Sister Pie: Community-based investment gets crumby. And Detroit loves it.

By now, the Sister Pie story is well known in Detroit. Owner and Head Baker Lisa Ludwinski, born in Michigan, spent several years in New York honing her pastry skills before returning home to make her mark on the Detroit food scene. She quickly built a following of locals hooked on exotic (but locally sourced, of course) seasonal pie and pastry offerings and specialties like her award-winning Buckwheat Chocolate Chip cookies.  Along the way, Lisa and crew had us giggling salted maple crumbs into our laps watching their dance breaks on social media.

Sister Pie’s journey accelerated when it won the 2014 Hatch Detroit prize. The company was seeded with $50,000 for the development of a brick and mortar retail space.  Lisa picked her spot, resisting the allure of greater downtown and staking out her territory at the corner of Kercheval and Parker in the city’s West Village neighborhood.  Building on the Hatch prize, Lisa was both strategic and tenacious about rounding out funding for her business, including a delightful Indiegogo campaign which not only added capital, but increased Sister Pie’s already strong visibility and community connection.

To complete her funding plan, Lisa recently approached Sidewalk Ventures to explore offering an investment opportunity to local supporters of the business.  “Sister Pie’s identity is as much about community as it is great food, so setting up a portion of our funding as a community-based investment made a lot of sense for us,“ she said.  We couldn’t agree more.

Sister Pie and Sidewalk Ventures worked together to reach out to a small pool of community members.  We crafted a deal that will enable those individuals to support a business they adore, help activate a space in a neighborhood they care about, and earn a meaningful return in the process.

Community-based investment works best when the business seeking funding has validated its product or service, established brand recognition and, most importantly, built a strong connection with its customers, advocates and neighbors. In this case, the business seeking funding was nothing short of the ideal candidate for a successful fundraise. As a result, the investors got on board quickly and enthusiastically. “We’re excited to make our small group of local investors proud of our business and happy with their investment,” Lisa added.

Sister Pie is a very big story (and getting bigger by the day). Sidewalk Ventures is privileged to have helped write a page or two.