Table of Contents
LET’S CLOSE THE FUNDING GAP
Hi Everyone. Welcome to iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform built exclusively for women-led startups and small businesses. Our mission is simple: To help women overcome the confidence and funding gap we face in getting our businesses off the ground.
My team and I have been running startups for many years, and we know first-hand what it’s like being an entrepreneur. We have ridden the rollercoaster just like you. Along the way, we have learned how to successfully crowdfund, and we created iFundWomen so we could not only pay our information forward but also create a community of women who are sharing their knowledge.
Lots of people ask: Why did you create iFundWomen when there are so many other crowdfunding platforms out there? What’s different about it?
- We are exclusively for women-led startups and small businesses.
- We have a unique pay-it-forward model where 20% of our profits from our standard fees are directly reinvested into live campaigns on the site, creating a virtuous cycle of funding for all of our participating entrepreneurs.
- We offer optional services like crowdfunding coaching and video production to lighten the load of getting your campaign started.
- We have an Accelerator Pool of funding that goes to entrepreneurs with lower-income FFFs.
Above all, we are a close-knit community of female entrepreneurs who are helping each other get funded. What are you waiting for?
IT'S OUR TIME. NOW, GO GET FUNDED.
Are You Ready to Crowdfund?
KNOW B4 YOU GO
THESE STEPS ARE ESSENTIAL TO COMPLETE BEFORE YOU START AN IFUNDWOMEN CAMPAIGN
- Purchase a domain name/website for your business (if you don't already have one).
- Create a lovely website that is on-point for your brand. SquareSpace is a great resource to use, and you do not need to know how to code to create a site on SquareSpace.
- Build up your social media presence. If you’re not already on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, now is the time to join.
- Create and grow your email list. We use MailChimp because it's simple to use and free up to a certain number of customers.
- Join and get involved in Facebook groups that are relevant to your brand. Start mixing and mingling with influencers in your business category.
- Flexible or fixed funding options
- Flexible campaign dates - you are not locked in when you start your campaign.
- Professional video production services, whether you live near or far from our studio.
- iFundWomen Coaches Playbook - maps out your campaign rewards and goals for you.
- Pay-It-Forward Model: 20% of profits from standard fees get reinvested into live campaigns on the site.
- Access to exclusive Slack network with iFundWomen Coaches and our crew of supportive female entrepreneurs who are crowdfunding alongside you.
- The iFundWomen Accelerator Pool - A fund that supplements the crowdfunding efforts for entrepreneurs with lower-income FFFs.
Crowdfund on iFundWomen
7 Reasons You Should
- Drive much-needed seed money into your bank account to help you grow your business
- Test product market fit without spending thousands of your own dollars to manufacture a product that nobody wants
- Build up an early network of fans who will both finance your production and grow with you and your business
- Test a new product line in your already existing small business
- Think about crowdfunding as a "bridge fund" of money you can use while you are raising an angel or a seed round, i.e. cash to keep you going so you can continue to build your product
- Hit-up all of the friends whose marathons, businesses, trips or charities you have supported to "return the favor" and fund your dream
- Do your part in helping women business owners get ahead
Angel Investor - Angels are typically wealthy individuals who invest in early-stage companies, in exchange for equity.
Campaign Update - A campaign update is a direct message you send to all of your funders, at the same time, to tell them how you are progressing in your campaign. It's a smart idea to send one update per week so your funders can stay informed.
Crowdfunding - Crowdfunding is when you raise money for your startup, your small business, your passion project from a lot of people, typically in small increments of money.
Equity - Ownership of your company. iFundWomen is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform, so you are NOT selling equity in your company. This is important to understand, and why rewards-based crowdfunding is the best first step in getting your startup some seed funding. You will retain ownership of your company because you are NOT selling equity, i.e. ownership in your company.
FFFs - Friends, Family, Followers, but really, everyone you have ever known and their extended tribe.
Fixed Funding - Choose fixed funding when you absolutely need a specific amount of money to complete your project. With fixed funding, you only collect your funding if you hit your goal. Your backers credit cards get charged at the end of your campaign, if you have met your goal.
Flexible Funding - When you keep however much money you raise, regardless of your goal. You should choose flexible funding if your project can scale up or down, and you can deliver on your campaign promises even if you raise less than your goal.
