When ParrotDog’s AGM rolls around shortly, it won’t be the usual stuffy corporate affair.

“We’ve got a couple of hundred shareholders coming around for a party, and a bit of an update on what’s happening,” explains Matt Stevens, co-founder of the craft brewery. “It’s kicking off at 5.30pm – beer o’clock.”

The founders of Wellington-based ParrotDog have a history of forging success by following their own path. The company added almost 800 new members to its shareholder register last year when it ran one of this country’s most-successful equity crowdfunding campaigns, meeting its maximum subscription of $2 million in just two days.

That equity injection is now putting rocket boosters on the company’s growth plans, helping fund a new brewery in Lyall Bay that more than doubles ParrotDog’s brewing capacity, and opening up a host of opportunities.

It’s all part of what’s been a pretty wild ride for a company that started just six years ago, and is famously founded by three guys named Matt.

From homebrew to first brewery

While students at Victoria University in 2011, Matthew Kristofski and Matt Warner began conjuring homebrew in the bathroom of their Aro Valley flat. The third Matt (Stevens – a former Deloitte accountant) soon joined the duo, and they embarked on producing their first commercial beer.

Called BitterBitch, it didn’t quite turn out as expected, but in a happy accident its super-hoppy character proved a hit with beer lovers.

In 2012 the company set up its first brewery, in central Wellington, from which it continued to produce crowd-pleasing brews such as DeadCanary (pale ale), Pandemonium (pilsner) and Bloodhound (red ale).

The passionate consumer base the beers have garnered, both here and in Australia, is reflected in the company’s fast growth. In 2015 ParrotDog placed 29th on the Deloitte Fast 50 – an experience that offered an opportunity for reflection.

“That Fast 50 experience gave us a time to step back a bit and think about large-scale growth,” says Stevens. “During that process it became apparent we needed to find bigger premises and start looking to raise equity to do that. While we didn’t find the answers straight away, it did start the conversation.”

Combining equity crowdfunding with asset finance

And when it came time to seriously mull capital raising options, Stevens says ParrotDog’s strong consumer following made equity crowdfunding a logical choice.

“We wanted our new brewery to be an ingrained piece of Wellington – for people to feel like it’s their local bar – and because of that consumer connection to our product we felt the more people we could take on that journey the better. Ultimately, it turned out great for us – we’ve got 800 shareholders and 800 passionate advocates for us out there in the marketplace.”

As a business heavily dependent on assets, ParrotDog has also benefitted from BNZ’s asset finance facilities, which give the brewer the ability lend against its assets in a safe and structured way. The bank’s invoice facility, Stevens says, has also helped the company keep pace with growth and capitalise on opportunities as they arise.

ParrotDog’s Lyall Bay brewery was fully commissioned in June and it not only significantly boosts the brewery’s immediate brewing capacity – allowing the company to raise the profile and accessibility of its beers – but allows options for future expansion. There’s also a 600-litre pilot brewery for producing more experimental, limited-release brews under the L.B Beer brand.

Ready for expansion

And it’s allowing the brand to expand its direct retail presence; a takeaway and tasting shop, called Nice.Takeaway, is now operating on the site, and a large bar is planned to open this summer.

Stevens notes that the craft beer market is now maturing, and to be successful craft brewers not only need to create great products, but also ones that are well priced, well branded and widely distributed. The ability to produce exciting, limited-release brews is a further crucial element for success.

With all these elements now in place, the focus for the next 12 months is on cementing ParrotDog in its new location, and its position as a widely accessible brand in the New Zealand and Australian beer markets.

All while staying true to the fundamentals that have gotten the company this far.

“A word we use a lot around the brewery is ‘genuine’,” says Stevens. “We’re always trying to do things for genuine reasons and I think that resonates through our beer to our consumers. We try not to do things just because everyone else is doing it.”


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