Alive and “Kick”ing!

After being out of town in New Orleans for business the last week, I’m long overdue for an update.  But even being out of town, the work doesn’t stop in moving forward to get things ready for the farmers market.  So yes, I’m alive, and yes, I’m “kick”ing!  (Pun intended!)  Here’s the kickstarter link:

We’re looking to raise $8800 to help mobilize the woodfired oven, purchase refrigeration for ingredients, a tent, and other equipment required by the farmers market.  Why $8800?  Because Kickstarter takes 5% off the top, and Amazon takes up to another 5% for processing payments.  If we hit our target exactly, it will leave us $7920, which will just be enough for what we plan to do.

First off, let me gripe on the time it takes to get a Kickstarter going, specifically with Amazon Payments.  I don’t know if they’ve faced a lot of fraud, but it seems like they drag out the ability for new businesses to set up an account by far longer than it would normally take.  When you go to set up an account (which is Kickstarter’s payment processor), they ask for what seems like simple stuff… your bank information, name of company, and EIN.  While I was able to provide all this correctly, the account was “frozen” due to non-matching information.

I called up Amazon Payments to be told that this would be elevated, and it had looked like all my information was entered in correctly.  They would not allow me to speak with a higher level decision maker, and stated I would receive further information via e-mail. I then received an e-mail to fax EIN and bank information to them for verification purposes, which stated exactly what I had put into the electronic system. I faxed the information over, and waited.  No response for three days, so I called Amazon Payments, where the call receiver asked for the verification number of my fax, and again could not help me any further in terms of assuring me things we move forward.  Another three days later, and I finally receive notice that Amazon Payments has verified (which I already input into the electronic system on the first day) all the information necessary.

This took a total of 10 days.  So for those that are thinking about Kickstarting, make sure you plan at least 14 days of leeway time in advance (Kickstarter took four days to verify my project) relative to when you’re looking to end your campaign.  In any case, I’m glad we’re up and running, and we’ve hit 4% within our first 48 hours largely thanks to friends and family!  Here’s hoping we gain momentum as we continue and make it to our goal!

Second, I’ve had a question come up from the pizza making forums asking “Why Kickstarter?  Why not just get a loan from the bank?”  Great question, and here’s why we pursued a Kickstarter…

We probably could go a more traditional route and do a loan, specifically through something like Prosper or other P2P lending sources.  Most banks actually won’t give loans to food/restaurant related endeavors nowadays unless you’ve had at least two years of demonstrated success (this is what two presidents at banks told me) so  that route it out.

There’s a few benefits that kickstarter offers that a traditional loan does not:

1.  You don’t have to “pay back” the donations in cash.
2.  There’s no interest rate that you need to be concerned with.
3.  You don’t have to put up something for collateral.
4.  It’s an initial way to help build awareness for your product/service/idea.
5.  It gives people a chance to voice their own opinions on the project, and help create some of what Za Pi is about (build your own pizza, voting for specials, etc.)

That being said, there’s also drawbacks to using a Kickstarter:
1.  5% of the final raised funds goes to Kickstarter (skim off the top for the service)
2.  Up to 5% of the final funds goes to Amazon Payments (for processing the payments).

All in all, I felt kickstarter would be a better measure of whether people are interested in having a farmers market Neo-Neapolitan pizza service with less risk on my part and more involvement from the public’s part.  While it would be a dream to make pizzas for people, it’s difficult to commit $12,000 to an idea/project not knowing whether people will embrace it or not.  What’s my dream to make and serve great pizza may just not jive with people out there, and this is a great way to first “test” the market to find out whether people will want to enjoy great pizzas.

I’ll be posting a few new ideas soon, as this weekend will be a test for some new specialties… Peking Duck pie, Longanesa (Filipino Sausage) pie, and perhaps a Kimchi Bacon?  Who’s interested?


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