Custardy countdown

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-2-12-02-pmDenheath Desserts is the quintessential kiwi start up story. A business that started as a small cafe in Pleasant Point with an amazing custard square recipe has now become an international custard square exporter.

How did it start?

Lisa started working at the cafe as a kid, making the squares as part of her work. Her mother loved the custard squares, and basically bought the cafe for the recipe. She grew the cafe, and her dying wish was for the company to grow and start exporting.

Lisa and her husband Donald took that wish and ran with it, expanding their operations first in New Zealand and then internationally. They started by going to cafes in Canterbury and giving away free samples, and were soon doing daily deliveries up to Christchurch (with Donald leaving at the crack of dawn every morning). 

Now, they are exporting to Australia, South Korea and Japan, and tailoring the square sizes to suit each market (some are perfectly chopstick-sized!)

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-2-11-45-pm

But, they want to grow bigger. They want to export to New York, they want to sell in more New Zealand stores countrywide, and they want to grow their team in Timaru (and improve the technology used by their business).

The money they are raising from their crowd isn’t for shares or rewards though, it’s loan notes. So the money will be repaid over time with an 8% annual interest rate.

They are passionate about local economic development, and are unashamedly South Islanders. They’ve often been told that to succeed they need to move to Auckland, but with the cost of living lower in Timaru, and the cost of shipping from their port on par with shipping from Auckland, they want to stay. They want to employ local people, support their local economy, and stay in the region they love.

And, we believe that in a world where things like Brexit and Trump can occur, that kind of attitude is what’s needed. Actually providing jobs in the regions is the antidote to the underbelly of urbanisation.

Where to next?

Today, they create 10,000 custard squares a day and export to Australia, South Korea and Japan.

With your funding, they are aiming to create 35,000 custard squares a day and expand their exports to New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

As a side note, we had a custard square eating competition when they were touring the country:

And, Tan, our latest hire (good hire) was victorious:

If you’d like to support this local business with big dreams, check them out here: pldg.me/custard

Why I invest

We’re a curious bunch here at PledgeMe. Although less flickering-bulb-in-your-face-as-we-interrogate curious, and more so-what’s-your-story curious. We get to hear the reasons behind the ideas when we chat with campaigners and it’s so good seeing someone light up with passion when they lay their story out for us.

But it’s only recently that I’ve begun stopping and asking the other people that matter – the crowd – about their stories, about their motivation to support kiwi ingenuity. And the responses are so wide-ranging.

There’s a whole spectrum of reasons – profit-seeking, prestige, emotional fulfilment, social belonging – some quite visible and logical, some less so but just as powerful.

5812337781_d42dd7fd75_o

Many ways to shear a sheep

Fair to say, there’s many ways to shear a sheep. And there’s many reasons for doing so. For wool. For competition. For the moment. For the story. For kicks. For the sheep’s productivity and wellbeing. For the farm. For the shear enjoyment! Every shearer has their own why. Likewise for every investor.

Crowdsourcing the Why

I want to get your insight. I want to hear from our crowd. What thoughts and feelings swim through you before you invest? Regardless of whether you’ve just tried it once or you’re a serial campaign backer, I’d love to hear your one-line reason: Why I invest.

Why I invest?

Sure why don’t I set the wheels in motion. For me, money is only as valuable as the things it enables me and others to do.

I invest to empower companies who are making a real & positive impact on people’s lives and are doing it their own way.

Take a minute and tell us your “why” here.

What's Up Wednesday

The Taco Cleanse!

nov-16

Imagine it: a world without prejudice. A world where coeliacs, vegans, vegetarians and omnivores can all eat together in harmony. A world where the food they’re eating looks after the planet and the people making it, while still tasting really, really, good. That is the world that the team behind Boquita are creating – and they’re bringing it to central Wellington!

Boquita is brought to you by the team behind La Boca Loca, some of our favourite alumni. They’ve been feeding the fine people of Miramar with top-rate tacos for years, but now they’re ready to branch out and bring the taco goodness to all Wellingtonians.

But they’re not just asking for your money. They’re offering something wonderful in return: The Taco Cleanse. Scientists in Austin, Texas, have confirmed that a taco-centric diet is beneficial to well being – and who are we to argue with science?? So by pledging to Boquita, you can partake in the taco cleanse – replacing as many meals as you like with tortilla-based goodness. We’re yet to find a better path to a bikini body. But if you’re not 100% sure if the taco cleanse is right for you, the team at Boquita have put together some helpful questions:

  1. Do you experience recurring feelings of hunger on a daily basis?
  2. Do you experience a range of emotions?
  3. Do you like food?
  4. Do you enjoy eating your food with your hands?

