Crowdfunding: It’s Not Just About the Money!
We love helping food entrepreneurs raise money to take their businesses to the next level. Along the way, PieShellers often discover the unexpected benefits of crowdfunding.
One of the most important unforeseen perks of crowdfunding is that it can be an incredible and multi-faceted marketing tool for your business. Keep reading to learn what you can gain from crowdfunding, aside from some hard-earned cash, of course!
Get To Know Your Customers
Crowdfunding ultimately brings you closer to your customers — something that’s crucial for startup success.
Branching out beyond friends and family helps you learn what your customers like about your product, as well as what they don’t like. For instance, one of our first PieShellers, Edamam, crowdfunded to build a nutrition app. The crowdfunding experience helped them realize that their real potential was in B2B (business-to-business), rather than consumer markets.
The crowd spoke, and Edamam founder Victor Penev took the feedback to heart and has pivoted. Now, Edamam is providing nutrition data to CBS’s foodie website Chowhound. Edamam’s technology will be used to provide detailed nutrition for each recipe on Chowhound, as well as to tag recipes for specific diets and food allergies.
Although it might not feel like it, criticism is a great thing. Too often, entrepreneurs are so emotionally attached to their projects that they’re unable to see flaws that are obvious to others. Take all feedback — good and bad — and use it to improve your business model and your product.
Meet Your Biggest Fans
The people who contribute to your crowdfunding project are your early adopters, and they are very important to every business. Early adopters will be your best advocates, and will lead to organic, word-of-mouth growth.
Foodpreneurs can learn a lot from their biggest fans, if they pay close attention. Many products start off in a niche, meaning that they appeal to a sliver of people who use the product very specifically. Crowdfunding is a great tool to figure out your product’s niche.
You may notice that many of your contributors are fitness buffs who value healthy foods, or perhaps they’re at-home chefs who like unusual condiments. Maybe they’re working parents who want easy snacks for the whole family. Whoever your early adopters are, knowing how they use your product and what they care about, is invaluable information. Use it wisely: incorporate it into your marketing practices by positioning your brand to appeal to your people.
Another fantastic benefit of crowdfunding is that you have a reason to pitch a story to the press. Journalists are always hungry for new and exciting happenings.
PieSheller Nicole Bandklayder, founder of The Cookie Cups, was an expert at leveraging her PieShell project for press. She was written up by several local media outlets, which meant she got great exposure to potential customers for her future storefront bakery in Wayzata, Minnesota!
Once you get a little bit of press, it’s much easier to get more. Reporters see that you are worth writing about. This was true for Nicole, who has since received additional press, and even has a QVC feature in the works!
One of the coolest things about crowdfunding in the food and beverage space is that your fellow foodpreneurs pay attention to small players, and are always looking to collaborate. It’s one of the things we love most about the F+B community!
Several of our projects have formed new business partnerships from traction they gained on PieShell.
As a result of his crowdfunding project, Richard Romano of Screamin’ Onionz was recently contacted by RetailXelerator. When Richard told PieShell founder Cheryl Clements that RetailXelerator had reached out, she told him that it’s a fabulous food startup incubator that helps small companies scale up and get into big retailers. Richard’s delicious products are already available at Whole Foods and fine other retailers, and he’s always on the lookout for additional outlets!
Here’s another win-win story: During Nutshell’s project on PieShell, Cheryl reached out to friend Peter Cecere, owner of Red Eye Coffee in Manhattan, about carrying Nutshell’s fantastic nutbars in his takeaway coffee shop. Peter just texted Cheryl the other day to tell her he had already placed his third order of Nutshell nutbars — woohoo!
These are just a couple of examples of how PieShell fully supports your business and helps it grow. We can hardly wait to help create more success stories in the future!
More Than Money
Money is great — and definitely necessary to grow a startup — but making the right connections, understanding your customer, and getting in front of a bigger audience, are all equally as important.
Are you interested in crowdfunding? Get started today and receive mentorship from PieShell’s team of experts from start to finish.