I think sometimes entrepreneurs get a bit snobby. "Franchise? Yuk! It's someone else's idea." Well I can tell you that starting a franchise requires about all the necessary skill sets that are applied to any other startup. They also have a MUCH higher success rate. And, with thousands of existing franchise systems in the US you can find a franchise for just about any market or business type- from consulting to yogurt shops. The nice thing too is often franchises are easier to get funded than a traditional "tech startup" and now crowdfunding is hitting franchises.
What may make a franchise even more appealing is a site that's turned the whole "Kickstarter model" onto starting franchises in a community. I can tell you one thing for certain. You don't start a bricks and mortar franchise in a community unless you get community support. (Read more on this Retail Openings - Success in 3 Marketing Phases).
So what if the community supports you financially? They literally invest small amounts of money into the founding of your business. Now that's putting your money where you're support is. Of course those community members that invest in your business are certainly going to be some of your best and most vocal customers. I've known a couple of private community athletic centers that have had "founding members" that have put in money for life memberships and other perks, $10k minimums. That is a bit much for many, although they were able to put the money together eventually.
But this is the idea of much smaller dollars being put in on average by many more people- Kickstarter for franchises. The site, CrowdFranchise, has been around for a couple years and has a couple funding successes. They are still working on critical mass so they don't have the range of projects you'll find at other crowdfunding sites but it's probably the cheapest way you'll ever be able to say you are "a owner" in a local joint in your community. It could also be an interesting funding alternative for those of you seeking to fund a franchise and build social marketing and do market validation simultaneously.
Check out the pitch. The site is straight forward and easy to understand.