The idea of tapping into your personal and professional networks for crowdfunding purposes, may seem like a humbling approach to business for some but for many entrepreneurs this is a more than acceptable way to build the initial capital for an upcoming business venture.
Brenda Beener, owner of Seasoned Vegan restaurant in Harlem New York, said before her son Aaron encouraged her to crowdfund their plant-based eatery idea, she had no idea how she would open the doors to her restaurant with little to no funds.
“We started this venture without having any money at all, zero dollars,” said Beener, “We had heard about Kickstarter from one of our customers [who] suggested that we get on Kickstarter.”
Beener said to her surprise, they were able to, not only meet, but exceed their goal of $20,000 raising $22,000 within the last hour of the campaign.
When asked how they were able raise such a large amount of money, Beener says they simply reached out to their networks of family, friends, colleagues and classmates.
Her son a graduate of Morehouse, and daughter a graduate of Spelman, both renowned historically black colleges, contacted their respective networks to spread the word and seek support. Beener even had the pleasure of meeting a follower from overseas who had been an active supporter abroad.
“We started telling customers and then they started telling other people and the word just got out about Seasoned Vegan,” said Beener, “It really reached out to outside of the united states and people were just supporting us.”
By definition crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet and according to the Crowdfunding Industry Report by Massolution, in 2012 there was $2.7 Billion raised online via crowdfunding and a estimated $5.1 Billion for 2013.
A few of the most popular sites are Kickstarter, Indigogo, and Go Fund Me and currently allow you build campaigns for all purposes and raise money to support a non- profit or for profit cause or business.
In the past few years government and even colleges and universities have begun to use crowdfunding for unique purposes.
The Texas Longhorns are digitizing fossils, tracking migrating butterflies and building sanitary bathrooms at an elementary school in a developing country all through crowdsourcing.
The new way of acquiring business venture capital has changed and its new community-like approach appears to be the wave of future business as a whole and as Seasoned Vegan owner, Brenda Beener, looks back on a successful one year of business she has no regrets when it comes to having crowdfunded her dream eatery.