5 Ways to Start Planning for Your Crowdfunding Campaign

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by Olivia Owens, Marketing Manager at iFundWomen

`We often get asked when the best time to run a crowdfunding campaign is and the truth is you should run your campaign once you’ve done the prep work. Pro tip: the earlier you start prepping the better.

The next question is - what goes into planning a crowdfunding campaign? So we’ve compiled some steps you can take now in preparation for a crowdfunding campaign in 2019!

1. Take advantage of our free resources to learn the crowdfunding basics.

If you haven’t taken our free Crowdfunding Basics Webinar, that’s the best place to start. We cover everything you need to know about crowdfunding on iFundWomen. From the different reasons women are raising money on our platform to how to build a strong rewards strategy that doesn’t cut into your profits. Like to be extra prepared? Check out our Campaign Guide and come to the webinar with questions to ask our coaches!

2. Build up your email list.

The larger your network, the more money you’ll be able to raise, so start building now! Go to networking events, join online communities, and treat yourself to a co-working space membership (because IRL connections are where it’s at). Start telling your friends and family about your campaign early on. Encourage people to join your email list to stay in the know and keep them updated on your progress. Then, when your campaign goes live, they’ll be ready to support you!

3. Hone your pitch.

Your pitch is the foundation of your marketing strategy for your campaign (and your business).  You need to be very clear on the problem you are solving and how your product or service solves this problem. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel and sound when you’re ready to start asking for money. People want to be able to believe what you’re saying so don’t give them any reason not to. If you know you can’t hone alone, get out there and find professionals who can help you.

4. Establish your brand.

What do you need in order to crowdfund on iFundWomen? You need to have a website along with a style guide and social handles. Establish your presence and make sure your brand is consistent. Need some help with this part? We have a ton of marketing, branding & social media specialists within our network. Join our Slack network and let the community know what you need.

5. Set realistic goals.

As you start planning when to launch your campaign, set attainable, actionable goals for yourself. Choose a target number for your email list, the amount of events you want to attend, and followers on your social media.


When you’re thinking about your campaign goal amount, ask yourself these two things:

  • What is the minimum amount I need to raise to execute the next step for my business? If you’re manufacturing the first order of your accessories line, how much do you need for an initial production run? If you’re launching an online course, what’s the minimum amount you need to develop and publish that content?

  • What is the size of my network? If you know 100 people, you probably shouldn’t set a goal of $300K.  Instead, if you know 100 people, and on average you think they’ll contribute $50, somewhere around $7K is going to be a great place to start.

Luckily, we have an amazing, free tool that you can use for all of this planning: Our Coaches Playbook. Use it to write out your pitch, evaluate your network, build a rewards strategy and determine an appropriate goal amount.

Bonus: Sign up for iFundWomen for more tools and support!



Strangers Are an Entrepreneur's Best Resource

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by Zeina Muna, Director of Business Development, iFundWomen

I remember feeling opulent the first time I bought toilet paper and other household items on my smartphone. It seemed ridiculous that something as small and easily accessible as dental floss could be ordered online and arrive 2 days later with free shipping. Fast forward to today, and you can now ask a voice-controlled speaker to re-order your toothpaste on-demand. It seems everything in the world is becoming virtual - you can even get birth control or talk to a therapist online.

But there is a dark side to living virtually - screen time is an undeniable issue in today's society and people are feeling isolated, alone and disconnected from one another.

In my role as Director of Business Development at iFundWomen, I speak to budding entrepreneurs every single day about their business concepts. Most of the products and services being created today have a common need state that they are tailoring to - people want to connect with other people. Just this month I've seen ideas for a pop-up space to play board games, a bar without alcohol, and a number of female co-working spaces for independent workers.

Moreso, there is a significant swell in online communities which host IRL (in real life) events and workshops. If you are a woman living in NYC right now, you are probably a member of Ladies Get Paid (a group focused on salary negotiation and professional development for women), HEYMAMA (a group for working mothers) or Freelancing Females (the name says it all).

