Fast Track

How one company's unique way of raising money is getting them the capital they need to grow their business

Name and age: Mark McCain, 36
Company and description:Three Lakes Winery is a fruit and berry winery in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.
2000 sales: $700,000
No. of employees: Six full-timers, six part-timers
Amount of capital raised: $160,000 projected

We'll drink to that: It isn't every company that can sell bonds and pay interest with inventory. But when Mark McCain figured out he could do just that with his winery-pay interest in bottles of wine on $1,000 bonds-he seized the opportunity to raise capital to pay down debt and expand the business. "We're just not big enough for our stock to be really attractive to serious investors at this point," he says. By paying out of inventory, McCain's effective interest rate is about one-quarter of the standard.

Risk or benefit? "If we raised the maximum $975,000 [$1 million is the limit for the type of offering McCain wants], it could diminish our retail base because we'd be converting customers into investors," says McCain. "They'd be collecting their interest in wine that they normally would have purchased." On the other hand, a 10-year bond pays out 15 bottles each year. "Most people are likely to give at least some of this wine away as gifts, which could generate more customers for us."

C.J. Prince is a New York City writer who specializes in business topics.

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