Trying to compete in the saturated Moscow catering market, non-network establishments have discovered a new tool for raising funds – crowdfunding. This spring, at least three such campaigns were announced on popular fundraising platforms. So, the bar “Sur” decided to collect 1 million rubles. for the renovation of the basement in a café that has not yet opened, and the Black Cooperative for the construction of a coffee roasting shop. The Vinyl and Wine Bar encourages its patrons to spend money on a glass dome, which according to the plan will ennoble the courtyard adjacent to the institution.

Independent projects in the catering market often cannot receive the soft loans promised by the authorities during the crisis. As one of the restaurateurs recently explained to me, the owners of these establishments do not always have enough financial literacy: “Some make such business plans that no bank will agree to lend to the project.”

Unlike investor money and bank loans, fundraising through special platforms is more like sponsorship. In return, restaurateurs offer benefactors, depending on the size of the contribution, commemorative T-shirts, coffee, books, certificates, an invitation to a “secret” party, a subscription for several dinners, a glass of wine a day throughout the year …

The fashion for private donations and the desire to have a pleasant place in the city to meet like-minded people evoke a response in the hearts with varying degrees of success. One of the projects has already raised the missing amount, others are not doing so well. However, Russian restaurateurs are only realizing the power of the tool and will be actively using it in the near future, say the specialized Association of Investment Platform Operators. They believe that crowdfunding is not only fundraising, but also an opportunity to attract attention, which is already quite actively used abroad.

In the UK, for example, restaurateurs have long been using crowdfunding platforms to open new outlets or develop existing ones. An illustrative example is the English chef Gary Asher, who, having collected £ 103,000 for the opening of the first outlet, then built an entire empire on crowdfunding projects, which The Guardian wrote about back in 2017.

Unlike the British catering market, where, due to high competition in the crowdfunding segment, it is no longer easy for small players to raise the required amount, this window of opportunity is still open for Russian restaurateurs. The only question is how long it will remain so and who will have time to use the tool. Crowdfunding experts say that in Western countries, competition “puts everything in place quickly” and, as a result, well-known brands collect the most money. Although, as a rule, they can attract money in classical ways.