Cheryl Downing is a small business marketing and crowdfunding consultant. She advises and coaches small business startups and product developers/inventors how to grow their businesses quickly, specializing in raising money through crowdfunding. Cheryl spent the early part of her career in corporate software product development and marketing. Since 2001, Cheryl has volunteered as an SBA marketing trainer and been an active supporter of the Inventors Alliance association. She Co-Chairs the SVForum 3D Printing SIG and the 3D Printing for Education Meetup group.

Cheryl joined us June 17 in Sunnyvale to offer some some tips on crowdfunding your next project.

“Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital in small amounts from a large group of people using the Internet and social media. Unlike funds from venture capitalists or angel investors, the money raised through crowdfunding doesn’t necessarily buy the lender a share, and there is no guarantee that it will be repaid if the venture is successful. Instead, individuals are asked to make microinvestments or donations to causes and ventures they believe in, thus allowing the work to be completed. Crowdfunding is also known as crowd source capital.”

Source: Techopedia’s “Crowdfunding” entry

Cheryl’s talk address three common platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub. She pointed to Kickstarter’s Statistics page (http://www.kickstarter.com/help/stats) to demonstrate that most campaigns raise between $1K – $10K with funding fees approximately 10% of the funds raised. Some platforms are all-or-nothing other are partial or flexible. 

In her experience campaigns typically run for 30 intense days, although they can run longer. The key promotional components that she has found effective: 

  • Inspirational video
  • Creative thank you gifts
  • Cultivating mentions and coverage from major media and influential bloggers.
  • Social Media and E-mail, especially when you can foster viral sharing
  • Key backers and customers who contribute and promote
Successful campaigns typically get off to a strong start in the first three days from prior preparation that has started at least a month prior, and often up to six months. There can be a period of few contributions in the middle and then a strong finish in the last few days.

Cheryl provided a one page handout that is available as a blog post at http://marketingsoapbox.com/crowdfunding-tips/ along with many other resources at her site.