Intrepid Life’s crowdfunding campaign succeeds, but the cafe is closing anyway

As discussed last week, Matt Victoriano, the owner of Intrepid Life, launched an indiegogo campaign to raise $25,000 in support of the business. The campaign exceeded that goal and is now sitting at $28,226 with three days left.

And yet, as per their Facebook page, the cafe is still unable to stay open, and they’re now hosting a “silent auction” to liquidate items and raise funds:

Thanks for all of the support. We aren’t able to stay at our current location, so we are looking for a new space in Durham. Our last open at the current location is this Saturday.

To be clear, Victoriano made no guarantees to backers that a successful fundraiser would enable the cafe to continue on Parrish St. It was, however, heavily implied in the campaign text:

While business was expanding rapidly during the spring, it stagnated to such a degree during the summer that my landlords have given me until September 7 to pay past rent or close the business…

… a tidal wave of support from patrons, community members, and business owners convinced me to look deeper, find solutions, and start a Kickstarter campaign to continue the work that I have dedicated to veterans and the Durham community.

Money raised would enable Victoriano to:

4) keep Intrepid open by paying past-due rent.

Nowhere does the campaign text state that the goal is to help re-open the business later.

I’ve never met Victoriano and I don’t know what he was thinking going into this project. It may well be that he was blindsided by something after the crowdfunding campaign started, and that he had to change his plans midstream. Or maybe he knew all along he’d have to shut down even if funding succeeded. I just don’t know.

Regardless, communicating details like this in a timely manner is crucial to building trust and running a successful crowdfunding venture, because you really want your contributors to know what they’re getting for their donation. It’s one thing to shell over some cash to keep a functional business operational in its current form; it’s something quite different to shell over some cash to the owner of a defunct business to help him potentially re-open elsewhere in the future.

Since the project has met its funding goal, the money will be dispensed to Victoriano (minus Indiegogo’s cut) and he’ll be able to use it as he deems appropriate.

What happens to people who funded the campaign? Well, some of the backer rewards can be delivered without the cafe existing in a physical location. But for those backers who were expecting, say, a $50 store credit delivered in September? Yeah, you might be getting that credit in September, but there may not be anywhere for you to use it for a while.

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