Viewing entries tagged
ifundwomen

The Network Effect & The Power of Local Cohorts

The seven iFundWomen Seattle pitching entrepreneurs (from left to right): Laura Clise, Founder,  Intentionalist ; Alex Pinkerton & Megan Pakula, Co-Founders,  The Armourie ; Hannah Schnabel, Founder,  Belle Ampleur ; Megan Febuary, Founder,  For Women Who Roar ; Genevieve Livingston & Marimar White-Espin, Co-Founders,  Eco Collective ; Sarah Haggard, Founder,  Tribute ; Dr. Cheryl Ingram, Founder,  Diverse City LLC .

The seven iFundWomen Seattle pitching entrepreneurs (from left to right): Laura Clise, Founder, Intentionalist; Alex Pinkerton & Megan Pakula, Co-Founders, The Armourie; Hannah Schnabel, Founder, Belle Ampleur; Megan Febuary, Founder, For Women Who Roar; Genevieve Livingston & Marimar White-Espin, Co-Founders, Eco Collective; Sarah Haggard, Founder, Tribute; Dr. Cheryl Ingram, Founder, Diverse City LLC.

We always say that iFundWomen is so much more than crowdfunding, and what's just as true is that the success of entrepreneurs on our platform and within our community is about so much more than the funds they raise.  

Success on iFundWomen is about your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, put your product/service out there, and touch down on every single person within your network, no connection left untapped.

The truth is there is nothing more powerful than the network effect, which is technically defined as when your product or service increases in value the more people engage with it. This is the gift of rewards-based crowdfunding - It is a marketing tactic that is best utilized by exposing your product/service to as many people as possible in your network (and your networks’ networks). The resulting feedback that you garner from the network effect through crowdfunding is invaluable. Most importantly, it saves you tons of time, and as we all know, time is money.

Glossary Term_The Network Effect.png

This all boils down to the fact that rewards-based crowdfunding is THE opportunity that early-stage entrepreneurs need to take advantage of in order to take their businesses to the next level, and at iFundWomen, we provide access to the tools & resources that you need to harness that network effect and propel your vision forward.

Equally as important is the community and support you are able to surround yourself with while riding that emotional crowdfunding rollercoaster.  Yes, getting that raw, unadulterated feedback from your network and customers is imperative, but it certainly isn’t easy to manage. You need to be surrounded by people in the hustle with you who you can collaborate, commiserate, and celebrate with along the way.

Trust us, we know. We’ve launched nine local cohorts across the country with the intention of bringing our crowdfunding platform and coaching tools to female entrepreneurs in these different cities. Through these activations, we were able to partner with local governments & organizations passionate about supporting the female economy in order to spread the word about iFundWomen allowing us to leverage the network effect and provide amazing opportunities for female founders in each city.

This has never been proven more true than at the iFundWomen Seattle Pitch Competition, just weeks ago.

Happenings at the  iFundWomen Seattle  Pitch Competition on June 4th, 2019.

Happenings at the iFundWomen Seattle Pitch Competition on June 4th, 2019.

This event was the culmination of a year-long partnership with the Seattle-founded co-working space built by women, for everyone, The Riveter.  On June 4th, 2019, seven qualifying, Seattle-based female entrepreneurs, who had successfully reached their crowdfunding goals through iFundWomen Seattle, came together to participate in a celebratory pitch competition with the opportunity to raise even more cash for their businesses.

The work that these founders did to thoroughly map out their networks is what helped them cross the crowdfunding finish line, but it was the network effect of pure energy that filled the room that night.  These seven pitchers packed the house at The Riveter, Capitol Hill with their people...and then their people brought people. Just like that, by presenting in the room that night, each pitcher had her product/service exposed to an entirely new audience. That’s a win right there.

After hearing seven tight pitches from women-led businesses that ranged from a workplace mentorship app to an online guide to intentional spending to a bold solution for women planning bachelorette parties (no more you-know-what straws!), two iFundWomen Seattle entrepreneurs were proudly announced as the winners of the evening and awarded with $5,000 checks, thanks to our event sponsors at SYSTANE®, the #1 doctor recommended brand of artificial tears.

The Judges, iFundWomen team and the winners of the iFundWomen Seattle Pitch Competition: Dr. Cheryl Ingram, Founder & CEO,  Diverse City LLC  & Sarah Haggard, Founder & CEO,  Tribute .

