Kicking Some Food Around, Part 2

Several weeks ago, I discussed several highlights and lowlights of the then-current food-related Kickstarter campaigns. Now that the campaigns have finished, let’s take another look and see how they did.

We started with Keith, who was restoring a vintage fire engine to advertise his BBQ business. I correctly predicted that the Kickstarter would fail to reach its goal: pledges only reached 11% of the target number. Keith is determined, however. According to the project updates, he’s applied his tax return to the project, and is pushing ahead. Kudos to him for finding an alternate funding source. If determination can make a business succeed, the BBQ Beast will live.

I didn’t make a prediction about Rich’s campaign to get his Smoke Hog food cart rolling, though I did say I thought it deserved to succeed. Unfortunately, it fell well short of success at only 14% of the target. Like Keith, Rich is determined to keep his dream alive. He’s putting together a promo video to show off more of what he can do, and plans to launch a new campaign when that’s ready. Good luck, Rich!

Remember Bobby and his “Bah Bah BBQ sauce”, loaded with antioxidants? I expected Bobby’s campaign to fail, and I was right. Less than a week after the previous blog post he canceled the campaign after accumulating pledges that amounted to only 2% of the target. This is actually the third time he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign for this sauce and the third time he’s canceled it early. Not only does Bobby not understand how the food industry works, but he apparently doesn’t understand how publicity and crowd-funding work either. On the brighter side, each time he’s tried it, he’s gotten more pledges. At the current rate of increase, I estimate he’ll meet his goal on the seventh attempt. Think he’s determined enough to keep trying that long? No? Me either.

Moving on to Genelle and her plan to become the salsa baroness of Oregon, we see that, as expected, her campaign failed. She accumulated pledges totalling 20% of her target. Genelle has rethought her plans and launched a new Kickstarter campaign. This time she’s scaled back her ambitions. Instead of trying to get her salsa into stores “throughout Oregon”, she’s aiming for two local stores, and will expand from there. The new campaign also asks for a third less money. She’s at 19% with almost three weeks to go. I still think she’s going to come up short again, but at least she’s being more realistic this time around.

OK, I lied. Not all of the Kickstarters have closed.

Sosu Sauces’s campaign for their Barrel-Aged Sriracha is the only one of the five that I was sure would succeed. With two days remaining, they’ve accumulated over $82,000 in pledges against their original $20,000 target. The additional funds will allow them to make a larger batch of the Sriracha and introduce three additional products: a barrel-aged hot sauce, a sriracha salt, and a sriracha cumin rub. Not bad. They have one additional stretch goal. If they can raise another $18,000 before the campaign ends, they’ll be able to rent a permanent facility and hire an employee. They’ll be a real company! $18K in the last two days is a real stretch. If you’re a sriracha fan–and I know a couple of you are–you really ought to give them a hand. Let me know how the product turns out.

Kicking Some Food Around

Hungry? I hope not, because we’re going to talk food today.

I was cruising around Kickstarter t’other day when I noticed something. There are a huge number of “what the heck were you thinking” projects in the food category. There are also some darn good ideas out there. Allow me to share a few of the highlights and lowlights.

First up, here’s Keith. Keith is restoring a 1939 Dodge fire engine. Why? No idea. He’s pretty clear that it’s going to be a mobile catering station for his “BBQ Beast” business, but he doesn’t give us a clue of why he wants to use this vehicle instead of any other. Mind you, the Kickstarter isn’t really for the fire engine, even though it’s prominently displayed at the top of the page and most of the content of the video talks about it. Most of the Kickstarter funds will actually go to the purchase of a trailer to carry everything that won’t fit into the fire engine. As I write this, He’s a bit over 10% of the way to his funding goal, and even though there are two weeks to go, I don’t think he’s going to make it. Keith, give us a reason to want to help you. Any readers in Windsor, CA know what Keith’s thinking?

Then there’s Rich. Rich has a plan. He wants to start selling his own BBQ and tacos on 6th Street in Austin, TX. He’s got experience selling street food on 6th Street. He’s already negotiating for a location. He’s got a budget–and he even breaks it down for us, explaining how much of the Kickstarter money is for equipment, licensing, and so on. He’s got some interesting ideas for the menu: an ever-changing mix of “normal” and “unique to Rich” fare (beef tongue tacos, anyone? How about smoked fish? Or pork belly?) Heck, even his vegetable topping sounds intriguing: a mixture of four pickled vegetables: carrots, cabbage, red onion, and cucumber. Just like Keith, Rich is 10% of the way to his goal, but IMNSHO, he’s got a much better chance. Heck, I’ve got no plans to visit Austin in the foreseeable future, but I’ve pledged a few bucks, just because I admire him for doing his homework and setting an attainable goal.

Maybe it’s Californians who have trouble getting their point across. Bobby is looking for financial help to get his BBQ sauce into stores. According to all of his friends, it’s the greatest BBQ sauce ever. And even more importantly, it’s made with pomegranate, so it’s loaded with “real antioxidants”! None of those horrible fake antioxidants used in other products; Bobby’s BBQ is “unique” and “all-natural”! With Kickstarter funding, Bobby believes the only obstacle to his success is ensuring a sufficient supply of “the best, freshest ingredients”. R&D is done and the “initial market testing is all positive”. That $20,000 he’s looking for will cover “Manufacturing, Retail Distribution, Warehousing, [and] Shipping to stores and you”! Bobby, do you have any idea how the food industry works? Good luck, man, you’re gonna need it. (As of this writing, Bobby’s “Bah Bah BBQ Sauce” is 2% funded…)

OK, it’s not just a California thing. Genelle is ready to ditch the insurance business and follow her lifelong dream of having her own business. If she can raise $1,500 on Kickstarter, she’ll rent a commercial kitchen and “get my salsa into local stores throughout Oregon.” What could go wrong? Apparently the only risk is going out of business, and that risk can be mitigated “with the proper permits and business liability insurances”. I hope she’s got a friend who can design a logo and labels for her jars of salsa. And a plan to actually deliver her product to those “local stores throughout Oregon”… At least she’s starting small, with an attainable Kickstarter funding target. The project has only been up for a couple of days and she’s already 10% of the way there.

Let’s wrap this up with another highlight, if only to show that not all Californian food-related Kickstarters are clueless. Lisa and the gang at Sosu Sauces are kickstarting their newest take on Sriracha: aged in whiskey barrels. This isn’t their first time launching a new sauce, and it’s not their first time on Kickstarter. They know what they’re getting into, they’ve got a plan, and perhaps most importantly, they’ve already got contacts in the industry. They already have relationships with farmers, barrel makers, and distributors. I’m not fond of sriracha, but I can see the real fans going wild for their variation. They’ve got the same $20,000 target that Bobby does, but they actually know what they’re going to do with the money if they reach their target. Their confidence shows, and it’s inspiring backer confidence. As I write this, the project has only been open for a few hours, and they’ve already hit 6% with plenty of time to go. I’ll wish them good luck, but unlike Bobby, I don’t think they really need it.