Welcome to the Crowdsourcing Mornings segment! Every weekday morning, Geek Alabama talks about and features one crowdsourcing project from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others. The hope with Crowdsourcing Mornings is to feature and help a project be successful and reach its fundraising goal. Please enjoy today’s featured project!
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From a One Man Show to a Scaled Operation
Hello! My name is Michael Robinson II and I am the founder of Bingo-Bango Fresh Fruit Soda Co! We specializes in all natural fresh fruit soda made with local and seasonal fruit. We are America’s first black founded, owned, and operated craft soda company.
My journey started off like most entrepreneurs, pounding back cups of coffee and spending countless hours on my laptop exploring my interests in an attempt to start a business. After graduating college, I began working with my brother at Carolina’s Vineyards & Hops near Old Salem. This North Carolina craft beer and wine lounge is where I grew my fascination for craft beer and everything that came along with the industry. My brother and I would drive all over the state to pick up kegs of specialty beers that the triad had never before seen. As that interest grew, so did my desire to home-brew.
In early 2015, I purchased my first home brew kit from a local shop in Winston-Salem. Against my moms wishes, I would fire up my propane burner in her backyard in hopes of recreating my favorite style of craft brew. The only problem was… I sucked at it. Brewing was not my thing and I definitely couldn’t afford to start a brewery. Instead, armed with a tank of Co2 and plenty of random brewing equipment, I decided to give craft soda a shot in the summer of 2016. I wanted to create a craft soda brand that offered the same freshness and originality of the craft beer I loved so dearly. To supplement my experience in soda, I took a job as a sales rep for Coca-Cola. During my time at Coke, I gained so much insight into the industry as a whole and what people liked. I took notes while on my route and thought about creating a logo and came up with flavor combos. Each payday, I would set a small percentage aside for batch creation. On weekends, I would go to local farmers markets to compare fresh produce pricing, ask about being a vendor, and dream of just selling something folks could enjoy.
My focus on creating a craft soda company would catch up to me though, as I was let go from Coke. Being fired from Coca-Cola was the best thing that could of happened, because in that moment I knew I was serious about starting my own brand. My first couple batches of sparkling lemonade were as terrible as can be expected, but after about 3 months of trying I built enough confidence to hand it over to family and friends for their opinion. The only thing about opinions from people close to me is that sometimes, they are too nice. I never knew if my aunt, cousin, friend, or barber was shooting it to me straight. Was I actually onto something?
Ultimately, I mustered up the courage to attend my first flea market as a real vendor! (pictured below) I knew this would provide me with the real feedback that I needed. So with a keg full of carbonated sugar water(simple syrup), lemons, a handheld lemon press from Chefs mart, cups, and a cooler full of ice, my sister, nephew, and I rolled down to the flea market in Charlotte, NC. I thought I had my game plan figured out. For each order, I would literally squeeze lemon juice on top of ice and then top it off with carbonated water. Well, at least that was the plan. In 100 degree heat, with no tent to cover our heads, I failed miserably. I only sold 1 soda for 2 bucks. 1 dollar I gave to my mom, and the other I put on my refrigerator.
With all of our recent success and notoriety, our demand has exploded past our means of keeping up with it. Correction! My means of keeping up with it. Bingo-Bango is still a one man show. Up until this point, I have done everything by hand in a commercial kitchen in Downtown Winston-Salem. I do all the bottling, juicing, labeling, deliveries, administrative work, graphic logo and label design, and marketing! The next big step is to move into our own commercial warehouse where we can purchase better and scaled equipment, and hire key staff to grow with.
To take this next step, we are raising $30,000 to purchase a 5 barrel mixing and carbonation tank, a walk-in cooler, semi-automatic bottling line, a labeling and capping machine, up-fit for our new space, and the initial payroll capital for two production assistants. We are confident that adding these resources to our model will increase our output tremendously and allow us to keep up and expand our footprint.
Bingo-Bango Soda wouldn’t be where it is today without the continued support of our community and fellow small businesses. We are so blessed and thankful to create a product that many of you have tried and enjoy. Your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated and we will continue to do all we can to keep your craft soda experience flavorful and fresh! Cheers & Bingo-Bango!
As of February 10th, this project has raised $23,000 of their $30,000 goal. This project has 4 days left to raise the $30,000 or it will not be funded. For a pledge of $40, you will get one t-shirt. For a pledge of $80, you will get one t-shirt and bottle opener. To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bingobangosoda/bingo-bango-soda-co-a-craft-soda-maker-in-winston-salem-nc?
Categories: Crowdsourcing Mornings Stuff