Funders - Funders are generous people, who you know IRL, who will contribute cash to your iFundWomen campaign. You do not owe your funders anything in return for their contribution, except a) delivering on the promise you made in your campaign and b) a reward if they purchased one.
IRL - In real life. Most of the funding in your campaign will come from people you know IRL. It is rare when people give money to strangers to help start their businesses.
Loan - A loan is money you have to pay back, typically with interest. The funds you earn from your iFundWomen campaign are NOT a loan. You do not have to pay anyone back.
Rewards - Stuff you sell, like t-shirts, branded artwork, your product or your service, for the expressed purpose of raising money for your crowdfunding campaign.
Seed Round - A seed round is typically the first or second round of equity financing a company raises. Seed rounds are most often funded by venture capitalists who work in companies called VCs.
Slack Network - All iFundWomen project creators have exclusive access to our Slack network. Slack is a communication tool that iFundWomen uses to communicate with creators. The iFundWomen Slack Network is a tremendous resource for our entrepreneurs where they collaborate, ask questions, and share their fundraising successes.
Venture Capital - Venture capital is financing that investors provide to startup companies, in exchange for equity, that are believed to have long-term growth potential.
Prep is Everything
Crowdfunding is all about planning and preparation. The pre-launch phase is the most important phase of your campaign. Your focus should be on growing your network, telling everyone about your idea and building up your following. The more people that know about you, your brand and your concept, the better chance you will have of converting friends into funders. Do not rush your campaign preparation. It is essential to put in the pre-work before you launch.
Build Your Network
In Real Life. Whoa. What's that? Don't get nervous people, these folks are your real friends and family. You know, the people who you text and occasionally call on the phone, but who may not be on your social media radar. They could be your Aunt Gertrude, that Mom you see at pickup whose name you can never remember or your work friends who you've kept at a safe distance because you don't want them to know about your secret passion for knitting. Well, get comfortable with your IRL friends because these gems will be your biggest contributors! You need to tell your IRL friends, well in advance, that you are raising money for your startup, and that any amount, whether it's $10 or $1,000 is appreciated.
Your personal Facebook will most likely be the biggest driver of backers during your campaign, so make sure literally everyone you know is your Facebook friend. Be their friend, too. That's how this works
LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
Yes, they matter. They all matter. Listen, there are no judgments, we get it. Being a social butterfly is hard work, but making sure you are following your network and getting them to follow you back on all of the socials is a critical step in pre-planning your campaign
Email converts people into customers, so start building up your list. Go through your entire personal email list, and very nicely ask everyone to subscribe to your shiny, new business newsletter that you swear you will only send out bi-monthly or monthly. Create a splash page website that teases out your brilliant company and idea and get people to subscribe to your email list to learn more. Put a link to subscribe in your email signature. Do not spam anyone, ever.
3 MONTHS OUT
Craft your brand’s story
Create your elevator pitch, practice it, and solicit feedback from your FFFs. Be open to iterating on your pitch. If you’re a sole founder, tell other people about your idea and company. Listen to their feedback.
Start a weekly blog and newsletter Crowdfunding success depends so much on establishing your credibility in your field, and keeping people updated on your journey. A weekly blog and corresponding email newsletter is a great way to do this, and it works. Create your own blog on Wordpress or Tumblr, and then repost on Medium. For your weekly email newsletter, we have found that Mailchimp is relatively easy to set up, and it's free to start. Start building up your email list. Go to events with a pad of paper and ask people for their email addresses. NEVER SPAM PEOPLE.
Get your social game on
If you are not doing this already, start posting regularly to all the socials about your business and your upcoming campaign. Ask your friends and family to follow you on social media. Follow and interact with bloggers and influencers in your topic area. Create meaningful relationships with social media influencers who have lots of followers and credibility in your industry, and share their stuff to establish a relationship. Sign up for Buffer, a social media scheduling tool set-up, and spend a few hours scheduling out posts. Find out what works and what people like.
Do recon Search for other crowdfunding campaigns in your business topic. Take notes on what they did well, what you liked and how they marketed their campaign. Learn from them.
2 MONTHS OUT
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
Your elevator pitch is everything. If you cannot clearly articulate what your business is about, then people aren't going to trust you or fund you. It's that simple. Check out our handy dandy script template and get to work.