If you answered yes to all of these, a taco cleanse may be right for you. But if you’re still on the fence for some reason, we had a chat to the taco team themselves to find a few more reasons why you should be pledging:

1. How are you finding the campaign so far?

Lots of fun! One of the things I love the most about crowd-funding is the incredible boost we get from having our community get behind what we are doing, even we’re doing things that are a bit out there – like launching Wellington’s first Taco Cleanse and opening New Zealand’s first 100% plant-based taco joint. We have an incredibly supportive, generous community of customers and friends at La Boca Loca, and we’re thrilled to find out that they’re as excited as we are about Boquita.

This isn’t our first campaign with PledgeMe and what we’ve learned is that these campaigns are so much more than a way to raise money. They’re about building a community of support around an idea, and giving everyone who wants it the chance to be a part of making something new happen.

Having people in our community put their money behind our ideas and plans is a huge boost in morale, and in the past we’ve also found that those people went on to be great champions for our projects once they launched.

We hope that will happen with the Taco Cleanse and Boquita as well.

2. What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

Yup! We have some new rewards which will be added in the days to come, and we have a live event planned for next week – a chance for Wellington to learn more about the science behind the taco cleanse! More on that soon.

3. Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Just a massive thanks for being awesome! And remember that taco cleanses are more fun in a crowd. So if you’ve already pledged to take the Taco Cleanse challenge, make sure you get your friends to pledge too!

To find out more about Boquita and start your cleanse, take a look at their campaign page right here.

North Island Roadie: complete!

Earlier this year we did our South Island roadtrip. It was a cold 10 days, but a heart warming experience of supportive crowds, beds offered (despite our rocking Jucy caravan), stories shared, and relationships formed/deepened.

And, our second road trip around the North Island was no different, except for maybe the overall temperature – spring was definitely a warmer time to travel! We stopped in 8 towns (well, 9 if you count the fact we were in Wellington twice) over 9 days and presented to over 250 people.

In our first three days we met with over 100 people in Palmerston North and Whanganui (with a small pre-event in Wellington).

palmerston-north-event

The team at BCC really pulled out all the stops. If you are ever in Palmerston North, and want to be connected into the entrepreneurial crowd, this has to be your first stop. Not only did they organise pretty much everything (including spring rolls for the road), they kept us caffeinated and Dave lent us his parents’ house for the night. I think it may have been partially a ploy to get me offline, as they were out of reception range, but it was beautiful waking up on a lifestyle block in the middle of the North Island.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-12-04-pmIn Whanganui the local chamber sponsored our event, and we got some good media coverage. The folk at Double Farley let us use their beautiful space, and then the locals took us out for some tacos (we love tacos if the current La Boca Loca campaign is anything to go by…).

 

From there we went on to New Plymouth, where we spent the weekend with an old friend of mine. Barry surfed, and I tried the local cafe and macaroon scene.

Our Monday morning session in New Plymouth was packed out, with the BDO crew sponsoring and the beautiful Manifold space hosting. We had quite a few potential campaigners pitch their ideas to the crowd that attended, and a breadth of ideas and range of companies.

From there we drove back to Wellington for the launch of the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, and then flew on to Tauranga.

There we had a local journalist from the NZ Herald through, creating this short video on our event at Basestation. It was great to see so many people turn up on Melbourne Cup night, and we even had one current campaigner show up in roller-skates to talk about her project. 

Onward and northward we went, with three more fantastic crowds in Hamilton, Auckland, and Whangarei.

We met with company founders, not-for-profit champions, social enterpreneurs, artists, writers, musicians, you name it.

One of the coolest things for us was to meet some of our alumni along the way, including Ash from ONESIXSIX in Whāngārei where they crowdfunded the rates on their community space, and Adam in Auckland who crowdfunded his children’s book. It’s always so much more powerful to have people in the room that can share their personal learnings.

Ash and Barry in front of ONEONESIX

Ash and Barry in front of ONEONESIX

While we were on the road three of our South Island Roadie alumni were running their campaigns, and TWO hit their goals: Urbn Vino and Em’s Power Cookies. Both of them are food and beverage products from the regions, doing things a bit different. Here’s what Em said about our visit in July:

As you might be aware we did it!! Big thanks for helping me. This whole process has actually impacted more than I ever expected. A few months ago I was feeling disillusioned and burned out. This project has forced me out of my comfort zone and helped to give me a direction and general motivation with my business. As you know there is a lot of background work that goes with this, despite “just” doing a project vs. equity funding. Getting my business plan polished has helped with attracting a couple inner circle investors. And I probably wouldn’t have gotten there in this time frame had you not visited Westport.”

