Startup 101: How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding


Startup 101 – How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding

A Guide for Entrepreneurs


Erick Walk



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Table of Contents

Table of Contents 2

Conclusion 31



Thank you for downloading this book: “Startup 101 – How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding.”

In these pages, the author shares his insights and experience with crowdfunding. The information contained here is designed to help startup entrepreneurs and others interested or involved with it.

The second biggest reason why small and medium scale enterprises eventually fail is lack of capital – the number one reason is getting the wrong team on board. Some people might think low sales accounts as the biggest killer for small business ventures, but that is way below down there on the rankings.

Imagine that – a really significant side of the economy isn’t getting funding. This is quite unfortunate since SMEs actually contribute a lot to the country’s economic growth. For instance, these businesses provide 64% of all the new jobs generated each year in the United States. The overwhelming majority of companies in the US have less than 500 employees.

And this is where crowdfunding comes into the scene. It allows small and medium scale enterprises to contact and interact with investors. Eventually, entrepreneurs who run small or medium scale businesses can tap that funding to get their company started. Their business now has a better chance to grow and make it in their respective industries. Eventually, more jobs will be created and the economy will become livelier, even healthier in fact.

The JOBS Act, particularly titles II and III have made it much easier for investors to find small businesses that require funding. The said act created exemptions to the 1933 Securities Act under 506© and 4(a)(6). These laws also provide protection to investors as well as afford them risk appropriate returns.

This is why a lot of talk has been generated in the recent years about the potentials of crowdfunding. However, there are several details that require one’s attention when you try to take advantage of the opportunities in crowdfunding. That is the objective of this short book – to provide some guidance and insight to entrepreneurs regarding the rules, best practices, as well as the regulations involved in crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is going to make waves in securities markets everywhere. Some people may think little of it but it will eventually create a huge impact – they just don’t know it yet. It is your privilege to take part in it now while things are just beginning to roll.

It is my hope that the information contained in this book will help you understand how to make the most of this one of a kind opportunity. Remember that it will not be easy and it will require just as much work when you’re trying to acquire funding the traditional way.

To your success,

Again, thank you for downloading this book.

Chapter 1: Crowdfunding – What It Is


The concept of crowdfunding isn’t actually a 21st century invention. It has been around for quite a while now and people have done it albeit successfully on many occasions. We may have given the idea a new name but the principle has been practiced and it has been proven time and again to work quite well.

Here’s one example. Everyone knows the icon that is the Statue of Liberty, right? It is one of the most popular American icons. What a lot of people in the world do not realize is that it took a bit of crowdfunding to make that statue stand where it is today. How did that happen? Well, here’s the story behind it.

We all know that the Lady Liberty was a gift to the Americans from the French. Simply put, the French constructed it and even paid for the transportation costs to bring it to the US. The only problem left was to get it erected on a pedestal or base – yes, the one that it’s currently on, and that cost a lot of money.

In fact, the American Committee, the one that was charged with the duty of raising the needed funds, had to find a way to raise $300,000 just to construct that base. The statue was on its way to American shores and that means they were out of time. So how do you raise that kind of money?

The answer is to go to the public. Here comes Mr. Pulitzer who owns a newspaper. He published a plea the following day asking for donations. In just five months the donation campaign was able to generate $100,000. The rest of the story of course is history. And that is a fine sample of 19th century crowdfunding.

The Concept and the Highway

As you can see, the idea of going to the public to get the necessary cash to fund an enterprise isn’t as new as some would assume. What made the idea difficult if not impossible is the inability to reach out to the general public. Back in the day, not everyone had a Mr. Pulitzer. Today we have one in the form of the internet – nowadays, anyone can reach out to millions.


Chapter 2: The JOBS Act


The JOBS Act has created a wave of excitement over the prospects of crowdfunding. It began as the Entrepreneurs’ Access to Capital Act in late 2011 while in the hands of the House of Representatives and later became the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act in 2012 under the US Senate. The president signed it into law on April 5, 2012.

It was a badly needed piece of legislature, needless to say. With an economy in crisis, a lot of things had to change in order to stimulate economic growth and create more jobs. The Securities Act of 1933 and other laws enacted thereafter (e.g. Dodd-Frank Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act) made it difficult, while some would say impossible, for small and medium scale businesses to access much needed funding.

