Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who Wants Your Microlending Dollars? These Local Businesses Do

A barbecue truck. A food documentary. An artisan cheese maker. These are all Bay Area food projects seeking startup funding online.

A few weeks back, Chow's Roxanne Webber wrote a great piece about Kickstarter and Indiegogo, two websites that allow small businesses or artists to advertise for microfinancing to get a project or business off the ground. Webber quoted Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler as saying that food projects succeed "66 percent of the time, when the site average is about 50 percent."

Case in point: Mission Street Food founder Anthony Myint, whose successful Kickstarter campaign SFoodie chronicled ― the $12,000 he raised (repayable via gift certificates once the restaurant opens) wasn't nearly enough to renovate the space he leased, but it let bigger-bucks lenders know how eager San Franciscans were to support him. In May, Little City Gardens raised even more ― $20,000 ― and both Dessert Labs and Bacon Camp overshot more modest goals. (Not all of the microlending has taken place online. Todd Spitzer finally, officially opened Remedy Oakland in Temescal this week; he raised thousands of dollars to finish the construction on his space by offering customers a prepayment plan.)

So who's next? SFoodie pored over Kickstarter and Indiegogo looking for local projects. We found a few:

Project: Rib Whip
Looking for: Seed money to purchase a smoker and pay for permits to start up a Midwestern barbecue truck (truck not included)
Raised: $1,530 out of $15,000
Days to go: 27

Project: Delphinium Cheese Co.
Looking for: Seed money to turn a cheese-making hobby into a business, which will offer bicycle delivery of the owner's handmade, organic-milk cheeses to East Bay subscribers
Raised: $1,300, exceeding $1,200 goal
Days to go: 15

Project: From the Ground Up
Looking for: funding for feature-length documentary about the modern victory garden movement
Raised: $50 out of $5,000
Days to go: 9

Project: Gavin's Mom for Juice!
Looking for: start-up costs to develop low-sugar, high-juice fruit and vegetable drink for kids
Raised: 0 out of $5,000
Days to go: 58

Not all the fundraising efforts succeed. A local baker named Will Hammond failed to raise start-up money to bake his grandma's sweet-potato pies. And, in non-food realms, SFoodie is distraught that the butoh swimsuit calendar may never be published. But we'll be curious to see what other businesses raise money this way.
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