Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Micro-Investing: A Better Way to Back a New Business

You guys! It's here! A real way to back a business you believing is finally here!

Ok, it's probably been here for a while and I just didn't know it, but I' excited to know about it now and I am going to blab about this for a minute. 

Back in 2018, I wrote a post about online panhandling. It has gone too far and what was being offered was simply not enough. Since then, I've seen more and more disappointing crowd funding offers. Some were for products I really wanted. Then, when I read the fine print of the campaign, it turned out I wouldn't be buying the product at all. I'd be buying a chance to pre-order one if it were manufactured. Dude, no. Here's how that 2018 post closed:

"So I'm begging you. Please. Stop panhandling online.

If you're out of work, I'm probably out of work too. You're kid's school needs whatever? So does mine. Someone suddenly died, or was diagnosed with a terrible disease? OK, you got me. I'm in.

And hey, for profit endeavors, how about a different model? Why not go back to what crowd funding should be? Call for investors. You need money to develop your game? You need to finish that movie? You think you can build a better mouse trap? Great! Instead of offering me a beer coozy with your logo on it, or a chance to download early, why not offer me a piece of the action? You think you need $10,000 to do your thing? Great, for my $100 I want 1% of the net profits. Maybe I'll get my money back, maybe I won't. But I'll be much more likely to bet on your idea if I'm getting more than a commemorative tote bag. My issue isn't with you asking for money, it's with what you're offering in return."

Is it too much to ask that you fund with pre-orders? Or that you offer more than a chance to maybe buy the thing later? How did the Personal Seat License model find it's way to silicone augmented cutting boards? What I really wanted was a chance to invest in a new product or business and maybe make a little money. I'm not now, nor will I ever be an angel investor or venture capitalist. I don't have that kind of scratch. Still, I'd love to be able to take a small amount of money and invest in some small businesses or new products. I want to see people succeed, and I want to see a return on my investment. Even if that return is only lunch money, I want to know that it's possible.

Which brings us to the story of Carter's BBQ.

I met Darren W. Carter through the blogging community. We hung out at Dad 2.0 conferences. We have an online friendship that's similar to those I have with any of my friends who live across the country. We trash talk sports, we chat about parenting, we share in each other's endeavors. I learned a lot about Darren from his appearance on the Dad 2.0 Podcast. He's had an interesting life and he's done a lot of good in the world. Darren is a mental health advocate, a long time foster and adoptive parent, and a champion BBQer.

I think it was about a year ago that I saw Darren post online about his BBQ sauce. He was bottling up some sauce to sell and I knew I had to acquire some. I had no idea if it was in stores or if he'd just made it in his kitchen and printed off a label, I wanted it. The truth was something in between. If you follow me on IG, you know that we love to grill here at IDL HQ. Lou constantly asks if we can grill. We even eschewed a turkey this past Thanksgiving, instead going with a smoked duck. We use a lot of BBQ sauce. Typically, we have between three and five bottles of various BBQ sauces in the fridge. So I had to have a bottle of Carter's. Or four. 

I went with four.

The first order came in plastic mason jars and was sealed with saran wrap. When it arrived, I fired up the grill and Carter's immediately became my kids' favorite BBQ sauce. For Lou, it's xyr favorite sauce, period. Xe puts Carters on everything. Lou even brought a bottle to a BBQ at our neighbor's house just in case xe didn't like what they had there. Then, instead of leaving it as a gift, as I suggested, Lou brought it back home. Xe couldn't bear to part with it. Once I knew it was a good product, I dubbed myself Carter's brand ambassador and started to post as much Carter's related content online as I could.

When those four bottles were gone, I ordered four more. This time, they came in fancy squeeze bottles with those foil safety tabs that come on all commercial squeezable condiments. I also ordered a bottle of Carter's dry rub. To my great delight, Darren included an experimental spice blend that hadn't yet come to market. Being an influencer was paying off. In the time between my first order and today, I've been hitting Darren up for grilling tips and watching the videos he posts on IG.

So I love this product, and I admire Darren for the man and the father he is, even if he is a Cavs fan. What happened next will one. OK, it surprised me a little bit. Carter's posted that they had opened an account with Honeycomb Credit and they were soliciting investors. Like, real investors who could help grow the business and earn a return. It was exactly what I had been looking for, a chance to invest and help out a friend and a business that I believe in. I talked to T, and we agreed to invest. Yes, I could lose money. I'm not investing an amount that would break me if it doesn't work out. But whether it works or not (I think it will), I'm investing in a small Black owned business, and that makes me happy. It makes me way happier than sending money into a Kickstarter void for a product I might like but may never get, made by people I don't know. I hope more people will see the Carter's Story and take a chance on investing in them. If investing isn't for you, check out their website and buy some sauce.

Here's more on the Carter's investment story.