We hope more campaigns come out of our visit both to the South Island earlier this year, and the North Island last week.

We want founders and doers to realise that the money they need might be a lot closer to them than they thought, and that the process of crowdfunding might bring so much more than the funding. It can activate their existing crowd, strengthen relationships they already have as well as going wider.

Big thanks to everyone who helped make our latest North Island roadie a success, including:

  • Our sponsors: Whanganui Chamber of Commerce, BDO Taranaki, TUANZ and Hive.
  • The people that let us stay in their wonderful homes to stay (including, Nicola, who had only moved in at 8am the morning that she invited us to stay! We tried to help her unpack the next morning, we hope you can find all your utensils….)
  • The co-working spaces and venues that let us use their spaces, including: The Biz Dojo Wellington, BCC Palmerston North, Double Farley Whanganui, Manifold New Plymouth, Basestation Tauranga, Wintec, Enspiral Dev Academy Auckland and the Orchard Whāngārei.
  • Everyone who shared the event, or co-hosted it for us.
  • Barry, for putting up with a whole week of me (and doing the lion share of driving so I could try and keep on top of my inbox… Try being the imperative word).
  • And, most importantly, everyone who pledged to come along.
What's Up Wednesday

The 2017 Craft Beer Calendar!

nov-2

The craft beer calendar crew are back! For the past two years, producers Megan and Jess (our very own current people wrangler!) have been collecting the best of the world of craft beer, and collating it into a calendar to raise money for charity – and for 2017, they’re back at it again.

The calendar showcases all members of the craft beer community – brewers, bartenders, and beer-drinkers – and of course, all their beards. After the team have paid their crew a fair wage, all the profits from the calendars go to SAPN (the Sexual Abuse Protection Network), which seeks to prevent sexual violence through education and preventative strategies. In the past two years the calendars raised $30,000 to help this charity – and this year they’re looking to blow this out of the water.

In order to find out more about the cool kids behind the craft beer, I messaged the other Jess in our office to get the lowdown:

1. How are you finding the campaign so far?

Every year we promise to start earlier and every year we fail, but it’s still a delight. Half the fun of getting the calendar together is scrambling to organise all the photos and sneaking off for cheeky (literally!) lunchtime shoots. The beer community is a great crowd and it’s so heartening to see them rally in support of a great cause year after year.

2. What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We’re looking at some new rewards for people who like butts and supporting SAPN but aren’t really into calendars. We’re also excited to be offering the chance to book in one of SAPN’s excellent ‘It’s Our Business’ sexual violence prevention training courses. It teaches hospo workers how to recognise potential issues and intervene quickly and safely. And of course, get excited for some sneak peeks (pun intended) of our fabulous models!

3. Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

You’re all beautiful and we love you very much. Want to be in the calendar? Tweet us (@NZbeercalendar) or email us (NZbeercalendar@gmail.com). Tell your favourite bar or brewery to sponsor!

To find out more about what the craft calendar team have brewing, hop on over to their campaign page right here.

What's Up Wednesday

Pomegranate Kitchen

oct-19

 

Refugees face major hurdles in just getting to New Zealand. Unfortunately, for many that’s not where the struggle ends – finding a job, a support network, and a place in the community can all be difficult for those new to our country. This is where Pomegranate Kitchen comes in.

Pomegranate Kitchen is a social enterprise dedicated to serving the people of Wellington wonderful food – and in doing so, helping to train, employ, and provide support for former refugees. Starting this month, they’ll be delivering lunches, providing catering, and popping up all over the place with incredible cuisine for Wellingtonians to take advantage of. They just need your help to make it happen.

We wanted to hear more about why places like Pomegranate Kitchen are such a wonderful way to welcome former refugees into the community – so we got in touch with General Manager Rebecca Stewart:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

We have been blown away by the generosity of our crowd. It’s such a buzz seeing all the pledges come in, as well as the encouraging messages. As some have been directed at our cooks I have been reading them out in the kitchen on their mid morning breaks. People have been sending messages of welcome to them, and it’s a nice feeling knowing that others think our idea is as good as we think it is!

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We are workshopping a lot more menu items at the moment so there may well be – watch this space!

