Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, oh my! With so many crowdfunding websites and resources out there, how’s a new food or beverage company to choose?
That was just the question Cheryl Clements asked herself when she realized that just 25 percent of food projects find success on traditional crowdfunding platforms. Today, as the founder and CEO of PieShell, she thinks she has the answer.
Launched in October 2016, PieShell is a niche crowdfunding site for food and beverage products (anything from packaged goods to restaurants) that’s tailor-made for the industry. The result? A 100 percent success rate for its projects so far. Here’s what sets it apart:
A unique model
Rather than setting a single fundraising goal, PieShell employs what Clements calls a stepping stone model. This means that projects set a first goal—their critical ask—as well as a “want” goal and a
“dream” goal. In Clements’ view, this pushes project owners to be more realistic with their asks, helps them grow with the site and allows them to reach a smaller goal without risking their ability to earn more. “Numerous project owners told us they would have been able to move forward if they had asked for less on other sites, instead of failing,” she says.
Throughout the fundraising process, PieShell provides support in the form of helping leaders create project blueprints, a marketing plan and even a media kit. PieShell reviews stepping stones, gifts, copy, photos and videos, and provides feedback along the way. “We ensure they follow crowdfunding best practices, which doesn’t guarantee success, but definitely improves the likelihood of it,” Clements says, adding that PieShell works with a project for about two or three months before it even launches on the site.
Of PieShell’s 6 percent fee, 1 percent goes straight to its nonprofit partner Emma’s Torch, which provides mentorship and culinary training to refugees in need. Plus, while other sites reward contributors with products, services, gift certificates or other incentives, at PieShell, says Clements, “we build the platform to allow contributors to opt out of receiving the gift, and are very excited to say that with our first five projects, 40 percent of contributors did just that.” Waiving the gift allows all the funds donated to be used on the project, and can accelerate a project’s growth.