It was only a matter of time before someone distrupted Kickstarter and Indiegogo for the food industry. Welcome Credibles, a new S.F.-based crowdfunding website specifically for culinary endeavors. It's actually sort of brilliant -- you buy food from your favorite restaurant or artisan producer upfront, in increments like $50 or $200 or $400, and then the restaurant or food producer can invest that cash in their business to reach specific goals without having to go through a bank or lender.
Many of vendors throw in extras, like a percentage off every purchase, or classes or other merchandise if you donate more. It certainly offers more bang for your buck than Kickstarter, which has been criticized for asking people to invest in a business without getting any of the benefits of being an investor (i.e. profits).
Currently there are more than 50 vendors from the Bay Area, many of which you've heard of and might already shop from. You can buy a credits for a bunch of loaves from Sour Flour and the business can buy more bread boards, linens, and dough tubs. You can pre-order juice from Sow and help them realize their dream of opening a brick-and-mortar within the year. You can help Dogpatch lasagna restaurant Marcella's hire more staff so they can stay open at night, St. Benoit Creamery in Petaluma expand their facility, or Berkeley's Local Butcher Shop expand education programs and keep staff on during the slower months.
Founder Arno Hesse sees it as the intersection of the Slow Food and Slow Money movements, and told the San Francisco Business Times that he's also seeing increased loyalty to these local businesses as a side effect of the loans. The companies need to be established, so you're not taking a risk on a total unknown. Already some businesses have used the site to raise up to $30,000 to expand. If it takes off, Credibles seems like it could be a powerful tool for small food businesses to grow and thrive.
[via SF Business Times]