A crowdfunding initiative for Smile Foods, the gluten-free flour company hoping to open a factory and mill in Hawthorne, failed Oct. 14 after it apparently didn’t receive any donations.
The crowdfunding campaign began on http://www.indiegogo.com on Aug. 29. Smile Foods was hoping to raise $250,000 to help fund the construction of Nevada’s first commercial teff flour plant.
The campaign was intended to raise money for a flour mill, a greenhouse for hydroponically growing teff in Hawthorne; and a food packaging plant.
But, the failure of the campaign isn’t a failure for the company.
MSR Engineering, a Las Vegas renewable energy company, partnered with Smile Foods to fund the construction of the company’s plant, and the company has cleared almost all the legal hurdles and is nearly ready to begin constructing its plant in Hawthorne, said Shelly Hartmann, chairwoman of the Mineral County Economic Development Authority.
The biggest obstacle now is finding investors. Hartmann said Smile Foods had some investors months ago, when the project first came before the Airport Advisory Board for consideration, but some of them went cold on the project after numerous delays.
“When investors have money to invest, they have it now,” Hartmann said. “They don’t have it, sometimes, later on down the road. So we’re re-engaging some of those investors, but with her plant getting constructed, a lot of those concerns are getting put to bed.”
Groundbreaking for the facility is now tentatively slated for Dec. 31, Hartmann said. But despite the delays, Hartman still expects Smile Foods to open a facility in Mineral County.
“Part of it, is that it’s a growing industry,” Hartmann said. “In fact the farmers in Fallon bought cleaning equipment for teff, but did not buy the mill because they knew she was building the mill.”
Hartmann said one of the reasons the project has been delayed so long is because of issues getting approval from the various Mineral County government agencies.
“That’s about to change,” she said. “Part of it, in the past, has been just the way the policies were written in the county.”
Crowdfunding is a relatively new funding source for business and creative endeavors which removes the traditional barriers between consumers and producers, mostly through the Internet. Kickstarter, the largest and best known crowdfunding platform, launched in 2009.
Crowdfunding can be understood by considering the music industry. In the past, a record label discovered an artist; recorded, produced and released an album; and promoted it. Crowdfunded artists will often release a single track on the Internet and ask people who like the music to fund the recording, production, release and promotion of a full album.
Funding a project is called a campaign. Most campaigns offer incentives to customers, called backers, to encourage donations at certain amounts.
An aspiring musician might offer their album at a reduced price, or earlier, to people who help fund its production.