Crowdfunding is not simply a business, it is a delicate art which requires a talented and passionate artist.
Crowdfunding is the collaboration of the efforts of many people getting together to make a distinct difference on the world through a specific cause. Jessica Bolaños and her husband Nelson Vanegas both are discovering what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. Together, they have founded Goodspero, which is “a crowdfunding digital campaign production house that works with people and organizations from around the world to provide educational opportunities for youth in developing countries.” Crowdfunding is more than just creating a website and asking for money, it involves guerilla marketing, being able to create viral videos that reach the hearts of thousands, and figuring out how to partner with other organizations in order to reach a common goal.
Goodspero has since completed its first crowdfunding campaign, which greatly impacted the education of Colombian children. They are now working on upcoming projects in El Salvador, Africa, and Asia, with a commitment in the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative University network to crowdfund $4 million for education by 2015.
What is the hardest thing about running a successful crowdfunding campaign?
“Ha! Getting money! -- no, umm... I guess the hardest thing about crowdfunding is you have to be extremely transparent. If you have a product or something usually you don’t give out every single piece of information, especially financial information about what you’re trying to do. I think that’s the hardest part for us, even when we crowdfunded our video, it was our first time crowdfunding and we didn’t even have a product, so it was real difficult for us to say exactly where every single dollar was going to go. What we do is for a good cause, but we don’t know exactly which child, or anything specific we could tell people about exactly where their money is going to go. So I think that was the most difficult part, getting people to trust you, when you can’t even tell them honestly where exactly that dollar is going to go. So it’s a good guessing game, making assumptions in a video, forever, online!”
How has being in Houston helped?
“Well I’ve been here all my life, so I was born and raised in Houston. It really helped that I had a big network here to support me, and Nelson too, my husband, he also was raised here in Alief so he had a lot of support in Houston as well. That’s the big thing with crowdfunding, it’s all through your own social networks, really. It’s social media driven, so the bigger your network is, the more support you’ll have. Pretty much every single person that contributed to our crowdfund, we knew directly, or they were one contact away. There were a couple of strangers who pitched in, but Houston was pretty much everybody that contributed.”
When did you decide you wanted to go into crowdfunding?
“When I got into the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship [at the University of Houston]. Goodspero was born there. When I got into the program I thought I was going to expand my for-profit, Evident Empire Media, which is a multi-media marketing company. However, the first day in the program, and I say this over and over, they did the whole “personal purpose” thing, and made us “align all our dreams to everything we wanted to do in life and your career and everything” and that just kinda changed our whole perspective on what we wanted to do in life. So we took everything we were already doing with multimedia production, videos, and photography, everything digital basically and we just did it for a good cause instead. We wanted to start a non-profit. We tried to start a non-profit but apparently it was too similar to our for-profit so now we’re working our way around that, we’re going to be like a “social enterprise” of sorts, so... we’ll see where that takes us!”
Jessica and Nelson can be spotted at nearly every important event in Houston. From startup and technology conferences to underground hip-hop shows, this hardworking couple is constantly out networking and expanding their reach. Follow her online to keep up with and help with her upcoming campaigns.
Goodspero & Evident Empire Media