Thursday, March 24, 2016

Crowdfunding Comes to Northern B.C. (a recap of the Crowdfunding Summit)

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

Crowdfunding experts convened in Prince George on March 16th to share their advice and inspiration to an audience of business owners and non-profit leaders. The Crowdfunding Summit, the first-ever in Northern BC, was hosted and organized by Community Futures and included speakers on crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding, and legal considerations for this relatively new financial sourcing.

The event launched the newly created Invest Local BC. A crowdfunding platform that focuses on local campaigns for small business and non-profits in BC. While the large crowdfunding platforms bring some social media opportunity if they notice you (such as Kickstarter's Staff Pick), Invest Local BC reaches people at a community level at a time when supporting local organizations is highly valued.

A full day of guest speakers including Daryl Hatton of FundRazr, Alixe Cormick of Venture Law Corporation, Sean Burke of FrontFundr, Roy Spooner, and many others shared their expertise and advice on successful crowdfunding in Canada. Myself and Leanna Carlson spoke about our successful crowdfunding campaigns as well.

Preparing for a campaign and understanding investors were major themes for the day. Robert Quibell of Vortex Social Marketing summarized the ideal crowdfunding strategy with a few simple questions that get to the heart of crowdfunding. Asking "who are you" and "why should people invest in you?" are the perfect place to start. But start early.

Quibell and Hatton both emphasized the need to plan early for a campaign. As early as 12 months ahead and often about 4 months ahead. There is a great deal of preparation for a successful campaign and then there is the pre-campaign, the 3 months leading up to a campaign (which ideally runs 30 days) wherein a campaigner will promote and gain some committed investors and possibly social media traction. Other pre-campaign tips from Charlene Tessier of CrowdGift included contacting fans and customers via email and social media as well as preparing for milestones throughout the campaign.

Leanna Carlson is a ceramic artist who successfully funded a campaign to build her gas fired kiln. Her charming story of crowdfunding showed how with passion and creativity, crowdfunding can boost our local economy.

I spoke about my Kickstarter campaign to Help Build Kimberley's Kitchen and shared my tactics for successfully raising just over $6000 to build my commercial kitchen for my food business. The questions I received made me realize that there is a need for more advice and guidance on how to run a campaign, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The DIY and low-budget approach is not as well documented as the massive campaigns that get viral media exposure. And remember, the massive campaigns are not always what they seem to be. Many of them are start-ups that have been working towards the campaign for years and use the campaign purely as a marketing vehicle and even when successfully funded, fail as companies.

More realistically, small business owners and non-profits are looking for a boost or infusion to help grow their organizations. Often it is business owners like Leanna or myself who have a demand and want to finance growth without debt. Businesses and non-profits that are proven and have a devoted community are most likely to successfully fund a campaign under $10,000. Beyond that requires a more significant investment and team to achieve success.

The most inspiring idea from the day came from Daryl Hatton who talked about why people give. He explained that this new financial model allows people to give and have a sense of community. That when people invest in campaigns or help a cause, they feel as though they are giving to their village, who will in turn support them if ever they needed it. At a time when so many people are left finding ways to pay for projects, medical bills, and fund self-employment, crowdfunding has become easier and more accessible than ever. And now, with Invest Local BC, we can find campaigns and causes close to home so that we are literally helping to build our "village" right where we live.

Are you interested in learning more about my tips of crafting a campaign? I will be posting a series on Crowdfunding so be sure to follow for more information.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Crowdfunding Summit (this week in Prince George)

I am delighted to be a guest speaker at the first-ever Crowdfunding Summit in Prince George this week. This one-day event is filled with information and inspiration for crowdfunding and financing a business or non-profit and will feature the launch of the new Invest Local BC crowdfunding platform. Taking the global crowdfunding concept and bringing it to a local level is one of the many features of this new platform.

This is an exciting time for start-ups, whether for or not for profit. Crowdfunding gives organizations and businesses an avenue to reach like-minded people and collaborate and participate in the success of small (or big) projects. My own Kickstarter campaign was an exciting experience and allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people who backed my project and then became customers.

This project and business development made it possible for me to grown my business and create more products and jobs. It is an exciting time at Kimberley's Kitchen with new products and services being launched this year. As well, our new business Telkwa Takeout is thriving and growing steadily in our first year of business.

If you attend the summit, please introduce yourself. For more information about Kimberley's Kitchen, visit my online shop and be sure to sign up for my newsletter.