This act amends provisions, laws, and regulations that have long oppressed (well, about 80 years give or take a few) and practically crushed capital formation in both the private as well as the public markets. 28 million businesses in US were practically starved of capital sources and to think they account for 64% of the net jobs produced each year.

Someone once correctly observed that the reason why America has fewer jobs is the fact that there are fewer job makers. And why are there only a few job makers? It is because securities laws have made it more difficult for smaller enterprises to access capital. President Barack Obama pointed out that “crowdfunding is the democratization of capital.”

The Amendments

Title I of the JOBS Act reopened the capital markets to startup companies, making things easier for them to go public. According to the Act, any business that has revenue that is less than one billion per annum is defined as “an emerging growth company.”

Title II of the Act amends Securities Act ’33 Rule 506 Regulation D, which lifts the previous ban set in the rules for general solicitation. That means businesses that are on the rise can now access capital that is provided by accredited investors. Simply put, this part of the new law includes guidelines for crowdfunding for the rich.

Title III of the Act on the other hand contains amendments for Section 4, which creates exemptions so that companies can now raise capital from accredited and non-accredited investors up to 1 million dollars ($1 million or less). The mode for raising such capital is via the internet. Simply put, this is the crowdfunding for the rest of us who are not multi-millionaires. Note that both Title II and Title III of the JOBS Act create exemptions for provisions on registration as found in the Securities Act of 1933.

With the exemptions created, a lot of interest has been generated in crowdfunding. It is set to change the landscape for investors and to boost growth among small and medium enterprises.

For the full text of the amendments and exemptions made, click here.

Chapter 3: Is Crowdfunding For You?


Who and What is Crowdfunding For?

Simply put, crowdfunding is a venture to raise capital via monetary contributions from a large number of people or the crowd. It is currently being used by entrepreneurs to fund various applications such as indie films, journalism, music, blogging, and especially startup companies. Civic projects have been quite successful as well as funding for a cause. It has been found that local folks tend to support local projects.

So, simply put, crowdfunding is now being used for pretty much any enterprise. Non-profit organizations have had a lot of success raising for different causes from funds to help cancer patients to school teachers requesting materials for classrooms in distress. There are also crowdfunding websites that are designed to help students and a school’s faculty to receive funds for tuition needs and other projects. The funding for university crowdfunding primarily comes from the school’s alumni as well as the general public pitching in.

Crowdfunding for Real Estate

Crowdfunding has such a dynamic capital formation infrastructure that it can also fund large scale enterprises such as real estate projects. The applications for this industry are far reaching. With it investors can pool their capital to fund mortgages, for down payments of home buyers, and the acquisition of distressed mortgages among others. Real estate crowdfunding has already seen success in many parts of the world like Europe, France, and the Middle East and it is still growing.

Types of Crowdfunding

There are different types of crowdfunding that you should be aware of. They differ in the form of contribution, return, and of course the motivation of the founder. Here are the basic four:

p<>{color:#000;}. Donation Crowdfunding: The founder of this enterprise started the campaign in order to fund charity purposes. There are social motivations behind the effort. Of course, when funds are donated you don’t exactly gain any tangible benefits. It’s all for a good cause anyway. A good example of this is the crowdfunding efforts done for the victims of natural calamities such as Typhoon Katrina and others. The funds for this type of crowdfunding come in the form of donations.

p<>{color:#000;}. Equity Crowdfunding: You can say that this is the opposite of donation crowdfunding where the primary motivation is financial, although some form of social and intrinsic motives does exist in these enterprises. This is the type of crowdfunding that will usually be used by startup companies and growing small businesses. Contributions in this type come in the form of investments with returns.

p<>{color:#000;}. Crowdfunded Lending: The contributions that come into this type of crowdfunding come in the form of loans. And the funds collected using this medium will be used for the repayment of loans. Of course, the funds will be paid for in a specified time with interest. Some of these endeavors are used for social and civic purposes and at sometimes the investors themselves waive the interest to help the financially distressed.

p<>{color:#000;}. Reward Crowdfunding: Investors and/or donors in this type of crowdfunding receive tangible items or services as rewards. Some forms of contributions come in the form of a pre-purchase of the product or service being created, which will be introduced in the future.

