bacon Let me make no bones about it. I love crowdfunding.
It's been a game changer for startups looking to prove their market for investors and get seed funds, for causes that need to garner support quickly, for creatives and artists that want to escape the cycle of grants applications and for just plain cray cray ideas that hit a chord with like minded outliers.
By enabling micro investment, and these days not so micro investments, we all have the power to bring our passions, values and commitments to life in the form of a project that compels us to invest.
This is my current suite of investment: a superfast phone charger; gummy cubes of coffee that deliver a short black of brain expanding power; boutique gin made with Sydney centric botanicals; Produce to the People's rolling support fund to pay for their running expenses and most recently a project called #jalapenobaconmacandcheese.
Jalapeno bacon mac and cheese was set up as kind of a gag in response to an abusive drunken rant by a UConn student that went viral. The project goal was to buy enough ingredients to make Jalapeno mac and cheese to feed 100 homeless people for Thanksgiving, using the original UConn bistro mac and cheese recipe. Like so many good crowdfunding projects, it's gone nuts, far surpassing the original intention. And like so many good crowdfunding projects, now the original goal has been met and exceeded, the founder is developing more and more ways to distribute warm clothes and hope to the homeless. A mild piss-take has become a project that can make a real difference.
Why did this campaign compel me to hit contribute now? My crowdfunding investment is nearly always completely gut. I like and I fund on the spot. I'm converted to evangelism in minutes and remain interested in the project to its conclusion. If you look at Jalapeno mac and cheese as a case study in compelling, its a simple one (using my personal selection lens). Jalapenos, bacon and mac and cheese are iconic American foods of which I am VERY fond and nostalgic; the project seeks to feed homeless people in Boston at a time of gross overeating; its in response to some drunken entitled douche-bag who believed that it was totally appropriate to abuse the crap out of peeps doing their job because he couldn't have what he wanted; a ready made large community of UConn students were there to connect with; and the perks are funny: 'I'll say your name out loud while cooking.' Humour, pathos, response to injustice, tasty food and critical mass of people - all key elements for success in building a compelling crowdfunding campaign.
In this instance as a reactive campaign, it was designed to attract a relatively small amount of investment for a short term deliverable. The size of the investment ask was proportionate to the very transparent good that would be done and posed no barrier. Projects like this work because of exactly that, there is nothing standing in the way of making a reactive feel good investment. Setting a low fundraising bar is a crucially strategic move - that target can be met and each investor is part of that milestone. Making the campaign fun and manageable, especially for a topic like 49 million Americans with serious food security issues, means that an overwhelmingly hard problem to solve has just been broken into bite sized pieces. Easier to digest.
One idea, far in excess of one hundred people about to be supported. Do the same rules apply for a larger strategic campaign? Stay tuned for Part 2.
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018