By: Cristina Flores, NWBC Special Assistant
Are you aware of the potato salad heard around the world? If not, don’t worry, let me explain. Earlier this month, Zach Brown raised nearly $70,000 to make potato salad. Yes, you read that right, potato salad and yes that amount is correct. Don’t get me wrong, as a southern girl I love potato salad, but all that kept running through my mind while reading about this campaign was “Is this real?” After doing some research, I realized that yes, people were giving money to Brown to start his potato salad and as I wondered why, I learned that it was because people believed in his mission. At first I laughed and thought about how silly the story was and then it started to sink in… this is the perfect way to access capital, so why hasn’t it gotten more serious attention and why aren’t women entrepreneurs taking advantage of this resource? What Brown did is better known as crowdfunding. Brown started his campaign on Kickstarter, a company that helps bring creative projects to life by raising pledges to fund projects via the Internet. And Kickstarter isn’t alone, as there are a multitude of other crowdfunding websites.
Not only has crowdfunding been all over the news, but it was also a hot topic in DC this past week. Although it wasn’t officially marketed, last week was “Women’s Week” in DC. Women from all over the country visited our nation’s capital for various conferences and events focused on women entrepreneurs. Thank you to the Women’s Business Centers Training Conference, the WIPP Annual Leadership Meeting, and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce National Small Business Federal contracting Summit for having NWBC be part of your events. Most importantly, thank you to the over 300 women at the Senate Hearing on women-owned small businesses (you can view NWBC’s statement here). Throughout the week many topics were discussed, but at the end of the day the one that we all seemed to come back to was one of NWBC’s four pillars: Access to Capital. In our 2013 report to the President, Congress, and SBA, NWBC recommended the promotion of crowdfunding as a priority for access to capital and this week many leaders expressed their support, including Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
As our very own NWBC Chair Carla Harris mentioned this past May as keynote for a Business Forward crowdfunding webinar, “We see crowdfunding as a key resource in advancing women’s access to capital.” Last week, NWBC Executive Director Amanda Brown said, “We need to build the new” and I can’t think of a better way than to look into the newer innovative resources available for women related to crowdfunding that are gaining momentum. In fact, Indiegogo, a popular crowdfunding platform, indicates that 42% of its crowdfunding campaigns are run by women and women are raising more than men both in terms of the number of contributions and amount of money.
Make sure to keep up with NWBC’s public meetings and events for information about women’s access to capital. During June’s public meeting, the NWBC hosted prominent women in funding for an “Innovative Strategies for Women to Raise Capital” web conference.
The crowdfunding industry is booming with an increased focus on women entrepreneurs. Note to women entrepreneurs: don’t wait any longer; start looking into crowdfunding as a key resource. There’s a growing number of crowdfunding websites with female CEO’s: Sara Hanks, CEO of CrowdCheck, Jilliene Helman, CEO of Realty Mogul, Jenny Kassan, CEO of Cutting Edge Capital, Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo, Sally Outlaw, CEO of Peerbackers, Danae Ringelmann, Co-founder of Indiegogo, Joy Schoffler, CEO of Leverage PR, and Joanna Schwartz, CEO of EarlyShares.
I know what you’re wondering, what kind of potato salad did Brown make and most importantly did he really get to keep all of the $70k he raised? It’s complicated, but for the most yes, he was able to keep the money he crowdfunded because people understood what they were donating to and supported the cause.
If there are any takeaways from crowdfunding and Brown’s potato salad let it be these 3:
1) You can profit from your passion
2) You have 100% ownership
3) There’s no need to share your credit score and you don’t have to go through tedious
loan applications with no guarantee
I can’t sign off until I leave you knowing a little bit more about me than just my love for potato salad. I am Cristina Flores, NWBC’s Special Assistant. Today marks the beginning of my third week on the job and I look forward to all the work I will be part of with NWBC. My passion for supporting women entrepreneurs stems from my time growing up on the Texas-Mexico border, watching my mother and aunts be entrepreneurs in both countries, but struggling to access capital and therefore letting go of potential businesses. When I studied abroad in Brazil I was able to work with domestic violence victims that became the heads of their households through entrepreneurship. In the near future, I myself hope to become an entrepreneur, but before I do that, I think there’s a lot to be done and I hope to contribute as much as I can to NWBC’s four pillars: Access to Capital, Access to Markets, Job Creation and Growth and Data Collection.