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

First, if you have any questions about us or the way we run Pomegranate then do get in touch – my contact details are on the website, or you can reach us through Twitter or Facebook. I had someone contact me recently who wanted to know more about our financial structure and the involvement of the cooks before they Pledged, and we are absolutely happy to answer those questions or any others.

Also, if you’re not sure yet if you’d like to Pledge (and you live in Wellington) then come down at taste our wares at the Moore Wilson’s Tory St pop-up until the 23 October! We are there every day from 11am-3pm.

To find out more about the great people behind Pomegranate Kitchen, take a look at their campaign page right here.

What's Up Wednesday

Zen’s Kitchen

oct-5A few years ago, Zen and his fiancé Polly had a dream. They wanted to serve food from all around the world to the people of New Zealand, and they wanted it to be organic, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable. So they packed up all their things, moved to Murchison, and Zen’s Kitchen was born.

They’ve been delighting the Murchison markets with international fare for a while now – but now Zen wants to step things up, and provide alternative food options and catering to the people at the top of the South Island. He has already spent 12 weeks and a lot of his own money developing the caravan, but he needs your help to take it to the next level. Zen and Polly have a wealth of experience between them – originally hailing from the Czech Republic, Zen has worked at five star hotels in Edinburgh and spent several years working here in NZ at Commonsense Organics, and Polly has a background as a vegan baker. The two are determined to translate this wealth of food knowledge into wonderful offerings for the people of Polly’s hometown.

We loved the picture this campaign painted, so we got in touch with Zen to hear a little more about it.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

The campaign has been great so far.. Its only been running for about 5 days and we’ve raised over $2000 dollars.. There has been awesome supportive, inspirantional feedback from our friends and strangers. It’s amazing to see the power of sharing and reaching people who love our project and want to eat our food.. Because FOOD MATTERS BIG TIME!!!

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign?

I am working on the caravan while the campaign is running to get as close to finishing it as possible.. I am currently building the kitchen cabinets, draws and benches. I will install the kitchen sink and once all that is done, the rest of the commercial floor vinyl will be laid. I will instal the kitchen stove and one of the fridges and do some of the finishing touches.
By that time the pledge me campaign should be finished and we shall do the rest of the work to finish it off.. In between I will be working on our web site plus keeping our followers updated with photos from the building progress. So keep an eye on this because you guys gonna like it!! I’m considering printing off some mean Organic cotton teeshirt with our logos on it as another reward option..

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

I wanna give massive thank’s to our pledgers and sharers for supporting us and believing in what we do!! It’s so good to know that there are people out there who are about “REAL FOOD” which is what we wanna provide.. I believe that I won’t disappoint you and I will make sure that you are going to be a happy customer..:o) Ciao for now and see you soon!!!!

To help Zen’s Kitchen become a reality, pledge to the campaign right here.

Hitting the road (again)

Earlier this year we went on a road trip to the South Island, meeting with companies and organisations from Invercargill to Westport (and lots of towns in between) to talk about equity crowdfunding and crowdlending.

It was an eye opening experience for us. We met so many founders and doers, who were extremely interested in how to do capital raising, and excited about the idea of going to their crowds.

Over 10 days, we met with over 200 people. We learnt a lot about the local initiatives, and shared some stories of inspiring things we’ve seen too.

IMG_5148

 

Now, we want to do it again, but across the North Island. Here’s our plan (currently):

roadtrip_map_2

Do you want us to come to your town? Flick us a note and we’ll see if we can add a stop for you in.

Like last time, we need to raise $400 for each centre to cover our costs to get there.

We’re excited about the opportunity to meet you all.

xx Anna and team PledgeMe

What's Up Wednesday

Sophie Feels Big!

sophie-feels-big

Ever found it hard to explain the concept of feelings and virtues to your kids? An apple or a ball you can point to, but the abstract concept of “disappointment” is a little trickier. That’s why last year, Adam came up with the idea for “Jack Feels Big”, a picture book to give kids the tools to talk about their feelings. And it’s why he’s back this year, with a new volume for a new character: Sophie.

Adam wanted to create stories for Sophie so that young female readers would find the books easier to identify with. The feelings Sophie will feel in each book are voted on and selected by pledgers to the campaign – so this is your chance to help determine how a book gets written!

More than that, Adam has been matching pledges with donations to Duffy Books in Schools and releasing illustrations as he goes. The stories Adam tells are sweet and sincere, and his illustrator Matt Haworth is a real talent. We wanted to find out more about why they’re back for more, so we got in touch with Adam to hear about the campaign:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

Actually really hard. I haven’t been tracking well against my expectations for funding milestones. We’ve passed 10%, so I ran a poll asking backers to choose one of the feelings to feature in Sophie Feels Big. They picked disappointed. I’m really happy with that, since I think it’s an important word for kids to have in their vocabulary. But it also sums up how I’m feeling.

