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How to run a successful crowdfunding campaign

'Connect with your community - if you're not already using social media, get onto it before you start your crowdfunding project.'
Joanna Wilson and Nic Kocher, John Gorilla

Top tips 

  • Stand out - your project should grab the attention of potential funders
  • Connect with your community - if you're not already using social media, get onto it. Your fan base are most likely to support your crowdfunding project and spread the word
  • Plan your rewards - plan rewards that your supporters will really want. Factor in the cost of producing and shipping the rewards into your funding goal
  • Research, research, research

The business

John Gorilla is a café in Melbourne suburb Brunswick. Owners Joanna Wilson and Nic Kocher opened the café's doors in August 2012, helped by a successful crowdfunding project.

Joanna had previously owned and operated a successful café; her business Mart130 had won The Age Best Breakfast Award 2008 and was featured in magazines and on television in Australia and overseas.

Joanna and Nic decided to use crowdfunding to make up a funding shortfall as they prepared to open the doors of John Gorilla. Nic took on the challenge of managing the crowdfunding project.

Planning the project

Joanna and Nic recognised that loyal customers and an existing reputation were going to be a key component of success for the project.

Being a café, it was also easy to plan rewards of food and coffee.

They reached out to their networks via a dedicated Facebook page a full year before their doors opened and they knew the funding goal had to be achievable. The funding they sought was around 3% of the total cost of opening the café.

Mobilise your existing networks

With her contacts in the media, her reputation from her previous successful business and a social network of loyal customers, Joanna had an army of support just waiting to spring into action. Serendipitously, a journalist who was enthusiastic about her previous café lived locally and that helped ensure a write-up in The Age which then boosted the fundraising campaign.

'The press we received didn't come out of the blue,' says Joanna. 'They knew what we'd done before and wanted to know what we would do next. That helped a lot.'

She adds that the process made it very clear to her how important it was to get the rewards right. 'When we opened, I was worried that everybody would come in with their vouchers and flood us with 'reward' purchases in our first week. That didn't happen, of course,' she laughs, 'but if we do this again, I'll take that into account.'

'Nic managed the crowdfunding,' she says. 'I don't have those skills. If you're going to do it, you need to know what you're doing.'

Joanna's advice to other business owners is straightforward: 'Do it,' she says simply.

The result

The Pozible funding campaign had a goal of $3000 and raised $6822.

She also mentions a positive outcome they hadn't expected. 'What we realised through this was that our customers welcomed the opportunity to support us. The rewards gave them a sense of proprietary ownership. As supporters, they enjoyed participating. The value of being part of the project went beyond the value of the reward itself.'