Of the different types of crowdfunding mentioned above, investors can use reward crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding, which are more appropriate for their purposes.

What Makes Crowdfunding so Appealing?

There are several factors that have contributed to the success and appeal of crowdfunding. For one thing, it requires only a minimal amount of investment in the part of the investor who contributes to the fund. For instance, a commercial income property can be bought for only $1,000. Even those who are a bit strapped for cash can invest some money expecting a return.

Another key to its success is being able to bank on the expertise of others. You can check the profile of executive team and judge for yourself if your investment is worth it. This also means that you have the advantage of skipping a huge chunk of the learning curve and start earning passive income by simply contributing to the capital being raised.

Another appealing factor is the fact that there is complete transparency on the part of the crowdfunding portals. Everyone who is participating can check the status of their investment as well as the status of the campaign itself. Information can be provided in real time – everything is accessed via the web.

Since everything is on the web, investors can choose any project or funding they want wherever it is available. They can even choose to invest on any property and even choose its asset class.

Downsides That You Should Know About

There are several disadvantages in crowdfunding created by the nature of the enterprise itself. For instance, investors do not have any say on how the investment will be handled. They don’t get to vote, as it were, on certain investment decisions. On top of that, profits may get diluted in case additional funds are needed and more crowdfunding is done. And just like any other investment, crowdfunding also carries with it an element of risk. Note that there is no secondary market where you can sell the security that you have invested in.

Should I Try Crowdfunding?

Here’s something that everyone should think about – yes, crowdfunding is a big success. However, it is still a venture. Simply put, it’s not a magic pill that will kick start your business and its eventual success.

It is not always guaranteed to work. In fact, there are platforms that go on an all or nothing basis. This means that you will specify a targeted amount of capital to be raised. If the funds that have been pledged and contributed do not reach the target amount then no funding will be made and the funds will be returned to the crowd of investors.

Due diligence is required on the part of investors as well as the founders of the company – they can only exert their best effort to gain the confidence of investors and leave everything in the cloud.

Chapter 4: Running Your Crowdfunding Campaign


Three Fundamental Stages

There are three fundamental stages to any crowdfunding campaign. First off, there is the preparation stage. The business owner gets together with his consultants, partners, lawyers, accountants, and all the necessary folks to pitch an investment idea. They prepare the marketing plan as well as the offering memorandum. Once they have that formulated they will then post their deal online through a crowdfunding portal.

The next stage is where they raise the money. The investors post funding updates, social media posts, status updates, and also answer investor questions online. Brokers will also reach out to potential backers and media. Everyone also conducts due diligence in the process.

The crowd on the other hand will vet on the deal and make investments. As the investments come in, the funds are then forwarded to a bank escrow, which is FDIC insured. Notices are then sent to investors, media, and others who are concerned. If the target capital is raised or exceeded, which happens quite a number of times; then the crowdfunding portal informs the escrow of the successful closing, and then enters the third stage.

The portal then sends out commissions and blotters to brokers. The escrow then sends the funds to the founding company. The company then maintains its relationship with the investors, which means providing returns on their investment as scheduled. The company then proceeds to operate, which includes hiring employees, finding business partners, gaining customers, and making profit.

The Itty Gritty Details

Let’s look into the details of the three stages already mentioned above. There are a lot of things to remember and there are times when you may have overlooked something in the process. This is where crowdfunding consultants come in to the rescue. They can help you set things up and walk you through the entire process.

p<>{color:#000;}. First Step: Create a Pre-campaign

You can look at the pre-campaign as a way to test the waters even before you launch your actual crowdfunding campaign. There are services and sites that allow you to create a page that announces your intent to create a crowdfunding campaign.

Another way to do it is to put up a website or a landing page. The idea is to make the announcement to let people know about the idea. You will then have to collect emails and build your mailing list. The list of emails you collect will be from prospects and other interested parties who pledge to inform others about your crowdfunding campaign through social media and other methods when you launch it.

