Brand New Good! StartSomeGood’s Newest Campaigns…
With a vision to bring families together by encouraging them to participate in charitable service, FUSE Families With Purpose is raising funds to develop a computer game for families in hopes of helping to unify and strengthen them. While participating as a team in the video game, families are prompted to engage in quests outside the game such as helping a neighbor, going to a senior home, sitting down as a family for dinner, or even participating a weekly family meeting. Once the challenge is completed, they earn points in the game which allows them to complete levels and release sponsor-donated funds that are given throughout the world to help families. Meeting the tipping point goal of $7,280 will allow FUSE to create a prototype of the game and present it to the World Congress of Families in Sydney Australia in May 2013.
The Lents community in Portland, Oregon is a community of underserved people who do not have access to quality child care. Little Adventurers Day Home, an early childhood education and development social enterprise, opened in this community in 2011 but was forced close down because it was not prepared for the immense growth it experienced. Now with a better understanding of the needs of the community and a plan to fulfill those needs, they are seeking funds to reopen their doors. The tipping point goal of $3,450 would allow them to reopen with the bare essentials needed to help children during the day and have after school programs. The total funding goal would allow them to build a child care tuition assistance fund that covers monthly child care costs for low and no-income families.
No Stigma is an organization dedicated to raising awareness of Combat PTSD, supporting veterans and their families, and educating them in entrepreneurship. The founder of Support No Stigma is a war veteran living with PTSD that not only has a successful blog, but also has experience working with Volunteers of America on the HBO Documentary Wartorn. He is raising funds to incorporate Support No Stigma as a 501(c)3 organization, develop and host a website, design a logo, and free cash flow so he can begin programs to help veterans with PTSD be treated equitably. Reaching his tipping point goal of $5,000 will allow him to officially incorporate his nonprofit and create a website. Any additional funds will be used to help free up cash flow so he can support advocacy programs, design and create promotional materials, and travel to conferences.
Let’s Celebrate! Recently Tipped Campaigns…
ADAMA helps people without resources or who are at risk of social exclusion—the homeless, victims of gender violence, people living with HIV, children, and senior citizens—by providing them with professional services for free. At ADAMA, therapists, tutors, accountants, lawyers, yogis, etc. give their time to help marginalized people throughout Barcelona, Spain. OTOXO Productions is going to make a social documentary about ADAMA’s work, the people who do it, and the people whose lives are changed by it. Six backers have contributed a total of $300 because they believe in Preventing Social Exclusion in Innovative Ways. ADAMA can now, at the very least, produce the documentary. Any funds raised beyond the tipping point will help ADAMA and OTOXO promote the film.
Shawn D. Ross
I am a Northwest Native living in Washington State. A graduate of Washington State University and University of Phoenix with degrees in Architecture and Education I write about social, cultural, and personal improvement on the StartSomeGood Blog and SDRinspire. I am also a filmmaker and owner of Giraffe and Penguin Productions, a single daddy of two beautiful children, avid reader, writer, and hat wearer (Not in that picture but believe me, I wear ‘em). I am currently at work on my first feature length documentary. Follow me @shawndross and visit my websites: sdrinspire.tumblr.com and giraffeandpenguinproductions.tumblr.com.
What good do you want to create? Visit our site to learn about how to start your own campaign.
Let’s Celebrate! Recently Tipped Campaigns…
Jennifer started Sock Monkeys Against Cancer (SMAC!) for her mother who lives 1,200 miles away from her and has lung cancer. Because of the distance, Jennifer wanted to make sure her mother would have a “buddy” she could hug and remind her that Jennifer is always with her, especially during her treatments. SMAC! is a gang of monkeys that provides tangible support to those with cancer, reminding them that no one fights it alone. Two prototypes are complete with many more designs planned to help battle all types of cancer. Following the model set forth by such companies as TOMS shoes and Warby Parker Eyewear, every monkey purchased will ensure a second monkey will go to someone else with cancer. In addition, a portion of the proceeds will go to cancer research and programs. SMAC! has raised over $28,000 to launch the program and mass produce the first two prototypes—NoMo, who fights all cancers and Pheonix who is dedicated to SMAC!-ing lung cancer. Funds will cover production, packaging and shipping of approximately 500 monkeys.
