Creative Crowdfunding Models

Community Supported Agriculture, a method by which individuals prepay for a share of a farmer’s produce, has been around in the U.S. since the 1980s. It was based on the Japanese concept of teikei translated literally as putting a face on one’s food. CSA enables farmers to sell directly to consumers, ensures a certain level of food safety by allowing individuals to see and in some cases work at a farm and creates a mutually beneficial relationship where food dollars stay local and food miles are reduced. As most of you know, I could go on.

Last week, I read two fascinating stories in the Business Journal that take the Community Supported concept to a new level. The first story is that of a favorite restaurant, Coup des Tartes. This elegant, award-winning French restaurant was forced from their location a couple of years ago. Smacking from the landlord blows, the restauranteur vowed to own his next building. And so, he set with criteria; it had to be a historic building and it had to be centrally located.

Facing a costly venture with limited capital, this creative restaurentrepreneur looked to his customers. He created a Coup des Tartes VIP program where customers buy a membership in exchange for benefits such as a discounted meal, bottle of wine and other gifts. They raised nearly $500,000 from this community supported model.

The second artfully written tale, is of a local bar come brew laboratory, the Hop Shop Brewing Company. Hop Shop has a kickstarted campaign going right now to raise the initial funds and beyond that, have created an interesting customer participation model. The venue will house several brewing stations where customers can brew their own beer along with a traditional bar. The more experienced brewers will receive materials to produce two kegs. Then the customer takes home half and the other half is put on-tap at the bar.  Each pint sold, applies a credit to the customer’s next batch hence creating revenue and loyalty in a single transaction.

I find both of these examples appealing and further evidence of a new sharing economy.

Springtime Asparagus
(yield about 8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • lemon juice from one lemon
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash and trim asparagus discarding any tough stem ends to the compost.

Toast pine nuts in a dry cast iron skillet. Do not walk away – not even for a second though you are tempted. When they are toasted as you’d like, remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Put a steamer in another pan and fill basin with water. Heat to boiling and put asparagus in for 5 – 8 minutes.

Remove asparagus to a platter and drizzle olive oil on top. Squeeze the lemon over the dish taking care not to let lemon seeds drop. Add salt and pepper and scatter pine nuts on top.

IMG_3262

What examples of Community Supported Business have you seen?

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. I love hearing stories like this. And as for asparagus, I’m glutting out on it while it’s available in its fresh form….

    Reply
  2. Great examples, Tammy . . . and gorgeous food pic! Asparagus = a big fat YUM!

    Reply
    • I really like these “prosperity for all” type stories that are focused on spreading out the benefits.

      Reply
  3. Lisa H

     /  May 10, 2015

    I do remember hearing about Coup des Tartes, but didn’t realize we could buy-in. What a great idea! As for the brewery, that would have been nice to have back in the day when my hubby and his buddies were brewing their beer in our kitchen. I came home to a house filled with the smell of hops and beer all over the floor. I quietly mopped up the beer with a towel and put a pan under the spout where they were filling bottles. The look of awe from each of the young college boys was priceless and a fun memory.

    Reply
  4. This is so intriguing! I have seen the CSA model applied in arts settings where audiences sponsor aspects of a production and get to see it for some discounted rate or special seating, but here, in the Berkshires where the CSA model was first run at Indian Line Farm, I have yet to see the CSA model applied to a food business. Unless I have missed it. There is a lot happening here in the local food world, which means there are lots more micro-greens available in May than ever before! xoS

    Reply
    • Would love to hear about ways that this applies to art Suzi. Sounds like possible fodder for a PhD??????????

      Reply
  5. I do agree with owning your own restaurant premises rather than being in a rental situation. I have an uncle who bought a restaurant, was leasing the premises and as soon as he’d set it up, the landlord sold the building to a developer who put in plans to have the building demolished for a high rise block of apartments. Disaster! I do love your refreshing platter of Spring asparagus xx

    Reply
  6. Both the examples here sound great. I’ve participated in one crowdfunding program which turned out to be a scam so I’m now very wary of all of them sadly.

    Reply
    • I think you do have to be wary of crowdfunding Tandy. Great concept but some opportunity for fraud.

      Reply
  7. Great ideas! Customers love to feel a part of the action…this way they truly are!

    Reply
    • I think that’s exactly right. It creates a sort of civic pride and makes everyone feel like an owner.

      Reply
  8. I love the crowdfunding concept! And these are both super ideas! We have some incubators around, including a commercial kitchen, but haven’t heard of anything like this.

    Reply
    • Seems like you can put your ingenuity to work Inger! How about a Community Supported Bakery or a commercial kitchen where the only gets to keep 10% of every food item produced and what they don’t want, goes to a local shelter?

      Reply
  9. A lovely cool post & a wonderful recipe too! 🙂 Yum yum yum!

    Reply

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