Utah business getting crowdfunders funded, reaching $119M so far
Zach Smith and Thomas Alvord, co-founders of Funded Today, love their jobs because every day, in real time, they can see how many entrepreneurs and inventors they’ve helped.
The duo started Funded Today in the summer of 2014 to help entrepreneurs who were struggling to raise money on major crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. As of Thursday, Funded Today had helped various campaigns raise more than $119 million. Smith says those numbers are great, but being a part of kick-starting businesses is the exciting part.
“We’ve helped create thousands of jobs through these campaigns,” he explained. From the one entrepreneur who was able to quit his day job and build a business from his idea, to entire companies that have grown from one successful product launch — Smith loves knowing they helped with that.
“We have so many cool stories like these,” he said.
Alvord also enjoys when they can take a product that is solid and unique — but not presented well — and use their knowledge and skills to get that product the funding it deserves.
“We’ve been a part of totally changing campaigns,” he said.
In fact, that’s how Funded Today started. Smith asked Alvord to consult with him on a fledging Kickstarter wallet campaign. The funding had plateaued at $60,000 and the client needed more. By campaign’s end, Smith and Alvord’s work netted the client $40,000 more. From there, requests for campaign help started pouring in.
Funded Today is barely three years old, but Alvord and Smith have already seen some important trends in what boosts a product’s success. Alvord explained that a product must uniquely combine ubiquity and technology.
“It should be something anybody could use, like the wallet, but be innovative,” Alvord said.
He gave the example of smart luggage. Almost everyone has luggage for traveling, but “when you add tech to it, and make it smart,” Alvord said that’s what gets people excited.
“If you have something that is so niche, sales are going to be hard, because you can only sell it to that small community,” he said. “You need to look at how you can take a common product and make it innovative and techy.”
Funded Today tracks all crowdfunding campaigns, not just those they help with. Though crowdfunding is not the hyped topic it was a few years ago, it isn’t dying, Alvord explained. It isn’t growing, but it continues to remain a steady avenue for raising money, and he and Smith are not worried about the future of their company.
“Crowdfunding is the new economy,” Smith said.
Crowdfunding is its own community of people who are excited by new ideas, and for just a few dollars, can help bring those ideas to market. Inventors of olden days had very little recourse for bringing their crazy idea to life, Smith said recalling an idea his own father had that never was created — because he had no opportunity. Now, thousands are inventing new products and processes without the need for money up-front.
“You no longer have to have a rich uncle or ready money. It’s a new way to raise money, and plus, you are getting validation for your idea,” Smith said.
Funded Today has big plans for the future. Smith said they have a goal to help entrepreneurs raise more than a billion dollars in revenue by 2024. Which means more jobs and more successful businesses.
While helping others play in the big leagues, Funded Today itself doesn’t subscribe to the trappings of big business. The company has no physical office space, and all of its almost 50 contracted workers work remotely. This makes for a unique company structure and culture, most of which is done through Skype.
In fact, Smith and Alvord never even met in person until after they’d formed the company and raised more than $5 million for crowdfunding businesses. Smith lives in Ogden and Alvord lives in Cedar Hills. They’d become friends over the internet through mutual business interests, and initially worked together strictly via the web. For some in the company, that’s still true today.
“Some of the people in our company have never met each other in person,” Smith said.
Still, Smith says it’s been one of the best business ventures he’s been involved in, and Alvord agrees. From their individual home offices, they reach small business owners all over the world, and will continue to do so.
To read some of their tips on successful crowdfunding, visit funded.today/blog.