Announce your launch date to all of your FFFs, sharing the exciting news that you are going to be crowdfunding to raise money for your business. Talk it up as much as possible. Practice your pitch and listen to their feedback. They will be your first funders, so don’t let launch day be the first day they hear about your campaign.Continue telling everyone you meet about your crowdfunding campaign. Explain to them why the money is so important and how you will spend it. Share your story early and often.
Get a Press Plan Together
Research journalists and bloggers that would be interested in promoting your campaign. Use social media or email to reach out to your sources. The Internet makes everything a little easier. Promising press an exclusive when you launch is key.
Create Your Pitch Video
This is a whole thing, so see below for detailed instructions. Also, create teaser videos promoting your project.
Start Drafting Your Campaign
It's time to start creating your project. Follow the easy steps and remember to save your draft! Working on your campaign page slowly over time allows you to make it perfect before the world sees it. Let us know if you need a dedicated coach to help with your campaign strategy.
1 MONTH OUT
Figure out a realistic and attainable funding goal. The way to do this is to create your rewards and figure out who you are going to sell them to. Tally up the gross sales and that should be your goal.
Factor in Fees
iFundWomen takes a 5% fee on the funds you raise and Stripe, our payment processor, takes a 2.9% fee + $.30 on per transaction. Be sure to factor these fees into your fundraising goal.
Rewards are incentives to entice your funders to increase their pledges, and YES, they really do work.
- Campaigns that offer rewards raise 143% more than those that don't.
- The $25 reward is the most popular, however the $100 reward raises the most money, and makes up to almost 30% of total funds raised.
Remember that you have to ship out the rewards, so be sure to factor shipping cost and fees into the cost of your rewards. We want you to make money on your campaign, not lose it.
Finalize Your Campaign Page
Your campaign page needs to look professional, so start drafting your project description and FAQs. Your campaign page should be 70% pictures and 30% text. Potential backers should be able to understand what you are raising money for through pictures, infographics and videos without having to read through pages of text.
- Create rewards images
- Commit to your campaign design and finalize the look and feel
- Create beautiful images to help tell your story
Use infographics to convey how you will spend the money you raise and how this money will help your business
Connect Your Creator Bank
On your profile dashboard, you will see "Creator Bank" which is Stripe, our back-end payment processor. If you are doing "flexible funding", every time someone funds your campaign, that money goes into your Stripe account. Once your campaign launches, Stripe will transfer money to your bank account 7-10 days after your first successful payment. After that, payouts will appear in your bank account as soon as they are received, though some may take a few extra days to make them available. If you are doing "fixed funding", the money will go into your Stripe account 7-10 days after your campaign is successfully funded.
Start Teasing Your Campaign
Plan your content marketing strategy (i.e. social media and email) during your crowdfunding campaign. How often will you post? What will the content be? How will you keep people interested? Think about that now so you can automate. Great crowdfunding is like great storytelling. People will back your campaign when they fall in love with your story, your mission and your commitment to your dream.
2 Weeks Out
Go incognito. Ask a coach what this means. Trust us on this one.
- Finalize your campaign page
- Read it over
- Share it with others
Send an email to your list and post 3x per week leading up to your launch date with fun teasers and announcements.
1 Week Out
Send out a special email to your closest FFF’s and invite them to be the first to fund your campaign. Offer exclusive rewards that only the first 5 people can get access to.
Send an email to your larger list reminding them of your launch date. Post on the socials daily leading up to your launch date with countdowns, behind the scenes clips of your video, and fun facts about your business.
You made it, sister! You launched. If you have followed all of our instructions, you should be at least 30% to goal by now.
Call, text, DM, and ask everyone you see IRL to contribute $10 to your campaign. Think about it...if you can get 250 people to contribute $10, that's $25,000 in working capital for your startup. If someone is not willing to contribute $10, then they are not your friend. Period, the end.
Be Authentic & Professional
Your pitch video is extremely important because it represents you and your brand. You are raising money to fund your business, so your video must look professional and polished. Here are 10 tried and tested tips on how to make a winning pitch video.
1 – Be brief. Your pitch video should be under 3 minutes. People just don't have time to watch anything longer. If it takes you longer than 3 minutes to succinctly explain your idea, you need to stop, drop, and work on that elevator pitch before even thinking about making a video.
