This month, we’re talking with Ken Martin, the co-founder of Honeycomb Credit. He and fellow co-founder & CEO George Cook wanted to provide small businesses on “Main Street America” new opportunities to borrow money and grow. They founded Honeycomb Credit, which allows people to invest locally in their own community small businesses. Read on to learn more!
Tell us a bit about Honeycomb Credit.
Honeycomb is a financial technology company that allows local businesses to borrow money from their own customers and community members for exciting growth projects. With Honeycomb, anyone can invest in businesses they love in the community, businesses can get fair expansion capital without giving up equity, and our communities benefit because the money stays in the community. Small businesses on main streets around America are having trouble raising growth capital. Where they used to go to their local bank for expansion capital, they just can’t do that anymore and are suffering. Honeycomb Credit steps into this void left behind between Kickstarter and large national banks.
What types of small businesses are you looking for on Honeycomb Credit?
The first ingredient is you need to be a storefront on what we call Main Street America. The second criteria is you need to have a brand that people really know and love in the community. You might be an artisan ice cream shop, a yoga studio, or an artisan fashion boutique. There’s lots of different things in lots of different sectors that might be successful on Honeycomb.
George and I wanted to ensure that the mission of Honeycomb Credit is to serve Main Street America, and we did not want it to be a Silicon Valley solution. When we looked for places that would be keep us true to our roots, AlphaLab jumped to the top of the pile. With the fact that George grew up in Somerset and is a western PA guy at heart, it made a lot of sense to land in Pittsburgh.
What resources in Pittsburgh helped start and grow Honeycomb Credit?
AlphaLab, and by extension Innovation Works, has been extremely helpful towards the growth and success of Honeycomb. Pittsburgh in general is a very special place for entrepreneurship. It’s a dynamic and innovative city, but it also has this old world, tight knit community feel that is extremely beneficial for entrepreneurs. You don’t get lost in the mix – if you’re a hardworking person with a good idea, there are informal networks and communities to tap into that make it an exceptional place for startups.
Any insider tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Just show up. There are programs that are all over Pittsburgh, such as AlphaLab’s informal coffee chats. We met so many of our early consultants, employees, advisers, mentors or potential investors through these informal chats. Startups are always looking for hardworking people with passion.
What’s next for Honeycomb Credit?
We’ve reached the point in our company where growth is really taking off and we’re ready for another stage of our company. Honeycomb is currently raising venture capital investments to expand our business, and attracting more great local main street businesses to join the Honeycomb platform. Pittsburgh is definitely home and will be for a long time. And we do think a lot about the next cities around the country that would benefit from Honeycomb Credit.
Learn more about Honeycomb Credit here.