small business
bookstore
smb
small business finance
fundraising
crowdfunding

Case Study: Tomorrow Bookstore

Tomorrow Bookstore is an independent, general-interest bookstore in Indianapolis’s premier retail corridor. They raised $30,000 on Mainvest in early 2023- read more about their fundraising journey.

Tomorrow Bookstore is an independent, general interest bookstore on Mass Ave - Indianapolis’ premier retail corridor. Founded by Julia Breakey and Jake Budler, Tomorrow is a majority woman-owned bookstore focused on human-centric global stories. They curate stories - about ourselves and the world around us - to create a stronger community and a better tomorrow.

Tomorrow Bookstore raised $30,000 on Mainvest in early 2023. Read more about their fundraising journey.

Why Mainvest?

Like many founders, Jake was introduced to Mainvest through a referral from another business that successfully used the platform. Seeking a fundraising solution that aligned with the bookstore's community-centric values, Mainvest stood out from other platforms as an ideal partner for its capacity to engage local investors. Additionally, as a pre-revenue business, creating banking relationships was a challenge, and Mainvest presented an opportunity to raise the funding needed for launch without relying on a bank.

The Fundraising Process

As a pre-revenue startup, Tomorrow Bookstore needed to convince investors of its viability and the demand for an independent bookstore in the digital age. Julia and Jake utilized Mainvest to share their vision for a revitalized local literary scene, effectively communicating the bookstore's potential to become a cultural landmark.

To raise funds, the Tomorrow Bookstore team relied mainly on direct pitching to individuals in their network and word of mouth. This fell in line with their Main Street style, community-focused vision.

“It was really easy to connect/chat with the Mainvest team and get questions answered. Our fundraise was a great opportunity to connect & build our network. But fundraising is hard! It was stressful and a disconcerting experience to fundraise for a pre-revenue business. Notably - we were super proud to complete our raise in just about 2 weeks, and the large majority came from our own network”

With an established social media following across personal and professional channels, the team was able to distribute information about their raise with relative ease. This shows how even a pre-revenue business can build a solid community online. By no means was Tomorrow a “viral” page- their first post had ~100 likes - but there’s a huge difference between genuine engagement and virality, and the Tomorrow team successfully built an engaged community that contributed to a sense of excitement around the launch of the business. 100-500 likes and comments from engaged followers is far more effective than thousands of bot comments or passive likes, and the Tomorrow social channels can serve as an excellent blueprint for other new businesses.

Tangible Results

The campaign enabled Tomorrow Bookstore to secure funding for its initial inventory and build out. The successful launch demonstrated the community's support and appetite for an independent bookstore, leading to significant foot traffic and engagement. Revenue is almost double what they anticipated, a notable signal that despite the digital age, having physical locations to purchase books is still important. The fact that the business is on pace to repay investors ahead of schedule is even more impressive given the fact that bookstores have traditionally slim margins and can be challenging to run.

Another major result - a solid foundation for the business’s finances. “Before opening - banks didn't want anything to do with us. Some even weren't interested in opening regular bank accounts for us, because they assumed we'd come asking for money. Now, with our Mainvest success - if we need additional capital we have options!” It’s not uncommon for banks to be wary of small businesses until they have multiple years of revenue and growth. However, this can make getting started challenging: undercapitalization is one of the top reasons for small business failures. Being able to secure alternative financing is key for new businesses that can then leverage that startup capital and market validation to build stronger banking relationships sooner.

Conclusion

Tomorrow Bookstore's success story highlights the effectiveness of Mainvest in supporting businesses that enrich local culture and community. Jake's journey underscores the platform's role in enabling entrepreneurs to transform their passions into profitable ventures with the backing of their communities. The shop will be celebrating their 1 year anniversary in April.

“Mainvest was the perfect, well-aligned solution for our truly Main Street business. The team, process, and outcome were all fantastic. We now have a community of 60+ incredible investors who are bought into our success.”

posted February 12, 2024
Share this post