The Do Good Bus is back at it again, this time in Orlando, Florida. The Do Good Bus recruits Do-Gooders from all over the country and helps hook them up with volunteer opportunities in a social setting. Last year, the Do Good Bus raised over $100,000 for a cross-country tour with Foster the People to pick up volunteers in various cities and help them find meaningful volunteer work in their neighborhoods. In 2013, the Do Good Bus will be traveling to 5 different cities and the first stop is Orlando. The team wrapped up strong, raising $1,685 to rent a bus, purchase volunteer supplies, and cover the production team’s travel expenses.
Brand New Good! StartSomeGood’s Newest Campaigns…
A Cup on the Hill is a non-profit organization helping youth with and without disabilities gain access to the workforce. A Cup on the Hill’s first social venture is a coffee shop in Kansas City. Youths aged 16-25 will work in the café, learning, volunteering, and receiving on-the-job training, paid employment, and responsibility education for 6-12 months. Working with local farmers markets to get the freshest ingredients and sourcing coffee from the local KCK roaster for gourmet coffee, the shop will be able to offer customers several options for enjoying their coffee brew. Many wonderful incentive packages exist for those who support the project, including coffee packs and prints and drawings from local artists. When A Cup on the Hill reaches its $10,000 tipping point goal, the coffee shop can become a reality!
Creating the Future is a nonprofit living laboratory for accelerating social change by encouraging dramatic community improvement via social change and nonprofit organizations. With two successful campaigns already under their belts, Hildy and team are no strangers to StartSomeGood. The Changemaker Scholarship Campaign has a goal of adding jet fuel to all social change efforts. From intensive webinar classes to one-of-a-kind, week-long immersion courses, Creating the Future’s classes teach change makers how to make the dramatic difference they dream of. This scholarship helps offset tuition for all Changemaker Education Classes, ensuring finances are not a barrier for anyone who wants to learn to change the world.
Conor Creighton and Renata Har are an artistic duo highlighting human rights violations by creating a world where no stories go untold. They are putting together a traveling exhibition on corrective rape in Cape Town. Corrective rape is an endemic in South Africa so rampant that statistics show a rape occurs every 26 seconds. Corrective rape is an attempt to change someone’s sexual preference by extreme force. Mafuane and Thandiwe are two lesbian women from Cape Town who want to share their stories with an international audience to bring awareness and an end to this brutal practice. The exhibition features photography, recordings, documents, film, and text. The tour starts in Cape Town and then goes through Dublin, Berlin, and Sao Paulo, with plans of reaching more countries after this initial set. The $2,000 tipping point goal will allow for a smaller-scale version of the exhibition, but the total funding goal of $5,000 will enable Conor and Renata to share the full exhibition with as many countries as possible.
The Community School of Midwifery aims to tackle the midwife shortage worldwide. The world is estimated to have a shortage of 25,000 midwives by 2020. Through making midwife education more accessible, the Community School of Midwifery hopes to reverse this shortage. About to begin its second year of operation, the school’s education program is evidence-based, holistic, comprehensive, and sustainable. Bringing this model to other communities and adopting a clinical component the will ensure midwives across the nation the best possible training. Where is Your Community Midwife? This campaign needs at least $4,000 to file as an official 501(c)3 organization, upgrade its distance learning technology, purchase teaching aids, and start an effective marketing campaign to attract new students.
Saving the World T-Shirts is a socially responsible company founded on the idea that ethical and compassionate business practices make the world a better place. This organization is developing a network that raises awareness for great nonprofits. To make this happen, Saving the World T-Shirts needs money to begin an advertising campaign to support more of these amazing nonprofits. For every item Saving the World T-Shirts sells, they donate between 25% and 50%—sometimes even 100%—to these nonprofits. The range of supports depends on several factors, including what percentage the nonprofit spends on programs and their range of influence. The company is growing through dedication and a tiny bit of financial backing, but to meet the team’s goals and achieve their mission, they need to begin advertising, something they have not been able to afford yet. Just $1,500 will ensure Saving the World T-Shirts can spend the minimum amount on ads to ensure free account management services from Facebook. The total funding goal will allow for the same deal on Twitter.
The Vassar Haiti Project seeks funding to construct a kindergarten space in Chermaitre, Haiti. In 2008, the Vassar Haiti Project built a school for 250 elementary school students in the rural village of Chermaitre, Haiti. However, the kindergarten classes were still held in the neighboring church. In March 2012, the church was hit by a severe storm which caused one of the walls and parts of the roof to collapse, leaving the kindergarten students without a safe classroom. As a result, the need to construct a safe classroom has become urgent. Sixty kindergarten-aged children are without a learning space, but through this campaign you can give them a brand new kindergarten classroom and a chance at an education.
