If one were to look at the playbook for how to set up a successful crowdfunding campaign, Mark Pawliw would check the boxes. And along with Co-owner of Eden Fresh Network (EFN), Leah de Rosa, the two would successfully crowdfund the launch of Eden Fresh Network in May of 2022. Community members from the pairs’ networks, along with public marketing and outreach, resulted in the debt equity raise of $65,750 from 70 investors.
As Mark and Leah explain on the campaign page at Honeycomb Credit’s crowdfunding platform website: “Eden Fresh Network is a hyper local food hub – serving as a distribution center, online market, and educational initiative, in which local farmers and specialty food producers are able to expand their market and connect more directly and daily with their consumers. By building this bridge between farmers and consumers, we are strengthening and growing the local food system in Central NY, based in the greater Syracuse region.”
Crowdfunding success doesn’t appear out of nowhere, it is grounded in years of hard work, experience, and relationships as Eden Fresh Network proved. Prior to EFN, Mark Pawliw worked for 6 years as the mover and shaker behind “Farm-to-Fork 101”. Founded in 2015, Farm-to-Fork 101’s mission was to reconnects the farmer with the consumer to “create a sustainable, community-based food system that will promote and enhance the environmental, economic and social health of Syracuse and its surrounding areas”. Farm-to-Fork 101 was also born out of Mark’s 25 years’ experience in the corporate food and restaurant world, and his frustrations with that food system. Co-owner Leah de Rosa’s 30-year background in healthcare and her own chronic illnesses, led her to join Mark with a passion towards promoting and providing access to health-conscious lifestyles through the simple theory of ‘buying local and supporting local’.
Mark initially met with SBDC Senior Business Advisor Frank Cetera in October of 2017 after a few years of offering monthly special events, such as Farm-to-Form dinners and cooking demonstrations, looking to expand to a brick-and-mortar location, and combine events with product sales. Over the intervening years, as client and Advisor discussed strategy, financial projections, goals and mission, Mark continued strengthening his network ties and offering the community building dinners and outreach events such as kitchen demos at the NYS Fair Wegman’s Kitchen stage and the NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farmers Association of NY) Winter Conference. Cetera also advised and informed Pawliw throughout the sessions about crowdfunding and the different options to consider. When a favorable location came to the market for EFN, and the COVID pandemic waned, the years culminated in the development of the Honeycomb crowdfunding debt campaign success.
“We have been very grateful for all the insight and knowledge that the SBDC has offered us. Frank, in particular, has been there since the beginning and has seen us grow and create along the way. I can't speak for him, but I feel that he is as excited as we are, about creating something for the betterment of Syracuse. “ – Mark Pawliw
The money raised will be used for a number of start-up costs – about 35% of funds will be used for a walk-in cooler, a freezer, a delivery vehicle down payment, and working capital operating costs (salaries, POS system, starting inventory). The remaining funds will purchase an IQF machine. An IQF, or Individually Quick Frozen machine, will extend the growing season of upstate NY by freezing farm fresh fruits and vegetables during the harvest seasons and making them available “out of season” to consumers and institutions. EFN currently provides online ordering for twice weekly delivery or pick-up of fresh veggies and local products sourced within 65 miles of Syracuse, NY, as well as a weekly in-person farmers market on Sundays from 12-3. EFN also is continuing the tradition of farm-to-form community dinners featuring Freedom Rains Farm in September of this year. Access ordering, registration for future events, and contact Mark and Leah at https://www.edenfreshnetworkcny.com/
“Crowdfunding and specifically Honeycomb gave us the structure and framework to make a successful run into raising capital for our Eden Fresh Network project. Overall, crowdfunding relied on the many years of creating networks throughout Syracuse. We were grateful to have known and gained the support of so many people that truly believed in our thoughts and ideas The crowdfunding process showed us that people really do want to see us succeed.” - Mark Pawliw
Frank Cetera is an Advanced Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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