Entrepreneurial Insider August Recap

Crowdfunding, Kickstarter & Product Development

This month’s Entrepreneurial Insider brought together our Program Manager, Mary Hartfield, and Co-Founder of Parker Design Co, Taryn Kutches, to talk with Shelley Irwin about crowdfunding!

What is Crowdfunding?

Let’s start with the basics. Crowdfunding is essentially the process of asking the general public for pre-orders of items and products that then provides startup capital for new ventures. Using crowdfunding, entrepreneurs and small business owners can bypass venture capitalists and angel investors entirely and instead, pitch ideas directly to everyday Internet users who can deliver financial backing.

Using services like Kickstarter and IndieGogo, creators build web pages that host information, photos, and promotional videos about products, projects, or services they’re looking to get funded. Viewers are then offered special rewards in exchange for pledges to support the business’s efforts. Rather than equity or a share of profits, these benefits take on the form of exclusive merchandise, advance access to new releases, or more personal incentives!

Meet Parker Design Co

We brought in Taryn Kutches, co-founder of Parker Design Co, to talk about her business’s Kickstarter campaign. Parker Design Co is a fashion brand that’s creating a backpack for the everyday, busy woman. Taryn said, “I was at a corporate event and noticed that the majority of men carried backpacks, but the majority of women carried large tote bags. They were shifting these bags shoulder to shoulder with supplies in hand. After talking with multiple women, I came to find out that the backpacks offered today are too sporty or not functional, so we decided to create one that had the functionality and fashion people were looking for.”

Relative to their Kickstarter campaign, Taryn explained, “In order to sell a product, you need a product, and to get a product, you must purchase a product. Seems simple, but coming up with roughly $25-30k to order this product isn’t. That’s why Kickstarter is the perfect solution for us.”

Parker Design Co’s main goal is to source pre-orders of their backpack, which you can back for $150. They do offer some lower-tier items, like handwritten thank you cards, a Parker Design coffee mug, and what they call a “Hustle Kit,” that includes a Parker Design coffee mug, notebook, pen, sticky notes, and chap stick. It’s a great option for those who want to support the campaign but don’t want to splurge on a backpack just yet.

Kickstarter, A True Market Test

“For us, Kickstarter is a great option. We don’t have to give up control to investors, and it works as a true market test!” Taryn said. The campaign for the Rosa PAK kicks off September 26 and runs for 30 days. The best way to know when the campaign is live is to sign up for Parker Design Co emails at their website here. Backpacks will ship roughly 2-3 months after the campaign ends, and updates about production will be provided throughout the process!

GROW Advice: Why You Could Consider Crowdfunding

So, why do entrepreneurs use crowdfunding? Mary explains that it’s a way to gain early validation of your products or services. Think about it. What better way to test whether your product has a customer base than through a Kickstarter campaign? Additionally, you don’t have to worry about investors owning a percentage of your business; you keep your company.

Crowdfunding also allows you and your business to forge early and strong relationships with committed customers. Crowdfunding isn’t for everyone, however, and a lot of it is making sure that you have the right project and the right kinds of relationships. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you have about crowdfunding, Kickstarter, or how to find funding for your project or business idea.

How Can GROW Help?

Parker Design Co has worked with GROW to help in areas of their business, specifically marketing. Our role is in connecting Taryn and her company with knowledgeable marketing experts, but also mentors who can advise on other areas of her business. In fact, we’ve found that marketing is one area that many people with a great product or a great idea need help with. Marketing is a big “space” so creating a plan, setting measurable goals, and identifying how to get there are some of the foundational and educational elements we provide through our marketing-focused courses.

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind,” Taryn said about her business and her upcoming campaign, “but I’ve met so many great people along the way.”

You can learn more about all of the services GROW offers to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses when you attend a free Intro to GROW session or other classes. Check out all upcoming events on our event calendar, or, contact us today with your questions, we’re here to help you start, grow and build your business.