People are seeking a community. People want to connect. That's the gap in the market at the moment. And we absolutely leveraged that. So I think if you've got a product and the ability to build a community, it's a very smart capital raising method to leverage. 

But you’ve got to be clear on your goals and value. So, ask yourself, what is your community? How much are they willing to invest and how much do they want to get from community? And what value do they put on that? And then what value do they put on the investment? Because we got a lot of that investment from people who were willing to entrust us with the $10,000 knowing that they're getting the community from it.

Even if you think you've got good connections, don't underestimate the value of the social media spend if you've got the right assets. Spend the money on getting the assets right and then promote them far and wide.


How did you find digital marketing in relation to the benefits it provided to your raise?

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I think it was an exceptional digital campaign, and it worked really well for two fronts. It worked exceptionally for the company branding and for the whisky capillaries. It had great traction and we learned from it during weekly meetings, holding us to accountable and reviewing what was happening in the marketing. That was vital to working, learning, changing, pivoting.

What we learned through the campaign was who's investing and why are they investing. Then, we targeting those people through ads.


The other thing that was very interesting to note from our ads was it seemed like we had very different people coming in on the expressions of interest (EOI) period versus what actually came through in our bidders. We had so many of those high, big numbers coming through in the EOIs, whereas what we were converting were the $10k investors.


And we learned that quite quickly when we flicked from the EOI to the actual raise going live. We learned what the market was doing, what was converting, and we captured that. And then we drove that home to make sure that we got as many of those people as we could.


You also hired a PR firm to promote your campaign, do you think that was valuable in achieving your crowdfunding goals?  


I think that was extremely valuable, particularly getting coverage in the Australian Financial Review. Let's face it, we're talking about a ‘deal’ when it comes to crowdfunding, and so that is the place that you want to be identified – in the media. And we were identified in really positive terms and that came from a well-structured PR campaign.

At the same time our raise was discussed in the AFR, there was a review in the AFR about whiskey which gave us that pincer movement, if you like, of the product. As well as that though, there was extensive coverage throughout both trade and domestic or local Tasmanian press, which again, brought an overall awareness to the campaign that I think was actually quite effective in bringing investors in. Although it's harder to measure than the click through that you get on social media.

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It wasn’t just the PR. It wasn’t that we received media coverage and left it. We absolutely capitalised on it. We leveraged the press throughout the entire life of the campaign and kept looping back to it in our ads. And that’s what made it even more magnified. It was such a good investment at the beginning of the campaign to leverage all the way through.


Why did you choose to raise with OnMarket?


The message I gave to OnMarket at the outset was that I understand with a smaller raise, there's a limit to the amount of work that the platform can do beyond providing the platform. In our case, we were targeting a large raise, and I asked for the support that I would expect if I was engaging an investment advisory or an investment bank for a raise of that size. The frankness and willingness to commit to that up front, but also the experience that you operate both in the traditional investment advisory space and in the CSF space, gave me confidence that you understood what I was talking about - and that was demonstrated in spades. We chose OnMarket because we wanted that additional level of engagement and support.

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There were a few areas where OnMarket stood out, but I think the key for me was just the consistency showing up every week and holding us accountable, that was absolutely vital for us because we've got so many other things that we're doing and you made sure that we were prioritising the right things when we needed to.


 I completely agree. The team were the sort of guidance that I've experienced in my previous careers where I've been involved in advisory firms. And, that's exactly the council that I was looking for. 

To enquire about raising funds via equity crowdfunding, click here.

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