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With these online communities, you can find your tribe online and then meet a room full of strangers and effectively trust them immediately. This is what the modern day book club looks like and the topic could be motherhood, nomadic life choices, glass ceilings, racial barriers, and the list goes on. These communities are unique because, although they are significant in size, they have mastered how to maintain an intimate feel.  Ladies Get Paid has over 15,000 members on their Slack channel alone, HEYMAMA has activation hubs in six cities, and Freelancing Females boasts over 13,000 members globally. Yet, their events are frequent and cozy enough that you can spend the evening deep in discussion with a handful of people and leave feeling like you actually made a friend.

These strangers are important. You might find yourself suddenly a mentor or a mentee and the outside perspective can help you bridge the gap in your personal and professional development. These strangers probably won't replace your best friends (or therapist), but they might turn into invaluable connections, sources for unexpected education, much needed accountability, and inspiration for growth. In our iFundWomen Slack network, you might even meet your technical co-founder or find your next social media manager.

Sarah Sommers, Olivia Owens, and Zeina Muna of iFundWomen joined by Amri Kibbler, Co-Founder of HEYMAMA

Sarah Sommers, Olivia Owens, and Zeina Muna of iFundWomen joined by Amri Kibbler, Co-Founder of HEYMAMA

The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what you have achieved in the last 12 months and set the stage for what you would like to achieve in the next 12. Identify the areas of personal growth that you want to explore and find the strangers to explore them with.

If you’re interested in setting some goals for the year, sign up for our Goal Setting Webinar!

iFundWomen Crowdfunding Tip Guide

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2018 has been an amazing year for the iFundWomen community! Our entrepreneurs have raised the funding needed to launch and grow their businesses and now they're paying forward their crowdfunding wisdom, tips and tricks. For anyone considering crowdfunding in 2019, make sure you take notes from these pros!

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“Be fearless! This will take you 100% out of your comfort zone, and that is the point! Growth is supposed to be uncomfortable. Also, don't let your pride stand in the way of reaching your goal. If you don't ask, you WILL NOT receive.” - Brittany Cribbs, Founder of Cloud 9 Easy Go

“Take extra time to think of big dollar strategic partnerships you can sell BEFORE you launch your campaign so at launch you come out of the gate strong.” - Jessica Kelly, Founder of THR3EFOLD

“You are not in this alone. The community that iFundwomen has created is such a resourceful tool for you if you let it be! Don’t hesitate to connect with other business owners if you feel like you are in a rut.” - Lauren Beasley, Founder of The Project

“It takes several touches to get to yes. Make sure you are checking back and giving personal updates to your network.” - Deborah Owens, Founder of WealthyU

 
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“Choose the rewards that would take the least effort to do and give you the highest margins. After a few weeks, pivot if you need to. Get rid of the rewards that don't sell and advertise the items that are preferred by your backers. I would also recommend you create new rewards that could fit your target audiences better after receiving some feedback as your campaign proceeds.” - Beau Wangtrakuldee, Founder of AmorSui

“Cut the merch! If you're not in the t-shirt business, don't be in the t-shirt business.” The Co-Founders of The Coven

“Reach out to other companies in your industry to get rewards donated!” - Elena Buenrostro, Founder of Women Who Drone

“Establish price points for everyone. Think about your funding goal and work backwards to determine the price breaks. And an iFundWomen coach can help.” - Dionne McCray, Founder of Iva Jewell

 
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“I'm a salesperson my whole banking career. I have no fear! But for those who do, you have to be authentic and believe in what you are selling or funding. That is critical to getting people to open their wallets. Prove value.“ - Cate Luzio, Founder of Luminary

“It was definitely hard, but at some point we realized we just couldn't have any shame. The most difficult part was having our texts/emails/social media requests for money blatantly ignored. And I would be lying if I said we didn't take it personally! It really helps to have other people to commiserate with... and the iFW community definitely provided that!” - Heather Korth, Co-Founder of Our Front Porch

“I sent my campaign to friends and family and said "HERE! Donate!" I practiced with them and then made my way up to former co-workers, then to my network. At times, it was uncomfortable but I realized people wanted to help, it wasn't a handout- it was supporting a local small business. They were investing in me. “ - Kalilah Wright, Founder of Mess in a Bottle



“By believing in my project more than I believe in my fear of rejection. If I won't advocate for my toys and get uncomfortable for them, why in the world would anyone else?” - Ruth

