Firsthand Crowdfunding Experience
by Cara Pleym
Intern at Bloom VC
As a young skint student myself, I can empathise with printing 4 pages per sheet because you can’t afford any more paper or ink, and giving up on the diet because let’s face it, it’s cheap and gives us an excuse to fuel study sessions with sugar. I also know what it’s like to pray for pay day and beg your mum for an extra tenner for ‘uni supplies’. There’s a lot that we have to give up and put to one side for our studies, but thanks to the revolution of crowdfunding, your ideas are no longer one of them!
What’s crowdfunding, I hear you ask? It’s an innovative form of raising finance where you tell everyone your amazing idea for a social, community or business project, and ask the crowd to fund it! There are three main models of crowdfunding: equity, peer-to-peer lending and rewards based. At Bloom, we use the rewards based model which means that all you have to give in return is a ‘reward’ which can be an experience, interaction on social media, a product – the list is endless! It’s all or nothing so if you don’t raise your target, you don’t get any money, and neither do we. Best of all, it’s risk free because it doesn’t cost a penny to set up, and even if you don’t reach your target, telling everyone what you are trying to do online and offline, is only going to raise awareness.
How I got involved with Bloom
I stumbled across Bloom VC, and I was immediately drawn to the name because it was unique and interesting. The concept of crowd funding was something I was vaguely aware of, but knew little about. I started looking at the ‘About’ section on the Bloom website and was pleased to see a direct, honest explanation of what Bloom was about and what they were trying to do.
The first project which pulled me in was Polly’s, the founder of Cake Cetera, because she was only asking for a small amount of money and some of it was already promised, so clearly there was interest. The personal story and ambition sold me; how could I not support someone who was trying so hard and had created a positive future from a very negative event?
It’s strange now to think that while I might count pennies for a sandwich at lunch, I was more than happy to promise £50 to a business I had only just heard about. However Polly was very grateful and engaged with me throughout the project and kept me updated after her project closed successfully. I found this continued interaction was the real reason why I went on to support further projects – these were real businesses with real people trying to make their vision a reality, and I was a part of it.
Bloom VC continues to showcase projects that I am interested in, and despite my lack of funds (partly due to my promises!) I still support them by telling people about them in person and on Facebook and Twitter.
The reason I do this is because I feel I am part of a community now, and whether or not I can personally make a promise, I sincerely want them to succeed. However I will promise money when I have a spare quid, because every little is helping someone achieve their goal.
Why crowdfunding can work for students
I am now an intern for Bloom, and with my experiences as a backer and as a student, the benefits of crowdfunding particularly for students is clear.
3 key benefits for students are:
- Colleges and universities expect increasing levels of technical know-how for the Internet and social media, and offer support where needed. Setting up a project and using social media and the Internet to tell people about it should be easy!
- One of the key things for any course is presentation, so writing a fantastic pitch for your project and keeping people engaged should be second nature.
- The education communities we have access to are massive, and we can tap into that ‘crowd’. Use your communities to spread the word!
Give it a go!
I study Business at Strathclyde, and as an intern with Bloom, I have seen for myself the links between theory and practice, and I have learned more in a few weeks than a whole semester at university. Crowdfunding is a great option for any student, however for business students, there is the added benefit of getting to apply knowledge and skills taught in the classroom and witness how they actually work. If you have a business idea, but no funds to start it, why not give crowdfunding a go? You can’t lose and best case scenario, you get the funds you need with no debt attached to actually launch your idea!
We engage with students regularly at Bloom and are passionate about giving young people the opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that can enhance employability. Running a crowdfunding campaign teaches skills such as communication, social media, time management and project management. It could give you the edge in the workplace, and hopefully some funds to turn your idea into a reality!
After all, I managed to fund quite a few projects despite my meagre funds – so if you have a great idea and sell it well, there are people who are willing to help!