Business ideas and inventions occur to people all of the time, but turning an invention into a tangible product usually requires one thing --- money.
Funding for business inventions typically comes from out-of-pocket, through business loans or from investors but a burgeoning source of financing has emerged through the use of crowdfunding.
Serial entrepreneur and Funded Today co-founder Zach Smith of Ogden saw the potential to help fellow entrepreneurs get their ideas funded using crowdfunding and marketing strategies.
“I formed a consulting company (that uses) internet marketing, e-commerce, and basically how to make products resonant well with people on the internet, and I applied that across a huge spectrum.” Smith said.
RooSport was one of Smith’s initial clients. The RooSport is a magnetic waistband pocket for runners, created by Brenda and Earl Brundage of South Ogden.
“We were thinking if we could get $40,000 or $50,000, we would’ve hit the payload,” Earl Brundage said. “We more than doubled what we thought we could do.”
Smith consulted a fellow marketing acquaintance, Thomas Alvord, on the RooSport marketing strategy and the two teamed up on the campaign. Smith and Alvord assisted RooSport with a marketing video, product design and webpage design for their Kickstarter campaign.
“They came to me with just an idea on a napkin.” Smith said. “Literally in 30 days, we raised this product $115,000.”
The RooSport has since expanded products with the help of Funded Today, and the Brundages have retired from their day jobs to pursue their business with the RooSport full time.
“Inventors are lousy marketers.” Earl Brundage said. “Most people don’t have the time or the temperament to be good investors; they need somebody to help them.”
From their initial success and with more entrepreneurs seeking their services for crowdfunding projects, Smith and Alvord founded Funded Today, a crowdfunding marketing agency.
“We’re closing in on $100 million raised over the last 2 ½ years of raising money,” Smith said. “We’ve raised money for over 1,000 people now.”
Alvord said the initial ad funding came from using his dad’s credit card.
“We weren’t even trying to start a business or anything, it just sort of happened to us,” Alvord said. “It all worked out, but it was like a leap of faith.”
Funded Today now employs over 40 people to assist with its crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
“I’m calling crowdfunding the new economy.” Smith said. “Now you can go to the crowd and you can not only figure out if you have a good idea, you can actually get money for that good idea before you ever do anything more.”
Through a paid product validation process, Funded Today will assess whether a campaign can accumulate funding or whether the campaign needs to be readjusted or abandoned.
“We help people realize if they have a good idea or bad idea so they stop wasting their time,” Smith said.
Products that pass the initial validation process are then inserted into the Funded Today marketing strategy. Some of the strategies used include paid advertising, cross promotions and media outreach. Funded Today acquires a percentage of the funds raised due to its marketing.
“We actually get results for our clients.” Alvord said. “If you get results, then they’re going to come back and they’re going to tell their friends and their family and other people they know, so then it just grows on its own. “
The two attribute their funding success to what they call, “the 7 P’s” — a unique product, the right crowdfunding platform, presentation, promotion, price, product perception and the credibility of the people behind the product.
“These are the 7 things that resonated in 99 percent of the cases we worked with,” Smith said. “If they could check all these off, they had a home run.”
Crowdfunding campaigns can submit information requests at www.funded.today.