Note that you are not yet soliciting investments, what you are looking for are people who are willing to share your investment idea to the crowd. The typical pre-campaign period lasts from 60 up to 90 days. That’s how much time you have to craft the pitch for your campaign. The more emails you have in your mailing list the bigger the chances of success.

p<>{color:#000;}. Next Step: Taxes and All the Legal Stuff

While you’re polishing things up you should take care of all the taxes and legal matters before you start your actual crowdfunding project. If you still don’t have a business bank account then get one. This is where your CPA will become a big help to you. You also need help to set up an LLC.

p<>{color:#000;}. Next: Make Your Social Media Footprints

Social media is one of the biggest free tools in your hands, so take advantage of it. You need to create and bolster your social media presence. It doesn’t matter how few/many people you have following you on Twitter or your Facebook page, you will eventually need more if you want your crowdfunding venture to succeed.

There are social media tools and services that you can subscribe to in order to boost your social media presence and gauge your current reach. Note that you will need around 1,000 to 3,000 new followers per month to ensure the success of your pre-campaign.

Note that building an audience in social media will take a good deal of time. Best practice is to allot at least 3 to 6 months before actually launching your crowdfunding campaign. If your funding goals are larger and your type of crowdfunding a bit more complex (e.g. you need higher tier investors) then you will need more time to build your social media reach – you can also measure that by your current follower count.

p<>{color:#000;}. Next Step: Select the Most Suitable Crowdfunding Platform

There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms to choose from. The type of platform you choose will depend on the type of crowdfunding you want to put up. The most popular of these crowdfunding platforms are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sign up with those two or any of the really popular platforms.

They are not always your best bet. Now, you also have to consider the fact that you are not the only one putting up a campaign – you’re actually competing with millions of other entrepreneurs and businesses who also need funds.

Do your own research and categorize your funding needs according to its niche. If you are trying to establish a mini-IPO that will require around 50 million dollars in capital, which takes advantage of Regulation A+ in the JOBS Act, then you may look for platforms that cater to these such as Bankroll Ventures.

In case you’re trying to fund your next music video or music album then you can look into creative funding provided by platforms such as Tubestart, Tunefund, and the like. Now, you should also consider the size of the platform. The smaller crowdfunding platforms can offer you niche specific features that may not always be present in the bigger platforms today.

If you’re looking to fund an app developer company then you may want to look into Appbackr. If your project has something to do with journalism then check out the offerings at Emphasis. If you’re looking for funding coming from local members of a certain community then you should try out Bolstr.

If you’re raising funds for equity in your project then you may want to see how Fundable can help you iron things out. If your project is technology related then checkout Seedinvest. If your project has been denied by one of the larger crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter for instance, then there is a crowdfunding platform for you too – Crowdfunder.

QUESTION: Should I just start my own crowdfunding platform?

Now that is an interesting question. Do take note that the cost of putting up a platform will vary depending on how it is targeted. That means you need to have a well-defined niche that you will serve. It will also require a lot of time and effort not only to build the website but also to run the community of people who will be involved in the portal.

The initial cost of starting a platform will be around $5,000 to $10,000 a year, just like starting a really huge website. If you’re going to run a smaller site then it will cost you around $20 each month. There are sites and services that can help you build a fully functional crowdfunding platform for about $100 per month, like www.crowdfundingapp.co and others.

However, note that that is just the initial cost. Note that creating a new fund portal will be like starting your own company; that is if you’re in it for the long haul. That means you shouldn’t be surprised that when you make your feasibility analysis that you will have to come up with a starting capital of $250,000 and more.

p<>{color:#000;}. Now It is Time to Set Your Funding Goal

While some members of your staff are busy with building your mailing list, social media, legal matters, and working with the crowdfunding platform, it is now time to get your executive team’s heads together to determine your funding goal. This of course will be submitted to the platform you will be selecting.

A lot of advice and opinion has been given when it comes to setting the fund amount. Well, the fact is that a lot of it is still out there and the math isn’t really solid. Note that everyone’s situation is absolutely unique so you can’t really give any hard and fast rules on how to actually set a funding goal.

