2017 was a breakout year for, The Pittsburgh Juice Company (PJC). Aside from growing our in-shop revenue, we began selling juice at several remote locations around the city and regularly delivering to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Our annual sales were up 29% from 2016, exceeding all targets. We continue to thrive, despite competition springing up around us, by maintaining quality products, cultivating a growing customer base and by broadening our reach.
All of this growth necessitates innovation and, since our greatest limitation is our ability to move large volumes of juice from place to place, a refrigerated vehicle has been on our radar for some time.
Over the summer at PJC I met Ken Martin, a fellow juice company owner and serial entrepreneur who introduced me to Honeycomb. Honeycomb is a crowd investing platform Ken was in the process of developing through a tenancy with the renowned tech accelerator Alphalab, alongside colleagues Christian Bilger and George Cook. After following their progress over the next several months I was thrilled to sign on as their first customer by launching an investment campaign designed to give back to PJC customers and supporters.
As you may know, I did not study business in school, nor do I come from an entrepreneurial family (other than my brother Zeb, who is also my business partner). So, the last five years of planning/opening/running a small business have been full of learning and eye opening experiences. One of the things I’ve learned so much about is financing, a subject that is integral to all businesses that are growing and changing. Traditionally, PJC has used bank financing for our acquisitions (through the use of bank loans and mortgages we own a great deal of equipment and real estate). These loans, like any mortgage or car loan, hold the property purchased as collateral and therefore are considered low risk and have a lower interest rate. However, they’re generally inflexible on terms and require a lengthy process to be approved.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a huge industry of unsecured loan sharks targeting businesses that are in need of fast cash. They might charge 20%-50% interest on short term loans that sometimes look appealing to businesses in peril. As a healthy, growing business I see these offers in the mailbox every day and I quickly shred the mock checks for $500,000 without a second thought.
Another source of funding are the gift crowdfunding sites (like Kickstarter or Indiegogo), which are great for new business ideas, but not so great for businesses that are more established, like PJC. Which is where Honeycomb comes in.
What I love about Honeycomb is the opportunity it provides for people who believe in our business to invest in us for a competitive return. For compliance reasons, I can’t cite too many of the investment details here, but click through the link to our Honeycomb campaign page for more details about the exact terms we are offering.
This has been your crash course on small business financing. Thanks for reading and thank you for considering becoming a part of PJC’s growth. We appreciate your support!