Funding their dreams with Indiegogo
CHAMPAIGN — At least three area entrepreneurs are running campaigns on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo in hopes of raising enough money to launch new businesses.
— Joshua Boyd, who formerly worked as chef at Carmon's Bistro in Champaign, is trying to start a new business called The Butcher: Sausages & Charcuterie.
— Joshua Lucas is seeking investors for Flying Machine Coffee, a cafe he aims to run in the building at 208 W. Main St., U, recently acquired by Matt Cho.
— Keith Pedigo is working to attract support for MonsterFrog, a social media site that would help video game fans find like-minded players.
Indiegogo got its start about five years ago, initially as a way for independent filmmakers to raise money and later as a fundraising vehicle for other ventures.
It doesn't cost anything to start an Indiegogo campaign, but there's a fee for money raised through the site. Those who meet their fundraising goals pay 4 percent of the amount raised. Those who don't meet their goals have to pay 9 percent of the amount raised.
Boyd's campaign for The Butcher seeks to raise $10,000 for equipment, licensing and "cushion money" for a production kitchen he hopes to open at an undetermined location in downtown Urbana. As of Thursday, he had raised $2,585, with 54 days remaining in the campaign.
On the website, Boyd said he plans to make sausages, house-cured bacon and smoked hams and sell those to restaurants and food cooperatives and at farmers' markets.
Eventually, he would like to move to a storefront and offer a small dine-in menu.
As incentives for contributions, he is offering party invitations, T-shirts and discounts. And for those who commit $100, he promises a "whole hog butchering demonstration, including sausage making."
Boyd, 29, of Urbana said he realizes that prize won't appeal to everyone.
"It would appeal to a lot of foodies," he said. "A lot of non-foodies would be put off by it — it is a whole pig being cut up."
Originally from Danville, Boyd studied political science at Parkland College and worked at Cafe Luna, Bacaro and Persimmon before studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
After working at restaurants in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Chicago, he returned to Champaign-Urbana to work again at Bacaro and then at Carmon's Bistro.
Now he's late-night chef for Black Dog Smoke & Ale House in Urbana.
Already a quarter of the way to his goal, Boyd is optimistic about raising the full amount.
"What I'm hoping is I'll get this (raised) by the end of June ... and begin production by the beginning of August," Boyd said.
Meanwhile, time is running short for the Flying Machine Coffee campaign. As of Thursday, it had raised $1,551 of its $6,000 goal — again, about a quarter of the goal — but the campaign is slated to end at midnight Monday.
On the website, Lucas said he has spent "five years in the coffee world" in Chicago and wants to serve coffee, smoothies and specialty drinks at his Urbana shop.
He would co-locate with Pizza M in downtown Urbana, with hopes of having Flying Machine Coffee open in time for the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival in August.
Lucas said bigger equipment — such as the espresso machine — has already been purchased. Now he needs brewing tools and iced-tea and iced-coffee brewers, as well as coffee, sugar and cups.
As incentives for contributions, he's offering drink cards, T-shirts, mugs and bags of specialty coffee.
Lucas, 29, of Urbana said he grew up in Homer and worked as a barista at the Star Lounge Cafe in Chicago before returning to the Champaign-Urbana area.
Pedigo, 27, of Seymour said he aimed to launch MonsterFrog's campaign on Saturday, with the idea of running it for seven weeks.
"Our initial goal is $140,000," he said, adding the money would be used to create a website, market the company and cover the cost of incentives for contributors.
Lower-level contributors could be eligible for silicon bracelets, custom guitar picks, necklaces, T-shirts and metal-cuff bracelets, he said.
Those contributing at higher levels could qualify for custom controllers and caricatures of themselves, he added.
Pedigo is the third generation in his family to work in sod farming. His father, Ken Pedigo, started Pedigo Sod on Champaign's Staley Road. Keith's grandfather, Gene Pedigo, was a founder of a similar business in Chatham.
Keith has been working for the Champaign company as a manager. But he's itching to start his own business tied to his love of video games — particularly "Rainbow Six: Vegas" and "Skyrim."
"I grew up a hard-core gamer. I could play hours by myself," Pedigo said. "Now that I'm older, I see it as a social activity. I prefer to play cooperatively — me and my friends versus a computer — rather than competitively — friends versus friends."
Pedigo said MonsterFrog would help players locate others who share the same interests.
"Instead of matchmaking just based on a specific game, we're matching personal interests, techniques and playing styles," he said.
Players would complete surveys and be notified of others who are highly compatible with them.
MonsterFrog would also let players suggest improvements to video games and allow other players to vote on whether the ideas are good ones.
Indiegogo has been used by more than a dozen initiatives in Champaign-Urbana to raise money for projects and causes, as well as businesses.
Some local business ventures that fulfilled their fundraising goals included:
— MoboSens, which raised more than $5,000 for a mobile sensor platform to measure pollutants.
— Error Records, which raised $3,000 for an all-ages music venue and record store on South Neil Street in Champaign.
— Man's Best Friend Hot Dog Cart, which met its $2,899 goal for a hot dog stand to be operated in Champaign's Campustown.
— The Green Observer magazine, which raised more than $1,000 for a student-run periodical on environmental issues in central Illinois.