However, since you’re going to do a lot of computations then you should at least include the following when you are at the point of crunching those numbers:

p<>{color:#000;}. Legal costs

p<>{color:#000;}. Costs for PR as well as marketing costs

p<>{color:#000;}. Total cost of fulfilling the rewards you will promise in your pitch

p<>{color:#000;}. Processing fees

p<>{color:#000;}. Fees that will be collected by the crowdfunding platform

p<>{color:#000;}. A cushion fund or buffer amount just in case things go awry – this can go anywhere from 20% to 40% of your computations

CAVEAT: And now comes the hard truth – you should know about this so here it is. Only a select few crowdfunding campaigns, so far, have been able to raise funds more than $100,000. The actual effects of the exemptions created in the JOBS Act are yet to be seen but it may boost investor confidence. That may also mean that more campaigns will be able to successfully raise more capital in the future when everything is fully implemented, perhaps even breaking the $100K barrier.

Here’s another thing you should think about. If you set a fund goal that is way too high then you may be preventing smaller investors and backers from joining in. Remember that the idea is to be able to reach the funding goal at an earlier date (the sooner the better) so that you will have more time to raise extra funds to stretch your capital funding allowance. Remember that a crowdfunding campaign also has a deadline to be met.

p<>{color:#000;}. Next, Setting Reward Tiers for Your Backers

This is the step that allows you to cheat a little bit. You see, you are not the first one to put up a crowdfunding campaign. In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone else has already put up a successful crowdfunding campaign that is a lot like the one you are concocting.

The good news is that the many different crowdfunding portals can give you historical data that you can work with – especially when setting up reward tiers for your backers. Note that Indiegogo has already indicated that the most popular price point for reward tiers on their portal is at $25. That figure can change so it will be better to check out the data in different portals and then carefully decide yours.

p<>{color:#000;}. It is Now Time to Tell Your Tale

You will be required to tell your story – you need to describe the campaign that you are putting up and it will be seen by visitors and potential investors to your campaign page on the crowdfunding portal. You can think of it as your executive summary.

You should tell the public what your project is all about, why you need the money, and what you have to offer in return. This of course is your sales pitch and you only have 400 to 600 words to make it really convincing.

You should add photos, your prototypes (in case you’re introducing a new product), song samples, interactive tools, and videos to your message. Do everything possible to drive the message home and help investors understand why they need to support your campaign. Remember to keep things clear and concise – don’t beat around the bush, get to the point and try to make an impression.

If you wish to include the video, then remember that it doesn’t have to sound like a National Geographic special presentation or something that get nods in Hollywood. Potential investors already know that you need funds and so the video quality can be excused. Best practice shows that videos that are sincere, genuine, and engaging have a tendency to capture the crowd better even if it’s only three or four minutes long.

TIP: Don’t ask for money at the onset. That usually turns people off. Besides, they already know that you’re there to ask for funds. Instead, tell your story, and do it with enthusiasm and confidence that the project will become really successful. Remember that the crowd is trying to decide if their investment in your idea will give them the profits and other gains that you are promising.

You should also try to build more interest at the close of your pitch. If you already have a small community of believers then you can include that in your pitch as well.

p<>{color:#000;}. [* Secure the First 30% of Your Minimum Funding Goal *]

Now this is the hardest part of the entire process. Early on you have set your funding goal. This time you should establish your minimum capital needs and then contact family, friends, business partners, and anyone you’re really close to in order to make sure that you can reach up to 30% of your minimum funding goal.

Why do you need to do this? Well, think about it, compare the chances of people who know and trust you to provide funds for a venture to a total stranger who has no clue as to who you are and what you’re actually capable of. If you really want that ship to sail, so to speak, those to whom you have established a relationship of trust should be willing to pitch in and make their pledges.

On top of that they should also contribute to your social media campaign in order to make your endeavor viral. That gives you a more attractive environment to convince a complete stranger to invest in your project. Pledges alone are hard to come by, actual investments are actually a bit down the funnel. It’s never easy but with enough hard work and effort, it can be done.

p<>{color:#000;}. Prepare, Launch, and Build Your Outreach

Your PR campaign as well as your media outreach will play a huge role in your success. Bloggers and journalists also play a key role in getting the word out. Now, with regard to media outlets, remember that time is an essential factor for these folks. Don’t expect support from them if your campaign can no longer be considered news worthy. Simply put, you scratch their back and they scratch yours.