2 – Assume people know nothing. You may think everyone on social media knows about your passion project, but don’t assume people already know what your campaign is all about. Make sure your video answers these questions: Who are you? What is your idea? Why should we care? How much money are you raising? What exactly will you spend the money on? When do you expect your product to be finished?
3 – Do your research. Most likely, someone on planet earth, at some point, has done a crowdfunding campaign for a similar product. Search Google for crowdfunding videos in your category, and take notes on what seemed to work.
4 – Write a script. Writing your video script serves multiple purposes. First, it organizes your thoughts into a cohesive elevator pitch. This is important for your video, and when you explain the project in real life to potential supporters. Second, it forces you to keep your pitch video on point, in terms of both length and messaging. Finally, a script will show you what supplemental imagery you will want in your video to further help explain your idea. For script inspo, check out Cindy Gallop's video.
5 – Rock the first 15 seconds. You need an opening that grabs the attention of your potential funders. Getting right to the point with a straightforward appeal is the best way to do this, like this one by ezza salon co-founders Alle Breuer and Kimberly Marsh.
6 – Show your beautiful face. Your funders want to see your face, and hear your story from you. Why? Face time establishes trust, so don't just show us your project, show your audience the woman behind the idea. Here's a good example from Chef Amanda Yee.
7 – Prove it with pictures. Your funders want to know that you are an expert in your passion area, so prove it by showing photos, video clips, or testimonials of your work. Have you been quoted in the press about your topic? Great! Take a screenshot, and use the press clip in your video. Anything to establish your street cred in your field will help funders have confidence that you can pull off your project. Equality For Her Founder, Blair Imani did an excellent job of telling her story using imagery and video clips.
8 – Make sure you are heard clearly. Make sure you are heard clearly. Sound quality is important, but don't let this scare you off – it's super easy and cheap to record a video with good sound quality. Spend $15 bucks and purchase a simple lavalier mic. that plugs right into your smartphone or DSLR camera. Find a quiet space to record your video. Use subtitles or captions in your video, so that people watching on Facebook with the sound off can understand what you are saying. Like this one.
9 – Lay down a track. Adding music that matches the vibe of your brand is an easy way to spice up your video. If you are using iMovie, there are free music tracks that you can lay under your project. It really makes a difference.
10 – Post it everywhere. First, you should upload your video to Vimeo, make sure your privacy setting is on "anyone", and paste the link into your iFundWomen page. We like Vimeo because your audience won't see any annoying ads running before your video. If you are YouTube savvy, and you know how to turn OFF your monitization settings for your pitch video, and you prefer to do that, then go for it! We accept both Vimeo and YouTube videos. Once your campaign is live on iFundWomen, you should post your pitch video to Facebook, in the Facebook player, and shorter clips on Instagram, Snapchat, and wherever your audience lives! Sophie Ellsberg, Director of Old Habits, did a great job of posting video clips, images, and .gifs all over the Internet to get to her goal.
Feeling overwhelmed? We can produce your video for you.
Create Your Project Page
Your project page is the first thing your funders will see. Your page helps your funders connect with YOU, and your product, to help them understand why you are asking for their money. More information is better – information about you, your company, your team, your creative process, your business, your product, links to any press you've received, your sketches – anything that can help potential funders imagine what you are trying to create or grow.
You will need the following:
1 - Featured Image: 1280 x 720 pixels
2 - Title: 40 characters
3 - Short Description: 140 characters
4 - Campaign Description: Consider this a blog post, complete with beautiful images, infographics, and text, that accurately conveys what your business and campaign is all about.
5 - Rewards: Incentives or thank you's for backing your campaign.
Project Page Pro Tips
1. Keep it clean and simple
Short descriptions, bullet pointed lists, and pretty pictures are the best way to tell your story in a simple and concise way. People do not want to read a whole long diatribe about why you are raising money. Keep it positive and business-focused.
2. Start with who you are
Humans fund other humans, so make sure you connect right away with your potential funders by telling them about you, your background, your business, and why you are uniquely qualified to pull this project off.
3. Then describe your project
More information is better – information about you, your company, your team, your creative process, your business, your product, your sketches – anything that can help potential funders imagine what you are trying to create or grow.
4. Use pretty images throughout
Break up the text narrative with pictures of you, your journey, your team, your products, and most importantly, your rewards. People need to see what they are buying, clearly marked with the name of the reward. Images should be high resolution and not grainy. Infographics can also be used to convey how you will be spending your crowdfunding money and how it will help your business.
