Crowd Funding Site Gives New York Entrepreneurs a Kick Start

Online MBA degree gives professionals a business edge in new funding fad

By: Tracy Keller

A new generation of out-of-the-box thinkers, savvy innovators and big idea generators is coming of age in a new business environment—one where creative capitalists armed with an entrepreneurial spirit can have their ideas funded by the masses.

Kickstarter, a crowd funding site, has helped fund more than 30,000 projects, including music, films, games, art and technology. More than 2.5 million people have pledged almost $350 million since its 2009 launch, which has established a community that supports innovation and the next big idea and revolutionized the entrepreneurial spirit.

“Crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter facilitate a “virtual conduit” for entrepreneurs and backers to bring concept to fruition in a direct and global manner,” said Henry Rivera Jr., MBA professor at Touro University Worldwide.

How Kickstarter Works

Kickstarter helps to remove the financial barrier often associated with the entrepreneurial process by helping innovators and savvy individuals fund their business ideas. From high profile art installations to designer clothing lines, and chart-topping music albums to tech gadgets and inventions, Kickstarter has become the go-to funding platform for startups looking for their big break to get their projects off the ground.

A Kickstarter project requires a page on the site, a target goal with a fundraising deadline, donor rewards and a marketing plan. Total pledges must equal or exceed the dollar goal to receive funding, which raises the stakes for project creators to market and promote their page to family, friends and even strangers. Ultimately, the control of the project is in the hands of the creator, and the project’s success is determined by the amount of effort the project creator puts into its marketing, promotion and donation solicitation. Because the funding of a Kickstarter project is based on an all-or-nothing concept, the site has a moderate success rate, as 44 percent of projects have reached their funding goals, according the Kickstarter.

The novelty of Kickstarter is based on the immense community support that the site and other similar crowd funding sites have generated across the Internet among fellow entrepreneurs, business supporters and investors. While friends and family of project creators likely donate the bulk of funds to a particular project, many crowd funding fans cruise the site for interesting projects that speak to their interests or that offer unique rewards to project backers.

New Yorkers Dream Big With Kickstarter

New York City has a huge presence on the crowd funding site with many notable projects up for funding. Take a look at a sampling of projects recently up for funding through Kickstarter.

Better: Culture & Lit: The face of print publications is changing as publishing houses trend toward the more cost-effective and interactive online medium. Better, an online journal of culture and literature, is embracing these changes and creating a hybrid publication that fuses the best of both worlds together to make one amazing journal publication. Better is harnessing text, audio, video and more to tell the hard-to-categorize stories of more young writers and artists. And, the online format makes Better more accessible to the masses, helping a talented, up-and-coming generation of writers and artists be seen and heard.

When I Walk: An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, “When I Walk” tells Jason DaSilva’s story of living with multiple sclerosis. “When I Walk” is a film narrative that follows DaSilva’s experience with multiple sclerosis, showcasing his body’s steady decline as a result of the disabling disease. The film received critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, and DaSilva is raising funds to get his film in theaters around the country.

Eat Their Words: New York pastry chef Jennifer Roach is counting on backers to fund her edible greeting card idea to literally get people to eat their words. Roach’s sugar cookies are baked from all natural ingredients and feature vintage illustrations with witty words to mark any occasion.

Roach will offer 15 different and unique greeting card groupings, including:

  • Happy birthday
  • Over-the-hill Birthday
  • Thank you
  • Congratulations
  • Get well soon
  • New baby
  • Engagement
  • The sisterhood
  • Friendship
  • Just for fun
  • Bad advice
  • Feeling romantic
  • The breakup
  • Happy hour
  • Sorry

These delicious cookies are a little mouthy and offer a memorable alternative to a greeting card or flowers for that special occasion or just because.

Head in the Clouds: New York City throws away 53,780 plastic bottles each hour. Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, partners at STUDIOKCA, will build a massive art pavilion featuring plastic bottles as part of the “City of Dreams Competition” sponsored by the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter, the committee for Emerging New York Architects, the Structural Engineers Association and FIGMENT, a non-profit arts organization. The art pavilion will be the centerpiece of FIGMENT’s annual art event on Governor’s Island. After surpassing their original goal, the team at STUDIOKCA has set a new goal in order to fund a traveling showcase of the art pavilion to share its message with people around the country.

The Acoustic Guitar Project: David Adams’s The Acoustic Guitar Project has been successfully funded by Kickstarter fans and supporters. The project was created to help musicians around the world reconnect with the origin of their inspiration to become a singer-songwriter. The Acoustic Guitar Project will select a musician to kick off the project. That musician will be provided with an acoustic guitar and a recorder and will be given one week to record an original song. No computer editing or other instrumentation is allowed. After the musician has recorded their song, they will then choose the next musician to participate and will pass along the same guitar and recorder. The over $20,000 raised on Kickstarter will be used to film a television pilot based on the project’s original concept.

Puppet Romeo and Juliet: The American Globe Theatre and The Puppet Shakespeare Players presentation of “Puppet Romeo and Juliet” received over three times its fundraising funding goal through Kickstarter. The Puppet Shakespeare Players will be filming a video production of their “Puppet Romeo and Juliet” to be released on DVD.

Bowoo Guitar Case: Bowoo introduces the hybrid guitar case, offering musicians the protection of a hard shell case with the portability and flexibility of a lightweight guitar bag. Bowoo supports local manufacturing, as the guitar case is 100 percent made in the USA and fits most guitars from an electric guitar up to a full size dreadnaught. The initial edition of the Bowoo guitar cases quickly sold out. The team at Bowoo is looking for financial support to put the guitar case into full-scale production.

While Kickstarter has helped revolutionize the entrepreneurial process, business acumen can facilitate a project’s overall success. The Kickstarter business plan is not fail-proof for would-be entrepreneurs. Going into the process with an inherent understanding of supply and demand, production costs, marketing and promotions, cost structure, manufacturing operations, business infrastructure, etc. can help a project creator better outline their concept and build a solid plan before taking it live on the crowd funding site.

An online MBA degree prepares business professionals with the skills necessary to lead an effective business operation that can grow their big idea. Kickstarter and other similar sites help make those plans a reality through funding.

According to Dr. Greg Zerovnik, professor and chair of Touro University Worldwide’s MBA program, the school’s online MBA program attracts many students who already own their own business or intend to start one and curriculum is designed to address the needs of an entrepreneur.

“We recognize that courses and subject in business today need to address the entrepreneurial aspects of business more than ever before,” said Dr. Zerovnik. “Business owners have to understand finance so they invest their assets and resources wisely. They need management accounting skills to understand how profit and loss can be managed. They need marketing and communications in order to spread the word about their new or existing venture. Students in the TUW MBA program get all this and more.”

Touro University Worldwide (TUW) believes in the transformative power of continued education. TUW students are committed to social justice, intellectual pursuit and philanthropic duty and receive a well-rounded educational experience focused on the holistic development of the individual. An advanced degree from TUW can change your career trajectory and your future putting you on a path towards advancement and lifelong success.

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