San Marcos area resident Pete Thompson is facing a new and unfamiliar issue for the first time since he was 15 years old: being unemployed.
Thompson is now on his way to finding a place in the job market after hundreds of applications and dozens of job interviews. His progress is thanks to the guidance of non-traditional resources, including Texas State’s Small Business Development Center, PeopleFund and Kickstarter.
Thompson will soon open his own business: the Hungry Gamer, a cafe offering deli-style sandwiches and video game entertainment.
While on the job hunt, potential employers told Thompson he was a top candidate who had more experience than an average store manager, but he was never hired. This was the push he needed to create the Hungry Gamer, he said.
Thompson said the café will use organic, local produce and have several vegetarian options. PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and traditional board games will be available for gaming.
“I have been playing video games since I was 10 or 12,” Thompson said. “It’s another personal passion I have. Opening a business around sandwiches I loved as a kid and video games is my way of making sure my passions continue to pay the bills.”
However, his passion lacked funding. Thompson said he started his business plan backwards. He had finalized the idea and resources, and even came up with a name, but did not know how to finance it.
“I put it all on paper about a year ago,” Thompson said. “I figured all the planning and started working out costs, and then went to the Small Business Development Center.”
With the help of Ray Mason, grant specialist at the center, Thompson’s questions about lenders and funding were resolved.
The center is free to project-ready and existing businesses needing assistance. Mason said on average their business clients have a 5.6 percent growth rate and a 24.7 percent improvement in sales.
Thompson said he knew he had to go through a lender for financial backing, but did not know where to start. He said Mason introduced him to PeopleFund, a non-profit, non-traditional lender.
Gary Lindner, president and CEO of PeopleFund, said the organization makes loans to small businesses that may not have access to bank loans. In some cases, this happens to startup businesses or other non-profits. PeopleFund is a Certified Development Corporation, which is a company that is more willing to take risks on new businesses.
Thompson said PeopleFund wants to see him come up with a percentage of the costs before they grant him a loan, so he started a Kickstarter project to help generate part of his funds. Kickstarter is a crowd-sourcing website for people to fundraise for various creative enterprises by convincing many people to donate small amounts of money.
Thompson reached his goal of fundraising $11,000 by June 8. He said the paperwork is finalized to open shop in October in a downtown San Marcos location.