Shawn D. Ross
I am a Northwest Native living in Washington State. A graduate of Washington State University and University of Phoenix with degrees in Architecture and Education I write about social, cultural, and personal improvement on the StartSomeGood Blog and SDRinspire. I am also a filmmaker and owner of Giraffe and Penguin Productions, a single daddy of two beautiful children, avid reader, writer, and hat wearer (Not in that picture but believe me, I wear ‘em). I am currently at work on my first feature length documentary. Follow me @shawndross and visit my websites:sdrinspire.com and giraffeandpenguinproductions.tumblr.com.
Are you inspired by all this good? What good do you want to create? Visit our site to learn about how to start your own campaign.
1864 Academy is a training and capacity building facility in Nigeria for children to develop their skills. The academy will bring together children of various social classes to ensure the sharing of class competencies through music, arts, cinema, writing, and technology. Abiola, founder of 1864 Academy, has been accepted to the Dell Summer Innovation Lab and is running this campaign to help raise the money needed for airfare from Nigeria to Boston.
The Visual Education Project is raising funds to create a long term exhibition of handmade replicas of “History of Engineering” machines. The models are used as hands-on education devices and are part of a mobile exhibit. However, the travel is causing undue stress on the machines. The Visual Education Project seeks funding to create the Centre for Engineering History where it will permanently house the exhibits.
Lenny’s Café is a vegan café and worker’s co-operative in Finsbury Park, London delivering delicious vegan dishes at reasonable prices. The funds raised through this campaign will be utilized to deliver high quality vegan meals in an area overloaded with fast food coices. As a worker’s co-op, Lenny’s Café delivers a second service to society by allowing workers more freedom and autonomy in an enjoyable work environment.
WildTender Ranch Sanctuary seeks funding to construct a Geo-Dome where workers and students can gather in warmth and comfort. WildTender Ranch is a Four Directions Sanctuary that serves the healing interaction between humans, horses, and wildlife. The funds raised will be used to purchase the earth-friendly building supplies needed to begin construction.
Spark* has reached its campaign tipping point! A dollar a year for education is a campaign to support John Taka’s project, ‘Seeds of Hope’ in which villages within Papua New Guinea raise sweet potato farms. The harvest is sold and all proceeds raised go toward paying the school fees for children in the villages. In a place were the average time spent in school is 2.9 years, this self sustaining project will help educate the youth of villages in Papua New Guinea.
Youth Awareness Resource Network (Y.A.R.N) has also tipped! This campaign is asking for funds to establish the Y.A.R.N. website and brand. Created and run by young Australians raising awareness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture, this venture utilizes resources like books, articles, and storytelling. With the funds raised, this organization will enhance brand recognition and communication through flyers, t-shirts, an improved website, business cards, and much more.
Shawn D. Ross
Shawn D. Ross is a Northwest Native living in Washington State. A graduate of Washington State University and University of Phoenix with degrees in Architecture and Education he writes about social, cultural, and personal improvement on the StartSomeGood Blog and SDRinspire. He is also a filmmaker and owner of Giraffe and Penguin Productions, a single daddy of two beautiful children, avid reader, writer, and hat wearer (Not in that picture but believe me, he wears ‘em). He is currently at work on his first feature length documentary. Follow him on twitter @shawndross and visit his websites: www.sdrinspire.com and giraffeandpenguinproductions.tumblr.com
Social entrepreneurs, have all these new and successful campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section.
Real Good Food is a trading, sales, and organizational platform for cooks at home and local food artisans to discover and celebrate the good food in their own local economies. Thanks to your support, it raised $8,409 to develop a platform for any user to post and search for local food, join/create groups, and host/participate in local food events. When people can purchase foods from local artisans that they know and trust, there is full transparency in the origin of the food and, hence, the system will encourage healthier people and healthier local economies.
Reagan High in Austin, Texas is a success story—an example of a struggling high school where, after the threat of closure, students rallied against tough odds to raise test scores enough to save the school. The Brick family is determined to turn Reagan High into an inspiring example of success to rally students in struggling schools across the country. During their book release party for Saving the School: A Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform, they will present a scholarship fund for promising students at the school. The funds that have been raised so far will help pay for the entire book release party and the total funding goal will go towards a new scholarship fund.
