Something strange and exciting happened to me in December. I was discussing the possibility of participating in the Yale Education Business Competition when I got the idea to start my non-profit organization “Out the Mouths of Babes,” “OutTmob” for short.
Conceptually, the idea was simple: I wanted to create a Huffington Post for kids, the first ever aggregate youth media site.
There was a problem, however: I did not have the financial resources to begin the process of filing for my 501(c)(3) or to build the website. I also did not know if there would be any interest in the movement I was hoping to create.
I mean, *I* thought that the idea was great, but I felt like I needed to test the market a little bit.
To do this, I decided to start a fundraising campaign using the social enterprise site Start Some Good.
I told myself that if I could meet or top my fundraising goal of $4,000 dollars, I would be confident enough to proceed with attempting to build my organization.
I had no idea how critical this would be.
The path to $4,000 taught me more about business than I have learned in any other endeavor I have attempted at this point in my life.
Crowd funding challenges even the most confident person to put him or herself out there in a way that many have never done.
You not only have to take your idea, which over time becomes your baby, and toss him/her out into the public eye where enthusiasm and well wishes are sure to accompany scrutiny and criticism. On top of that, you have to get comfortable with asking for help…CONSTANTLY.
That said, the constant promoting, marketing, blogging, tweeting, and writing was worth it every single time I would receive an email that said that someone pledged, or a notification on Facebook telling my that someone shared the link to the Start Some Good page.
At the end of it all, we had 70 backers pledging $4,155 dollars.
$900 of that we raised in the final 72 hour push.
I was and I still am humbled and taken aback by the outpouring of support that we received.
But this is where it gets interesting: Now that we have successfully raised money and support from 70 people, we now owe it to ALL of the them to CHASE OUR DREAM!
How cool/scary is that?
We have 70 people who have put their hard-earned money up with the hope that our work will leave the world better than we found it. 70 people betting on not necessarily our success, though they are likely hoping for it, but rather 70 people who are betting on us giving it our all.
That alone is inspiring.
The fact that I have personal relationships with every single one of the 70 people either directly or through someone else means I am hyper-focused on ensuring that I am a responsible steward of their faith and their financial investment.
No doubt, launching an organization is extremely difficult to do, set backs are guaranteed, challenges will come, but when they do, I have 70 names of people who trust in me, believe in me, and are counting on me — 70 names I can look to for inspiration.
I wonder what the world would look like if huge corporations and conglomerates knew all of their investors/stock holders by name… What if office holders knew every one of their voters by name…?