STARVING artists, cash-strapped novelists and musicians with well-worn heels have all turned to crowdfunding to raise cash for their projects, but now local foodies are also trying their hand.
The guys from North Perth’s The Classroom have put out their hat, testing the waters to raise a cool hundred grand for their new noodle bar, Lucky Chan’s. The actual cost of setting up a restaurant is a long ways north of that sum, but if they don’t reach the $100,000 all the raised money gets refunded.
Crowdfunding was initially populated by arty types without two bob to rub together. When already-popular singer Amanda Palmer turned to Kickstarter to raise cash for her new album, there was a backlash. Many asked why an established muso needed $1.2 million from the public to put out an album.
Scrubs dude Zach Braff suffered a similar wave of negativity when he asked the public for $2 million to help make the Veronica Mars movie with his missus, Kate Bell.
Palmer said crowdfunding let her escape the grasp of record company investors and, since her fans got the record as a reward anyway, it was effectively a pre-order system.
Lucky Chan’s doing something similar, letting punters pre-purchase meals for two, or more elaborate bookings for high-rolling donors. But Andy Bennett (pictured, above) says surprisingly some of the rewards people select are the less tangible ones. For $145 people can have their name on a chair, and that has been popular.
“There’s good crowdfunding and bad crowdfunding,” Mr Bennett says. “I’ve seen a lot of projects rise and fall on the quality of the rewards they offer.
“I’ve seen projects where it’s been handled with not a lot of care and consideration for people funding you along the way. Art projects and great creative endeavours are where [crowdfunding] should have started… but now as small business operators start to see it succeed, I’m not going to be surprised if we’re not the last to do this.”
Earlier this year a new mixed cafe/motorbike repair joint called Spadille Garage on a quiet West Perth street attempted to crowdfund $30,000 to get off the ground. At the end of the funding period it raised just $5845, but still managed to push ahead and open (without the cash, which was refunded).
As for Lucky Chan’s—a laundry-themed noodle bar given the history of that part of William Street—Mr Bennett says the campaign’s also been a good promotional tool.
“The money will be great, obviously, it will be a key part to realise the financial obligation of starting a new venue. We think what’s more interesting is the ability to go out and interact with a whole bunch of people… every time we get a pledge we repost that to social networks with the person’s name and how much they’ve contributed.
“We want to give them a little electronic pat on the back. We’ve had people interstate and overseas fund the project so it’s been great to sell the stories.”
With 44 days to go, they’re just about to reach $23,000, with the average supporter pitching in $123.
by DAVID BELL