Vermont Crowdfunding Sites Launched

Apr 1, 2013

Dozens of Vermont musicians and artists have used crowdfunding to raise money for their projects by appealing for donations through the New York City based Website Kickstarter.

The site enables people to post information about a project, such as recording a CD or publishing a book. And then they can raise money to pay for the production through small donations. Funding_040113_Steve Zind.mp3

As the popularity of crowdfunding grows, Vermont versions of Kickstarter are cropping up in an effort to attract support for a variety of causes.

In the past 3 years more than $1,000,000 has been raised for Vermont projects on the popular Kickstarter Website.

A survey by Montpelier based Local 64 and FreshTracks Capital in Shelburne counted a total of 179 Vermont based Kickstarter projects.

The vast majority are arts related, but one of the most successful Vermont Kickstarter efforts was for a product called a Holdster.

The Holdster is a leather cup cozy that's made to hold a canning jar that people drink out of. Marsh Gooding started the Burlington company by raising money on Kickstarter. His initial goal was $5,500. He ended up raising nearly$43,000.

A few influential blogs that pay attention to Websites like Kickstarter and are looking for the next big thing saw our product and posted about it on their blog. Suddenly our product was in front of hundreds of thousands of people, says Gooding.

Gooding says his initial idea was to produce a single run of Holdsters and call it quits. But the money he's raised will give him a shot at building a sustainable, profitable business. So far he's generated $60,000 in sales, although that isn't enough for him to quit his day job.

Nowthe Kickstarter model is being copied locally in hopes of putting Vermont entrepreneurs with specific social missions together with small donors.

One new Vermont crowdfunding portal is called Three Revolutions. It started a few months ago with a focus on raising donations for a variety of food and farming projects.

Thisweek another new crowdfunding site was launched. The EcoHubis hoping to raise money for Vermont environmental projects. The portal was created by three women, all ofwhom are or have attended Vermont Law School.

Crowdfundingportals make money by taking a small percentage of the donations they helpraise.

Inorder to be financially successful The EcoHub will eventually have to expand toinclude projects well beyond Vermont.

Butco-founder Susan Bailey says starting offin a state seen as very friendly to environmental causes will help them testthe viability of their idea.

We really feel that Vermont is the best place for us to launch our business. Vermont is the true test for what we're trying to do as acompany, says Bailey.

There'sno question the broad based approach of Kickstarter has made crowdfunding aneffective fundraising tool.

Siteslike EcoHub hope to accomplish the same thing by focusing on a social mission.

List of Vermont Kickstarter Projects from Local 64 and FreshTracks Capital.