Things have gotten cheesier in NW Georgia. Speakcheesy was selected as the first recipient of a $6,000 microloan from Makervillage to purchase a food trailer.
Hillery Sawyer served up gourmet grilled cheese concoctions across the Rome area for over a year…without a truck. Through a series of “pop ups” driven by social media and personal referral, the company generated a profit since the first event and built a dedicated following of over 1,500 Facebook fans. In order to share her menu with more customers and build the sustainable business she knew was possible, she needed a vehicle.
The MakeBank program allowed Speakcheesy to purchase a trailer under a weekly repayment plan that included a simple, flat fee instead of complicated interest calculations. The success of the charming red trailer has already demanded Hillery pursue the business full-time.
“This loan made it possible for a dream to become reality and for me to maintain ownership of my idea in an extremely manageable way,” said Sawyer of the loan program.
As far as locals are concerned, the beta test has been a delicious success. Sawyer’s vision of serving sandwiches from her personally crafted menu of over 40 recipes is bringing much needed lunch and late night dining options to the area, expanding tastes with unexpected combinations. Take the Boardwalk: smooth caramel, paired with crisp apples, crunchy bacon, and melty brie on buttery toasted sourdough….yum.
More than just a trailer, Hillery creates a unique atmosphere with a dining experience reminiscent of the prohibition era. Weekly service includes regular stops at River Dog Outpost, the downtown parking lot at Rome First United Methodist’s 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street lot, Mohawk Corporate Office, and Redmond Hospital, among others.
“Speakcheesy invented their unique cooking technique and tested the first recipes in the kitchen at 7hills Makerspace as a group of friends with an idea,” said Makervillage president Tricia Steele, “we followed the process the entire way, and it is an honor to support this next official step in the life of this business.”
Makervillage is partnering with Heritage First Bank president and advisory board member, Ryan Earnest, to expand the loan program to support more startup and artisan businesses. Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of factors including personal credibility, business network, customer loyalty, demonstrated expertise and cash flow.
“People who are starting a business or artisans expanding their craft may have difficulty using traditional sources to fund their venture at these small, startup levels,” said President Tricia Steele. “The MakeBank microloan program will allow people to expand in ways that realize returns quickly while building up credibility for future financial needs.”
Additional MakeBank funds will available for other entrepreneurs soon.