• Sophia Fang

How Ian raised $43,000+ to open his dream Cleveland bakery

Updated: May 21


Ian Herrington, owner of Leavened Bakery in Cleveland, holds up a basket of bread

As the Head Baker of On The Rise Artisan Bread—Cleveland's highest rated bakery, Ian Herrington was no stranger to going against the grain.


For the past two years, Ian had been carefully planning his vision to open his own bakery concept. He dreamed of creating a community gathering space for artisanal baked goods made from scratch, exquisite pastries, and locally-sourced espresso.


He had mapped out the entire menu, saved up some money to start his business, and scoped out a location in Cleveland’s trendy Tremont neighborhood for the bakery.


Rising to the occasion


Yet even with his careful planning, Ian could not have predicted that a global pandemic would happen.


While many people would find the idea of starting a business during COVID daunting, Ian was confident that he had the recipe for success. He decided that it was time to make some strategic bets and open the bakery—it was now or never.


He just kneaded some more dough to launch the bakery.


At this time, Ian discovered Honeycomb and realized that getting community investments in his business was exactly what he was looking for.


By crowdfunding on Honeycomb, Ian would be able to start building meaningful relationships with his first customers and build excitement around his bakery before he even opened.


“Honeycomb was really attractive to me because I liked the idea of paying back people who believe in my business and have my back. It feels better from a community point of view,” he shares.


Within two days of launching his Honeycomb campaign, Ian had already raised $10,000!


“Honestly, it was a pretty big rush when my campaign initially launched. Getting that first wave of investors made me feel such positive energy about my business,” he says.


By the end of his campaign, Ian raised $43,550 from 57 Cleveland community investors. The funds will go towards buying locally-sourced baking ingredients, building an espresso program, and hiring and training an expert bakery staff.


Even after his campaign, Ian is still exhilarated by the adrenaline rush of seeing so many Clevelanders supporting Leavened and other local businesses, even in the midst of the pandemic.


“That initial ‘wow, people believe in this bakery and are willing to contribute, though it might be a risky time with COVID-19’ was the best feeling. It was just insane how quickly it all happened,” Ian recalls fondly.



Ryes and shine with bread delivered to your doorstep


Along with running his Honeycomb campaign, Ian decided to complement his momentum by launching a bread delivery service while he prepared to open his storefront.


Delivering across Cleveland helped Ian test out unique recipes and gauge which products were the most popular.


By running the service alongside his crowdfunding campaign, Ian was able to establish his first customers and offer an exciting opportunity for his fans and community to take part in building the bakery with him.


Teamwork makes the dreamwork


Ian really appreciated Honeycomb’s personalized touch throughout his campaign.


“Honeycomb does a really good job of walking people through the process, and my business owner friends who have also worked with Honeycomb agree. They were great at streamlining it all for my success.”


Unlike working with a bank or another traditional lender, Ian wholeheartedly enjoyed his crowdfunding experience.


“When you go to the bank for a loan, you get 20 pages of an application process and they won’t help you with any of it. It’s the opposite case with Honeycomb.”


Roll model for Cleveland entrepreneurs


With his Honeycomb funds and newly established community buzz, Ian is scheduled to open his brick-and-mortar location in Fall 2020.


Leavened will be the first from-scratch bakery in Tremont, the culinary epicenter of Cleveland, and will continue to serve the community for years to come.


Crowdfund like Ian


COVID is the time to make big bets. Grow your business with your community and biggest fans by your side. Strengthen your customer relationships with lasting community buzz.


Learn more about launching a Honeycomb campaign at: honeycombcredit.com/restaurant