Rau, Founder of Mouse Loves Pig

 
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“I was able to raise enough money to get a first version of my application developed. I think more important than the money, is the confidence it gave me. It really proved that there is a market for my product and that people are behind me in what I’m trying to do. So much so, that they were willing to put their own hard earned money behind me. That’s the coolest feeling.” - Founder of Making Authentic Friendships

“Our community doubled and we now have built a community of loyal supporters who are supporting and cheering us on! It has been major.” - Taylor Jay, Founder of Taylor Jay Collection

“I learned who is behind my business, who I can lean on, and who believes in what I’m doing.” - Jill Angelo, Founder of genneve

“My business was reshaped in a way I never expected. It made me see it from an outsider’s vision and I realized that my product has real meaning and a story behind it, not just something I wanted to sell. The coaching was the best part of all of it. I couldn't have done it without my amazing IFW coach and as hard as it was, I will take it as one of the best decisions I have made for the future os my business.” - Karenine Arraya, Founder of Nineh

 
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“Hands down, the community. The support is intense and amazing, its something you never knew you were missing.“ - Sailaja Joshi, Founder of Bharat Babies

“Ultimately, it served as the impetus for getting the business launched and was a warm and fuzzy way to get our initial public feedback. Being able to participate in the 12 week Accelerator Program was a huge value. Additionally, the Virtual Pitch experience was a great benefit - the time and prep that went into making sure our business plan was together enough to present to VCs was invaluable.” - Sheila Attari, Founder of Buttercup Bodywear

'“My top two things were the community of other entrepreneur women and the high quality professional and authentic videos they help produce. They help you tell your story in a compelling way and the cost of the video is extremely affordable and professional. And the iFundWomen team is awesome!” - Amy Dagliano, Co-Founder of Rowan Tree

“I loved the coaching that I got from iFundWomen; My coach made me feel really confident about launching my crowdfunding campaign and gave excellent tips. You won't find that level of 1:1 support on other platforms. Almost 2 years later, I am still connected to this community, it's wonderful.” - Jennifer Columbe, Founder of Sat Nam Babe

 

These Female Founders Know How to Build Community

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The fierce female founders behind HEYMAMA, Katya Libin and Amri Kibbler, know a thing or two about building, growing and managing a community. Since launching their Instagram account in 2014, they've expanded to 7 cities with 1200+ members - and this is only the beginning.

We sat down with this dynamic duo to get the scoop on their experience running their iFundWomen crowdfunding campaign (while they're still in the thick of it) and to discuss what's next for HEYMAMA.

Q: What is HEYMAMA?

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HEYMAMA: We’re a community for mothers in business with one goal: to make mamas more successful. What started as an Instagram account meant to inspire moms turned into a powerful supportive community for creative and entrepreneurial mamas in business to connect and collaborate. We put on over 100 events a year in 7 cities and provide digital resources our community uses to stay connected every day.

Here’s the fun part: we get to watch that happen. Every single day we see mamas give each other advice in our forums in real time. Often, members reach out to us and tell us they met at a HEYMAMA event and are now working on a partnership together. We see women in our community asking each other for advice that can be difficult to ask for anywhere else, from how much to pay a social media consultant to how to navigate challenges around bullying. There is a constant stream of genuine support flowing from mama to mama.

Q: Why is a community like HEYMAMA so important for working mothers?

HM: As we raise the next generation of humans while simultaneously building companies, developing innovative products and investing back into our communities, we need support and resources. Women make strong leaders, but nearly half say they they don’t have the mentorship and capital needed to grow their business. Our community is designed to change this by helping mamas in business address critical challenges through mentorship, digital resources, real-time advice, and experiences.

We invest in the success of other mamas because we know that each mama who thrives gives back even more to her community and the world at large. If we want society to thrive, we need mamas to thrive.

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Q: Who are the mama’s that inspire you?

HM: This is a hard one to answer because there are so many and we’re inspired by different mamas every day! We do have a group of incredible mamas participating in our MILF(und) campaign, which we’re running in tandem with our crowdfund to draw attention to the gender gap in funding.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for balancing entrepreneurship + motherhood?

Banish mom guilt.

Q: It’s so important that female founders combat the confidence gap and get comfortable asking for money. Has crowdfunding had an impact on how you feel about making the ask?

