Passionate pitches: BoostR Stage comes to YEG

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Excerpt: Small business owners delivered their pitches to a crowd, hoping to win the judges favour (and $1,000).

Adventure buses. Pantomime theatre. Ramen noodles. Moonshine. Wellness treatments. Under what magical roof might all these disparate ideas come together?

Under the roof of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, as a matter of fact, for the very first BoostR Stage YEG event, on Tuesday, September 15. It was put on by Alberta BoostR, ATB’s rewards-based crowdfunding platform.

BoostR Stage is an event where small business owners and entrepreneurs from Alberta can pitch their business plans to an expert panel of judges, as well as a captive audience of engaged community members. The judges hear short, timed pitches, ask some questions, and ultimately choose one business to “boost” with capital. A $1,000 prize goes to help the winning business expand.

But even better, audience members are equipped with voting rights too, in the form of dollars. Audience members are given credits to award their favourite pitch through albertaboostr.ca, good for that evening only.

On Tuesday night, five businesses took the stage: Gateway Wellness Center, Adventure Bus, Wyvern Players, Red Cup Distillery, and Prairie Noodle Shop. Each pitch was unique, reflecting the personality and passion of the business owners.

But the pitches did carry a common theme: they all contained ideas to make our collective community better. Whether it was through offering a cold glass of moonshine or suggesting an outing with your kids to see live, interactive theatre, all the business owners at Tuesday night’s event pitched Alberta-focused innovations.

In the end, the winner of the $1,000 boost from the judges was Red Cup Distillery, rewarded for a passionate and authentic pitch highlighting a compelling business model.

The next BoostR Stage pitch event will be in Calgary on September 30. For more information on that event, to learn more about these businesses, and to boost an Alberta business yourself, visit albertaboostr.ca.

Alberta BoostR Success Story -Remuda

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For Tony McKee, founder of the Remuda Horsemanship Program, getting the word out about the good work his program does through his networks was key to his crowdfunding campaign success.

Tony runs a camp for at-risk youth that, after funding cuts, was unable to run this year. So, he took to Alberta BoostR to crowdfund to keep the camp going and to continue changing the lives of the children who participate in the camp each year.

Tony asked the families of kids who were planning to come to the camp, or who had had great experiences at the camp in the past, to help spread the word about the camp’s purpose and its crowdfunding campaign through their personal networks. By leveraging their networks, he increased the number of people he reached with his campaign multiple times over.

As a small business, getting the word out about your crowdfunding campaign is one of the most important success factors. There is a common misconception that once the crowdfunding page is launched, people are just waiting to open your page and contribute funds.

But in reality, to get people to your campaign page, you have to really put the work in to make them aware of your business and its goals. One of the best ways to do this is to leverage your networks of family, friends and clients, plus asking those people to leverage their networks. Ask everyone you know to boost your campaign early on, and to share your campaign with their own personal and professional networks. Having the support of your friends and family right from the get-go is critical because it’ll allow you to launch your campaign with some traction in funding, which will give your campaign credibility in the minds of those who don’t know you or your business. For instance, if your friends and family help you get 20% funded within the first few days of your campaign launch, that traction will be more convincing to someone who checks out your campaign page and thinks about also supporting your business because it’s already been 20% funded in just a few days. Thus, leveraging the support of your network will enable you to reach out to those outside your network, creating a snowball effect.

Reaching out to the people who know your business isn’t just a great way to expand your network and bring more traffic to your campaign page, it’s also a great way to promote your business. Hearing personal stories from people who have benefited from the work your business does is great marketing. These stories show that when someone contributes to your crowdfunding campaign, they aren’t just getting a reward, they’re making a difference.