Valente, the owner of Chocolations, a 10-year-old shop in Mamaroneck, NY, where she creates and sells her own artisan chocolate creations, got her latest idea: a food truck that would stop at local kids’ athletic games selling coffee, hot chocolate, some of her own goodies, plus other treats.
With that in mind, she applied to iFundWomen, a new crowdfunding platform for women-owned entrepreneurial ventures. The site recently launched, with Chocolations Gourmet Truck one of the 20 or so ventures on the site.
Founded by Karen Cahn, the platform aims to address the funding gap for female entrepreneurs. “The gap is too extreme of an issue not to do something about it,” she says. It’s a Kickstarter-like platform through which individuals make donations and get various items in return, depending on how much they give. The target venture: A very early stage #startup that needs the funding to help finance a pilot, minimum viable product or something similar. Once the women raise that money and get their enterprises off the ground, they can then try for a seed round.
“Success on a #crowdfunding site is an absolute data point and indicator that a company is ready to make that next step,” she says. The site charges the usual fee of about 5% on transactions, but also reinvests a “significant” portion of profits into live campaigns on the platform.
According to Cahn, she also wants to target what she calls the “confidence gap” that entrepreneurs of all stripes face when trying out crowdfunding. To that end, the platform provides various services to help women become crowdfunding ready. In particular, she finds that women tend to be reluctant to toot their own horn. So Cahn, who is a former long-time Google employee and a videographer, among other achievements, produces top-quality videos for women to use on the site. (Cahn launched VProud Labs, a video production company, two years ago; iFundWomen is a subsidiary).
Plus they help with such matters as how to do a budget, conduct an email marketing campaign and other steps needed to make crowdfunding successful. (Example: Make sure friends and family donate in the first 48 hours, so you show immediate response. “People want to bet on a winning horse,” says Cahn).
Of course, all companies are vetted and can’t participate unless they meet basic requirements. For example, applicants have to address such issues as their background, why the product is important and how they plan to spend the money. If they don’t meet those parameters, Cahn will ask entrepreneurs to resubmit an application after they’ve addressed specific points.
Any type of startup can apply. The 18 ventures on the platform, for example, now range from ClearHealthCosts.com, a platform which is trying to make the real costs of healthcare more transparent and is raising $15,000 to fund a better mobile presence, to Next Wave Fertility, a think tank and media platform about the family in the 21rst century, looking to attract $50,000. As for Valente, she’s raised $1,463 towards an overall $75,000 goal.
Karen Cahn (Photo credit: VProud.tv)
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