Oyster Bar Seeks Roots Funding

05/24/2012

Whether they’re independent filmmakers, novelists or restaurateurs, more and more artists and entrepreneurs are turning to the fastest growing way to raise capitol: Crowd funding. Since 2009, sites like Kickstarter and Rockethub have helped thousands close the gap between innovators and their dreams—with a record of more than $10 million pledged to a single project. Now, Pickleweed Point Oyster Farm founder Luc Chamberland is using crowd funding to raise between $50,000 and $80,000 for his soon-to-open Inverness restaurant Saltwater Oyster Depot. But instead of using an existing platform, Chamberland has built his own website to support the venture, saltwateroysterdepot.com, offering pre-sales and other specials at an early-bird discount. As with most crowd-funded endeavors, backers get rewards in exchange for their investment. At Saltwater, incentives include two-dozen oysters and a bottle of Iron Horse champagne for $50, and a traveling oyster bar for 20 guests—with up to 500 oysters—for $500. But while the independent site means Chamberland won’t have to pay the 5 percent commission many sites charge, he says he may be missing out on some of the promotion that comes with it. “Things are going really well and we’re off to a positive start,” Mr. Chamberland said. “The next few weeks will be critical, and we’ll be trying to augment our social networking [to get the word out] . . . But so far it’s really starting to take hold, and we’re moving at a clip of about $8,000 to $10,000 per week. At this rate we will definitely reach our goal.” The funds will cover updated energy efficient equipment, a new iPad-based point of sale computer system, and a ramp to make the restaurant wheelchair accessible. While the June 15 opening does not depend on the extra cash, Mr. Chamberland said “it’ll make it easier, and we hope it will also get the community excited and more involved.”