Below is one of the stories that inspired the Cofolio concept. It is a great example of what we are working towards building on a web-enabled, global scale. Thanks for joining us on this journey, and please leave a comment!
In January 2009, Vox Pop, a popular bookstore and coffee shop in Brooklyn, was drowning in $190,000 of debt, including overdue rent, unpaid city health department fines and expenses from a failed expansion. Desperate, CFO Debi Ryan offered shares in Vox Pop for $50 apiece, calling community meetings and buttonholing patrons as they came through the door. Each share entitles its holder to a small dividend once Vox Pop’s debt is paid.
In 10 days Ryan raised $64,000 from newly minted shareholders — enough to keep the business afloat. With that capital came an unanticipated bonus: Vox Pop’s customers-turned-shareholders visited the shop more frequently than they had before, coming in to buy everything from their morning coffee to children’s birthday gifts.
“With this many shareholders we have a ready-made customer base,” Ryan says. “Everyone wants to see Vox Pop succeed.”
Lavinsky says Ryan’s observation is spot-on. “When a customer is a shareholder or supporter, ego is involved,” he explains. “If I give you a check for $5,000, I don’t want you to fail.”