Kickstarters and crowdfunding are becoming new ways in which individuals with ideas can be funded by friends and strangers, turning those ideas into a reality. Brewer Simon Wright has taken crowdfunding to a whole new level by asking for actual physical resources, not just financial ones.
Simon Wright’s crowdfunding campaign for donated apples from London has allowed him to expand his business in ways that dollars could not. Getting apples as commerce has redefined what crowdfunding can accomplish, and has changed how investments can be done.
With the kind and amount of donations he received, Simon Wright tapped into many aspects of human nature and is re-branding a well-known underutilized product. He gets to people to consider their fruit trees as potential, and as a product rather than just “that old apple tree in the backyard.” Like purple and green ketchup from the early 2000s, Simon Wright took crowdfunding and reimagined it by getting apples instead of money.
There are a few things that happen to the apples after they make it to Hawkes brewery. The apples are used to make the commercial cider that is sold in pubs and stores. Also, people and organizations who have donated can get their own cider made from the apples they donated. It takes about six months, but the apples being brought to Hawkes can make the donator a specialized cider just for him or her. Being able to donate apples allows the donators to reuse and recycle a product that may have been previously discarded. Not only does it give to Simon Wright, but it’s a kind of altruistic act as well. One that benefits business and the environment.
Wright’s brewery, Hawkes receives all kinds of donated apples such as Braeburn, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red, Gala, Ida, Cox and Jonagold. What is so special about the donated apples is that they are from London, from the city, the community orchards, the Londoners. His use of Bramly apples which are distinctive to east London as well as all the donations from Londoners has strengthened his relationship to his customers and demand for Hawkes Urban Orchard Cider has exploded.
The Hawkes website makes it easy to sign up to donate the apples that may have been discarded in the past. It explains the process of the donation and how Hawkes determines how much apples are being donated by an individual or group. They split the bounty 60/40. Simon Wright is also donating back to community groups who have donated to him by given them an apple tree to plant. By doing this Wright is creating a cyclic philanthropic arrangement. The community groups donate the apples to Hawkes then Hawkes donates an apple tree to plant in that community group.
Craft beers have taken-off, becoming the desired and preferred beer. They are no longer just brewed in people’s garages, but in small breweries all around the world. Simon Wright’s inspiration for the cider was the craft beer industry. He made a name for himself and his brewery through his craft ginger beer. Wright has taken that craft brewery niche and moved it into a new direction with Hawkes Urban Orchard Cider.
Simon Wright feels that the timing is right to create a cider like creating a micro-brew. Having the social piece of the community donation, the growing awareness of food waste, and the boom of artisanal products sets up a perfect situation for his crowdfunding project and resulting cider.
Hawkes Urban Orchard Cider is so popular that they opened a cider house at Hawkes brewery selling several various ciders including their cider. Hawkes cider is now sold on tap in forty pubs in London as well as being stocked in Harvey Nichols’ stores. It is as delicious as it is resourceful.
When those who donated apples goes to the pub and orders Hawkes Urban Orchard Cider, they not only get a craft-esque cider but they get the satisfaction knowing that they helped create the cider as well.