What do you get when you put an AIDS activist, an actor and two technologists in a coffee shop? An idea to make the world a better place. Their project, part of this year’s TechStars, is called Smallknot and it lets you invest a small amount into local businesses. When the business has made its improvements or bulked up its whiskey collection, you can request a gift or repayment in return.
Here’s how it works:
1) Browse for businesses in your neighborhood and find one where you’d like to invest.2) Chip in and choose what you want in return. If the project reaches its goal, you’ll get your reward and the business gets funded.3) Share the campaign with your friends and show off your status as a neighborhood investor!
4) Follow the progress of your investment from your profile page and claim your returns.
The team, Jay Lee,Ben Rossen, Jason Punzalan,Anthony Bovasso, is based in Brooklyn but is also trying the project in Greenville, South Carolina.
“Greenville is my hometown and it just felt right to bring our platform to my hometown,” said Jay. “We’re starting with a single campaign, but hope to add more soon. Our goal is to create a platform that provides a solution for every community, not just major cities with high density. We will be continuing to roll-out pilots in cities as we learn about how different communities respond to our platform. ”
“Our system uses an all-or-nothing funding platform, so no cards are charged until the full amount is reached.”
Their first campaign gained 51 supporters for Egg restaurant in Williamsburg to replace their tables and chairs. They raised $10,000 and the chairs will be built by the Tribes in a farm upstate. While the hipsterism of the previous sentence definitely approaches maximum density, it’s nice to know folks who are enjoying some Eggs will also be sitting on nice new chairs.
Another campaign raised a few thousand for a new restaurant called Rustic L.E.S. “They offered privately catered parties by the truck, an engraved chair and permanent seat in the restaurant, a special dinner for supporters, discounts on meals and a lamb roast party,” said Jay.
The product just launched and the website aesthetic is quite handsome and reminiscent of a New York Magazine spread.
The goal is clearly noble and the product is pretty solid. Plus it’s nice to help people. It’s especially interesting because it focuses primarily on local businesses and local is where it’s at these days. Hopefully this can help a few more skinny-jeans watering holes some nice new tables and, in the end, help the community at large.
Check out all the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.