HM: It’s easier to make an ask when a “yes” answer feels likely. We’re lucky to be really uniquely situated in that our community is made up of so many women with significant fundraising experience, giving us proof of how much is possible. Their stories help us cultivate the belief that success is the natural progression of all of the efforts we’re taking. Developing the right mindset before making the ask is so critical to bridging that confidence gap.

We’ve been unapologetically bold in all of our messaging around crowdfunding (see: the MILF(und) campaign!). Of course, we’ve felt that fear of failure but rather than letting that drive, we’re leading with our vision for our community and women at large. In a nutshell, that consists of unequivocal belief in ourselves, the women around us, and that we’re capable of more together. To accomplish more together, we need to be completely willing to ask for what we need.

Q: What’s been your biggest learning from this crowdfunding experience?

HM: Before launching our crowdfunding campaign, we knew women, especially mamas in our community, genuinely want to support each other. Through this experience, we’ve seen that this desire to support one another can—and does—translate into the fundraising realm. We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received both in terms of the money we’ve raised and the willingness of women in our community to help us out by offering their valuable time as rewards for our supporters.

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Q: What’s next for HEYMAMA?

HM: In the immediate term, we’re building out our platform and adding more core cities so we can provide more mamas with access to the benefits of our community digitally and IRL. First up, we want to create an intuitive app and web experience to help our members get all the best of HEYMAMA in one place, and foster more connection and communication amongst our members. We’re also hiring community managers to facilitate events in our current core cities and new markets.

Long term, we’re exploring ways to support entrepreneurial mamas in concrete ways that translate into real business results.

Not only do these ladies know community, they also know how to create some amazing campaign rewards. Don't miss out on a MILF(und) t-shirt, the HEYMAMA gold neckalace, a $600 discount on iFundWomen's Crowdfunding Masterclass and so many more goodies!

3 Reasons Women Should Get Over Their Fear of Asking for Money

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When you’re in the business of business, asking for money is an unavoidable hurdle. From negotiating your salary, to seeking investment, or simply trying to get people to buy what you’re selling, it’s inherently anxiety inducing to put yourself out there and ask for what you or your product/service is worth. But in a time where women are only receiving 2% of venture capital dollars, we can’t let fear hold us back.

Easier said than done, right? Well, at iFundWomen, our team has logged many (wo)man hours fielding the trials and tribulations that are associated with asking for money, and we have had the privilege of watching female entrepreneurs overcome that fear by internalizing some essential and practical tips. So, next time you’re preparing to make the ask, remember these facts: 

       1. Women are better storytellers.

When raising capital through alternative funding sources (as opposed to traditional VC where the odds are stacked against female founders), women outperform men, and are able to tap into their strengths of storytelling to get funded.  In fact, when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns, studies show that women are 32% more successful than their male counterparts, with higher total raises and average contributions.  

2. If you are truly adding value, people will pay for it.

If you don’t value your work and time, no one else will.  People pay for things every day. Luxuries like grocery subscription services have seen success because consumers are willing to spend money on products and services that enhance their lives.

The challenge is determining your product or service’s value-add, and crowdfunding is the perfect tool for that.  Not only will you get more comfortable asking for money, but you’ll also have the opportunity to ensure there is demand for your product or service early on, further validating that you’re on the right track.

       3. You can’t have success without failure.

Rarely do we hear the stories of failure from the most well-known, successful startups.  Every unicorn has stepped in a poop emoji (or three) along the way.  These founders heard “No” countless times before they got a single “Yes.” It’s a matter of how you process and move past those failures and rejections that will inform your future success.  As one of our favorite female founders, Ellevest's Sallie Krawcheck says, “If you only have one or two things go right, you can have a brilliant career.”

Now that you’ve got the facts, it’s a matter of getting out there. Make sure you’re clear on your messaging and then get your reps in. The more you practice, the less scary it will feel to make the ask. The confidence gap is real and women can overcome it by crafting a powerful, succinct pitch and practicing it on anyone who will listen.


Need help crafting your pitch? We’ve got you covered.

7 Reasons to Crowdfund

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Just over 30 years ago, back in the not-so-olden days, women couldn’t even get bank loans without having a male co-signer. Yup, that’s right. Talk about a barrier to access to capital! So, here we are in 2018, having come quite a long way - with over 1,800 new businesses being started by female entrepreneurs every day.

