By James Atkinson

IconPark, an innovative new crowdfunding platform that enables budding hospitality operators to trial their drinking and dining concepts, has launched in Sydney this week.

IconPark was founded by accomplished hospitality operator Paul Schell and Dean McEvoy, himself a former publican and founder of successful group-buying website Spreets, which was acquired by Yahoo!7 in 2011.

Building on the global $5.1 billion crowdfunding phenomenon, is a new online capital raising platform that adopts a “forward purchase” model to launch innovative food and beverage projects.

IconPark differs from established crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, providing successful operators a three-month season rent free in licensed premises owned by IconPark at 78 Stanley St, East Sydney, in the centre of a burgeoning drinking and dining precinct that boasts new venues including The Hazy Rose, Red Lantern on Riley / Red Lily, Love Tilly Devine and Sagra.

Schell and McEvoy told TheShout they have invested more than $2.7 million in the two-level IconPark building, which is licensed to accommodate a total of 145 people across two floors.

The building will be ready for occupancy early next year with an “industrial New York warehouse” style fitout that will employ set design techniques so that each individual operator can customise the space. [continues below]

L-R: IconPark's Paul Schell and Dean McEvoy

“Given the complexion of the different kinds of operators that are going to be coming forward, the fitout for a Vietnamese rice paper rolls concept might be very different to an Italian fine diner,” said Schell.

“We have to afford a space that has an appropriate level of changeability so that each operator can put their character and touch on the space.”

How works

Food and beverage professionals who want to launch their own ideas can submit concepts online at from now until midnight AEDT January 31st 2014.

Shortlisted operators will be invited to pitch their ideas in person to a mentor group of diverse leaders from design, brand, business, media and hospitality backgrounds in a “Dragons Den-esque” scenario.

These operators will be whittled down to six finalists who will have their concepts showcased on the website during a competitive 21-day campaign, in which the crowd shows support for their favourite of the six concepts by pre-purchasing experiences from the idea they like the most.

The concept that receives the greatest level of support from the crowd wins the right to the IconPark premises with no capital required.

After three months the next successful concept moves into the space bringing a fresh new idea to the space.

A progress shot of the IconPark first floor interior at 78 Stanley St, East Sydney

Democratising drink and dining concepts

Schell said: “The small bar movement has done a great thing in terms of increasing the diversity of the ideas that are put into the hospitality sphere in Sydney, but there’s still a limited capacity for participation.”

“You might have a great idea but you’ve got to go and put yourself on the hook for a commercial lease, personal liability insurance, bank loans, then it’s 12 months to get to market.”

“Then you’re still only making an educated guess whether the market wants your concept. With IconPark we hope to mitigate a lot of those issues for people.”

Visit for further information.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *