I recently spoke to former IBM executives Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes, who co-founded Moola-Hoop, a crowdfunding site for women entrepreneurs.
How Moola-Hoop Started
Brenda and Nancy knew each other from their days at IBM. Both women had moved into spaces where they worked with women entrepreneurs and collectively saw the struggle that women entrepreneurs had in getting funding to start a business, and grow it. They studied the statistics and found that 30 percent of new business start-ups are led by women, yet women get only five percent of venture capital and only 12 percent of institutional funding.
They pinpointed an advantage that women do have in business—in being great networkers—so they decided to nurture that in efforts to close the gender gap.
How Moola-Hoop Works
The crowdfunding site is built for women-owned businesses, primarily those with consumer-facing products. Before creating a campaign, Moola-Hoop provides tips to help women create a successful crowdfunding plan by encouraging them to present business idea with photos, videos, and select rewards to funders, including deals on their products or services, or unique experiences at each level of contribution.
One belief that Brenda and Nancy emphasized is that crowdfunding isn’t only about raising money. It’s also great product/market validation and provides women with valuable feedback from customers and builds support for your product before it hits the marketplace.
Rather than an all or nothing goal like many crowdfunding platforms, Moola-Hoop allows women to articulate milestones, such as what will be accomplished with the first $10,000, and the next $15,000. Once a campaign reaches a milestone, the campaign is funded up to that amount to allow access to funding. While some platforms provide either fixed or flexible funding with variable fees, Moola-Hoop’s milestone funding campaign fee is the same percentage as a fixed campaign.
Brenda and Nancy have plans to expand past crowdfunding by providing greater access to tips, resources, solutions, attorneys, social media experts, community connections and mentors. They see it as a Match.com-type way to connect women who need to fill a specific need. For example, a young woman might be looking for a mentor, while a more experienced woman may be looking for a partner or someone who provides complimentary services. A retail business owner may connect with a location for a pop-up shop.
To listen to the entire interview click here.
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