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Locals turn to crowd funding for needs
September 28, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Andrew Scheiner/Daily Journal Erick Mott will receive $15,000 through Indiegogo for his creatorstand.

Entrepreneurs looking to get a financial start are more frequently turning to strangers online to find the funds.

Crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo give an online platform for ideas, business plans and propositions for new products. Business-minded people in San Mateo County are turning to the trend more frequently. While statistics on success rates of such campaigns aren’t greatly advertised, locals have found success by reaching out to support from strangers.

Erick Mott of Burlingame, for example, started his idea in college. He was tired of crouching over a book. Instead, he designed a stand to hold up a book that previously sold in office supply stores near colleges. Now, he reinvented the idea to be adjustable for a variety of things such as papers, books or even tablets. Made from eco-friendly material, the creatorstand is also made locally.

Mott set a goal of $15,000 on Indiegogo to get production started. On Sunday, Mott will receive the money because the goal was met. He can raise more money with the time left. But after raising the minimum, Mott at least knows he can get started with his product.

Mott said the opportunities to raise funds online are inspiring for small businesses. It means less risk to launch and less risk to the consumer. Mott opted for a fundraising plan in which he would only receive the money if he reached his goal. Indiegogo allows for other flexible plans. This way, Mott said, money wouldn’t be spent until he could make his product.

Another advantage Mott found was through crowd sourcing. His online campaign resulted in quick feedback from possible consumers. Some had questions which allowed Mott to tweak his presentation quickly.

Despite the lower risk, Mott said much work needed to be done before setting up his online campaign. But the crowd funding method was a cheaper approach to the problem of getting a business funded.

For Tom Borden of Half Moon Bay, the idea of a seasonal crab shack had always been an attractive idea for a family business. This summer, he and his wife decided to give it a go. They put the goal of raising $10,000 on Kickstarter - a minimum needed to get Poppy’s Crab Shack funded for this season. With many days left on the countdown, the family has surpassed the goal of opening a mobile shop named after their young daughter.

Now things are getting really busy. Borden is still hoping to raise more money. If they hit the $25,000 mark, for example, the company could launch in November with a big party. But the business plan has built-in customers. Like nearly all crowd funding projects, backers were promised merchandise. Borden offered certificates for food. For a donation of $500 or more, a person can get a backyard party with crab, sandwiches, rolls and drinks for 10. That option was more popular than Borden had originally thought. Now, he and his wife understand those kind of catering events could be a bigger part of their business than originally anticipated.

Basically, starting Nov. 15, Borden has customers ready to eat and will focus on creating a regular schedule of locations where people can go to enjoy the locally-produced menu.

San Carlos moms Stacy Cooper Dent and Tarah Smith Evans found success through Kickstarter earlier this year.

SugarSNAP was born in hopes of offering parents organizational solutions with adult design aesthetics that work on the go. It turned to Kickstarter to fund its second product, Car-Go, which brings their filing system into a bin that fits into your trunk while leaving room for a stroller, grocery bags, whatever. The women raised their $8,000 goal and learned a number of lessons along the way.

One challenge was finding the right amount for which to ask, explained Evans. Once that was set, the campaign was a bit more work than the women originally thought. If they were to do it again, Evans would try to coordinate coverage beforehand to drum up publicity in the middle of the campaign, which traditionally has a dip in funding.

After raising the funds, it also takes time to work with backers to get the promised products to them, she said. The work has paid off. The women made new connections for business opportunities and found support from a wider community than they had expected.

Funding is still being collected for two of the products described. To support the Creatorstand visit indiegogo.com/creatorstand before 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30. To support Poppy’s Crab Shack visit kickstarter.com and search for Poppy’s Crab Shack before 9:10 a.m. Oct. 13. To learn more about SugarSNAP visit www.heysugarsnap.com.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: heather@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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