5. Offer awesome rewards
People will back your crowdfunding campaign for a number of reasons: they love and want to support you, they love your brand and want to see it come into fruition or they love the rewards you are offering and want one (or more). Awesome and unique rewards can convince people to support your campaign. Check out other iFundWomen campaigns to see what awesome rewards they are offering.
BE HONEST, BE AUTHENTIC, JUST DO YOU.
Now Go Get Funded
Your campaign is live! Now what? Crowdfunding will be your full-time job during your campaign. You should be talking about your project 24/7. Keep your iFundWomen, Facebook, Twitter, and key social pages open at all times so you can respond to and thank backers in real time. Asking for money is never easy, but it is an essential part of growing your business. Remember that elevator pitch you perfected six months ago? Use it, live it, love it.
You will experience a range of emotions during your campaign: excitement, anxiety, disappointment, joy. This is all normal, however, try to remain even-keeled and focused on your daily goal. The first 72 hours, you should expect to get an influx of traffic on your campaign. Capitalize on this traffic and ask all of your new backers to share it with 5 friends. The more people who see your campaign, the better chance you have of reaching your goal.
Week 1 - Thank people who have backed your campaign across all of social media. Announce how much money you have raised in the first week. What percentage of your goal is funded?
Week 2 - Introduce a new reward that is under $20 Countdown how many days are left in your campaign
Week 3 - Ask backers to share your campaign page with new people. Share any press you have received with your followers Announce specific goals you’ve reach (⅓ of the way funded? Halfway there? Shout it from the rooftops!)
Week 4 - Last 72 hours Add a discounted reward Text all of your friends with your campaign link and ask them to back your campaign for $5 or $10. It’s hard to ignore a text. Countdown how many hours are left in your campaign. Leave no stone unturned. Now is your time to be ruthless
YOU GOT THIS.
Post Campaign Protocol: What’s next?
Congratulations, your campaign is fully funded!
- Celebrate all of your hard work!
- Personally thank all of your backers.
- Send an update to let your backers know that your campaign ended and you have hit your goal. What are your next steps now? Let them know. Transparency is queen.
- Start fulfilling your rewards, if you haven’t already done this. If you don’t have rewards that are ready to be shipped right away, inform your backers about when they can expect to get their rewards.
What happens if I don’t reach my goal?
- Thank all of your backers and send a project update regarding your next steps
- If you have selected Fixed Funding, you do not need to fulfill any rewards because your backers credit cards did not get charged.
- If you have selected Flexible Funding, you will get to keep whatever you raise even if you don’t reach your goal. You will have to fulfill all of your rewards to your backers despite not reaching your goal.
Timeliness is key. We suggest that when someone backs your campaign, you email the backer and thank them for supporting you. If they purchased a reward, ask them for their address and send their reward out right away. You can read more about rewards below.
Reward Information / Order Reports: iFundWomen has exportable Order Reports of your rewards including the names and email addresses of your backers.
To find the Order Report:
- Log in to iFundWomen
- Click on My Profile
- Click on My Project
- Toggle over the Project Image and click on the far right image of an arrow.
- The folder will download.
- In the folder will have a separate file for each different reward that you have (i.e. 10 rewards, 10 files). The file names do not reflect the specific reward so you have to open them up to see which one pertains to which reward.
The information in these Order Reports will include the name of the backer, the dollar amount they contributed, the reward they chose and their email address.
These reports are constantly updated, so you will need to continue downloading the report, or you can save the information in a Google Spreadsheet. We created a sample Google Doc for you to work from. You must make a copy of the sheet in order to use it since it is protected. If a backer has entered their shipping address, it will be populated in the Order Report. If not, you will have to email them and ask them for it. Google Forms are a great tool to use reach out to all of your backers and get their shipping addresses and/or sizes or specifics for their rewards.
Backer Notifications from Stripe: If you want to receive an email from Stripe when someone backs your campaign, please go to the Stripe dashboard. This is a feature that you need to Opt Into on Stripe. Under Notifications, check the Email button next to Successful Payments. Opting in will allow you to receive an email when a person backs your campaign with the backers' name, email address and contribution amount. This information will show up on the bottom of the email in the Charge Summary.
Be sure to send your rewards out in a timely fashion to show your supporters how grateful you are for their contribution to your campaign!