Why Kickstarter could be the key to financing a fledgling food business
Most culinary start-ups take at least a couple years to grow from embryonic brands into brick-and-mortar establishments. Kanga, a year-old business specializing in miniature Australian meat pies, has discovered a way to fast-track the process. In mid-December, owners Megan Chan and Erynn Mayes launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a downtown retail space. Barely a month later, with three days left in the campaign, they’ve received almost 250 donations totaling $14,800—just $200 shy of their $15,000 goal.
Kanga’s trajectory from hatchling start-up to retail outlet is basically a study in modern-day culinary entrepreneurship. The company launched in October 2012 at the Toronto Underground Market, the same foodie incubator—and low-risk testing ground—that helped catapult Toronto hotspots La Carnita and Rock Lobster onto the Toronto food map. Chan and Maye spent the next year building their brand by appearing at community gatherings like TO Food Fest and TURF Music Festival before transitioning into wholesale arrangements with trendy specialty stores like Roncey bakery Hot Oven and Sanagan’s in Kensington Market. Meanwhile, growing attention from media outlets like the Toronto Star and Chatelaine was generating sufficient buzz to make crowdfunding a viable financial strategy.
Assuming they meet their $15,000 goal, Chan and Maye intend to use the cash to lease retail space in the heart of the downtown core, close to lunching cubicle-dwellers and corporate catering clients. Their mission is to open shop by April 2014—certainly an ambitious timeline. Something tells us they’ll be right on schedule.