Make it a point to partner with bloggers and media that have successfully covered campaigns that are also in your niche. There are tools that you can use to identify influencers, bloggers, journalists, and other content publishing sites that can help you expand your reach.

As you launch your crowdfunding campaign you will need to answer investor inquiries in social media, emails, and in the crowdfunding portal page that you have put up. Brokers will be there to provide support by reaching out to partners and other potential people and businesses that will back your campaign.

Chapter 5: Crowdfunding Success Stories


In spite of the naysayers that have tried their best to criticize and discredit the viability of crowdfunding, there are actually a lot of success stories to tell. May their success be an inspiration for you to try crowdfunding and craft your own tale to tell others as well.

Oculus Rift

Are you a video gaming fan? Are you a fan of that popular anime Sword Art Online? A virtual reality head gear is a dream for some hard core gamers. It’s an idea that has captured the imagination of hundreds of gamers. And then VR head mounted display that is accessible to home gamers became a reality.

Oculus Rift was a huge success and it was celebrated when the first batch of VR gear were shipped in March of 2013. It was actually one of the biggest crowdfunding projects ever launched via Kickstarter. The fund goal to be raised was at $250,000, a modest amount come to think of it for such an ambitious project.

The actual funding that the founders were able to accumulate amounted to $2.4 million – well above their target. The gaming community and partners who had a vested interest in the success of the project were able to pull it through. According to stats provided by Kickstarter, they had 9 funding projects that were able to raise more than 1 million dollars in funds. The gaming industry is actually has several successful niches.

Kiva Microlending

Kiva is another success that reported a repayment rate of 98.93% -- no fraud there. Even though the concept behind Kiva is illegal in the US (loans are given directly to people and the loan amounts are provided by actual people), the company is able to carve their way to success.

The idea is to provide microfinance loans to people living in third world countries. They reach out to the poorest of the poor. They report that there are more than 1.2 million lenders in the US who participate in their fund raising. More than $550 million have been sent to the poor and destitute in countries outside of the US.

The Veronica Mars Movie

This is probably one of the most popular projects in the history of crowdfunding. Imagine filming a movie that is funded by the general public? Crazy isn’t it? But the idea worked! The founders of the project were able to gather more than 5.7 million dollars.


There should be an app for everything, right? Well, what about an app that lets you answer the door and see who is ringing your bell? That’s the idea behind the SkyBell app. It is pretty useful for people who work from home who don’t want to waste their time walking to and fro the door when someone knocks.

The app interacts with an audio and video system so you can interact with the people at your door from a distance by just using your smartphone or iPhone. Crowdfunding was used to fund this project. It’s not the only one out there. Other app and technology projects have been quite successful.


3D printing is the next level in the production industry. The only problem is that they are really expensive, home users just can’t afford them. So the people behind the MIT Media Lab devised a way to create a 3D printer that is so affordable that the general public can get one in a jiffy. They funded the project via crowdfunding with an initial funding goal of $100,000. By the close of their crowdfunding project, they were able to get 2,000 backers and a total capital of 3 million dollars.

These are only some of the hundreds of success stories in crowdfunding history. Note that not all successes require a million dollars. I have personally started a crowdfunding project for a small community charity. The goal was to reach $10,000 and we were able to hit that mark and exceed it by a few hundred dollars. Not much, but it was meaningful to the beneficiaries of the fund. On top of that, you could feel the community spirit as friends, neighbors, and other townsfolk pitched in to make the endeavor a success.


Thank you once again for downloading this book.

I hope that the information contained here was able to help you decide to get involved in crowdfunding. The next step is to contact a crowdfunding advisor to learn more about the setup process as well as how to build your funds when you have already launched your own campaign.

Remember that crowdfunding is like any investment opportunity. You can always start small and work your way up. It entails a certain level of risk but the rewards are immense.

Again, to your success!

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Startup 101: How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding

  • Author: rado2016
  • Published: 2016-09-19 14:50:12
  • Words: 5711
Startup 101: How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding Startup 101: How to Build a Successful Business with Crowdfunding