It’s no secret that women have a tougher time raising capital for their businesses than men do. But over the past few years, female entrepreneurs have been flipping that script — by way of their Internet browsers.
Crowdfunding campaigns have given women a unique opportunity to leverage their social networks and customer bases to raise the money they need for starting or growing their ventures. The National Women’s Business Council even cited crowdfunding as “a key resource in advancing women’s access to capital” in its most recent annual report.
And women business owners are not only keeping up with their male contemporaries in this realm; they’re besting them. For example, a study conducted by Jason Greenberg of New York University and Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that 65 percent of women-led tech campaigns on Kickstarter reach their crowdfunding goals, whereas only 30 percent of male-led tech startups can say the same.
To celebrate what crowdfunding has done for women business owners — and to give some love to the fundraisers themselves — we are launching a recurring column that will highlight live campaigns run by female entrepreneurs who are hoping to do truly interesting and impactful things with the money they raise.
Check out these five crowdfunding campaigns from women-led businesses below:
The Business: Beth Massey’s Mission Wear makes eco-friendly bags, hats and other products — and that’s not even the best part. The nonprofit hires formerly incarcerated women and recovering drug addicts, who often have trouble finding work elsewhere.
The Money: To date, Mission Wear has been funded largely by sponsorships and donations. All funds donated to the campaign (of the $5,000 she’s hoping to raise) will be used to grow the organization, in order to help even more women become self-sufficient.
The Business: Helen Volkov Behn is the founder of Spand-Ice, a Pittsburgh-based business that makes the Revive Tank (which uses thermal therapy to relieve back pain). Initial test runs with the product have been successful, and now, Behn wants to make more of them — after all, about half of working Americans suffer from chronic back issues.
The Money: If at least $30,000 is pledged by Thursday, Feb. 12, Behn will be able to use the money to begin larger-scale manufacturing of the Revive Tank in the U.S. Up until now, Spand-Ice has been funded by personal contributions.
The Business: The Independence Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas, is run by Debbie Cerda and Amy Cartwright. Since 2004, the duo has been brewing and selling its own beers. Now that the company has installed a new brewing system, the owners want to give customers a more comfortable in-person tasting experience.
The Money: Should Cerda and Cartwright earn the $35,000 they set out to make by Tuesday, Feb. 10, the money will be used to renovate the company’s tasting room. Several items cited on the To-Do list include installing a walk-in cooler and new taps, resurfacing the floor and purchasing new bar stools.
The Business: Rhythm Badal is the owner and creator of a new app that has the potential to save thousands of lives. With Drive Control, text messages, phone calls and other distractions that smartphones can pose to drivers will be diverted whenever the car in question is moving at over 10 mph.
The Money: With the $150,000 the team hopes to raise by Thursday, March 19, Badal and others working on Drive Control hope to bring on additional programmers and launch a large-scale marketing initiative to raise awareness of the app.
The Business: In sunny Los Angeles, entrepreneur Leah Ferrazzani is churning out delicious small-batch pastas through her business, Semolina Artisanal Pasta. Since October 2014, she has been using her home kitchen to make and package her pastas. But her business is growing fast, and to accommodate the influx of orders, Ferrazzani is moving to a commercial kitchen. Now, she just needs the right tools for the job.
The Money: If her $25,000 goal is reached before the deadline on Friday, Feb. 6, Ferrazzani will be able to stock her new kitchen space with a commercial-grade dryer, which will allow her to double her current production rates.
Want to be featured in The Story Exchange’s Crowdfunder column? Drop us a line and tell us about your campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.