Vibewire ensures that young people are included in conversations that matter. It captures conversations that matter to young people and showcases them online so that people can engage in conversations based on what issues are most important to them. It also provides young people with a space and resources to take action on the issues that matter to them and launch their ventures. The Vibewire Hub is a co-working space that supports younger social innovators on their missions to create change. Normally, users must pay to access the Hub, but, thanks to 47 generous backers, Vibewire raised $3,270 to support three projects in the Vibewire Hub for three months.
The Center for a New American Dream promotes Americans shifting their consumption to improve quality of life and protect the environment. The Center works with organizations, governments, and individuals to help them conserve resources and support community engagement. The Center’s newest project is The Guide to Going Local—a free guide in the Community Action Kit that provides steps people can take to strengthen their local economy. The Center kept things exciting over at StartSomeGood last week, rallying in the last few days of its campaign to raise over $3,000, not only bringing the campaign over its tipping point, but also surpassing it by $720. Ultimately, the Center for a New American Dream raised a total of $8,720 that will be used to develop its Guide to Going Local.
Social entrepreneurs, have these successful campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section. What good do you want to create?
Life Booster’s mission is to help people become healthier, happier, and more productive as individuals and as employees. This venture utilizes modern technology to create an innovative health benefits package for people who have full time jobs. As part of its program Life Booster provides a mobile app that encourages people to set healthy goals for themselves in terms of hydration, exercise, and sleep and then allows them to share this information with friends. Life Booster is raising funds to help support its official launch by developing the mobile app and taking on beta customers.
The Network for Economic Education is putting together a free basketball camp for kids in low-income areas of Los Angeles to teach them basic personal finance lessons. This innovative camp not only promotes physical, but also financial health. This basketball camp to teach youth financial literacy needs $800 to cover the costs associated with renting a full-size basketball court and an extra $800 for miscellaneous costs such as t-shirts, lunches, hourly pay for coaches, and marketing materials.
Surviving and Making Money in a Down Economy—we probably could all use this advice. Percy Kwong, author of this book, was very successful with the first book’s go-around but many people contacted him asking for more information. Therefore, he plans on expanding the book and giving it away to as many people as he can who need or want it. In order to accomplish this, Percy needs at least $20,000 to rewrite and publish the book in addition to creating a website and an ebook version. Any funds raised beyond the tipping point will go towards printing costs.
Yanti Turang and her LearnToLive team are back on StartSomeGood with their second campaign! The first time around, they raised $6,925 to officially launch LearnToLive in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. You can read all about that experience in Yanti’s interview with the StartSomeGood Blog. Now her team is back for a second campaign to undertake their 2012 Indonesian Health Initiative in four villages of North Sulawesi. The $6,400 tipping point will help cover any programmatic costs for this initiative, including supply costs for 4 villages, transportation for the team, translators, and self-sustaining medical kits for each village.
Better Alternatives for Girls’ Survival (BAGS) wants to provide human trafficking victims in Kolkata, India with dignified employment opportunities. These women create handmade, fair trade textiles that will now be sold to Western consumers. This will provide them the opportunity to live independent lives away from the brothels in Kolkata. The campaign, Support Human Trafficking Survivors with BAGS, is raising funds so that BAGS can act as the Western Distributor for its partner non-profit organization, Destiny Reflection, that hires and supports these women. Funds raised beyond the tipping point will be donated to Destiny Reflection so that it can grow and therefore hire more women.
Social entrepreneurs, have all these new campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section
Model NATO Youth Summit is fostering political responsibility through leadership, innovation, and strategic thinking. This is the first conference of its kind and will bring together participants from all over the world to discuss global issues. This summit will take place from July 8th-13th in Brussels, Belgium and is seeking funding to cover venue and travel expenses.
Kitechild is a non-profit organization that creates projects to ensure that orphans grow up leading happy and healthy lives. These projects help orphanages implement sustainable sources of income to improve living conditions and increase orphans’ access to education. Kitechild’s campaign, Chicken COOP, will help provide five orphanages in Kenya with the materials needed to raise their own chickens.
The CORE Academy is designed to help children build motivation through four important elements: Confidence, Ownership, Relevance, and Engagement. This motivation is developed outdoors, through martial arts, outdoor education, community service, and creative expression. CORE Academy is raising funds to build a cabin for activities purchase the recreation materials needed for the Academy to get officially up and running.
