Crowdfunding – Bridging the rural/urban economic divide

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Legend Marketing  |  By Jeremy Bernard (Guest Post from rural Canmore, Alberta) |  September 27, 2013

Canmore Alberta presentation Jeremy BernardOn Tuesday I was given the opportunity to do a one hour workshop for Canmore businesses. My theme was “Crowdfunding - A new approach to funding projects, passions and businesses”. This turned out to be a hot topic, and the event sold out quickly.

This got me thinking about what was driving the level of interest. If you are lucky enough to live in Canmore, you know that this is an energetic town with a real entrepreneurial spirit. From amazing artists and craftspeople to tech gurus, this place is full of talented, driven people. There are some great local business success stories like Buff Canada (Don’t know what a Buff is? Just buy one. Seriously.) and cool tech companies, with potential for more. However, sometimes a business needs cash to get started or to take advantage of a new opportunity. Unfortunately, it has become difficult to raise risk capital anywhere in Canada and this is particularly true in small towns and rural areas. Even though Canmore is just one hour from Calgary, entrepreneurs here don’t have the same access to private investors, angel networks, venture capitalists and business accelerators. It’s hard enough to raise capital in urban centres, much less small-town Alberta.

And that’s where crowdfunding comes in. If you have a great idea and can tell your story effectively, it doesn’t matter if you live in Toronto, Silicon Valley or Medecine Hat; you’ve got a shot at success. With crowdfunding, you don’t need to land that one big investor. You can raise a significant amount of money through small investments from a large number of supporters. Through social media networking, you can reach potential backers across the country and around the world.

We are already seeing local success stories. Check out Pub Pedals from here in Canmore, now shipping an awesome product to more than 30 countries after raising $8000 and a legion of fans via an Indiegogo campaign.

indiegogo campaignI believe that as sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter become household brands and provinces begin allowing equity crowdfunding (the US is doing it – let’s go Canada!), we will see crowdfunding become an enabler for rural economic diversification and growth. Don’t get me wrong – geography still matters. When Pebble raised $10,000,000 on Kickstarter to build a smart watch, it probably didn’t hurt that they were based in Silicon Valley. Your personal network and local support counts, even with the global reach of crowdfunding platforms and social media channels. However, by putting together a great campaign you can grow an audience of supporters from anywhere you park your laptop. Don’t let your location be a barrier to taking on the world.

Related:  Canadian Crowdfunding Directory

10 tips for crowdfunding success:

  1. Define your project. Be specific. People need to know what you want to do and what they are supporting.
  2. Make a personal connection. You’re not just selling a project or business idea, you are selling your story.
  3. Make a compelling video. It doesn’t have to be professional, but put some thought into it. Get across the key elements of your campaign – what, why, how much, when and why you. Talk about your rewards. If you don’t make a video, your chance of success will drop massively.
  4. Prime the pump. Reach out to your personal network first. Get to 20% of target ASAP.
  5. Get social. A strong social media presence helps you to reach beyond your personal network. Twitter and Facebook are key promotional tools in most crowdfunding platforms, and don’t forget LinkedIn.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada crowdfunding hub providing education, advocacy and networking opportunities in the rapidly evolving crowdfunding industry.  NCFA Canada is a community-based, membership-driven entity that was formed at the grass roots level to fill a national need in the market place.   Join our growing network of industry stakeholders, fundraisers and investors.  Increase your organization’s profile and gain access to a dynamic group of industry front runners.  Learn more eBrochure | Prezi or contact us at casano@ncfacanada.org.

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