Bill McNeely of StartUpGuru TV: What Crowdfunding Success Looks Like!
When Bill McNeely was looking for support to launch his start-up company, he turned to Repay Vets to raise funding to attend Techstars Patriot Boot Camp, an annual conference to provide business training for entrepreneurial veterans.
But Bill, formerly an Army officer, enlisted Marine, and Iraq veteran, didn’t just post his campaign online and hope for the best – he worked out a detailed project plan, followed up on every potential lead and donation, and conducted his own campaign for support on a personal Twitter account and other social media.
“The key to any start-up funding effort is the plan,” says Bill. “You need to do your research, talk to people, and then take some time to write something which really tells people how their money will be used and why they should contribute.”
His business idea, StartupGuru TV, needed to be further developed and he wanted to acquire additional skills to launch a business. So Bill started a campaign on Repay Vets to raise the money he needed for Techstars Patriot Boot Camp. Once he posted his detailed plan and budget for the trip on the Repay Vets website (www.repayvets.com) he then tweeted it to his personal twitter followers, several times a week, and asked them to retweet to others.
He was able to raise the money he needed (almost $800) through Repay Vets and attended the conference. As a result, he connected with with a mentor and co-founder, Brian Williams, and is working with Leaderzville to create a high school entrepreneurship program as well.
After speaking to people in the crowd-funding industry Bill had some other tips as well for potential fundraisers. “The first 30 percent of funding is most important to getting more supporters, and that will mostly come from your friends and family. You need to get the ball rolling so people who don’t know you will have the confidence to support you as well,” he says.
Be realistic about what kind of funds you will be able to raise, he adds. Also, advises keeping a campaign short, about 30-45 days, so it doesn’t lose momentum with potential supporters. Make a video, or use one which explains your project, if you possibly can, Bill says.
Most important is communication. Answer peoples’ questions, use Twitter to get the word out, and by all means thank anyone who chooses to support you. “If people choose to support you, you need to show your appreciation for that,” Bill says.
Friday Link Bytes: November 30 Edition
- History in the Making: First Female Combat Veterans newly elected to Congress.
- Sticking with the theme of Congress, the overall number of veterans serving in the U.S. Congress is declining.
- A survey of 800 female military veteran business owners,showed that nearly half said owning their own business has helped their transition back into civilian life.
- How can small businesses benefit from veteran employment? Find out the answer(s) here.
Friday Link Bytes is a weekly collection of stories relating to veterans & entrepreneurship
Vets starting tech businesses rely on each other for support
RepayVets in the News. via Washington Post:
Lt. Commander Marlon Terrell is a Navy reservist, but in his freetime has started a tech business to support veteran entrepreneurship. He uses a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding model — veterans can post their projects on RepayVets and request pledges. The Maryland-based company started last year but had its soft-launch last month—so far, it has already funded one successful venture (a jump-rope adapted to the Crossfit workout.)
Terrell started RepayVets out of concern for the returning service members , a couple hundred thousand of which he estimates will be looking for enterprise opportunities.
Many veterans find, upon coming back to their families, that they “don’t have a lot of capital when they return,” Terrell said.
Read the article here
Friday Link Bytes: August 10 Edition
- Military veterans are turning to careers as mental health professionals to fill the gaps in veteran care that other efforts have left open.
- The VA hosted a workshop that briefed some veterans service organizations on plans to “fast track certain veterans claims”, and how to help with the process.
- According to the CDC, military veterans are reporting poorer health.
Friday Link Bytes is a weekly collection of stories relating to veterans & entrepreneurship
Organizational Feature: Hope For the Warriors®
Name: Hope For the Warriors®
About Hope For the Warriors®: Hope For The Warriors® is a national, nonprofit organization that supports wounded U.S. service members, their families, and families of the fallen. Ten key programs help support the Hope for the Warriors mission. These programs are: Above & Beyond, Family Support, Family Reintegration, Hope & Morale, Immediate Needs, Outdoor Adventures, Spouse/Caregiver Scholarships, Team Hope for the Warriors®, A Warriors Wish®, Wounded Warrior Unit Support, and the Hope & Care Center.
Mission: To enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.
A quick glance at their ‘Above & Beyond’ program, which wounded service members who are pursuing entrepreneurship may find both valuable and helpful:
- Above & Beyond: This program provides guidance to wounded service members “pursuing reintegration into the civilian sector”. The overall objective of Above & Beyond is to look into the “next step” options for those who are interested in a civilian career, higher education, advanced training, or a small business start-up. The program consists of one-on-one mentoring, along with 3-4 day seminars and follow up coaching that is all designed around the participants’ individual objectives.
In addition to the information above, I spoke with Anne Woods, the Director of Public Relations, and here is what she had to say about Hope For the Warriors®:
1. What do you wish people knew about Hope For The Warriors®?
The mission of Hope For the Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.
Hope For The Warriors® supports ten distinct programs that offer a full cycle of care starting with Immediate Needs financial assistance, and continuing through A Warrior’s Wish®, Hope & Morale, Above & Beyond transitional program, spouse/caregiver scholarships, Family Reintegration Program, Family Support, Team Hope For The Warriors® and more.
2. What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for or donating to Hope For The Warriors®?
Hope For The Warriors® has earned a Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), an independent organization that evaluates fiscal responsibility and accountability of nonprofits. 95% of all donations directly assist wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen from each military branch.
Volunteers are vital to the organization and with their help, Hope For The Warriors® is able to assist more families and reach more communities.
3. What is your favorite memory so far?
My favorite moment was seeing the look of both relief and hope on the face of a spouse. Her husband had one leg amputated several years ago and the other leg had been giving him a great deal of trouble. Suddenly wheelchair bound more than before, the veteran had limited mobility in his own home. We immediately responded by purchasing a travel ramp that could be used at both their home as well as folded up and taken with them. We also reassured the family that if his second leg was amputated and home modifications were needed, we were prepared to assist them financially.
The look of hope had nothing to do with their financial needs however. The pain in his leg and the uncertainty of his future had taken its toll on this veteran and his PTSD started to control their lives. We invited the couple to join us at a bike race where other amputees were participating on their handcycles and recumbent bikes. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny March day—a perfect day to ride a bike or watch a bike race. Afterwards, we all sat together eating burgers and sharing stories. For the first time in months, this veteran was out, enjoying himself, and talking with other service members. That is why his wife looked so hopeful.
Four months later, this veteran still does not know what to expect about his medical future. He continues to struggle both physically and psychologically. Regardless of what this couple must deal with, his wife knows that she can count on Hope For The Warriors® for financial assistance and emotional support.~
For more information on the ‘Above & Beyond’ program, click here.