A new startup has a mission: to revolutionize the way small businesses get capital and engage with their communities, and it’s using OTR as a launch pad.
Socstock, a Brandery startup, launches its website this week and will host a community pitch night tomorrow. The event will be held at the Know Theatre, 6:30pm-9:30pm. Register online via eventbrite or RSVP via facebook.
I wanted to know more about the startup. Here’s what I learned from Jillian Zatta, Senior Associate at Socstock:
What is Socstock?
Socstock, short for Social Stock, is a web-based platform that helps small businesses raise zero-interest cash from their local community and loyal customer base as an alternative to traditional small business loans. We allow small businesses to get community cash advances in exchange for delivering goods, services, and special experiences valued at up to two times that advance. Socstock was created in 2012 as part of a larger vision to help solve the challenge that America’s small businesses face in accessing capital. Socstock is attacking this problem by harnessing the power of the community to finance neighborhood businesses. Socstock is revolutionizing the way small businesses get capital and engage with their communities.
What Makes Socstock Different (Than Kickstarter, or Groupon)?
We believe that Socstock is an entirely new, socially responsible approach to small business financing and community and consumer engagement. Small, locally owned businesses are notoriously under-funded, and it is now harder than any other time in the past 7 years to secure a traditional small business loan. This leaves stores and businesses that have become the foundations of their communities under-financed and stunted in their growth, exposing their economic and cultural regions to a host of negative repercussions. Socstock is a way for these types of businesses to raise zero-interest, debt-free cash advances. As far as the consumer side, the emphasis on buying local has transcended into a huge, national movement. Major corporations are even in on it – American Express developed and vigorously advertised “Small Business Saturday” these past few years. Community advocates and customers want to help and support their local businesses in ways that go beyond their loyal patronage, but have few mechanisms to make that happen. With Socstock, these customers can support in new, more meaningful ways, while receiving deals on the goods, services, and special experiences they already enjoy. We are empowering communities to target, support, and preserve the businesses they believe make up the fabric of their neighborhood. We like to think of this as “economic citizenry”: enfranchising people to choose their communities, in the same way we choose our government and the body of laws that create this country. Socstock will allow communities to continually reinvest in themselves – it’s local investment that returns the love.
How Would You Like Socstock To Be Implemented in OTR?
We came to Cincinnati by way of the Brandery, a 14-week seed stage accelerator program located on Vine Street in the heart of Over-The-Rhine. Interested in gaining traction away from the East Coast and excited by the opportunity to test our local financing concept in a new city, we packed our bags for the temporary move. Once here, we found ourselves in a community in the midst of a major economic revitalization dedicated to elevating Cincinnati. It quickly became clear that we had found a committed and receptive audience for our mission. Cincinnati is passionate about OTR, and the people and businesses that call this neighborhood home are proud of this renaissance. Through Socstock, we want to give this community the power to target, support, and preserve the storefronts that are literally changing the social, cultural, and economic landscape of OTR. We want to put sustainability behind these efforts, retain old business and attract new. Socstock is a socially responsible financing method that allows a community to continually reinvest in itself, and we want OTR to have the opportunity to do that. In a few months, we would like to see multiple OTR businesses on our platform, have a few succesfully completed offerings under our belt, and enough traction so the consumer and business communities know they can trust Socstock to handle their financing and community development needs.
What are some of the active offerings on Socstock.com as of October 23?