I was at Shaker LaunchHouse for a crowdfunding workshop organized and led by Reka Barabas of Bad Girl Ventures. BGV is an organization focused on funding female-owned businesses in the greater Ohio area. CoolCleveland was… well, cool enough to interview some of the participants, including Reka.
Shaker LaunchHouse is a Cleveland-based business accelerator. They provide office space, services and mentoring to budding entrepreneurs in the Northeast Ohio area. At LaunchHouse, crowdfunding has garnered increased focus as of late.
Attendees received two hours of comprehensive insight, tips and tricks for how to create and run their campaigns successfully.
This event came during a busy couple of weeks for the folks at BGV. Today they’ll be hosting the Bad Girl Ventures Fall 2012 Graduation Ceremony, where yet another local business will receive a $25,000 loan to help take things to the next level.
The story of the event for me was Parma Pierogies. Parma, Ohio is a suburb of Cleveland with a strong Polish community. Not too long ago, Parma Pierogies was an up-and-coming fast food chain specializing in old world pierogies. It received national attention and was marked as the next big thing in fast food. They’re kind of famous around here, especially among older generations.
Parma Pierogies was eventually forced to shut it’s doors due to some bad business dealings. Now founder Mary Poldruhi has turned to crowdfunding to try and resurrect the brand, and she is doing so with a cause in mind.
Parma Pierogies is seeking up to $988K in contributions on it’s Indiegogo campaign page. In the spirit of Paul Newman’s wildly successful “Newman’s Own” brand of foods, two-thirds of revenues from the new Parma Pierogies will go to charity. In this case the cause is the betterment of the lives of battered and abused children.
Securing capital through traditional channels can be extremely difficult, and it seems when you can find a willing investor they often want an untenable stake in the end result. Parma Pierogies hasn’t been imune to this. Mary candidly spoke of how close she was to raising the capital she would need, but a deal fell apart at the last minute.
In the absence of traditional capital, Mary is excited about the opportunity she has found with crowdfunding. She said, “This is an amazing upcoming global platform that needs to be understood so more people can achieve their dreams, missions and needs in this world… Humans can help each other without having to sell our souls to do it!”
Mary is trying to reach out to some of her previous high-profile fans to try and generate buzz for her mission, including President Bill Clinton. I’m personally (and selfishly) hoping to see Parma Pierogies in my grocer’s freezer someday soon, and I wish her all the best.