Friday, March 29, 2013

Fresh Prespective on Crowdfunding

On March 25, 2013, the American Underground and CED welcomed Candace Klein, the founder and CEO of Bad Girl Ventures and SoMoLend, to share a little about the “ins and outs” of crowdfunding. With a packed house, Candace started off by challenging those who plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign to share personal stories in their campaigns because the investors are “investing in you, not just your product or idea.”

Prior to joining the American Underground, I worked as a financial consultant and business coach for Fleet Feet Sports Franchises, where I learned firsthand that authenticity and vulnerability is the key to drawing people into your story, leading to personal and professional success. You could feel the authenticity and vulnerability on Monday from Klein as she shared how upon her acceptance into law school, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was forced to use all of the money she had saved for medical bills.

It was through this trial where she met a woman who felt led to pay for her law degree, and later became her first angel investor in Bad Girl Ventures.

Since the first angel investment about three years ago, Klein has successfully raised $1.7 million for her two startup companies.

Klein addressed CEOs from startup companies, mostly across the tech/IT, life sciences, material sciences, and manufacturing industries, as well as, investors, community partners, and professionals who support startups in the Triangle.

Although her message was not niche specific, I particularly appreciated her commitment to women entrepreneurs. Of the companies she is investing in through Bad Girl Ventures, her oldest Bad Girl is 82 years old and the youngest only nine, emphasizing that entrepreneurship breaks all barriers. Klein offered a few other tips and tricks worth noting:
  • Be transparent and show how you plan to use the money
  • Make a video – length should be no longer than 2 ½ minutes
  • Share your milestones
  • Communication and follow-up is key – aim for personalization of emails and hand written notes
  • Social media is your friend and should be utilized consistently – i.e. Twitter Tuesdays, Email Fridays, etc. 

As one of the five people who have played a key role in working with congress and the SEC on the implementation of the JOBS Act, Klein reported that many of the issues with the JOBS Act and details of crowdfunding may not be worked out until 2014.

Despite some of the regulatory hold ups, she reassured the audience that crowdfunding can work with the right strategy, but it must be taken seriously, as if it were a full time job.

This is a guest blog post from the American Underground's newest team member, Molly Demarest, Director of Operations and Community Development. Molly attended the "Tips and Tricks for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign" event on March 25, 2013 on her first day on the job.

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