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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Pizza made possible by Kickstarter

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When the Maine Grind in Ellsworth decided they wanted to add pizza to their menu, they turned to their customers for help raising the money they needed to make it happen. Using a site called Kickstarter, they launched a campaign to raise $20,000 - and they were successful! Kickstarter is a 'crowd funding' site, meaning individuals pledge money to projects they want to support. Kickstarter started to help fund creative projects - musicians, artists, etc. But more businesses are finding the site a great way to fund their creative projects. There are other crowd funding sites out there, but Kickstarter is among the most popular (do be sure any site you choose is legit!).

What's great about crowd funding sites like Kickstarter is that individuals can support projects they like without pledging a lot of money, and projects that might not have otherwise been funded through more traditional means can get funded. According to, since launching in 2009, over $350 million has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people, funding more than 30,000 creative projects.

Not every project posted on Kickstarter gets funded. Each project has a time limit to raise the funds they are seeking. They must set a fundraising goal. If they reach that goal by the end of their drive, they get to keep the money pledged. If they don't reach the goal, they don't get to keep any of it. So, in the case of the Maine Grind, their campaign ran for one month in which 76 backers contributed a total of $20,130 - exceeding their goal of $20,000.

I recently interviewed Rich Hanson from the Maine Grind to get some tips after his experience using Kickstarter. He offered these suggestions:

1. Set a reasonable fundraising goal. If it's too high, people won't think their $5 contribution will make a difference and may not bother pledging. If it's too low, it might not be enough to complete the project.

2. Consider the fees involved. Kickstarter does take a cut from the funds raised. Keep that in mind when determining the amount you need to complete a project.

3. Keep the timeframe relatively short. Campaigns that drag on for too long lose momentum and interest.

4. Be creative when offering 'premiums' to donors. For example, anyone who contributed $100 received two bowls of homemade soup a week for a month, two grilled gourmet pizzas, a delicious pastry and a coffee at The Maine Grind and a heartfelt thank you on their website.

5. Present yourself professionally on Kickstarter and tell your story! The Maine Grind posted a great video about their business and how they planned to use the money they raised.

6. Promote your campaign! Let customers know about it and use all your social media prowess to get the word out and generate excitement about the campaign.

Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites aren't the answer for everyone when it comes to raising capital. Be sure to check out for guidelines. While you're there, check out the campaign for the Maine Grind called 'Ellsworth's Living Room Needs Pizza.' The best part about the experience is that it truly becomes a community effort. Customers now come into the Maine Grind, point to the pizza oven cooking up something yummy and remark with pride, 'I helped make that happen!'


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