Is crowd funding the way forward for the Bell & Brisket?

I’ve been asked by Crowd Funding News to write an article on why I have chosen crowd funding as a route to financing my business. This is the article:

Is Crowdfunding the way forward for The Bell & Brisket?

When I left my job a couple of years ago, I was armed with what I thought was all the knowledge I needed to set up a restaurant brand with multiple branches, and “National Treasure” credentials.

This gung ho attitude kept its momentum for quite some time. They say you need big ‘Balls’ to set up your own business and at that time mine were massive! (I use that analogy, as there doesn’t seem to be a female version of that expression; saying I have ‘massive breasts’ conjures up the wrong message entirely).

You know what I mean, so moving on…

My previous job had been with a small but ambitious takeaway business that grew very fast and fell very heavily. Yes it picked itself up again and again but it cost and lost a lot of money (my own included). It was funded entirely by private equity investors, about 15 at one point, all prepared to take a punt on a great concept.

Too many city boys spoil the broth?

In a nutshell, this experience taught me that I should try and hang on to the equity in my business for as long as possible; to be bold but with informed caution; and to take care of the tiny details, the price of a piece of packaging is as important as the cost of your core product.

In the last 18months I have been trading The Bell & Brisket in I suppose a slightly non-committal way in terms of location and financial commitment. My past experience has taught me that location and delivery style of the concept is key, so I’ve tested it out in a series of low / no overhead locations, market stalls, shopping centres, pubs, pop ups; searching for the right place, right style and right time, before outlaying any significant cash.

I now believe this product, in the way that I deliver it, works best as a street food concept. This decision is not just a business decision, but a life decision as well. I make more sense to myself in that environment than I do sitting in a boardroom of hedge funders.

So now is the time to commit.

How do I make this business significant within the now rampant street food revolution? In this world its not just about how good your food is, trust me, my food is good, but its how fabulous you look as well.  This is when I had the light bulb moment. I used to ride horses and until recently my parents had an old horse trailer rotting in their back yard.

Why don’t I make this trailer in a mobile Bell & Brisket and make it look like a pub?

Because its going to cost about £15k and I don’t have any capitol? Good point.

I am instinctively reluctant to turn to the banks for help, not only because of the current economy, but just because I don’t want to borrow money at this stage. The business is so small and needs to be able to find its feet without the burden of a monthly payment to Barclays.

I stumbled across crowd funding quite recently and loved the altruism it inspires in a community to get a business off the ground. Small business makes the world go round, so to invest in one without direct financial gain is such a refreshing idea.

Street Food and Social Media go hand in hand, and what I really like about crowd funding how it creates a communal support network, where your investors are also your customers.

I am currently preparing my profile to go up on the PleaseFund.Us website which will be going live soon. I propose to offer rewards for investments from £10-£500 ranging from discounts on the food, “Horny Bell” T-shirts, a name plaque on the side of the trailer, to catering for parties for free.

In all cases no matter how much someone invests, they will get a credit, a thank you, their name in lights in some small way on my website. I’m already compiling a hall of fame to include the people who have helped me get this far.

My fingers are crossed.

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