Anyone can be an entrepreneur these days. All you need is a great idea, motivation, and a strong support system. With companies such as RocketHub, Kickstarter and Indiegogo out there providing a platform for crowdsourced funding, any idea can be made into a reality.
We chatted with RocketHub CEO Brian Meece, who gave insight into the story behind his company, some exciting projects and advice for budding creative entrepreneurs.
He plays a mean ukulele and is the CEO of RocketHub, one of the world’s top crowdfunding platforms. He has lectured on crowdsourced funding at SXSW, TEDxBrooklyn, Columbia University, Makers Faire, among other colleges, conferences and institutions. His goal? To teach entrepreneurs how to leverage the crowd for funding their endeavors.
Where did the idea for RocketHub come from?
My background before RocketHub was in creative media. I went to undergrad for film and have been playing in bands since high school. As a creative, I recognized a pattern that was popping up with many of my colleagues using their communities to fund projects. In the late 1990’s, I heard about Darren Aronofsky using the crowdfunding model to raise $60,000 from his community to make the movie Pi. That blew my mind.
Crowdfunding was already starting to happen in the world of art, but I wanted to bring it into the mainstream and to new verticals. So, in 2009 we launched RocketHub, and in the last 3 years we’ve seen massive growth of the crowdfunding movement. RocketHub is a world leader in the space – and we’re proud of that.
What are some recent exciting developments at RocketHub?
In conjunction with A&E, RocketHub just launched Project Startup in April. A&E reached out to us last summer – and right away I enjoyed connecting with their team. A&E’s perspective was all about adding value to the RocketHub community. They did this by addressing the two key needs our project leaders have: the first one being how to raise more money, and the second being how to get the word out for their ideas. These two components are at the core of the A&E partnership. This partnership is historic in scope and elevates the RocketHub platform to a whole new level.
What will Project Startup offer creative entrepreneurs?
Project Startup takes the stories of our project leaders and dials them into A&E’s wide audience. Our project leader’s now have a chance to be showcased across A&E’s multitude of platforms – over 100 million TV sets, web access, live events, as well as A&E’s magazine. In addition to exposing project leaders to a wide audience, A&E is also giving funds to crowdfunding projects on RocketHub.
Is there any particular advice you’d give creative grads who are looking to launch their first ever crowdfunding campaign?
Crowdfunding is an online event that harnesses a community for funding, awareness and feedback. This event has a beginning, a middle and end to it. It’s very different from the standard ecommerce play where you open up a store and sell stuff online. And it’s different from a donation play where there’s an online tip jar. Crowdfunding is very much an event that galvanizes communities to participate within a very specific amount of time.
The way our platform works is that a project leader comes to RocketHub, uploads the title of their project and what they’re looking to do. And they’ll typically have a pitch video talking about themselves, their passion for the project, and a detailed project description. Then, they’ll set a goal amount – what they’re looking to raise along with rewards they can give back to funders.
The three core components we find successful projects have are:
- An awesome mission spearheaded by awesome people;
- An audience of core supporters
- Cool “goods” to offer in exchange for the financial contribution
Those three things together are the “secret sauce” for successful campaigns.
To succeed a project needs to sell the experience. This funding model is about the relationship that these funders have with the person spearheading the project. It’s about the relationship that those fuelers have with this person and that they have with each other – their ability to connect and communicate. It’s really about how communities participate with the funding, how they connect with the campaigner and the other funders and what they get back in exchange for the financial contribution. It’s a very different phenomenon from just going to the store and buying something. It’s very impactful when done correctly. I encourage folks to check out the “Success School” on RocketHub to learn more.
Have you interned before?
While I have not formally interned, I have made a point early on to be around folks I could learn from – and I’ve benefited from their advice. Coming into any organization with an attitude of “how can I add value?” mindset can generate an offering of opportunities.
So take Brian’s advice: get out there and make it happen!