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Monday, March 04, 2024

The Midnight latest local business to meet funding goal

Following a growing trend of using crowdsourcing websites for funding, a local bar has asked Gainesville to help raise money to keep its doors open.

The Midnight, located at 223 S. Main St., started a campaign about a month ago. According to the website, the bar surpassed its goal of $1,800 with the help of 41 supporters.

“I literally have cried at certain points out of happiness and out of feeling so appreciated and loved,” said Beverley Webb, owner of The Midnight.

Webb opened the bar in June 2010. At the time, she didn’t understand business matters such as taxes, licenses and renewals, she said.

“I guess I didn’t realize just how much there was to know about that stuff and how incredibly important that stuff is,” she said.

Other Gainesville businesses have found themselves in binds like Webb’s.

Blake Briand, co-owner of The JAM, said donating to The Midnight was a “no-brainer.” The story stood out to him because he found himself in a similar situation, so his bar and concert venue launched an Indiegogo campaign in August.

“We raised a similar amount of money, and it was what we needed at the time,” he said. “It helped us out a lot.”

Crowdfunding websites are a “hot, sexy topic right now,” said UF entrepreneurship professor Michael Morris.

Use of the websites could help businesses that are in trouble and need to overcome financial issues, he said, but businesses should not solely rely on these websites because the funding doesn’t provide a sustainable source of income.

“Most of the crowdfunding is about launching something or helping that thing grow, not dealing with something that is in a crisis mode that is about to go out of business,” Morris said.

Crowdfunding is different from traditional funding because donors don’t receive a percentage of ownership of the company they’re donating to, he said. To maximize effectiveness, Morris said business owners should be honest about the reasons they’re asking for money.

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For bars with a strong, local presence like The Midnight, using funding websites can be a workable method, he said.

“(If) you have some place that’s beloved and that has a sizable following, then yes, there is a viable way,” he said.

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/28/2014 under the headline "The Midnight latest local business to meet funding goal"]

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