Soon Minnesota's entrepreneurs may benefit from a vast, previously untapped source of capital.
We hear from many small businesses that traditional financing can be challenging to obtain, or, without the right collateral it's simply not enough. Although we know some lenders are working hard to increase flexibility and close this gap, crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have become game-changers for financing small businesses. If you haven't crowdfunded before, here's how it works: You pledge a donation in exchange for a reward, like a product or special event. For a farm, you might get to choose from an exclusive CSA box offering or tickets to a farm dinner. This model has a proven track record -- some of our favorite food businesses and farms have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars online.
Crowdfunding has worked for some businesses, but not everyone can offer the right mix of rewards to entice donors. Fulfillment can be onerous, particularly for a fledgling business with unpredictable cash flow. With the limitations of a rewards-based system, it is often only useful as a supplement to more traditional financing. However, that may soon change. The proposed MNvest legislation has the potential to blow the lid off of crowdfunding in Minnesota.
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Foodmakers and Farmers - Exhibitor Applications are now being accepted for:
FEAST! - the largest celebration of local foods in the tri-state area will premiere November 2-3, 2014 at the Rochester Civic Center, Rochester, MN. The first day of this two-day event will be open to the public with a Sunday showcase of the best of local food by producers and makers from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Sunday’s theme will be “Homegrown for the Holidays” and will feature over 150 exhibitor booths, plus a lineup of chef demonstrations, tastings, live music, workshops on healthy eating and holiday cooking, activities for kids, sampling of local beer, wine and craft distillers’ libations for adults. Event-goers will be able to purchase items for holiday gifts or from homegrown holiday cooking.
The public FEAST! event on Sunday will be followed by a trade event on Monday. “Grow It, Make It” will be the theme of this regional conference and tradeshow which is being planned exclusively for food growers, makers and buyers. The conference will offer multiple tracks and will give producers and buyers opportunities to meet, network, discuss sales, and forge supply-chain relationships. A first of its magnitude in the region, this conference will offer buyers workshops and connections to accelerate local sourcing and. The day’s educational workshops will include industry panels providing technical assistance and access to funding opportunities, plus timely, in-demand classes for market-ready producers as well as aspiring farming and food business beginners.
Premiere partners in producing this event include Mayo Clinic, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Renewing the Countryside. A crowd of organizations and food-focused volunteers are busy with the planning. Other organizations and individuals are invited to join as sponsors and volunteers. To learn how you can participate, please contact Jan Joannides at Renewing the Countryside, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-251-7304.