The Judges, iFundWomen team and the winners of the iFundWomen Seattle Pitch Competition: Dr. Cheryl Ingram, Founder & CEO, Diverse City LLC & Sarah Haggard, Founder & CEO, Tribute.

The networks that these founders each cultivated through their crowdfunding campaigns were so clearly present at The Riveter that night, and the momentum these seven entrepreneurs capitalized on before, during, and after the pitch event will inevitably have a positive impact on their businesses moving forward.  

Talk about a lasting (network) effect….



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!

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

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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?   




Why iFundWomen Offers Free Crowdfunding Coaching Now

Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO of iFundWomen. Refers to herself as "Head Coach". Secret passion: getting women entrepreneurs to execute on one idea at a time.

Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO of iFundWomen. Refers to herself as "Head Coach". Secret passion: getting women entrepreneurs to execute on one idea at a time.

Why iFundWomen Offers Free Crowdfunding Coaching Now

Author: Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO, iFundWomen

2017 was a wild year for women, one which reaffirmed that everyone must work harder, must do better, to help women get ahead financially. As Ruth Ann Harnisch, investor, activist, and founder of  The Harnisch Foundation brilliantly put it, “The final frontier of feminism is finance."

The final frontier of feminism is finance
— Ruth Ann Harnisch

Women now make up 40% of new entrepreneurs in the United States, the largest percentage since 1996. Every woman I talk to has at least two or three business ideas that she’s keeping to herself. Many of these ideas are pragmatic, necessary products and services that people actually need.  Access to capital remains the number one issue that female entrepreneurs face in bringing their products to market.  That’s why my team and I started iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform for female entrepreneurs - giving women a space to bring these dynamic innovations to life. 365 days later, we’ve helped hundreds of budding businesses raise startup capital and we’ve learned many lessons along the way.

Ok, so what are the top 3 things that we learned:

1. You must prove there is demand for your product or service before you invest in building out your offering

We started iFundWomen specifically to create a platform designed to turn traditional business economics on its head. Instead of supply and demand, iFundWomen gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to generate demand before they invest in supply. It’s a smarter approach to starting a business. Crowdfunding offers an extremely efficient, low risk opportunity for women to step outside of their comfort zone, and test out their ideas.

Instead of supply and demand, iFundWomen gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to generate demand before they invest in supply.
— Karen Cahn

 

2. Crowdfunding coaching and a well-prepared marketing plan are essential to a successful campaign

Crowdfunding is like skydiving (but with a much lower risk of physical injury) - if you’ve never done it before, you really have no idea what you’re in for.  The emotional rollercoaster that you will inevitably ride will likely make you want to vomit at times, but at the end of a successful campaign, you feel like you can do anything. And you can.

My team and I experienced the crowdfunding free fall first-hand before building our product, and we have identified the key factors that are essential to a successful campaign.  Most importantly, we know that coaching works. When comparing campaigns that have succeeded versus those that have struggled to reach their goals, the results show that entrepreneurs on our platform who invested in coaching raised 4.5 times more money than the ones who did not.  Data like this is why we’ve changed our product offerings to include free coaching for everyone who launches a campaign. We have built a toolkit and a peer-to-peer coaching system that has reduced the time to market for our entrepreneurs dramatically, while increasing the success of their campaigns.

Entrepreneurs on our platform who invested in coaching raised 4.5 times more money than the ones who did not. Data like this is why we’re offering FREE coaching for everyone who launches a campaign.
— Concetta Rand

3. You need to be legit to win

This is so basic, but it needs to be said. The support of your network is dependent on how you present your business through your campaign.  Your potential backers are going to expect you to have the fundamental markers of a legitimate business.  This means that you must have 1) a website that clearly states what your business or passion project is about, and 2) a professional video that tells the story of your company and efficiently explains what your campaign is all about.

There are very straightforward ways for you to successfully crowdfund and it starts with having a great idea, but ultimately you can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it. Prove that you’re serious about your project with a website, a video, your social handles on point, and a built-up audience of people who believe in you. You are what you do, not what you say.

You are what you do, not what you say.
— -Anonymous Wise Person

To wrap it up, after a year in the game, we feel more confident than ever that crowdfunding, coaching, and connections are the answer to getting women-led businesses off the ground.  So whether you are ready to grow your existing business or you are germinating on a great idea that’s ready to blossom, crowdfunding on iFundWomen is the lowest risk, highest potential opportunity to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality. No more waiting. Do it!