Hope Empowered utilizes creativity, mentoring, and entrepreneurship as tools to empower people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Hope Empowered has founded the Academy for Youth Entrepreneurship, where Australian primary school students are encouraged to dream, invent, and change their world by creating micro businesses. It’s time for the Academy for Youth Entrepreneurship to expand and grow, and funds raised in this campaign will help Hope Empowered cover the costs associated with re-running a pilot program and packaging the program for national expansion and licensing.
The Alekii Centre in Kenya is empowering children who are victims of poverty and HIV/AIDS by providing them with a quality education. The HELPING Project (Hope, Education, Love, and Protection through Inspiring Goals) teaches young orphans to raise goats, sheep, pigs, and cows to provide themselves with income to support their basic needs. This campaign will fund the Alekii Centre’s purchase of these farms animals that will be used to generate income for young orphans.
The Center for Collaborative Change connects people, ideas, and resources to make Newark, NJ a thriving and safe community. The Center’s Community Youth Mapping Project mobilizes the youth as catalysts for positive community change. In teams, they go through their neighborhoods and identify resources and opportunities that exist. Help Youth Revitalize Newark—this campaign will help the Center hire a staff of three to support this youth project.
CA Bikes Academy teaches at-risk youths in the Bay Area how to make and repair bikes—marketable skills that they can use when looking for jobs. In addition, the bikes that are made through this program are sent to Africa through CA Bikes Uganda, where they are distributed to people in need. This campaign will help get CA Bikes Academy up and running, providing funding for a work space and tools.
Bus of Books provides young people in the rural and remote indigenous communities of Australia with the resources they need to learn how to read, and, henceforth, succeed. Bus of Books puts books into the hands of young people in remote regions of Australia and encourages schools, communities, and businesses to provide community service through book drives and fundraising events. December 8th is Youth Literacy Day—this campaign will help schools celebrate this day by providing them with books to help youths learn to read.
Youth Awareness Resource Network (YARN) builds relationships through the power of a story. It encourages relationship building between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians through the power of story and engagement. This campaign will help YARN build its website and establish its brand through marketing.
Social entrepreneurs, have all these new campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section.
nutreats addresses malnutrition in developing countries by selling a great-tasting, nutrient-fortified snack to parents and children living in tough to reach areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The snack will be a bar, similar to a granola bar, that is fortified with micronutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, and iodine. In A Taste Test to Fight Malnutrition, nutreats is raising funds to purchase prototypes of its nutritious snack bars. These bars will be used to conduct market tests in Tanzania. Data collected during this market test will go into product formulation later this year.
Everyone benefits from acts of kindness. Big Random Acts of Kindness (BRAK) exists to help unleash the kindness within you. This is an initiative through The All Hearts Alliance which is dedicated to making the world a kinder and more connected place. BRAK strives for a future where every person, through acts of kindness, feels connected and important and feels empowered to contribute to the greater good of humanity. Help start a ripple effect of kindness with a cup of coffee. This campaign allows you to pre-pay for a cup of coffee for a commuter at a train station in Australia. The goal is to raise enough funds to pay for coffee for 250 commuters on June 1, 2012.
Balls of Steel will help cool your drink while contributing to a good cause. Cooling your drink can now help men struggling with testicular cancer. The goal of Balls of Steel is to help fuel the research for the treatment and cure for testicular cancer in men. In addition, it hopes to build a community where patients can share their experiences and struggles with each other and also be connected with a community of survivors. The Balls of Steel campaign is raising funds to cover manufacturing fees for 500 initial units and create a website to start an online community.
MeForYou is not just selling backpacks. For every backpack that is sold, one full of school supplies will go to a student in need. “Buy One. Bless One.” For every backpack sold, MeForYou will donate one full of school supplies to another student in need around the community where it was purchased. Help Lauch MeForYou—this is a student-led non-profit that is trying to officially get off the ground. MeForYou’s goal for year one is to help 1,000 students locally.
The Living Philanthropic Project is a web series that highlights the joys of volunteerism. It will produce 12 episodes, highlighting one non-profit organization each week. This campaign will help to fund the filming of at least three episodes of this web series. The total funding goal will support the filming of ten episodes.
