Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.
Today, 13 startups are about to present to a room packed with investors, industry analysts and media at TechStars’ 3rd yearly Demo Day in New York. Brooklyn-based SmallKnot, a tool that lets you invest in your neighborhood, is one of those startups, and the team is announcing a brand new re-designed site and a partnership with Accion USA.
SmallKnot, launching only in NY for now, lies in a interesting place in the emerging world of crowdfunding. By emphasizing it as a tool for local stores and restaurants, it really feels like a community-driven opportunity to help connect small businesses with people that want to support them.
A SmallKnot campaign, much like a Kickstarter campaign, is built on rewards, and so a local breakfast joint that needs new tables and chairs could offer up deals, meals, private parties or even cooking lessons, in exchange for investments. This works in three ways: It’s an opportunity for local companies to get “loans” from the community, customers get goods in return, and because rewards are at cost or simply special and service based, campaigning businesses are actually gaining captial as well.
From the team, on their current progress:
We have only run a handful of pilots thus far, but we’ve successfully funded 4 businesses in New York with nearly $30,000 in funds for Egg Restaurant (Williamsburg), Bon Chovie (Williamsburg/Smorgasburg), Bistro Truck / Rustic L.E.S. (Lower East Side) and Kos Kaffe (Park Slope).
SmallKnot told TNW that this newly redesigned site reflects the startup’s emphasis on investing in local neighborhoods and mom and pop shops. It will feature a way to search New York neighborhoods through a map interface as well as personal profiles that allow people to connect with friends and show off their local investments.
As for the partnership with Accion USA, an American microfinance organization, the two are working together to help unlock capital for small business owners. All in all, this is an emerging tool that strives to fix the rather broken loan process for local businesses, while empowering the community to support their neighborhood. It’s certainly worth checking out, along with the 12 other TechStars NY companies presenting today.
➤ SmallKnot (New York only, for now)
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