A Western Australian honey startup has raised $1.5 million in crowdfunding, as it strives to bring local medicinal honey to the world stage, while supporting some of the country’s smaller businesses.
Australian Honey Ventures (AHV) launched its Birchal campaign last week, with a minimum target of $500,000 and a maximum of $3 million.
In just 30 minutes, he had raised $1 million.
“It was sensational,” said AHV Founder and CEO Jay Curtin. SmartCompany.
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“It was thunder.”
As of this writing, the startup has secured $1.52 million in funding from 555 investors, with 10 more days to go.
Notable investors include, rather appropriately, former rugby union pro and controversial Bachelor Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins, who is also an ambassador for the company.
A helping hand for small beekeepers
Based in Gingin, WA, AHV manages the sales of Australian medicinal honey to international markets through its Real Good Honey brand, while ensuring that small Australian beekeepers get fair returns.
Curtin says Australian beekeepers produce some of the most potent medicinal honeys in the world, but they are often undervalued.
AHV buys, brands and sells Australian honey, but rather than paying beekeepers upfront for their products and then branding them, it operates on a revenue-sharing model, giving beekeepers around 37% of whatever the lot sells.
At the same time, AHV is unusual in the way it prices products because it bases sale value on the antibacterial strength of honey, rather than variety or any other metric.
“This means we are able to bring undervalued and undervalued honey into the luxury food price bracket,” she explains.
“Which will see them sit alongside Manuka on the shelf.”
This means more profits overall, and a higher proportion of those profits going into the pockets of small and micro-enterprises producing the honey.
The model increases the value of the entire industry, Curtin says.
“We are essentially leveling the bar for all medicinal honey sold globally.”
Honey as a new Australian export
It is a capital-intensive startup, requiring up-front funds for packaging, equipment and marketing – not to mention the cost of securing the honey in the first place.
AHV’s first crowdfunding campaign last year raised $790,000 from 538 investors.
This funding was dedicated to market testing, brand building and securing contracts. In January, AHV announced that Real Good Honey had entered into export agreements to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
This time around the rise drew repeated support from previous investors and the market pull saw new investors join in as well.
“We want to develop a huge shareholder base,” Curtin says.
AHV is now preparing to expand into the Middle East, adding exports to countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Curtin hopes to diversify into Europe in the next two years.
Talks are also underway to bring table honey from local manufacturers to the shelves of a major national supermarket chain.
Ultimately, Curtin’s aim is to bring Australian medicinal honey to the world stage, presenting a market for high quality products that have been largely overlooked in the past.
While medicinal honey from our New Zealand neighbors enjoys a solid reputation around the world, Curtin says there has been a gap in the marketing of Australian honey.
“We produce some of the most potent medicinal honeys in the world,” she says.
“But no one knows them.”