Local business owners are using crowdfunding to help start a new Oak Street restaurant.
When Pitza 42 owners Austin and Ashton Samuelson decided to open a new restaurant they knew they would have to get creative to raise enough money for their business, as traditional bank loans aren’t always an option for small business owners, so they decided to use crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding gives anyone the opportunity to invest in an idea or business model through an exchange of a monetary donation for a perk or reward via the Internet.
The Samuleson’s new restaurant, Tacos 4 Life Grill will have the same meal for meal mission as their original restaurant. This for-profit business model encompasses a restaurant and charity in one, donating 22 cents to non-profit Feed My Starving Children for each product sold.
With a for-profit business model, other businesses can support Tacos 4 Life by making a financial contribution to start a local business while at the same time support a philanthropic cause, Ashton said.
“They love the idea of their logo being on a wall forever, very rarely do you have that opportunity, but on top of that they believe in it,” she said.
Nine local businesses, including construction companies, banks and downtown boutiques, have become official business partners with Tacos 4 Life making a $1,500 contribution to help fund the restaurant.
The Sporty Runner on Van Ronkle Street is one of the businesses who decided to partner with Tacos 4 Life. It was a joint decision by mother Linda Starr, who owns the store, and son Don, who manages it.
Linda said the Sporty Runner wanted to be part of a business that’s working to create a positive social change. She also said as a business owner, she supports the Samuelson’s decision to use crowdfunding to raise capital.
“Since it is a business that is for helping others, and not just for them I think [crowdfunding] is a great idea,” she said. “Since it’s such a great cause, it’s something people want to be a part of.”
Official business partners’ logos will appear on the Founder’s Wall in the new restaurant. As well as one of the restaurant’s doors and the banners that will be used at each Tacos 4 Life soft opening event.
“It’s not a pure donation,” Austin said. “We’re going to tell our customers to support these businesses.”
The Samuelsons have been raising money to open their new restaurant through the popular crowdfunding site indiegogo since Nov. 8.
At press time Friday, $38,390 of their $60,000 goal had been raised. The Samuelsons plan to use the money to help fund opening expenses and employee training.
With the monetary donations collected at Pitza 42 and the checks that have been sent in the mail, the amount of funding that has been raised is much higher than the amount indicated on the indiegogo site, Austin said.
“It’s closer to $46,000,” he said. “It doesn’t look like it, but we’re almost there.”
If the Samuelsons reach their goal, the amount they have to pay indiegogo for hosting their campaign will drop from nine to four percent of total money raised.
Once a campaign reaches 60 percent of its goal, indiegogo uses an algorithm to market the campaign to people outside its immediate network.
A handful of people from different countries have contributed to Tacos 4 Life including a woman from Australia who wanted to support the cause and Ana Angulo, a woman the Samuelsons met on a mission trip to Nicaragua who started a grassroots feeding center for underprivileged children in her hometown.
“Last fall she was just buying whatever she could that was local in Nicaragua like beans and rice, whatever she could to feed these kids,” Ashton said.
She now receives food for free through the same nonprofit the Samuelson’s support through their meal for meal mission reserving any money raised to buy school uniforms and Christmas presents for the children.
From shear numbers the founders gear t-shirt, bracelet and car decal for a $35 contribution has been the most popular reward with 91 claimed at press time Friday.
You can make a huge difference just by purchasing a t-shirt,” Ashton said. “It’s crazy how 90 people have purchased the founder’s gear, and that has made such a big impact for us being able to open the restaurant.”
Austin said the odds are looking pretty good for those 32 people who have entered their name in the free tacos for a year drawing.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “There’s only 30 people. Your chances are great.”
People can contribute to the campaign until Monday at 11:59 p.m. The Tacos 4 Life campaign page can be found at www.indiegogo.com/projects/tacos-4-life-eat-a-meal-give-a-meal.
For those who do not feel comfortable donating online, the Samuelsons are able to process contributions and rewards at Pitza 42.
“The other coolest part about all of this, aside from the money aspect of it, is the excitement and encouragement from it,” Austin said. “It’s been a real community effort.”
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)