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  • Writer's pictureCalla Norman

Funded by Honeycomb: Vegan Business Owners Adapt and Thrive during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Squash the Beef owners Candace and Kurtis pose in front of their festival tent

When co-owners Kurtis Williams and Candace Maiden became vegan in 2017, they were disappointed when they’d go to an event and the only available plant-based options were salad or fruit. So, Squash the Beef was born to prove that vegan food can be comforting, healthy, and exciting!

After becoming wildly popular in the events circuit in Cleveland, and developing plans to expand their vegan business, Candace and Kurtis’ journey hit a snag when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled most of the events they were depending upon.

However, with the help of their community following and a successful Honeycomb investment campaign, they were able to raise $30,000 in 30 days to fund a new food trailer and marketing materials. The investment in Candace and Kurtis by their community helped them not only get through the challenges of the pandemic but also to grow their vegan catering business and thrive.

How community-based marketing helped Squash the Beef grow

Squash the Beef began when Kurtis and Candace were frustrated by the lack of delicious vegan options in the Cleveland area and decided to do something about it. In 2019, they launched their business, focusing on plant-based versions of popular comfort foods like wraps, biscuits, pies, and more.

Three Chick'n and Waffle Comfort Cones set up side-by-side

Both owners are incredibly involved in their community, and rely on community-based marketing to get the word out. This is why working with Honeycomb felt like a natural fit for Candace, who says, “Our customers are our community.” It’s no surprise that Squash the Beef’s customer base was integral to the success of their Honeycomb campaign!

By investing in their campaign, Squash the Beef’s already loyal customers were able to deepen their relationship with one of their favorite Cleveland vegan businesses, as well as confirm a commitment to black-owned businesses and their local food system.

Investor Lauren Calig said, “When I had the opportunity to invest in the company, I jumped at the chance! Any way that Squash the Beef can become more well-known and spread their goodness to others is a great idea!”

Squashing challenges brought by COVID-19

Although Squash the Beef was growing steadily, the COVID-19 pandemic created a snag in those plans and many of the events they relied on were canceled. Buying a food trailer would allow them to better serve customers throughout the pandemic and reach more people independent of events.

The Honeycomb campaign also introduced an exciting opportunity to meet and collaborate with UnBar Cafe, a fellow Honeycomb alum in Cleveland. Now, by expanding their network, Squash the Beef can strengthen not only their business but other Cleveland businesses!

Making an investment campaign easy as (plant-based) pie

For many small businesses seeking loans to help kickstart a new venture or expand on one, the process can be intimidating. “Honeycomb worked with us on everything from start to finish,” said Candace. “They gave us a little customized handbook with every step of the way. Honeycomb handed us everything we needed for every step of the crowdfunding process.”

Candace found that the communication from the Honeycomb team and the simplicity of the campaign process were much more suitable to her than working with larger banks, which she says “aren’t even close to as accommodating and encouraging as Honeycomb was.“

“I highly recommend Honeycomb,” says Candace. “I have been singing their praises to every small business owner I know. I do feel like it is very helpful for small businesses and people that need that capital to get started”

A food buggy, with window and door open to show the interior, that will expand Squash the Beef's business

With the money raised through their Honeycomb campaign, Squash the Beef was able to purchase a food trailer from Cleveland business The Food Buggy in December of 2020. This trailer is so important to them because it allows them to become more visible, and makes setting up and safely serving food a breeze. With the support of their community, Squash the Beef intends to be serving up more delicious plant-based food in their new trailer starting spring 2021!

Crowdfund your business growth like Squash the Beef

Let your fans put their money where their mouths are like Candace and Kurtis’ customers did by letting them help fund your business’s next step.

See how you can access community buzz meets community capital and get started now at

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