February 21, 2011 · Success Stories

Doc’s of the Bay: Hip Food Truck and Great Small Business


by Karen Seiger. Cross-posted on Sirene MediaWorks.com

Launching a campaign on IndieGoGo is a powerful way to raise funds for your business and also to learn about your target market, gain valuable feedback for your business, and build up your community — before you’ve even launched! 

Today we’re checking in with Zac Silverman, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary and Truck Driver for Doc’s of the Bay Food Truck.  Zac and his team are over two-thirds of the way towards reaching their goal of $3,073 to launch their food truck business in San Francisco, with just over a month left in the campaign.

Where did the name Doc’s of the Bay come from? 

We had an ongoing debate for about 2 months, and we asked everyone we know for suggestions.  We knew we wanted to use a fictionalized human being’s name, and we were looking for a name that would conjure up the feeling of Americana.  “Doc” is the name of one of our favorite fictional characters, the protagonist in Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  He represents the values that we aspire to represent as well. The sister of a friend came up with “Doc’s of The Bay,” which is perfect because we’re in the Bay Area.

How is Doc’s of the Bay different from other food trucks?

We see ourselves as part of a second wave of food trucks serving a different, full variety of foods as compared with the traditional food trucks, which tend to offer ethnic foods, like tacos or falafel, at least here in San Francisco.  Doc’s of the Bay is trying to be straight-up American food done as well as possible for a reasonable price.  We want to provide the food you crave.

I think we aim to be a little more gourmet and offer a higher quality product.  We are really taking our sourcing seriously, and we want to be as local and organic as possible.  We plan on having an ongoing conversation with people about where our food comes from, new things we find, where we find it, and what we’re paying for it.  One of the advantages of being in San Francisco is the availability of amazing local food.  For example, we can get heirloom tomatoes year round!

Why did you choose to do a campaign on IndieGoGo?

My mom sent me a clipping from a magazine about IndieGoGo.  I put the article away somewhere, but the idea stuck with me. We figured we could do pre-sales of our products on IndieGoGo to get the cash we need up front.

But, frankly, it has hardly been about the money. We wanted to start building up a community around our business, to help people feel like they are a part of it.  And we are guaranteeing that people will be coming to the truck to redeem their pledge certificates!  The money is just a way of making people feel like they can offer support, make suggestions, have ownership.  We knew we couldn’t lose by doing this.  Crowdfunding is a win-win.

How has your IndieGoGo campaign helped you build up a community before you've launched your truck?

It’s takes a tremendous amount of social marketing to get this food truck project up and running.  Setting up the IndieGoGo campaign has given us a reason to launch the social networking.  Because we have been promoting our campaign, we have also figured out our strategies around our Facebook page, our Tweets, and our blog.  It’s something that we needed to do anyway, but the campaign forced us to do it ahead of time.  The truck isn’t even on the streets yet, so this campaign is something for the community to gather around in advance.

What’s so great about selling food from a truck?

Food trucks are hip right now.  Rather than sit down or go to a fast food restaurant, you can see us making your food and have a direct interaction with us.  It’s almost a cultural thing.  We make your food and hand it to you, and it’s a really pleasant experience.  It’s an outdoors thing too, which is nice because you don’t have to go eat inside an establishment.

Another great aspect about food trucks is that they are mobile.  They can pull into places that need food, and people are grateful to have it.  And they can serve multiple locations in a single day.  People are really thankful for that too.  Maybe they work in an office building where there isn’t any good food nearby.  Or they may be out late at night outside a bar, and there’s nothing to eat except for good food from a truck.  Our overhead is really low, and so we can sell good food for less money and pass along those savings to our customers.

A lot of trucks also create a fun community around them by using social media.  They post offers to Facebook, and tweet their locations.  All these things are the reason why people love food trucks right now.

Do you think this new generation of food trucks is helping or hurting the old trucks?

Oh, I think the new food trucks are crating a whole new image for food trucks in general.  I know a lot of people who eat and love cheap Mexican food from a truck.  They’ve done it for years.  But now, somehow having gourmet trucks on the street makes it cool to eat from the older trucks again.

And in fact, people who started eating these second generation trucks in San Francisco are now seeking out the old food trucks and finding out that they have great food too!

 Doc’s of the Bay Food Truck is launching on March 1st!   Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that our IndieGoGo campaign has been a great way to meet people.  We hope everyone who visits our project site will make suggestions or pop in a comment, whether or not they make a contribution!  And stay tuned for more information about our launch!

Visit Doc's of the Bay's website and follow Doc's of the Bay here on IndieGoGo.com, Facebook, and Twitter