That’s immense progress, yet somehow traditional funding options remain out of reach for most women in business - with female-led firms still receiving a single-digit fraction of the only 1% of venture dollars made available to all startup founders. So, how do you - a lady with a great idea, a ready-to-launch startup, an established business, or even a monetizable side hustle - get that money, honey? You crowdfund.

Breaking news: Rewards-based crowdfunding platforms like iFundWomen are a legitimate funding option for your business. Why? Because it is THE low-risk, fundraising, sales, and marketing tool that allows you to raise cash without going into debt funding your startup.

That probably sounds...nice, but like any smart entrepreneur, you need to better understand if rewards-based crowdfunding is actually right for your business needs. We get it.  Here are the 7 reasons to crowdfund, along with some of our favorite examples of the smart women who have used iFundWomen to launch and/or grow their businesses:

1. Prove demand before investing in supply

Rewards-based crowdfunding is unique in that it allows you to assess the market demand for your product or service before investing in supply, which is the most critical thing you need to do as a new product or service. ASSESS DEMAND. Do people want what you are selling? You can find out in a low-risk way by crowdfunding, and literally asking people if they want to buy what you are selling. It’s a basic thought, but quite profound. It’s the opposite of what we were taught in Econ 101 – supply and demand.

Taylor Jay is the Founder & CEO of  Taylor Jay Collection , a women’s apparel line out of Oakland, California.

Taylor Jay is the Founder & CEO of Taylor Jay Collection, a women’s apparel line out of Oakland, California.

Taylor Jay, is the Founder & CEO of Taylor Jay Collection, a women’s apparel line out of Oakland, California. She came to iFundWomen with an established business, and was ready to launch into the plus-size market, but needed to make sure her customers would be on board. $30K and 337 backers later, it’s pretty safe to say she proved that there was in fact demand!

2. Finish your prototype

Prototyping is a process. A long process. It often takes 2-3 iterations of a prototype to have something functional and not totally ugly. The process can be long and expensive, especially for new entrepreneurs, so truly, the only smart way to fund your prototype is by crowdfunding. The feedback you get from your crowdfunding backers is an added bonus in the process.

Outdoor Ninja  is a mobile app that rewards you for your outdoor discoveries. Founder & CEO, Janisha Anand, needed to raise money to finish the programming build of her app.

Outdoor Ninja is a mobile app that rewards you for your outdoor discoveries. Founder & CEO, Janisha Anand, needed to raise money to finish the programming build of her app.

3. Sales & Marketing

Crowdfunding IS sales and marketing. You are selling your product or services to people who want to buy it. Literally. It’s not any more complicated that that. If you are good at marketing your business, you will crush crowdfunding because that’s all it is. A crowdfunding campaign should be a part of your overall marketing strategy.

The Coven  is a co-working space for women and non-binary folks in Minneapolis.

The Coven is a co-working space for women and non-binary folks in Minneapolis.

The Coven, a co-working space for women and non-binary folks in Minneapolis, is an amazing example of a company who expertly used crowdfunding as a sales & marketing tactic for their new business. All four Co-Founders came from successful marketing & advertising careers, and turned to crowdfunding to sell their first memberships to their premiere space. They pre-sold memberships through their campaign and blew their original $100K goal out of the water. At the helm of this campaign was Coven Co-Founder, Alex Steinman. Alex has teamed up with iFundWomen and will be paying forward her marketing & crowdfunding expertise, running a Crowdfunding Masterclass that begins in January 2019. Find out more and sign up now to reserve your space in this course!

4. Pre-tail your line

If you have to put in an MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) with your manufacturer, and you want to ensure that the amount you produce will be purchased, you can pre-tail your line through rewards-based crowdfunding, and mitigate the risk of holding inventory.

Iva Jewell  is a collection of designer clutch and tote bags made with African wax fabric.

Iva Jewell is a collection of designer clutch and tote bags made with African wax fabric.

Iva Jewell is a collection of designer clutch and tote bags made with African wax fabric. Founder & Designer, Dionne McCray, was ready to take this side hustle to the next level, and needed to secure funding in order to produce her next line.

