A few short weeks ago, Cory and I did something completely out of our comfort zones. We asked for money. As someone who doesn’t like going to a local bank out of fear that they will know my personal business - this was TERRIFYING to me.
For those of you that may be curious as to what crowdfunding is it’s, “The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people through the internet.”
Cory, and I had been working on our second business Millennial Currency for several months when we realized we needed more capital than we could handle ourselves. The business plan was quickly changing, and we needed to find a fast source of funding.
While driving six hours for a work trip, we listened to the audiobook Disrupt You! by Jay Samit and felt suddenly inspired to test the waters of crowdfunding. It seemed intriguing, and exciting to publicly launch our project while allowing our friends and family to personally help fund it. I was nervous, but also exhilarated by the thought of our business being financially supported by members of our community.
Within a day we produced the video, wrote the content, took product images, and launched the campaign throughout our social media accounts. Our Indiegogo was live, and we waited.
A good friend of ours donated that first night, and I will never forget the different emotions I felt receiving it. I was thankful that we had raised something, disappointed the launch wasn’t bigger, worried that we wouldn’t reach our goal, and emotional that someone would believe in our business at that stage. It was a rollercoaster, and I spent most of the night refreshing my inbox to see if we would get another contribution.
I’ve read a lot of articles about crowdfunding, but what I haven’t read about is the emotional toll it can play on a business owner. The next few days I was glued to my phone, and couldn’t push the feelings of disappointment away as I realized many people weren’t up for supporting our campaign. In many ways - I felt heartbroken.
Cory and I sat on the couch that following week. I had tears in my eyes, and a pain in my stomach. He was trying to find the words to be supportive, but I could tell he wasn’t sure what to say. I thought they were our friends. Our entire business platform was built on supporting artisans, local business owners, and our community overall but we were receiving rejection after rejection. It felt like we were failing not only ourselves, but the business owners we intended to bring with us.
The campaign reached a little over $1,500, and I took a step back. I stopped refreshing my phone every 20 seconds, and took a break from the constant social media posting. I realized I was going to have to find another way, and quickly we regrouped.
I learned a few things while crowdfunding. I learned that it’s difficult, and forces you to see a side of the world that isn’t so friendly. I learned (or maybe already knew) people don’t like being asked for money. I also learned that just because you believe in something doesn’t mean others will feel as passionate about it. I also learned it’s never okay to give up.
Crowdsourcing for us was beautiful in many ways. People that I never expected to contribute did, and we were constantly surprised by the generous donation amounts. We were encouraged to step outside of our comfort zones, and learn to ask for help. We were also forced to hear the word no which honestly got easier over time. For every no I believed there was a yes on the horizon, and it propelled us forward. At the end of the day - it fueled us more than we ever thought possible.
Would I do it again? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. The lessons we learned were invaluable, and we are stronger for the experience. The 18 people that believed in our business from the beginning will always stay with us, and be a source of inspiration to keep going. I also find myself looking at the campaigns around me (my sister’s Kickstarter), community fundraisers, bake sales, car washes, kit sales, and I have a deeper realization of the feelings associated with fundraising. I’ve been giving a little more, sharing when I can, and understanding that we all have dreams and goals. Let’s help each other achieve them.