It doesn’t matter that he is looking to launch a 501(c)(3), Chef Michael is a true entrepreneur. Today I interviewed Mike to learn more about him, his amazing startup venture Cooking for a Purpose, and his crowdfunding experience.
After 15 years with UPS, Mike followed his passions of cooking and teaching. He attended cooking school and then ran an after cooking program at a local community center. When government funding ran dry Mike decided to pursue crowdfunding to create his own program.
Mike feels teenagers in his Bronx neighborhood face two challenges:
- Both parents work and after school programs have been cut leaving kids with a lot of free time
- Diabetes is rampant because kids don’t know how to shop or prepare good food – fruit and vegetable based meals that do not come out of the microwave or a fast food restaurant.
Mike is on a mission to get kids off the streets and learning a trade, specifically healthy cooking. His crowdfunding campaign will allow Cooking For A Purpose to rent a kitchen and supply materials so about 40 kids per “semester” can learn to prepare 4 course meals, 3 days a week, in 20 week sessions starting in September. Mike plans on accepting every interested kid regardless of their ability to pay for the program.
Mike was an active donor to crowdfunding programs himself so using this funding mechanism for his own startup was natural. He also believes it is powerful because his cause will strike a chord with the general public.
Mike does recognize crowdfunding is a lot of work. He spends 6-8 hours a day activating his 400 Facebook friends, communicating via Twitter, and responding to every inquiry he receives immediately because otherwise, he believes, potential investors lose interest. Fortunately for Mike, he has a large base of friends and supporters. Social networking means that those who cannot donate much can help spread the word allowing anyone to play a major role in Cooking With A Purpose’s success.
Mike realizes there are countless good causes for you to invest in. So why choose Cooking With A Purpose? Mike says he isn’t doing anything for himself. Rather, he is looking to turn kids into adults with a purpose. This project revolves entirely around doing right for the community. One unique element of Cooking With A Purpose is donors’ ability to see their good deeds in action. A video feed will allow parents and supporters to see the class in action.