About a month ago, Stockbox launched a crowdfunding campaign through Community Sourced Capital to support additional growth at our first two Seattle locations. We have less than a week to go on the campaign and a decent chunk of money to raise, but the process has been a great reminder of the power of community-based financing and community-based business. It’s also triggered a lot of questions about why crowdfunding is so important to us, so we thought we’d take a moment to respond.
When we launched our business 2.5 years ago, we depended on funds raised through a Kickstarter campaign to roll-out our first store: a prototype in the Delridge community. We raised $20,000 in that campaign, which covered the costs of renting our temporary storefront, purchasing inventory, decorating the space, and rolling-out marketing. To be honest, we had no other channel for raising that money – we were a start-up with two owners who had just quit their own paying jobs – and we have no idea what we would have done without that support. That $20,000 was the first big stepping stone to the 2 current stores we have on the ground.
But, the Kickstarter campaign was about so much more than the funds we raised:
- it rallied our friends and family to support us in a meaningful way
- it provided a tool for community members and customers to support our business aside from simply shopping there
- it provided a space for us to communicate with our funders about our goals and progress
And, it had other tangible impacts:
- it triggered national press exposure for our work
- it inspired an out-flowing of supportive emails and letters from supporters and communities all over the country
- it even connected us to support within with the White House
As we continue to grow, the role of community in supporting our funding is even more important. We get most of our funding from investors and banks but, because we are a business that is based in and dependent on the hyper local community, we want to engage our customers and supporters in a meaningful dialog on the importance of working together in sustaining our business. This is because we want to stay accountable to the community and we want the conversation on financial sustainability to go both ways.
This is also why we launched a campaign through Community Sourced Capital, rather than through Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a donation-based platform. Whereas, Community Sourced Capital allows our supporters to make a loan to Stockbox through the purchase of Squares. This is an important distinction for us, which represents our growth as a company over the past 2.5 years and our commitment to community moving forward. Through the loans, our customers have a way to support our store while seeing a repayment, based on our success.
If you have a few minutes and the resources, we invite you to join us in this active conversation and partnership around community lending. By purchasing Squares and lending to Stockbox, you get to be a part of this ongoing journey of our work to bring good food to all communities and we get to be a part of the journey to create a sustainable alternative to business and an active member of our community.