Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have helped thousands of entrepreneurs and creative minds get their projects off the ground thanks to donations from mostly anonymous contributors over the internet.
In April, Colorado State University alumni-founded Wild Gym Company raised $111,178 with their Kickstarter campaign for monkii bars, a portable suspension training tool.
TurfToes founders Braxton Norwood and Tanner Eley, both CSU seniors, hope to achieve similar success with their own Kickstarter campaign launching Oct. 23 for their synthetic grass-lined sandals.
“[Wild Gym Company was] able to raise roughly $112,000 during their campaign last spring, and we hope to achieve the same success,” Norwood said.
Norwood said about 70 percent of the donations will cover TurfToes’ manufacturing, while the remaining 30 percent will go toward “marketing and raising awareness” of their company.
“In return, our Kickstarter page will allow others to purchase our product at a major discount before it hits store shelves,” Norwood said.
Locally, Charge, CSU’s unique crowdfunding platform developed collaboratively between CSU and the Fort Collins-based Community Funded crowdfunding service, has given students and faculty the ability to fund research and other projects.
Thea Rounsaville, the assistant director of annual giving at the CSU Office of Annual Giving and Gift Stewardship, manages Charge.
“It entails reaching out to campus partners to talk about potential projects they’d like to launch and overseeing the branding and marketing of it,” Rounsaville said.
Current Charge projects include raising money for the CSU Oval Preservation Fund and sending students in the Center for Public Deliberations program to a National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation conference in Washington.
“What we’re most excited is that [the projects are] really coming from the students themselves, so all of their project descriptions and all the stories they create are really original and unique,” Rounsaville said. “When you have that genuine communication with potential donors, I think you’ll get a lot more buy-in.”
Institute for Entrepreneurship Assistant Program Director Jessica Rawley believes there are at least two major determinants in choosing a crowdfunding platform: audience and cost.
“The audience for Charge is CSU-focused, it’s alumni and students, while Kickstarter … has a tendency to support the more creative projects,” Rawley said. “Kickstarter might charge more, but they also have a larger audience, so I think it’s about balancing those two major factors to determine which you use.”
According to Rawley, perhaps one of the most important things in creating a successful Kickstarter is developing a community around your product.
“Say you’re the first person to buy into monkii bars,” Rawley said. “You love them, you think they’re amazing, so regardless of where you live, you become an advocate for their product, a part of their community.”