Web helps finance teen baker’s idea

April 29th, 2013

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Last updated: April 29, 2013 2:25 p.m.

Web helps finance teen baker’s idea

Paul Wyche | The Journal Gazette

Annabelle Lessner knows it takes dough to make dough.

So, if the 13-year-old baking entrepreneur is to launch a utensil company she’ll need seed money. Banks aren’t likely to back a minor – even if the teen does have a clever consumer product idea.

Annabelle, however, found a believer in businessman Mark Hagar, who invested an undisclosed amount to help finance the prototype for YummyKone, a silicone device that holds ice cream cone cupcakes in place in the oven.

“It’s a good novelty item and I think it has a pretty good chance of getting funded,” Hagar said. “It does solve a problem in the kitchen because if you’re trying to make cupcakes inside a cone they do keep falling over.”

Hagar is president of FirstBreakFunding.com, an online fundraising website where people who deem a product, concept or cause worth the risk make donations. In return, donors may receive various gifts or product samples. The financing method is called crowdfunding.

First Break Funding was launched in March. Hagar is a local investor with a proven track record with the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center, said Jane Rich, regional director of the organization. Hagar is owner or part-owner of multiple companies, including Specialized Printed Products, eMAGC.com and Geyer Instructional Products.

Hagar said the Lessners must pay him 8 percent of the money they raise, which includes credit card processing fees.

The daughter-dad team has until May 25 to raise up to $2,500. The money will be used to do produce a limited number of the YummyKones to hawk to other donors with the hope of growing the startup.

So far, they’ve raised about $400. They started about a month ago. If the pair don’t reach the fund-raising goal, donors get their money back.

Annabelle said she got the idea for YummyKone last year after trying to bake cupcakes for classmates at Woodside Middle School. The seventh-grader told her father, Eric, about her situation, and the two set out to resolve it.

“We worked together on this,” Annabelle said. “It was fun.”

They appealed to the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center and officials there assisted them with a business plan, company structure and marketing advice. They also recommended Hagar.

“We have three clients that are considering this type of funding,” Rich said. “It’s not for every product, but it seems it would work well with consumer-oriented products. Investors are usually looking for advanced manufacturing or high-tech companies, so crowdfunding is a great seed-funding alternative.”