When Amy Nachtigall (Baking ’13) decided to scale up her business, Sugared and Spiced, she never imagined she’d receive record-breaking support.
She and her husband, Jeff, are well on their way to completing the most successful crowdfund campaign in Alberta BoostR’s one-year history. With the money they’ve raised – more than $51,600 from 375 “boostrs” – Nachtigall (pictured above) anticipates opening a permanent storefront for Sugared and Spiced Bakery in spring 2017.
But things weren’t so clear 2 months ago when Nachtigall turned to crowdfunding to answer a crucial business conundrum: to expand or not to expand? Crowdfunding, as it turns out, gave her a resounding answer.
Building on past success
Sugared and Spiced started in Nachtigall’s home kitchen in 2012 with humble aspirations of a booth at the farmers’ market. In just 4 years demand has outpaced capacity, partly thanks to their popular Cake Club, which delivers pre-ordered cakes to members 3 times a year. Nachtigall had to cap the club at 100 members, baking 300 cakes a year on top of her steady stream of regular orders.
Now working full time in a rented commercial kitchen, Nachtigall knew she had reached a crossroads when she had to start turning down requests. Nevertheless, she wondered if the growing demand warranted investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a permanent location, a dream Nachtigall has had for the last couple of years.
Test the waters
Crowdfunding is a safe and inexpensive way to test a brand new idea or to take your business to the next level. Crowdfunding sites typically don’t cost anything until you reach your funding goal, at which point a fee is deducted from your total funding as well as applicable credit card transaction costs. If you don’t reach your goal, however, no one pays anything and the only damage done is to your ego.
“The main reason we decided to go the crowdfunding route was to see if the support was indeed there,” she says. “People said they would support us and we knew we had a good customer base, but this was a good way to test that.”
Nachtigall researched different crowdfunding options before some of her business connections pointed her to BoostR. Launched in 2015, BoostR is an initiative by ATB Financial for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Alberta.
“A big draw for us using BoostR is the fact that it’s a local, Alberta-based crowdfunding campaign.”
Leading up to the launch of their campaign on Sept. 12, Nachtigall admits that she was nervous. Typically, crowdfunding campaigns require near-relentless promotion. This one proved to be an exception.
“I really figured I’d have to do a lot of work just promoting it and letting people know it was there. But I was incredibly surprised and overwhelmed on the Monday it went live. I honestly didn’t have to do anything – I literally just sat back and watched our customers and fans tweet it and retweet it and share and post it on Facebook and Instagram.”
Ready for the Future
They set their initial goal at $20,000, mainly because no one had ever raised more than that on BoostR. Sugared and Spiced eclipsed that goal in a single day. Prior to launching, they had carefully structured their rewards packages with $20,000 in mind, but when they sold out so quickly, they were left scrambling to create new packages to meet the demand.
“The first two days were an emotional rollercoaster,” Nachtigall says.
With their new goal of $50,000 reached, Nachtigall is thrilled at the results of the Sugared and Spiced BoostR campaign, which ends Oct. 27. They have been able to move forward with lease inquiries sooner than expected, and with the promise of a permanent location, Nachtigall plans to hire a small staff to keep up with the demand, something she admits is long overdue.
With her bakery dreams close enough to taste, Nachtigall is confident that they made the right choice. “We were blown away by the support,” she says. “It provided us with extra proof that we will have a viable business and be successful.”
Plan your perks
Perks, rewards, pledges, boosts: each crowdfunding sites uses a different term, but the idea is the same. Customers support your idea or business by pre-purchasing a product or membership to be delivered if your campaign reaches its goal. However, even if you have a great idea, your campaign could be sunk if customers don’t see a reward package that appeals to them.
- Have a good selection of perks available for all price points. Variety is key.
- Provide tangible perks that customers will see right away. A 1-year membership to a video game club that doesn’t exist won’t make people run for their wallets.
- Plan a backup selection of perks. If your initial perks aren’t selling, change it up. Have different packages at the same price point that you can rotate during your campaign.
- Spread out redemption periods. You don’t want all your customers claiming their rewards right after you get funded, so make sure you pre-plan both your redemption and expiry dates.