5. Build buzz & awareness

When you launch a new business, you need PR. To get PR, you need to have a buzzy, interesting story to tell. Your iFundWomen campaign will give you just that. Crowdfunding is where sales and marketing meet PR. When you get people to write about you, your campaign and website links are now on the world wide web, therefore giving you some much-needed SEO. In short, crowdfunding is an amazing way to get your story out there in an interesting and compelling way, which will generate some buzz for your new biz. See what we did there?

Luminary  is a collaboration and networking space for professional women, opening in New York City

Luminary is a collaboration and networking space for professional women, opening in New York City

Luminary is a collaboration and networking space for professional women, opening in November 2018 in the NoMad district of New York City. Founder, Cate Luzio came from a successful career on Wall Street, and used her campaign to build buzz and awareness through the press for the opening of her space. Check Cate out in Forbes and The Street. Talk about good PR!

6. Don’t want/aren’t ready for VC

We’ve said it before and we will say it again (and again): Only 1% of companies will ever receive VC funding. Only 2-6% of the venture dollars are allocated to all-women founding teams. So, it’s ok to acknowledge that venture funding may not be right for you. In fact, we encourage you to make that decision so you can clear the alternative funding path ahead of you and raise the capital you need. On the other hand, you may very well be VC-appropriate one day, but smart entrepreneurs are using crowdfunding as the first stop on their funding journeys.

Portland-based YouTuber, Lindsey Murphy, is the creator of  The Fab Lab  - a digital series for kids interested in STEAM that takes the magic of everyday life and connects it to the scientific process.

Portland-based YouTuber, Lindsey Murphy, is the creator of The Fab Lab - a digital series for kids interested in STEAM that takes the magic of everyday life and connects it to the scientific process.

Portland-based YouTuber, Lindsey Murphy, is the creator of The Fab Lab - a digital series for kids interested in STEAM that takes the magic of everyday life and connects it to the scientific process. Lindsey needed to raise money for a new season of her show and knew that crowdfunding was a much more viable and efficient funding option for her as opposed to traditional venture capital.

7. Avoid going into debt

Most startups fail, and that’s ok. What’s not okay is putting up your personal assets, like your house, to fund your startup and losing it all. There is so much to learn from failures that will inevitably benefit you and the future of your business, but pursuing low-risk forms of funding in the early days of your startup or small business will keep you out of debt, and will allow you to make moves as needed when/if your business ends up in crisis mode.

Ladies Get Paid  is a community that provides the resources you need to rise up in your career.

Ladies Get Paid is a community that provides the resources you need to rise up in your career.

Ladies Get Paid is a community that provides the resources you need to rise up in your career. After successfully growing her startup for several years, Co-Founder & CEO, Claire Wasserman, found herself and her business facing multiple lawsuits and lot’s of legal fees. She turned to crowdfunding in order to rally her community and raise the funds necessary to pay off her legal fees and keep her thriving business afloat.

So there you have it! Seven distinct need states for rewards-based crowdfunding. Hopefully you see yourself and your business in at least one of them.  If so, head right on over to iFundWomen and get started. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone! Check out some of our free and optional tools and resources that will empower you to succeed at raising money!


Take that, olden days!

The Phoenix is Rising: Lessons Learned from 730 Days of Funding Female Entrepreneurs

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CEO BLOG

By Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO, iFundWomen

Last November, on iFundWomen's first birthday, I started a tradition of writing a "lessons learned" post to celebrate each year of our startup's life. Well, today is our second birthday, and I'm very proud and excited to share with you my learnings on what's happening in the world of female entrepreneurs.

As I look back on last year’s post, and I re-read the opening line, “2017 has been one wild year for women”, I have to laugh. If 2017 was “a wild year”, how do we even begin to describe what 2018 was?

I’m going with this: The Phoenix is Rising.

Inspired by an iFW Entrepreneur, Melissa Barker, who is building an app called Phoenix Rising, an on-demand healing tool for survivors of sexual assault, I started doing a bit of research on what the Phoenix symbolizes. It symbolizes rising from the flames as a winner, beating all of life’s challenges and defeating hard times. The Phoenix is a symbol of rebirth from the ashes of the past.

