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WillowOlder
Level 5

You Said It! Community Member Danielle Vincent on Crowdfunding

2 1 1457

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What’s on your mind right now? We know folks who work for themselves have plenty to say about the business of doing business. That’s why we want to share your insights, ideas and best practices. Today, we’re spending a few minutes with Outlaw Soaps founder Danielle Vincent. Danielle has successfully launched and run three crowdsourcing campaigns through Kickstarter and Kiva, a community-based lending program.

 

We’ll find out why Danielle has repeatedly opted for non-traditional financing -- no surprise, perhaps, given her non-traditional penchant for blue hair and knee-high llama socks!

 

Danielle, what was your biggest concern about crowdfunding?

 

I’ve heard a lot of small business owners say they don't feel comfortable asking friends and family for money. This concern is totally legitimate. If you borrow money and you don't pay people back or give them the value they are expecting in return, you will lose friends and family.

 

My response was to take the whole process very, very seriously. I knew I was putting my reputation on the line. When you ask people for money, you’re using your social credibility to benefit your business. I think the only ethical way to do this is to guarantee you’ll honor the promises you make to your investors.

 

If your investors want you to get your business up and running, you have to get your business up and running. If you’re crowdfunding so you can write and publish a book, then you must write and publish that book.

 

People contribute to crowdfunding campaigns for lots of reasons, but here’s what everyone has in common: They all want you, your product or your business to succeed.

 

Tell us how Kiva loans helped you grow Outlaw Soaps.

 

A Kiva loan is money given by individual members of the community, and the money is paid back over time. We’ve asked for two Kiva loans. The first was early-on in our business when we needed supplies to grow for the holiday season. The second was about a year and a half in. We were scaling up and moving to a new location.  

 

Friends gave me a Kiva loan because they felt it was no riskier than putting their money in a savings account. They weren’t earning any interest, but for them, it was worth it to help me succeed.

 

When Whole Foods started selling Outlaw Soaps, it was a direct result of our Kiva loan. The cash infusion let us buy supplies in bulk and lower our wholesale prices.

 

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More recently, you launched a Kickstarter campaign. Tell us about it.

 

Last year, I took a course about improving my approach to time management and goal setting. Since then, I’ve been helping friends figure out their goals. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing I’ve helped people change their lives!

 

I decided to write a book about what I’ve learned, and I hooked up with a friend who is a publisher. Since I'm an unknown author, we decided a Kickstarter campaign could help me build credibility and show there’s a viable audience for my book.

 

We ended up with nearly 300 backers and raised almost 300% of our goal. It was an amazing experience and a great platform builder. As a result of some targeted marketing, I established relationships with people who have never heard of me before. The end result? My book, You-Nicorn, will be published this spring, and I’ve got funds to put toward marketing.

 

What tips do you have for folks interested in crowdfunding?

 

Communication with your investors is key. I always provide regular updates throughout the entire campaign and beyond. I treat every contributor as a shareholder. Whenever something big happens – if our soaps are in a gift guide or the company is mentioned in a magazine – I let people know, this is because of you.

 

Before you go

 

QB Community members, please share your crowdfunding experience in the comments below. We love hearing and sharing your expertise!

 

Check out these links for more helpful information about crowdfunding:

 

1 Comment
ShanaNiederman
Level 6

Thanks, yet again, @OutlawSoaps! You sure know how to be a YOU-NICORN here when it comes to backing other small business owners with know-how from your own life and work. All the best to you going forward in the new year :-)

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