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Wednesday
Jun012011

Crowdfunding Your Start-Up

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If you are starting a business you are investing more than just time and your own money. In the planning process alone you are infusing who you are, what you want for yourself, and what you want for your consumers in every pen stroke. It can get overwhelming pretty fast - if what you’re savvy at is something other than business or strategic planning. For most people they’ll buy a book or surf the web looking for help but there is so much fluff out there (even in physical print) that it can take a lot more time than you expected to get organized. Some people will make it through that and move on to the next step but others will, after investing a bit of their own money into their project, decide to scale it down or write it off. Maybe not write it off completely but those plans you worked on get dropped on the pile of To-Do’s with a tentative deadline of “when there are a few more dollars available or I have more time”.

It should be no surprise that I am a tremendous advocate of community. A community is a place you can draw strength from and reach out to when you need it. It’s a group that can be tied together by geography, ideas, or values. To be an active member of community to means that you are a resource above all else. You might be asking yourself, “How does this tie into my business that doesn’t even exist yet?”

A trend that I’ve been very aware of for sometime now is that communities to help businesses get off the ground are become more and more vocal. I wanted to highlight a few of those resources and really draw attention to the strength a community can have on supporting a new business venture. What I’m talking about is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a way to try to raise money from the communities you are already a part of and from the platforms that give your business/project/cause your voice. Crowdfunding can range from micro lending platforms like your Kiva.orgs to full on donations from backers like Kickstarter (for more artistic ventures) and to Peerbackers (for businesses).

I want to highlight Peerbackers specifically, and not just because they already had an amazing spread in this months Entrepreneur Magazine. Peerbackers is a platform for entrepreneurs to look for funding support from not just the active backers that surf the site but throughout your social media and real life networks. If you’re an entrepreneur who is feverishly trying to secure funding then you shouldn’t be shying away from any possible sources - especially if you have a great story to tell. Peerbackers might not provide you with the means to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars but it can definitely help you get started.

It’s more than just the funding as well with Peerbackers, they are trying to be a business community by also offering business accelerator resources to help people bring their ideas to market. A real community. I think what this business is doing is so important to the start-up community. It’s not uncommon to find Angel Investors, Chamber’s of Commerce, and BNI’s in any community these days. Nor is it uncommon to see burgeoning entrepreneurial communities blossom amidst the recent years worth of financial/economic uncertainty. I thought it was unique to find a place where you can support other businesses looking for their start without any overtly large contribution or forward contract. It is awesome to be able to give and know that your donations (not obligations) are going towards giving someone whose story you’ve connected with a shot. This is really what community is all about, to me anyways. It’s like the webs answer to physical co-working spaces. You might not be able to pull up a chair, plug in a laptop and start working but the possibilities of being found and even for collaboration are just as high. Plus who doesn’t like rewards for giving :)

Now I know this is probably one of the most biased reviews I’ve ever done but it’s only because I appreciate the concept from all levels. As a business, as a resource, and as a community. If you visit the site you’ll see that they haven’t been around that long but there is a ton of activity. So put your thinking caps on and get your stories ready. Throw in your application and get that plan you started out of that never ending To-Do pile. If you don’t have anything ready to go yet then surf the site and give. Give knowing that you are helping someone like you a shot at what they are passionate about!

 

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