As we head into the final days of the Groundwork campaign, I’ve been reflecting a bit on what I like about crowdfunding. For those of you not in the know, crowdfunding is a way to raise funds by seeking lots of small donations from many people, which will hopefully add up to a greater whole. It was popularized by the Kickstarter platform, and now many others are following suit. Before the viral and wide-spreading nature of social media, crowdfunding would have been an exhausting effort, if not impossible. (Remember selling candy bars door to door in high school?)
At its best, crowdfunding helps promising independent films, businesses, and other projects get off the ground. At its worst, it is a place for unqualified folks with poorly planned projects to beg for money. Both points of view considered, I’m glad crowdfunding is playing a key role in our quest to raise capital for Groundwork. Here’s why:
Lessons in humility
For most of us proud and independent Americans, it just ain’t easy to ask for money. Even when you’re just tweeting or sending an email! It ain’t easy. It feels a bit like a right of passage; I’ve found that the act of convincing others about the value of Groundwork makes me feel more strongly about it myself. And the truth is that no matter how kick-ass and awesome any of us might be, we need to ask for help from time to time. True strength is knowing when to give and when to ask for help.
Crowdfunding builds automatic community. Contributors feel like they are a part of your project (because they are!) and care about the outcome. In the weeks since we started crowdfunding for Groundwork, we’ve had more community contact than ever. The campaign has caused us to step up our communication, become more transparent about our process, and invite others along for the ride. It has really been quite amazing, and every donation feels like a personal hug or high-five– just the encouragement we need to keep going. If you’ve ever started a business before, you probably know how challenging it can be to keep pushing forward at times. Feeling community support behind us is huge. And we wouldn’t have built this same sense of community through strict use of loans or seasoned investors.
Once you get over the initial shock of asking for money, the challenge becomes: how many ways can you ask for money? Or, how can you creatively remind people of your campaign day after day for thirty days? The result is an intensive, month-long marketing marathon. Video, photo, blog posts (yep, including this one), newspaper press… the list goes on. Dena and I had no idea we could make funny videos until we started crowdfunding. Dancing on camera? In an empty parking lot? To start a coworking space? This is an example of the lengths one must go to in order to successfully crowdfund.
Democratization of the market
I get pretty excited about the implications of crowdfunding. The idea that I could fund my business by seeking, small reasonable contributions from people just like me is pretty cool. Perhaps I am waxing a bit romantic here, but think about the possibilities! That people like Dena and I can start a business. That we don’t have to beg at the feet of venture capitalists in suits who fly first class and read Forbes. That the people can decide what gets developed. That we can help each other to succeed!
So there you have it. I am a fan of crowdfunding. No matter what happens in the next few days, I’m glad we took the plunge and launched our Groundwork campaign. We’ve built a stronger sense of purpose and identity as a company since we started this whole thing. We’ve reached new perspective members, we’ve connected with old friends… heck, we’re even planning a culinary foray into farm-to-table cooking. So thanks for coming along for the ride thus far, and stay tuned for some fun videos in the coming days. It ain’t over yet, baby!
Oh, I almost forgot. If you do decide to join the ranks of Groundwork contributors, you can do so here: Groundwork! Coworking Space on IndieGoGo Sorry, had to do that. We are trying to raise some funds here ;)