Modern Sprout is a Chicago-based business that designs, manufactures and sells innovative hydroponic planters for the home. In April, 2013, Modern Sprout launched via Kickstarter and debuted a stylish self-sustaining windowsill planter. The product was well received; in 35 days nearly $80,000 was raised and 700 planters were pre-sold to backers across the globe. Following the campaign Modern Sprout has launched four product lines, secured over 140 retail partners and has garnered national media coverage.
Modern Sprout was founded by Sarah Burrows and her husband Nick. We met Sarah at our summer salon and she graciously offered to debunk five common crowdfunding myths for those of you who are considering raising money for a new product/project in a similar way. Read on to soak up learnings from her personal crowfunding experience!
Someone will steal my idea – I need a patent first.
In general, the mentality of thinking everyone you tell is going to take your idea and turn it into a full-blown business is irrational. I say that with confidence now, but before launching Modern Sprout I was leery of sharing too much. Starting a successful company is so incredibly hard, and 99% of people aren’t willing to commit the necessary time, effort or capital and can’t stomach the risk. You need to tell people your idea because you need to get their feedback, get connected to someone they know, or get advise based on their area of expertise. Most people will havesomething to offer that will help advance you forward.
If I build it they will come.
Due to the low barrier to entry, crowdfunding sites are over-saturated…and mostly with mediocre campaigns. Even with a strong campaign it’s hard to stand out. You’ll need to drum up interest through social media, by pitching press, investing in advertising, forging strategic partnerships, etc. We created flyers with free seed packets and placed them in over 50 coffee shops around Chicago – and we had a few backers reference them! If you don’t have marketing experience, find a boutique agency and hire them. Marketing is arguably themost important factor to running a successful campaign (disclaimer, as a former marketing professional I might be bias).
I need to have a huge social media network.
You don’t – we didn’t. I could hardly stand to look at Facebook when we launched our campaign. You do have to putyourself out there, and you will have to engage your family and friends (which was probably the hardest part for me). We sent emails to our personal and professional contacts and asked them to help drive awareness throughout our campaign. We made it easy for people to help us by providing bulleted emails with pre-formatted images, copy points, and relevant links.
I need to have the perfect product first.
I think some of the best entrepreneurial advice is to fail fast. It’s not realistic to have everything perfectly in place before you launch; your product will inevitably evolve and you should be prepared to pivot if need be. Unlike securing capital through traditional channels such as loans or investors, the beauty of crowdfunding is that youreally just need a solid idea and killer marketing.
I will have to spend a lot a time building a strategy.
You don’t, because you don’t need to start from scratch. There’s a ton of advice available online and even step-by-step crowdfunding hacks. Here’s one we used!
Connect with Modern Sprout on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Checkout their full line of products on their online shop, or locate a retail partner in your area that sells Modern Sprout planters!