Haiti Circle of Friends (HaitiCoF) helps Haitian children that are in danger of being sent to orphanages because their families can’t afford to feed them. HaitiCoF wants to create a small farm to help feed these children so they can be kept out of orphanages and stay with their families. In addition, this provides a way for mothers to be sustainably and healthfully self-sufficient. Women who participate in this program are given the opportunity to run the farm and sell the produce at a local market. Farming for Families in Haiti is raising funds to start the mini farms. Funds will go towards purchasing and housing livestock, in addition to various farming tools that are needed.
With still a few days left, EcoRise has reached its tipping point, raising over $9,000 from more than 100 backers to inspire a new generation of green leaders that will design a sustainable future for everyone. EcoRise is trying to fully launch its green education program in seven schools in Austin for the upcoming school year. Funds raised so far will aid EcoRise in developing a curriculum, create an EcoRise toolkit, and produce these toolkits for seven schools.
Social entrepreneurs, have these campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section.
A while back, I set out to have a brief conversation with Mikey Leung about his campaign on StartSomeGood for Crowdsourced Travel. During this campaign, Mikey raised over $15,000 to support his mission to encourage tourism in Bangladesh. This “brief conversation” quickly turned into an hour-long discussion on Bangladesh that was really unforgettable for me. The absolute passion he has for Crowdsourced Travel, travel in general, the Positive Light project in Bangladesh, and the Bangladeshi people and country as a whole is unbelievable. While our conversation encompassed much more than what is present in the next few paragraphs, I tried to pick out the most important snippets for you all to enjoy. I hope you’re all as inspired as I was while speaking with him. Thanks, Mikey!
Encouraging tourism to typically unconventional travel destinations is such an innovative approach to fighting poverty. How did you come up with the idea for Crowdsourced Travel and what was your main motivation for pursuing it?
People have really different ideas about tourism; they see tourism as something that could be very destructive and totally unsustainable. Some think of it as going to lie on a beach somewhere for a few days, being in total luxury. There’s another form of tourism that’s really destructive because it’s unsustainable—there are far too many tourists. The way I see it, tourism is an economic exchange, and it’s a really positive one when it’s managed properly. In Bangladesh, what we’ve got is a very nascent tourism industry. When I first started my travel guide, which is with Bradt Travel Guides, I started researching it in 2008, and we saw there was a lot of potential for tourism and the Bangladeshi people were also saying, “Why don’t we have tourism here? It could really help us.” The Bangladeshi people have a real passion for sharing their culture and for being very hospitable to foreign guests. We knew that and we thought there must be some way to combine the problem that Bangladesh has which is that it’s known for floods and poverty and a lot of strife, a lot of things that keep tourism away, and we started working with operators there and telling them, “What you’ve got to do is use this reputation that’s out there and tell people they can come here and that it’s creating economic opportunities for your people and use that as your story—tell them it’s helping your country become economically sustainable.”
We saw that there was really an opportunity here for travel to be used as a tool to create economic opportunities for people and to create and form a change in Bangladesh. We didn’t really have a name for it at first but later on it became Crowdsourced Travel because we saw that we needed to make it an open source effort, a way for people to come together and work on this problem with whatever resources or ideas they wanted to bring to the table. When I was going back to update my guidebook, I decided to create this project around it.
Well I can certainly see why you fell in love with Bangladesh! If I were to visit Bangladesh in the near future, what would be some of the absolute must-see attractions?
Bangladesh doesn’t really have a Taj Mahal or the Himalayan Mountains in that sense, there aren’t specific sites insomuch as there aren’t things you would be totally blown away by. Bangladesh will never compete with that but Bangladesh does have destinations—they are all framed by the experience of actually being present in Bangladesh. So the one must-see thing when you get there that we think is really important is the people of Bangladesh. They’re incredibly hospitable. They’re Muslim people, but the brand of Islam that they have there isn’t very fundamentalist—it’s kind of an Indian form of Islam—they’re actually a lot more liberal about things. It’s actually a secular nation. Yes, the majority of people are Muslim but when you are there you actually get this experience that shows people here have a lot more relaxed attitudes about their religion and they keep the government and religion relatively separate. It’s a way for people to experience Muslim culture, but in a way that shows how friendly and hospitable Muslims are and in Bangladesh they really practice this. Just by being open to people inviting you or speaking to you, in Bangladesh they don’t have a lot of tourists there, so everywhere you go, you could literally be the first foreigner they have seen anywhere and crowds gather, sometimes you feel like an alien that just stepped off a spacecraft, but honestly it’s just curiosity. They want to know what country you are from, what you think about the world, what you feel about Bangladesh when you are there. And it’s those experiences that myself and my friends and colleagues who have all lived in Bangladesh talk about, it’s the people of Bangladesh that really leave this impression on you because they have such an open-hearted and kind nature.
