Many Winston-Salem businesses turn to ‘crowdfunding’

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Yet another downtown Winston-Salem business is asking for potential customers to donate to the business before it opens the doors in return for special recognition and goods once it's open.

Peyton Smith, owner of Forno Moto traveling wood fired pizza oven, plans to open a restaurant in the former Rescue Mission Thrift Shop on Trade Street.

Smith is asking for $20,000 in donations on to help buy his handmade wood fire oven. In exchange, depending on what customers donate, they will receive pizza and other perks when the restaurant opens.

Smith says he turned to crowdfunding because he liked how it tapped into his social networks and gave those who already like his business, a chance to participate in expanding it.

"Why can't I give people the opportunity to actually participate in this thing they clearly already care about. Regardless of financial backing we have,  our resources are modest and the bigger deal is that spirit of community this gives," said Smith.

Smith is not alone in using crowdfunding. Aperture Cinema recently raised $52,000 to add a new theater and Small Batch Brewing raised $35,000 to jump-start construction on its new downtown brewery.

Wake Forest Business Professor Stan Mandel says it's a financing and fundraising trend catching on across the country.

"This goes much further than just the pocketbook. They can use the feedback and money from these people to help see if the venture they are anticipating is what other people like or how they honestly think about that," says Mandel.

While Mandel is not sure how this trend will impact other forms of traditional financing, or impact not for profit businesses, artists, and individuals looking for funding for smaller projects, he says crowd funding is here to stay.

"It's becoming big enough that need to pay attention to it," says Mandel.

Forno Moto hopes to raise its funds on by the end of August. The restaurant should open later this fall.