How NuMarket Partnered with Gusto and Bench to Support Crowdfunding for Restaurants

Elizabeth Pandolfi

For a small business owner, having the right tools to streamline operations and manage essential functions is crucial for success. Ross Chanowski, founder of the food and beverage business crowdfunding platform NuMarket, knows this well—which is why he was on the lookout for ways to manage his accounting and HR and payroll that would save him time on administrative tasks, so he could focus more on the important work of supporting local restaurants. 

That’s where Bench and Gusto come in. 

Born during the pandemic

NuMarket emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, born out of a deep desire to support the restaurant and food and drink businesses that were struggling due to lockdowns and uncertainty. Chanowski saw a gap between the support that communities wanted to give their restaurants, and the restaurants that wanted to offer more ways to support them than hashtags and gift card purchases. 

“A lot of my friends who were in the food and drink space would have lines down the block— people queuing up for hours, or sending them so much love on Instagram, but then these business owners would walk into a bank or another financing institution and they couldn’t get any funding,” Chanowski says.

 “On the flip side, you have all of these people who love what you’re doing, who are waiting in that line, coming in and buying your food every week, every night. Something was off there. We’re closing that gap and allowing the real people who love these real businesses to really be an integral part of their growth.”

NuMarket allows individual restaurants and food and beverage businesses to set up crowdfunding campaigns to raise money for their enterprises. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, the businesses get whatever funds are raised, regardless of whether or not they meet their target number. Then, users can donate to the funding of those campaigns, offering tangible financial support to the businesses they love, and they receive credits to use at the business in exchange for their donation.

The challenges of growth

As NuMarket grew, so did the complexity of its accounting and payroll needs. As Chanowski got ready to start hiring employees in the U.S.—until now, he’d been in the U.K.—he found he needed help figuring out hiring forms, payroll taxes, and other aspects of the process. 

“And so I’m Googling what to do, and how to make sure payroll goes out on time,” he says. “Then I found Gusto and it made everything so much easier. You can just click buttons instead of spending a lot of your brain space searching and making sure you don’t make any mistakes.” 

Since NuMarket is remote-first, their employees live in different states. That meant that not only did the business’s payroll and HR needs grow more complex—so did their accounting. Chanowski found Bench around the same time that he signed on with Gusto. 

“It’s amazing that things can get automatically categorized, and that there’s someone messaging me if there’s something they’re not sure is in the right place,” he says. “Instead of waking up every morning and going, ‘Ok, where are my books?’ you can just log into Bench and say, ‘Here are my books.’”

Using both tools together has created significant time savings for Chanowski, alleviating a lot of the stress that comes with trying to manage both the administrative and the growth sides of a business. 

“Instead of spending time focusing on things where I’m certainly not an expert, I can focus instead on more creative things—strategic thinking, spending more time with my team, and spending more time with my customers, which is the best part of our business,” Chanowski says.

“So every minute, every hour I get back is more time I get to hear incredible stories, support great businesses and do the things that I really want to do.”

Elizabeth Pandolfi is a writer, editor, and school librarian-in-training. She covers topics from arts and culture to urbanism, and fintech to digital marketing. Elizabeth lives in the Southeastern U.S. with her husband and their blended family of six kids and two cats.
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