By Robert Mullins
Jan. 31, 2014 — Cheryl Clements makes a living as a senior project manager, setting up big software installations for big businesses. But while that is “what pays the mortgage,” food is her passion and the inspiration for her new venture, fundafeast.com, founded to help entrepreneurs nurture their own food passions.
Fundafeast, which is set to go live February 1, is going to be a crowdfunding platform for all business ideas that are food and drink-related, including cooking gadgets, cookbooks, food products or opening a restaurant or wine bar, Cheryl says.
Like many people, her food passion was inspired by her mother, Audrey Durkee, who mentored Cheryl in the kitchen when she was young. Mom was an entrepreneur herself; she owned a tea room and a salad dressing she created was the house dressing.
“She taught me everything she knew,” Cheryl said of her mom, who died about seven years ago. “Every time I go to some sort of cooking class thinking I’ll learn more, I find that she taught me more than most people ever know, which is fantastic.”
When Cheryl set out to establish fundafeast.com as a crowdfunding platform, she found popular crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo wanting in terms of their support of food-related ventures. The projects tended to be more about technology products, art projects, films and musical artists. So, based on the notion that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, she got the idea for fundafeast.
Crowdfunding fills a need for entrepreneurs who need some seed money to start their venture but who find traditional financing methods out of reach.
“You can have this idea and you just need help, but there isn’t a bank in the world that’s going to throw $500 at you when sometimes that’s all you need,” she says.
Cheryl used crowdfunding herself to get her venture off the ground, raising more than $13,000 on another crowdfunding platform called GoFundMe.com. GoFundMe supports diverse projects like disaster relief, providing school supplies to students and even helping a disabled man to walk again. In just six weeks on GoFundMe, Clements surpassed her own fundraising goal of $10,000, which will go towards Web site design, branding, marketing, public relations and other efforts to get fundafeast launched. She will also pay $1,000 a month to use what is called “a white label crowdfunding platform” service from a company called Invested.in, co-founded by crowdfunding entrepreneur Alon Goren.
The platform will deliver all the behind the scenes Web services that a crowdfunding site needs, including displaying Web pages describing each venture, technology to track contributions and notify investors of their contributions and a system for entrepreneurs to pay fundafeast for its services.
As soon as the fundafeast project became known, Clements started hearing positive feedback from foodies like her with a business idea.
“Every time I speak to someone they say, ‘This is great. We’re so excited,’” she says.
Cheryl thinks the food industry is ripe for growth and entrepreneurship given the popularity of cookbooks, magazines, kitchen gadgets, wine clubs, restaurants and celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali or Giada DeLaurentis on cable TV’s “Food Network.”
Cheryl anticipates that fundafeast.com will draw entrepreneurs and investors who also share her passion for food as it was passed onto her by her mother.
“Cooking for your family is one of the ways you tell them that you love them,” she says.