U Posted by Laura Moller
\ January 17, 2014

Within 4 days of launching his business crowdfunding campaign, Gene Sherman had reached 100% of his goal to open Vocademy, a 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art Makerspace.

Throughout his campaign, Gene received an incredible response from crowdfunding backers as well as the media. Backers were thrilled to have the opportunity to learn woodworking, robotics, and 3-D printing and showed tremendous support for the rewards crowdfunding campaign. The media praised Vocademy’s forward-thinking approach and use of business crowdfunding to empower the maker community. Vocademy’s successful crowdfund was featured in Make Magazine, Inc. and The Press Enterprise, among others.

In the months following his fundraise, Vocademy has become a dream come true for any maker, inventor, or tinkerer. Gene has also seen incredible interest from investors and has plans to open additional makerspaces this fall to meet increasing demand. He shares his advice below on how to to grow and scale a business through business crowdfunding.

Gene’s Tips for Preparing for Success Before and After a Crowdfund

Know Your Backers and Reward Them

Gene had tested his concept on a smaller scale when he opened a smaller makerspace out of his garage. It was an invaluable opportunity for him to get to know initial customers and figure out what they valued most from Vocademy classes.

This feedback allowed him to create crowdfunding rewards tiers that incentivized his future customers to jump at the chance to purchase discounted class packages and charter memberships through his crowdfunding campaign.

Choose the Right Platform

Gene shopped around to find the best platform to host his business crowdfunding campaign. He realized the he needed to find a platform that allowed him to create a campaign centered around his customers and growth. Gene discovered that Kickstarter doesn’t allow lifetime memberships and focuses mainly on arts and creative projects. He turned to Fundable to allow him to create rewards tiers that would resonate with his customers and allow him to focus on growing his business. According to Gene “Fundable is perfect for entrepreneurs like me — looking to harness their network and tap into the power of crowdfunding to open a real business.”

Create a Business Plan That Includes Your Crowdfund

When launching a business crowdfund, it’s important that it is accounted for in your business planning. When Gene created his business plan, he knew that he wanted to assess demand for his concept through a crowdfunding campaign, to ensure a solid customer base for Vocademy. This wise decision allowed him to move forward with his business confidently, knowing that his business idea was proven a success.

Convert Your Backers into Lifelong Customers and Investors

Gene focused on creating a crowdfunding campaign that would not only provide him with initial working capital to open his first location, but also with great customers and contacts that would continue to support his business as it grew.

Gene’s backers are recurring customers and some of his best advocates for his business, introducing friends and family to the makerspace and helping to spread the word about Vocademy. Gene’s success also helped him to validate his business and show the demand for what he had created. This success was key in gaining the interest of investors looking to expand the concept to multiple locations and benefit from the success of Vocademy.

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