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January 28, 2013

Taco Punk owner’s move kick-starts a controversy

Some media react negatively; owner is more than 20 percent to goal

LOUISVILLE — Can a simple taco actually cause controversy? Some local media in Louisville tend to think so. 

Taco Punk has been in the news last week for its use of Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced funding platform for creative projects. 

The Kickstarter site is pretty straightforward. Businesses submit a detailed development plan online in hopes that supporters pledge money to their venture. People who donate receive various incentives for their efforts depending on the amount spent. 

Critics charge that the service is akin to charity or, as WFPL News intern Rae Hodge labeled the funding source in her op-ed piece on the radio station’s website, “a handout.” Taco Punk owner Gabe Sowder disagreed. He sees the service as a way to raise much-needed capital for his new business from supporters who like and agree with his ideas and methodology.

“It’s not a charity site. It’s a very idea-oriented site,” Sowder said. “These are people who are trying to take their ideas and use any resources they can to make them a reality.”

In order to collect the funds, the monetary goal established by the company must be met in an allotted time period. For instance, Taco Punk is attempting to raise $20,000 to go toward the creation of an environmentally sound outside dining area. 

Any remaining funds would also be used toward starting a catering enterprise. As of press time, the Taco Punk initiative already had 39 backers who have pledged a total of $4,285. Twenty-five days remain for Sowder to reach his goal or he receives nothing. 

Of course, other funding methods wouldn’t have been needed if Taco Punk’s first year in operation had performed like its business model had predicted. However, for a myriad reasons, it did not. After many major city and downtown events, customers failed to visit the restaurant and the area, and its expected windfall revenues vanished leaving it in its current situation. 

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