I’m asking myself a lot of questions. Should I have waited to build more of a crowd? Should I have waited to prepare more content for during the campaign? Have I made things too complicated with the re-cast + new stories? Did I set too high a goal trying to get both of those books in one campaign? Is what I’m making even good?

In all this, I’m being persistent (another word taught in the books) and I keep on promoting. I took a drive down to New Plymouth and visited six primary schools and ECE centres. A journalist who wrote about the first book wrote an article for this campaign on Stuff.

One thing that I’ve done that was really worthwhile was send emails or facebook messages to people when I see them pledge. This is easiest with friends and family, but there’s also people whose names I recognise from my mailing lists. As well as being a genuine expression of my gratitude, it’s also a marketing thing, but I discovered an extra reason why it’s worthwhile. Someone I’ve never met, who won a copy in a promo, replied to my thank you email, saying “We’ve loved our copy of Jack Feels Big and yesterday I found it hidden in my son’s secret lair so he must have chosen to read it to himself!”. At a time when I’ve got a lot of self-doubt going on, that was a much needed ray of sunshine. I know that the value of the first book was worth the work and worry of the first campaign. I can stick it out and make these books happen too.

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign? Anything for us to look forward to?

Even though I’m not where I wanted to be, I know that the first time I crowdfunded I spent a lot of the campaign despairing and not knowing where I’d find more backers too. So now, like then, I’ll just keep trying whatever I can. I had a teacher ask about a recording of the stories from the first book being read, for use with her special-needs kids. That’s something I can probably do this weekend in one form or another. I’ll take any opportunity I can to share the campaign, and with some help from Kiwis who think that teaching kids the names for their feelings is important, I think we can get there.

 

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Part of me dreams of someone helping me make a connection to a morning TV program or a parenting blog. But I think the reality with crowdfunding is that those sorts of broadcast aren’t what gets you there. It’s the individual, personal, word of mouth referrals and pledges. If you know someone who has kids with feelings, please tell them about this book :)

To help Sophie Feel Big, head on over to the campaign here and get pledging!

What's Up Wednesday

The Wanaka Bag

sept-14

By 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Every year, we are each (on average) responsible for 350 plastic bags, which are each used for a total of about 12 minutes before being thrown away to end up in a landfill. The group at Plastic Bag Free Wanaka were sick of seeing plastic pollution clogging up their town – so they decided to do something about it.

And so, they created The Wanaka Bag, a limited edition, eco-friendly and super-trendy handmade bag. Each one is unique, and hand-crafted by dedicated locals, who want to see Wanaka free of single-use plastic bags by 2019. With the funds raised from this first run of limited-edition bags, they can fund 1000 more Wanaka Bags to be produced commercially, and sold to stop the people of Wanaka creating more plastic pollution.

They’ve already shot past their $5,500 dollar target, but you’ve still got 19 days to get on board and support a future free of plastic pollution.

We loved not only the innovation of this team, but also their enthusiasm – and so we got in touch with Anna from the team to hear more about it:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

We knew our town would be supportive but we’re totally blown away by the support so far. We’ve even had folks from far and wide who share our love of Lake Wanaka and who have pledged. It’s very cool to think of them sporting one of our bags/bottles/karma cups on the other side of the world.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign? Anything for us to look forward to?

Creating 200 really high-quality bags has been a huge project in itself and keeping the town spirits up, the incentives high and the ball rolling has been a project in itself. Admittedly however, we didn’t expect the bags to get snaffled up quite so quickly so we’re currently conspiring amongst our committee to see what else we can offer to our amazing community so those that missed out on a bag don’t feel left out. We want everyone who wants to support to have a way to wave the banner.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

As cheeseballs as it sounds, we just want to do a shout out to our town and community. We’re in a really unique environment and position, with a town so full of community-minded, pro-active and positive people. We get that not every town is like this, and we’re incredibly grateful for the wonderful locals who have jumped right in behind us to sew, support, sneak in and clean our sewing spaces, offer fabrics and food to share. You name it! No one has missed a beat! It’s one of those happy-glow moments where you can only revel in the warmth of the moment. Thank you Wanaka! The joy of bringing this opportunity is hugely amplified by having so much encouragement and support!

To provide even more encouragement and support, head over to Plastic Bag Free Wanaka’s campaign and get pledging while you still can!