It’s interesting because what I observed from our entrepreneurs in 2018 was that the worse things got for women in the social and political realm, the more fired up to succeed financially we became. We aren’t afraid or ashamed to talk about money now. We are owning our earning power. We are getting prenups. We are choosing our own path. We are making the ask.

And, the women who are starting businesses on iFundWomen are raising more money. In fact, when we compare our average crowdfunding campaign raise from 2017 to 2018, it increased by over 10%, and the number of our customers has more than tripled. The Phoenix has risen, she’s good and pissed off, and she’s all about funding for herself, and her sisterpreneurs.

#2018Learnings

1. Women Are Finally For Women

2018 is the year women started putting our money where our mouths are. The power of the purse is happening. Women are spending more intentionally on products and services made for women and by women. Why? Because we are now hyper-aware about how much money actually matters, and supporting the everyday products and services that we buy has a direct relationship to whose wealth gets built.

Thanks to products like Intentionalist, Shop the Change, and Gender Fair, consumers now have more information than ever to inform our purchasing decisions.

I personally moved a sizable 401k from one investment bank, run by people I didn’t know, to Ellevest, run by Sallie Krawcheck. I’ve known about Ellevest since they launched in 2014, and I’ve been a huge admirer of what they are doing to empower women around investing, but it wasn’t until Brett Kavanaugh was approved to be on the Supreme Court, that I moved almost a million dollars from a bank whose values I had no idea about, to Ellevest.

Why? Because I know that Sallie’s values align with mine, and I would prefer that her company (shout out to Emily and Emily!) get the investment fees off my account vs. the other guys. It’s as simple as that.

2. Women Are Investing In Themselves

Last year, I talked about how women were reticent to invest in themselves, but oh have the tides turned this year! Women are signing up, paying for, and leaning into female-focused career development products and services in a big way. And they are seeing ROI right away on their investments. In fact, women who invest in iFundWomen’s crowdfunding coaching and professional video production raise 4.5x more money than those who DIY.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the business of female-focused communities, collaboration and co-working spaces is booming! Why? Because women are finally investing in themselves! From coast to coast, women’s communities like The Hivery, The Wing, The Coven, The Riveter, Hey Mama, Ladies Get Paid, Luminary, The Rowan Tree are opening, expanding, and thriving.

The investment in yourself pays itself back quickly after engaging with the tools, resources and connections that these spaces provide. Entrepreneurship is no longer about sitting in your home office trying to figure it out on your own. There is a whole world of partners, friends, and customers just waiting for you at female-focused communities!

3. The Funding Awareness Gap Is Real

After talking to thousands of entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that when people have a great idea, they’re not sure where or when to start, in terms of funding. Here’s how it typically goes down:

  1. Passionate entrepreneur gets an awesome idea

  2. Starts feverishly Googling everything from a domain name to web designers to setting up an LLC to business cards to sourcing fabrics and everything in between

  3. Starts to run up credit card debt

  4. Toils away for months, or even years, getting their product, website, and branding built….it must be perfect...all the while worrying about funding

  5. Gets some beta customers - this is exciting!

  6. Hopes & prays

  7. Runs some Facebook ads - this should be easy right? People will definitely see an ad for a new brand, click right away, and buy something on my website. This is how the internet works.

  8. Hires a part time “Jane of all trades” to run social media

  9. Burn rate goes up, entrepreneur goes further into debt

  10. Passionate entrepreneur realizes the business needs to grow or die

Notice what was missing from that very realistic startup journey? Proving demand.

People, we have been there! Truly! From bootstrapping to credit cards, we know that crowdfunding for cash is the best way to mitigate the debt that you will run up funding your idea. It also requires you to reverse engineer how you think about launching a business by proving demand for your product or service before investing your time and money.

To sum up, if the past two years were any indication, things are not going to get easier anytime soon for women. But the entrepreneurs on iFundWomen aren’t looking for an easy way out. We built this platform to create a space for female entrepreneurs to get the funding they weren’t receiving through traditional options. They continue to show up, do the work and get the funding needed to launch and grow their businesses.

Here's to the rising Phoenix, and Happy 2nd Birthday, iFundWomen!

