Mike’s Fancy Cheese is Northern Ireland’s first raw milk, artisanal cheesemaker and producer of the award-winning blue cheese, Young Buck. After working in a local deli, founder Michael Thomson realised the absence of any quality cheese from Northern Ireland.
So he left to learn more about artisanal food making, gain cheesemaking experience and build connections within the UK artisan cheese market for a few years. During this time, Mike developed the idea of creating a new, engaged community of small-scale cheesemakers in Northern Ireland – starting with his own business.
Overcoming The Early-Stage Funding Gap…
Mike returned to Northern Ireland with a vision but no money to set up his own cheese business. Cheesemaking has a very high startup cost to cover premises, equipment, specialist cold room and other working capital. He had approached farmers and other businesses to see if anyone was interested in making cheese under his management, with no luck. He even tried banks, but without a house to use as collateral, they weren’t interested in giving him a loan (which is common for many entrepreneurs). Rewards-based crowdfunding would have allowed him to receive backing from fellow cheese lovers, but he’d likely have to give away his first batches of cheese and wouldn’t have enough cheese left to sell and actually grow his business.
When Michael realised that he could reach out to fellow cheese lovers, friends and family, and his new artisanal food community to raise investment, he knew he’d found a good fit with Seedrs.
I was happy to share ownership in my company with others so it was a no brainer,” he said. “I was excited by the prospect of having other people alongside me; having so many investors is of huge benefit to a company like ours.
Mike’s Fancy Cheese raised £80,000 from 98 investors who shared his passion and enthusiasm for cheese, from across the UK in early 2013.
…To Award-Winning Acclaim
Since raising investment, Mike has gone on to set up his production space, produce his first batches of Young Buck, win awards, and is even selling his cheese in delicatessens and specialty cheese shops around the UK, including in Neal’s Yard Dairy and Courtyard Dairy – no doubt with the support and enthusiasm of his tribe of cheese-loving shareholders.
Learn more about Mike’s Fancy Cheese, and find out where you can pick up his latest batch, at mfcheese.com.