Crowdfunding from Tent to Brick: The Colombian Cafe Project

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It’s been, once again, a very long time since my last post. So much has changed for the better and I have achieved a great deal more with Maize Blaze.

I wrote previously about whether it was better to grow a business by using personal connections or other means. Well, what I have been finding is that the bonds that you make with staff, suppliers and other industry contacts actually turn them into personal contacts so, potentially, my old query is now moot.

The people I have around me now are fast becoming my Maize Blaze family. With that, comes the trust and ability to explore new routes for Maize Blaze, knowing that I have a robust base of wonderful people keeping the day-to-day service running smoothly. In fact, without having inspiring, trustworthy employees and colleagues my next step would be impossible.

Me an Mariana in our Camden Stall

That brings me on to my topic for today: crowdfunding

In case any of you have managed to miss this phenomenon, crowdfunding is raising funds from friends, family and strangers that are interested in your project by using a crowdfunding website to promote the campaign.

I have decided to use Crowdfunder UK which is one of the most popular sites that I came across. For someone who really has started from zero marketing and social media knowledge, the whole process of crowdfunding as a “one man band” has been overwhelming, to say the least.

I have tried to get my friends and family to chip in where possible, but at the end of the day, (as with most things), it is a case of grabbing a few days’ worth of nuts and chocolates, making sure there is milk, tea and coffee a-plenty and holing yourself up with the sacred Google to learn the ropes.

I have discovered that creating a successful campaign is a huge marketing undertaking with a lot more to it that I initially was aware of. The main challenge, beyond finding the time to put together relevant content, is figuring out how I am going to reach enough people who will be interested in, and subsequently invest in,  my idea of a 100% gluten-free Colombian Cafe in East London.

Even if I figure out new ways to reach more people with my campaign, my main question is:

Why would people want to donate money?

I have been genuinely surprised at how generous everyone around me has been so far even in these early planning stages of the campaign. It’s not only been with the promise of launch date donations but with offers of their time and investment in the project.

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A wide range of family and friends, new and old, at home or spread right across the world have been watching Maize Blaze grow via blogs and social media posts and really want to see it succeed. This is a fantastic feeling to have engaged and inspired this response from a wide range of family friends and geographically distant old friends.

It is this commitment and emotional investment that I would like to expand further into groups of people who don’t know me personally but feel connected to what we are doing. I started this on my own with a couple of grand in my hand and in under two years I have a wonderful bunch working around me, we are making a stable profit, we have a good social media following and best of all our food just keeps going from strength to strength!20150812_115258

I want to share this feeling of excitement and boundless prospects with our followers. I want to invite people to join us in this journey and be part of our growth and part of the team that is driving towards a Maize Blaze Colombian Cafe in East London – just for starters!

This is exactly what I had in mind when designing the Rewards for the Crowdfunder UK donations. I wanted to give things back that would start to build a Maize Blaze community. Inviting people to physically come to write their names on our Hall of Fame so we can thank them in person and invite them into our world; a recipe book with the whole story of how Maize Blaze got started and recipes which we already use and ones we plan to use in the cafe to share what we have so far with our supporters; lifetime discount cards which are basically the equivalent of “mates rates” doled out already – just on a wider scale.

This is a small project with great possibilities and I want to make sure that everyone who helps us, who comes with us on the journey, is rewarded for their loyalty and support – no body is an island! (Haha-misquote!)

I’m hoping that those are the reasons that people who don’t yet know myself, the team and the project, will want to donate to fund our move from gazebos and street stalls to a brick and mortar cafe to call our own.

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