How This Female Entrepreneur Knew When to Turn Her Side Hustle into Her Full Time Job

clairewassermanladiesgetpaid_iFundWomen.jpg

GUEST POST

By Claire Wasserman, Founder & CEO, Ladies Get Paid

When I was about 8 years old, my grandfather said to me, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I remember that like it was yesterday. I also remember watching my parents sit around the dinner table, excitedly talking about what had gone on that day at work since they too, loved what they did.

It wasn’t a doubt in my mind that when I graduated, I wouldn’t have to trade what I loved for making a big paycheck. I could - and would - find something that I loved that also made money.

I now recognize that this is a privileged way of going through the world. The desire - even the expectation - that we should be happy in what we do, is not the reality for most people. A job is a job and a paycheck is all that matters.

As I traveled the country last year, hosting events for thousands of women to talk about work and self-worth, many of them had not been raised the way I was but had developed the itch to do something more. Something meaningful. Some had found what they loved to do but didn’t know how to monetize it, while others were still searching for something to feel passionate about.

Pretty early on in my career, I recognized that I was constantly connecting people and through that, had amassed a large network. I never considered it a job - or even a skill set - until a friend of mine told me it was. (We tend to be too close to ourselves so getting periodic gut checks by people who know us gives us both the perspective and the kick in the butt we need to get going.)

It was upon that realization that I discovered the Art Directors Club, a nonprofit that connected people in visual communications, and I applied to become the marketing manager and head of fundraising. It was thrilling that I could take something that came to me naturally - being a connector - and get paid for it.

From there, I moved on to Working Not Working, a curated network of creative professionals, orchestrating events and content to help people connect with each other and prospective employers. Instead of picking one industry to be part of, I had a birds eye view of many. I was particularly curious about company culture, discovering that it was not so much the job that made people stay or leave, but rather the environment. Did it feel inclusive? Were there opportunities for growth?

Perhaps the lighthouse in our career should not be what we’re passionate about but rather, what we’re curious about.

That realization, coupled with the fact that I was driven to help women succeed, was the spark I needed to start Ladies Get Paid. I began hosting events for women to come together to share workplace war stories. As more began attending, the question then became: can I make money from this? Could this be my full-time job?

Soon after I discovered what the business model would be, I quit my job. This was no longer a side project when I made a game plan for how I could make money and the benchmarks for success. I also created a timeline so I could track my progress and know when it was time to call it quits.

I was able to leave my job because I had no debt, children, or health problems. I didn’t have older parents I needed to take care of, and I was splitting my rent with my then-husband. I also had a number of people who wanted to hire me as a consultant so I could guarantee some side income. I quit because I could. If not now, I asked myself, when?

I quit because I could. If not now, I asked myself, when?

Figuring out when your side hustle can become your main hustle, is a personal question. It requires you to explore your values with money, dig deep into your finances, assess the amount of risk you’re willing to take (i.e. what makes you more anxious: staying at your job or losing financial stability?), and determine a game plan for not only how, but how long, it’ll take for you to make enough money to live without extreme anxiety.

When you take that leap, do it with your eyes wide open, a lifejacket nearby, and remember: you don’t have to go it alone, and you shouldn’t. There are platforms built specifically to help women with great ideas assess the demand for what they are passionate or curious about before investing in supply (and by supply, I mean wasting years of your life or investing your own money into an idea that isn’t going to work). Through crowdfunding, you can actually go out there and raise some cash for your business idea. iFundWomen was a great platform for LGP to step up and raise some capital when we were in need of cash following last year’s lawsuits. We turned to our community of Ladies Get Paid members and our larger audience of like-minded feminists, asking them to contribute to our campaign, all in hopes that they would see the value in what we were doing.  Turns out, they did. The point is that whether you are raising money to start, grow or save your business, it’s never too early to monetize and legitimize what you love to do.

Ladies Get Paid iFundWomen Campaign, May 2018

Ladies Get Paid iFundWomen Campaign, May 2018

One thing to remember: if you go for it, and it doesn’t end up working, it is not a failure. By doing something self-motivated and risky, you’re probably going to learn more about yourself than anything else you do in your life. Imagine it as going to business school (and it probably costs less!)

If you decide to go back to work, don’t look at this time of entrepreneurism as a waste. It shows a character of courage and a belief in yourself. What are you waiting for?