Crowdfunding Successfully ….. – Interview with The Stormy Teacup

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Running a successful crowdfunding campaign can be easier said that done. This is evident when you look at the statistics whereby 44% of Kickstarter’s campaigns reach their goals. I featured The Stormy Teacup in a blog post a few weeks ago because I felt it was a well planned and creative campaign for a business startup. If you are planning on using crowdfunding to help you to finance and promote a business start up, I hope you will find this interview with Ruth, partner in The Stormy Teacup, useful. They have 9 days and another 21% to go to reach their goal.
1. What made you decide to opt for crowdfunding to raise finance to open your tea rooms in Limerick?
We all know the banks aren’t lending at the moment, you could have the best idea in the world with a really solid business plan but unless you already have money they just won’t take the risk. Friends had used FundIt for album recordings and theatre productions so myself and my business partner Martins thought we should look into whether it could be done for business start ups. It’s also a really good way of raising awareness about your business before you get started, to get people involved and excited out your launch/opening.
2. Why did you choose Indiegogo as your crowdfunding platform?
We looked at FundIt, but that is only for short term projects, and creative project rather than business start-ups. We then looked at Kickstarter, but they don’t allow Irish projects unless you have a UK / US address and bank account. We found Indiegogo through an article you wrote Lorna, and it seemed like the most flexible.
3. I’m delighted to hear that Ruth.  I see you opted for the fixed funding option, I prefer it too but why did you decide to opt for it?
We did some research and we felt that the pressure of an all or nothing deadline would get people more involved and would ultimately help us raise more money. It was a risk that we had to take but we feel that it has paid off. If we only raised €3,000 as opposed to the full €6,000 we wouldn’t be able to do our tea shop properly so we felt it wasn’t fair on those who would have contributed. This way it’s riskier but we will get the money that we need for our start-up.
4. Where have the majority of your backers come from – in terms of location and which social media platform has been the most successful in generating pledges? (Twitter worked best for me so am curious).
A lot of the funding has come from Facebook, both from personal friends and also followers on my various business pages. I’ve had loads of different jobs over the years and seem to know half of Limerick, so it was really handy having lots of friends on Facebook, people were very generous and shared the link a lot. I was surprised at the amount of support that I got on Twitter, as I’m not very active on it, and haven’t build up those relationships like I have on Facebook, but people were very helpful there too. Also my business partner is Latvian, so we got a good deal of support from his native equivalent of Facebook.
On top of that we printed flyers and posters with a QR code link to the campaign. We’re not sure how successful this has been but it has helped to support the online push and build up chatter on the grapevine. The flyers have been particularly useful to give to our regular customers at our stalls at the Milk Market, both to let people know that we’re moving and also direct them towards to Indiegogo fund.
5. You have a great range of rewards in terms of what you are offering and at such varied price points too.  I know Indiegogo lets you add more rewards too which can be handy.  With the benefit of hindsight, would you change any of them?
We did a lot of research for the different types of rewards that people offered on other campaigns. We researched both successful and unsuccessful campaigns, looking in particular at cafes and restaurants. We wanted to have the option of for larger donations but we always knew that it was the smaller ones that would make or break our campaign. We chose small items that people would want but wouldn’t cost us too much to provide, so that we still make a large profit. We’re happy with how it has gone, and it’s nice that Indiegogo give you the option of offering new rewards throughout the campaign. We’ve already added a print of one of my paintings, and in the last few days we plan to offer very limited higher priced rewards too, you never know it might work!
6. I’d like to compliment you on your video, it is very inventive and charming. How much preparation did you put into the whole campaign?
We did a lot of research on other campaigns on various platforms. We read articles, watched videos, and weighed up the pros and cons. It took about two weeks from the start of the research period to pressing the publish button. It was made much easier because there are two of us doing it. The video itself took about a week of intensive shooting, a lot of effort for a video but we really wanted to make something that caught people’s attention. While researching we noticed that the video was a large part of the appeal of a project, if someone gets bored within 30 seconds they will turn it off, we wanted to make something that people actively wanted to watch and share. We did the prep together but the real genius behind it was Martins, he has the patience of a saint. While he was doing the laborious task of editing I was able to write up the pitch itself and take photos of our rewards.
7. Are you finding the running of the campaign to be quite time-consuming?
Yes it is definitely a commitment if you want to make it work, my Twitter and Facebook notifications are beeping constantly on my phone. It does seem like a lot of work but we looked at it like a job for six weeks, two weeks of preparation and four weeks of promotion, and at the end we get €6,000. We’ve always believed from the start that we would make it, that’s what allowed us to completely throw ourselves into it 100%.
8. Any tips for those thinking of running a crowdfunding campaign in the future?
Be patient, there will be a lull in the middle, don’t be tempted to either let it die off or to bombard people all the time with appeals to share your campaign. We got a little freaked out about a week ago when donations ground to a halt, but because of the timing with the floods and storms we thought it was crass to ask people for money to open a teashop, so we kept things quiet for a while. Be aware of what’s going on, it’s a month long race, not a sprint.
Excellent advice there from Ruth particularly regarding that lull in the middle when it can be all too easy to panic and become disheartened. It is a marathon rather than a sprint after all and the surge of the last week gets you to the finish line.  Do check out The Stormy Teacup, it sounds like the most divine place to while away a few hours, whether you are on your own or with friends. Many of the rewards aren’t restricted to tea / cake either so do check them out, you don’t have to be local to Limerick to get involved.
Our Crowdfunding course starts on 24th March if you are interested. Delivered via email over two weeks, it helps you to plan and execute each state of the crowdfunding journey.
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