Monday, June 21, 2010

O.C. startup tries crowdsourcing to raise money

When a couple of Orange County computer experts starting looking for money to create a social media platform for cooks, the response from investors and lenders was less than enthusiastic. In fact, it was non existent.

So former UC Irvine computer science major Daniel Quach and IT manager Sophorn Tim turned to a nontraditional fund-raising tool that couldn't exist without the Internet. They posted their pitch on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter, a 14-month-old website, allows people to post for up to 90 days a description of their creative project or business venture and how much money they need to do it.

Those who raise the money they need pay Kickstarter; those who don't pay nothing.

Quach and Tim's concept is based in Garden Grove. Their goal is to raise $25,000 in 45 days ending 1 a.m. July 27.

The idea is to let HowCookingWorks participants to upload recipes, videos, cooking classes and ask questions or share information about cooking. Instruction might be as simple as how to use a paring knift to step-by-step preparation of specific recipes.

"When I had to learn to cook, it was hard," Quach said. "There are a lot of recipe sites out there but they don't reach you how to cook. When I tried to follow a recipe's instructions, it didn't turn out the way it was planned.

"A social network for cooking can draw people who want to learn and people who know how and want to share with others. They can learn about food, learn from others and build strong bonds with other cooks."

Quach quit his job to create the beta site for Quach grew up in Santa Ana and Tim grew up in Long Beach.

Angel investors were unmoved by the idea, Quach said. "It was humbling. They said unless you can prove your model, they wouldn't invest. They wanted to see guaranteed returns on their money."

To attract pledges to their Kickstarter effort, Quach and Tim are offering goodies for each pledge. For example:

* A $5 pledge gets Quach's DVD "How to Cook Asian Food"
* $25 gets the DVD, and a Forschner paring knife
* $200 gets the DVD, two Forschner paring knives, a 10-inch Forschner chef knife and a HowCookingWorks branded apron
* $500 gets all the above plus a second edition DVD of How to Cook Asian Food, an 8-inch Forschner chef knife and knife sharpener.

As of Saturday, 22 supporters had pledged $665 with 37 days to go.
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