Sash is the latest Australian company to turn their attention to equity crowdfunding as a source of new capital. The company, which has developed a unique restaurant experience that blends Japanese fusion cuisine with other internationally renowned dishes, launched their campaign on the Birchal Equity Crowdfunding platform in early August. Ten days later they had already hit 100% of their initial target.
Startup Soda recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the co-founders, David Nelson, to learn more about the story behind Sash and why they choose to utilise a platform such as Birchal to make investment in their company open to the public.
As David explained, he along with his co-founder Kyle Stagoll had been high school friends and business partners for over 5 years. They were also at a point in their career where they were looking for a new project to sink their teeth into. However, they both wanted something that had the potential to go global and make a lasting impact.
At the same time it just so happened that they had a friend who had won “Pizza of the Year” by creating a Sashimi inspired pizza that blended Japanese cuisine with an Italian classic.
These two events came together at the same time and led David and Kyle to create Sash, a hospitality brand specializing in premium food and beverage experiences, while showcasing an Australian take on modern Japanese fusion cuisine. For Sash this means a playful menu of dishes and cocktails such as the Ahi Tropical Tuna Pizza, Spicy Tuna Tacos and the Yuzu Cheesecake Cocktail.
Sash opened their first venue in Melbourne in August 2017 with David outlining that “Sash’s restaurant and bar concept has been positioned to deliver a more casual and accessible version of some of the world’s best Japanese fine-dining and fusion brands”. With the success of their Melbourne venue, Sash is now in the process of expanding into Sydney with their second venue in Surry Hills scheduled to open in late 2018.
National expansion was in fact one of the driving factors behind the equity crowdfunding campaign. As David mentioned “we want our first three cities to be Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. As we attract more investors and get closer to the cap on the investment round we will also look at building out our franchise system to further support our growth”. On this point David also highlighted how the long term vision would be for the company to own 60%+ of their venues, with the remaining 40% being licensed to international partners or franchised.
Reflecting on the journey so far and offering advice for other founders considering Equity Crowdfunding as an option for their business David underscored the “importance of having a good story and clear vision”. As Sash was born in the competitive Melbourne restaurant maret David and Kyle knew that to do successful they would need to lead with something different and unique. By attempting to build a brand that has a point of difference they have attracted a strong base of repeat customers who appreciate Sash and what they stand for as a brand. The ability to tell this story has not only helped carve out space in the restaurant scene, but it also lends itself well to articulating the long term vision and growth potential for investors.
In addition to this David acknowledged that the investment market can tough in Australia for new or emerging businesses, and Equity Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept. While this can be daunting for some startups to consider, Sash instead saw the “first mover advantage” available to them. Not only does Sash gain access to a passionate group of investors there are additional opportunities that could develop by being able to tap into the knowledge, experience or contacts of those who choose to support your business financially.
Sash’s equity crowdfunding campaign is still live for another 8 days. If you would like to learn more or back the company you can review their campaign on Birchal here.