The money raised from your campaign was enough to get your book, Positive Light, published. So how is that coming along?
It’s coming along. We’ve already had a judging session and we’ve decided on the winning photos of the contest. For those who don’t know, as the first initiative of Crowdsourced Travel, we’ve created a photography website and we asked any photographers of Bangladesh to submit photos to the project so that we could make this photo book and eventually publish it. It’s great; we had about 600 photo submissions, a lot of the photographs are absolutely stunning. We have winners of the contest and now we are designing the book.
In terms of the campaign, at the same time we were running the crowdfunding campaign with StartSomeGood, we were also asking photographers to get involved with this project and people really liked the idea. We called it Positive Light because Bangladesh really has a negative image in the world; it’s known for poverty and floods and cyclones. What we asked photographers to do was to show us beautiful and inspiring photography of the country. We received a lot of really great work and we’re gearing up to put it inside the book and show it to the rest of the world in a way that people can see it and be inspired and see a different side of Bangladesh and be excited to go there through the photography. It’s an extremely photogenic country so if you’re a photographer or a filmmaker, there’s literally 150 million people in Bangladesh and 150 million human stories there waiting to be told.
I’m not sure if you know this, but you’re actually one of StartSomeGood’s most successful campaigns in terms of dollars raised. What do you think contributed to your overwhelming success as a campaign?
Before I started the campaign, I did a lot of homework. Crowdfunding is really new and when you start looking at how to be successful in crowdfunding campaigns, the first thing people tell you is that 80% of campaigns fail, they don’t reach their goal. You learn the great majority of crowdfunding campaigns don’t work. People think, “Oh wow if I can just convince people that this is a good idea and put it on the Internet and tell people I’m looking for supporters then I’ll make it”. There’s a lot of blogs out there that have been written about crowdfunding campaigns and there’s a lot of people who have been successful who have written down their knowledge and advice. The first thing I can say is before you start your campaign, look at other successful projects in the same field and look at their strategies, look at what kind of rewards they offered, and so on. I would say I was strategizing my campaign for maybe three months before I actually launched it.
In addition, I already have an audience. I’ve published in 2009, with my wife, this guidebook to Bangladesh that you’ve seen in my video. While we were researching it, we were building up a network of people that knew what we were trying to do for Bangladesh. We already engaged with people in this conversation about Bangladesh before launching our campaign. I really valued these relationships. I had an audience and a blog and had been asking people to leave their email addresses so I could ask them things about Bangladesh, in addition to the podcasts that I’ve built an audience around. We had an audience already out there that knew about us and they helped us spread the word so that’s really, really important. I think you really have to ask yourself what kind of support you think you are going to get. Do people know you for this topic already?
What’s some entrepreneurial advice you can share with hopeful entrepreneurs, like myself, who have an idea and are ready to launch it but don’t know where to start?
I think the first thing you can start doing is generate the conversation around your idea or start participating in the already existing conversation that’s out there. When you are in that inception stage, you should be totally open to what people are telling you and what reactions you get to your ideas. Tell your mother, tell your friends you what you think your idea is and ask them to be dead honest with you because the key is to get the conversation going about it and then be open to what kind of feedback you get so you can adapt your idea or adjust it or access some other part of the idea you haven’t thought of yet but someone just tells you and activates it.
Second, you have to be a bit brave and a bit ignorant of the amount of work you are going to put in. The entrepreneurial journey is also a journey of exploring yourself and there are a lot of emotional highs and lows with that so I guess the only other thing I’d really stress is that you are going to experience a lot of highs and lows and you are going to be on edge and your heart is going to be really in this campaign and you have to accept that you might not be successful but if you believe in the idea that you have and you know deep down in your heart and you can just FEEL in your gut that this is the right thing to do, you will find the resources to go forth with your idea. You need to find that faith and be in touch with that. When you are discovering that entrepreneurial spirit within yourself, that is the thing that will resonate with people when you talk about your idea and campaign—that you believe in it and you know it’s the right thing to do and that you feel it can be your life’s calling.