What are the best crowdsourcing/crowdfunding websites?
Creative Funding: The focus is on starting a creative venture or project, and you can be the idea, person, or service. Examples include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Investment Crowdfunding Websites: They take an investor's money for many different projects at once in exchange for a return on profits through equity and debt in the company. The most popular site is Lending Club. There are also prizes offered to investors who put up the least amount of cash upfront, like with Kickrichecker (which uses Amazon points). Equity crowdfunding sites provide side-by-side performance data that allows individual investors to learn how they're doing against their peers.
The SEC has given final approval for this emerging form of capital raising.
REITs – Real Estate Investment Trusts: A REIT buys and sells real estate, manages properties, and then offers shares to investors through stock exchanges like the NYSE or NASDAQ. Many of these will be targeted at retail buyers with a $2,000 minimum.
Creative Financing: This is when someone who has an investment in your creative venture lends you money for a specific project that they expect will make their money back on their initial investment through credit alone. It seems great until it's not, so watch out!
ANGEL INVESTORS AND VENTURE CAPITALISTS (The Good Kind)
Angels can be anyone from your neighbour to a relative or friend interested in your project and have a few thousand dollars extra to throw your way. However, that doesn't mean you should expect it. For more information on how to ask for money from family or friends, click here.
Venture capitalists are people who want to see significant returns from their investments, so they'll use others' money to fund one of yours – with the hope that they can take a piece of the company later when it goes public or gets sold off.
The good news is there is lots of info out there about how to connect with these high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) – including white papers, websites, blogs, books, and classes like this one.
There's also an entire tool category for networking with VCs online. You can reach out to them on LinkedIn or Twitter and through their blogs. But remember that it takes a long time on average to get one of these meetings, so be prepared to send lots of informational e-mails before you even have the first call.
Here's a good article about finding venture capitalists, but here are some of the highlights: Most VCs don't invest in "seed" rounds (1st round investment) because they're usually too risky They like more risk "upfront" than other investors (also called Series A) and they want equity sooner too Don't pitch at conferences. After all, it's difficult for them to schedule phone calls. This is why raising your company repeatedly via e-mail is recommended; you have time to refine your story, and they can research on their own before meeting with you.
VCs like it when founders are less greedy, so they're more likely to pass along a chance at great returns later, and Founders who pitch in a casual business environment (no suits!) with lots of energy also like it when the founder takes less overall equity than others for the same amount of money pitched. For example, instead of asking for 20% of your company for $500K, take 10% or even 5% but ask for $1M – because then if the company has incredible growth potential, investors will see that as worth their while.
Here's how VCs think (in a nutshell): "What can we do to increase the odds that this company takes off?"
STARTUP FOUNDERS You can also try reaching out to a local startup incubator or accelerator. Generally, these groups take a small amount of equity (5-15%) in exchange for around $25K and mentorship from experienced business leaders. According to Lendio, the top 5 startup accelerators are Y Combinator 500 Startups TechStars DreamIt Ventures LaunchPad LA.
BRANDS AND COMPANIES WITH BUDGETS Look into your own company's marketing budget as there might be some room there for you to do what you want. If not, there are lots of other places that have budgets: Advertising agencies, PR firms, Digital agencies, Law firms, Marketing companies, Financial services.
CONTENT MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS Here's a list of some famous PRs to get you started: Abacus Public Relations, Inc. (Dow Jones) Adam Hochfelder Agency Aitken-Marshall Blue Sky Factory Barton Enterprises Beehive Media Big Fuel Communications BrandConnection.com Butcher Friedman & Abrahamson BuzzPR CAA-Sports-PR Communicorp Corporate Communications Group Cyrus Innovation LaunchSquad (AOL Europe) Large Scale Productions Margarine Monoqi Group Nicole Novak O'Neill + Company Parleau Wagstaff Reputation Ink Rheem Burden Wenzel Strategies Zero1Strategies And here are more agencies on this site. If you don't find any joy in these, try searching for a "PR agency" and your city -- you might be surprised how many are out there.
OTHER BUSINESSES THAT NEED YOUR HELP Here are some tips: For B2B companies, focus on selling to their resellers or distributors instead of the company itself (which is usually very difficult). You can pitch some of their end customers too. Find people who work for a magazine that focuses on your target market. Pitch to them as if they work for the magazine AND tell them you're sending this along to the editor who handles your niche, so it will look great if they publish it. Think up ways in which you could make working with other businesses easier: like a software tool of some kind, an accounting process, or something else. This is very easy to do. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about how you would react if your job could be made easier with the help of a small business (like yours).
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