Franchise Times reports that Pure Green, a New York City-based juice and smoothie chain, launched a crowdfunding campaign through and raised $1.07 million from over 5,000 micro investors. The campaign began in February before COVID-19 hit and lasted a total of 74 days, when they reached the maximum crowdfunding amount. The brand has five corporate-owned retail locations in New York City and another in Orlando, Florida, that recently opened.

“What interested us about equity crowdfunding was the effect of having thousands of investors,” said Ross Franklin, Pure Green founder and CEO. “We were approached by lots of private investors and private equity firms that wanted to give us way more money than what we needed and wanted too much control. We really liked the idea of raising money from the people, which aligns with our mission of building healthier communities around the globe.”

The minimum investment was $100, but if people donated at the next “tier” — $250 — they got their name listed as a micro-investor on Pure Green’s website. Higher investment tiers received other perks such as packages of cold press juice and shots. One tier the brand didn’t hit was if someone invested $100,000, they could have become an official Pure Green advisory member.

“The results were extraordinary. We built up a supportive investor community, many of whom placed orders for cold press juice in shops or ordered online,” Franklin said. “Our e-commerce went through the roof because of our campaign, which was an unexpected benefit.”

Pure Green’s e-commerce sales have tripled since the start of its crowdfunding campaign. Meanwhile, in stores, the core product is handcrafted smoothies and acai bowls, making up 71 percent of total sales. Cold press juice and shots only make up 20 percent of sales in stores, with the remaining sales stemming from third-party products.

“We have a product called Immunity shot, and with COVID-19, we’re trying to keep that juice on the shelf because it keeps flying off,” Franklin said. “Many of our cold press shots have ginger and antibacterial and antifungal properties.”

Pure Green stores offer delivery and takeout, which normally makes up about 90 percent of their business, pre-COVID. Overall, delivery sales have doubled since the pandemic began and customers started becoming more comfortable with home delivery.

Future plans

Franklin plans to focus on second-generation locations — former coffee or ice cream shops, for example — in a commercial real estate market he expects to be newly flipped to give buyers the advantage.

“It was rare for us to find those before COVID-19, but we recently renovated a former quick-service restaurant and got it open in only four days since it was mostly cosmetic work that needed to be done,” Franklin said. “The unprecedented amount of second-generation locations in the market right now allows franchisees to come in and open those at a fraction of the cost.”

The brand plans to use the funds raised by micro-investors to support staff and operations at current locations as well as aid in franchise expansion.

Many of the micro-investors are interested in opening up their own franchise locations, Franklin added, and have been giving his team feedback and other ideas such as opening up an online apparel shop. A Pure Green store in Chicago is slated to open August 1 and another location in Miami, Florida, is in the process of signing a lease.