For North Central Florida Kickstarters, It’s All Or Nothing

By on October 20th, 2013

A Newberry couple hopes their idea is the 37th successfully financed project on Kickstarter from Gainesville.

Gainesville-based engineers, artists, and authors have raised $489,932 toward original, creative projects since 2010 on Kickstarter. Eighty one percent of that total has been raised so far this year.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website where people can seek funding for their projects. Participants set a dollar goal, and if they reach it in a limited amount of time, they receive funding. Along the way to the goal, pledges can score deals on products as rewards for different levels of funding.

Still, it’s all or nothing. If the goal isn’t reached, participants don’t receive anything. Currently, Kickstarter has a success rate less than 50 percent.

According to Forbes, the Crowdfunding Industry Report estimates transactions will double from $2.7 billion last year, to about $5.1 billion. Lend-based crowdfunding, like Kickstarter, is leading the industry.

Newberry newlyweds, Daniel and Carly Murawsky, decided it was time to capitalize on their project, Matcha Munch, a green tea kettle corn recipe Daniel Murawsky invented, once they had another mouth to feed.

Murawsky, a health guru, created the recipe about five years ago after realizing that he could make a sweet and healthy snack with natural and organic ingredients.

“I remember him making it before we started dating,” said his wife, Carly Murawsky. “It made me want to date him even more.”

The Murawskys said their friends have bonded over Matcha Munch. The treat has been featured at birthday parties and even their wedding.

The family is asking for $4,444 to pay for a new cooker, ingredients in bulk and other supplies. They hope to start selling their kettle corn in local farmer’s markets and shops. As of Oct. 18, their Kickstarter page has collected $470 with 14 backers, and the project has 15 days until it expires.

“They’ve created this huge network of funding for so many just normal people like me,” said Murawsky.

University of Florida entrepreneurship professor Bill Rossi doesn’t believe that crowdfunding is the best way to finance a business, though he said it works for some.

Typical investors want equity and some say in the company, he said. In crowdfunding, economic and creative control stays with the idea owner.

“I personally don’t think that it really is an effective way of trying to finance a business,” Rossi said. “There are some people who have been successful with it, but I don’t think that means it is therefore a successful way of financing an enterprise.”

The Murawsky’s may eventually expand, but right now they are thrilled at the opportunity to raise money for a little project.

Alachua resident Deva Mirel is a Kickstarter success story. She kicked off a line of custom-made beeswax candles funded by her first Kickstarter campaign and raked in 109 percent of her $10,000 goal.

Mirel even started a second project to grow her custom vintage-styled tea towels collection, bringing in 333 percent of her $500 goal.

“An investor’s experience is to make money, whereas I think the people who are looking to fund projects on Kickstarter are looking to feel-good consumerism,” she said.

Mirel said Kickstarter definitely helped her expand her brand and reach a bigger audience. Her success with the website has led her to exposure on the Huffington Post.

Mirel has been able to maintain economic and creative control over her brand, Fresh Pastry Stand, through Kickstarter. Her brand had been living online on Esty.com only selling vintage pastry stands before she turned to crowdfunding to help pay for her new candle venture.

“I had a terrific turn out, actually, from the local Gainesville, Alachua community,” she said. “And also amazingly enough the folks I went to high school with really rallied around it.”

Expanding your reach is instrumental, said Mirel, especially with an online business. She puts in 8 to 10 hours of work a day to develop her brand identity.

She suggests having a business plan before asking for funding.

Rossi and Mirel both agree that Kickstarter revolves around people. Products are more likely to be backed if there is an inspiring human element and story behind the products. Mirel felt that her Kickstarter campaigns were successful because they are full of personality.

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