Crowdfunded Startup Opening 30 Cafes On Same DayBy: Mike Tuttle - February 16, 2012
New Perspectives Cafe, a start up company, is combining polling and crowdfunding to create a unique event. New Perspectives Cafe is opening thirty stores nationwide, at the same date and time, using a crowdfunding model of finance. In addition to this, New Perspectives Cafe is letting members vote on the cafe’s menus, theme nights, events, fundraisers, new locations, and just about everything else.
Rather than go through the usual means of financing store openings such as angel investing or obtaining bank loans, New Perspectives Café is choosing to use the increasingly popular method referred to as crowd funding. Crowdfunding involves a large number of people giving small payments or donations, generally in exchange for prizes or other perks. Many websites, such as Rocket Hub and Kickstarter, have helped to popularize this form of finance for both creative projects and businesses.
New Perspectives Café is going one step further, and is offering, in exchange for helping to fund their start up cafes, a chance for customers to make most of the decisions on store happenings.
Jon Stewart (no relation), who is the President of New Perspectives Café:
“I know this sounds like a cliché, but we really wanted to do something outside the box. We are going to give customers who help us set up our initial cafes a number of really cool prizes and discounts, but also let them determine most of the major decisions regarding how the cafes are ran. It’s like a real world version of (the Facebook application) Café World, only you actually get to go to the breakfast or party you helped create. We instantly new that it could be a game changer and it meshed so well with our idea of letting customers vote to decide on how to run a café.”
New Perspectives Café is letting customers who purchase a membership choose things like what is on the menu, events, theme nights, fundraising events, and pretty much anything they can think of. While looking into different ways of financing and growing their business, New Perspectives Café employees found out about crowd funding.
After searching for ways to make set up, café changes, and voting an efficient and timely process, New Perspectives Café searched for ways to increase excitement in both the cafes themselves and as a means of encouraging people to purchase a membership. “We tried to make sure that, in addition to voting, we had a fun and exciting atmosphere planned, and that the discounts and prizes we give out were things people would actually want. We really tried to examine the entire concept of crowd funding in order to see what worked and what did not.” In addition to offering a wide range of potential dishes for customers to vote on, New Perspectives Café is trying to create a nightlife atmosphere as well.
According to product designer Travis Schindler, “We worked on developing something that would be an exotic and fun experience so that people look forward to coming here. We wanted to do something out of the ordinary.”
As far as prizes, “We are offering a number of discounts and free items, and we are also letting members have a photo of themselves put on our wall.” said Hugh Sprague, “We wanted to design something that customers will be proud to be a member of.”
As a final touch, New Perspectives Café has decided to open all thirty cafes on the same day, at the same time. According to Jon Stewart, “Assuming membership sales go as expected, we are going to synchronize the openings so that all thirty stores open at the same moment. Ideally, part of the draw of crowdfunding is the feeling of excitement, and that large groups of people can each, individually, do a small thing to cause a big change.”