Hey Stranger, Help Me Start a Business

Hey Stranger, Help Me Start a Business (cont.)

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Vadim Akimenko has written a business plan for his own butcher shop that includes $15,000 from Kickstarter. He recently met his goal with plenty of time to spare, propelled by a Kickstarter Party he threw on May 19 where he previewed some of the homemade charcuterie that he’ll be selling at the shop. Akimenko is using the Kickstarter funds to prove to larger investors that there is community support for his shop. “I have over 100 different backers [on Kickstarter], so it’s one way to show private investors, ‘Hey, this is definitely something that’s going to work.’ It’s more or less a smaller goal to hit a larger goal.”

Gavriel Kahane is using the $3,000 he raised through IndieGoGo to renovate the sound system at his new kosher wine bar in Manhattan, the Cellar. Money is not the primary target though: He’s hoping to use the site’s marketing power to pull in Akimenko breaks down a whole pig A party helped Akimenko Meats successfully fund its Kickstarter project customers by offering perks. And not just one-off customers—he’s calling his pledgers “family.” “I don’t want people to give me $20, get their three glasses of wine, shake my hand, and it be a done deal. I want people to feel like they are part of it and want to see us succeed.”

WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?
Brooklyn Soda Works met its $1,500 goal in four days. At the end of the 40-day project period, Mak and Ramos had raised $2,849, almost double their target. After Kickstarter took its 5 percent cut (both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo make money by taking a percentage of the funds raised by a project) and Amazon, which distributes the money for Kickstarter, took a few percent, Mak received about $2,700. With the money, Brooklyn Soda Works purchased all the equipment needed to get off the ground: an industrial juicer, seven kegs, a carbon dioxide tank, a huge stockpot (big enough to carry a warning about not letting children fall into it), and an industrial freezer.

It’s only been about seven weeks since their Kickstarter fund-raising ended on April 6, and they are now selling out of soda every Saturday at the Brooklyn Flea, and the restaurants Palo Santo and Blue Hill are stocking their drinks. Mak and Ramos have begun to meet the people who helped fund their business when supporters show up at the Brooklyn Soda Works booth to redeem their coupons. They range from the obvious (friends and family) to strangers: food bloggers and computer programmers from Google, says Mak.

So what motivates someone to give a total stranger 20 bucks on the Internet? “I’ve always liked to help enable someone to fulfill their dreams,” says C. C. Chapman, the Boston-based founder of Digital Dads, who backed Akimenko. “I thought: ‘You don’t just start a butcher shop on a whim; it’s a dream.’” Being local was also a big incentive to Chapman, since he tries to help out local projects when he can. “I can’t wait to actually go to the butcher shop. To be able to walk in and buy a steak, for me that would be full circle and be very rewarding.”

Photograph of Vadim Akimenko by Aaron Panone