Alex Situnayake, founder of Wavey Ice, shares his journey so far:
I got the idea in my head that crowdfunding could be an option when I got back from Barcelona at the end of September last year. I didn’t really know what to do next and I had no money left! My options were either seek private investment or go down the crowdfunding route. I initially decided that I’d look for private investment as, at the time, it seemed like the easier option! I quickly realised that no investors would get behind a brand with no solid sales figures or financial projections and I realised I would feel uncomfortable with people investing in a brand that had no proven track record! After a few conversations with various people the crowdfunding path began to make more sense. It would allow me to really gauge interest in the brand and get some solid figures under my belt before coming up with a proper a pitch deck to present to investors in the future.
I started properly planning the campaign at the beginning of January without knowing yet which platform I would be using to host the campaign. I filmed a quick teaser video with my friend Ben and sent it out to all my contacts explaining what my plans were for the crowdfunding. I got a great response back which made it clear in my mind that this was the right thing to do.
We began filming the campaign video without much hesitation and I started putting various different mailing lists together and compiling all my contacts! If there’s one thing I’ve definitely learned from all this so far it’s that organization is absolute key.
I think I’d spoken to Alessio from Crowdfooding previously via The Food Hub group on Facebook and we’d spoken about crowdfunding. I told him about my plans and that I was still undecided on which platform to use. He suggested using the Crowdfooding platform to host the campaign and after going down to meet the guys in Camden I decided this would be the best option to go for in order to maximize the chances of success for the project!
I’ve learned a lot from working with the Crowdfooding guys and one of the main reasons I chose to go with them was the additional support they were offering me. The success of a crowdfunding campaign is basically determined by the amount of work you put in before you even launch it. Reaching out to your network, contacting blogs, sampling events etc. I don’t think I could’ve pulled this off as effectively if I was going at it alone!
After months of planning, MailChimp emails and countless Google Hangouts we were finally ready to launch my campaign. Being in Birmingham I decided the best place to host the launch party would be here in the city. I managed to sort out a booze sponsor through a friend from Wray & Nephew and booked a relatively well known rapper to come and perform at the party! I knew this would bring a big crowd in. We got a great turnout on the night and it was such a good feeling hosting a successful event in the city I was born in. Although I think most people were there for the free booze rather than to support the campaign!
It’s been mad ups and downs since the launch of the campaign. I had it in my head that we’d get funded straight away but that’s obviously very rarely the case with these things. It feels weird asking people to basically give you their money but then you realize you’re actually offering some really great rewards that you’ve worked hard on to produce. It’s a really nice feeling when your friends and family do start coming through with the pledges and it makes everything worth while!
I think the most difficult thing about the campaign so far has been literally having to drive all the traffic to the campaign myself. The only thing that put me off using the Crowdfooding platform was that it was a relatively new platform without many previous campaigns and regular visitors to the site, but it was the offer of additional support that swayed me. It’s also been difficult contacting businesses, brands, and individuals trying to get them to share the campaign or pledge money but you basically have to be relentless if you want to be successful at the end of the day.
My advice to anyone out there looking to start their own business, launch a crowdfunding project or basically chase any kind of dream would be;
Keep your head down, work hard, stay fit, stay focused, talk to your family, talk to your friends, run, get a whiteboard, push yourself out of your comfort zone every day, be passionate, stop putting things off, focus on the positive things, Instagram followers don’t equate to success, you get out what you put in and at the end of the day only YOU can make things happen.
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