Craft Industry Gets Creative About Financing May 29, 2015 Minding The Till By: Shawndra Russell Crowdfunding has forever changed the way makers, brewers, artists, foodies, and anyone with a craft business idea can launch their business. B.C. (before crowdfunding), wannabe entrepreneurs had to raise funds through family or scrimping and saving, since small business loans typically require that you’re already making money and have already been in business for two years—which does not work for a startup. Yet, crowdfunding has changed the game and helped thousands (millions?) of craft-focused endeavors become a reality. If you’re unfamiliar with crowdfunding, it simply means raising funds for a project or need from individuals that donate or invest small amounts. Using Kickstarter’s terminology—the largest crowdfunding platform—they call people that give funds to projects “backers.” Backers invest in exchange for a product, stock in the company, or sometimes, just out of the goodness of their heart with no expectations of getting anything back. I utilized Kickstarter in 2013 to raise funds to publish my first novel, and the experience was thrilling. Family, friends and strangers rallied behind me to help make one of my dreams come true, and I’ve also backed several projects along the way. It’s quite a thrill to know that my small donations, combined with hundreds of other peoples’ money, has helped bring someone else’s dream to life, just like mine was. Here are a few crowdfunding platforms you can explore as options to start your own project or become a backer: Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com This is the biggest, baddest and most famous of the crowdfunding platforms. Since inception in 2009, nearly 2 billion with a B dollars have backed over 85,000 projects. Many of these projects turn into startups that grew into successful businesses, including the current 465 live projects on Kickstarter that are breweries or related to brewing. Fundable, https://www.fundable.com/ Kickstarter lets any and everyone start a project, but Fundable was created to only support entrepreneurs. Since launching in 2012, $164 million in capital has been raised. CraftFund, https://craftfund.com/ Getting even more niche is the crowdfunding platform CraftFund. This tool is for food, drink and real estate-related companies only, and investors earn equity in the businesses that they back. Currently, only Wisconsin projects and investors can get involved, but as state laws evolve and catch up, other states will be added. Locavesting, http://www.locavesting.com This site is not a crowdfunding platform, but they have tons of advice and resources linked if you’re interested in getting or giving funds locally. Have you used crowdfunding for your craft business or donated funds? Share your experience with us!