An idea for a social enterprise conceived out of hope and heartbreak will now become a reality, after PR professional Jennifer Windrum raised over $35,000 through crowdfunding site StartSomeGood.com to launch Sock Monkeys Against Cancer.
Windrum, whose mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer six years ago, wanted to find a way to provide a tangible symbol of love, support and good cheer for her mom to hold onto when she was not around. SMAC! was born, and grew into a plan for a social enterprise aimed at promoting the spirit of giving and advancing cancer research.
After a successful campaign that incorporated both comprehensive social media marketing and traditional public relations, Windrum funded initial startup costs for her enterprise, along with the production, packaging and shipping of the first 500 SMAC! monkeys. The monkeys will ultimately be sold on a Buy One, Give One basis (as popularized by TOMS shoes), where for every monkey purchased, a second monkey will go to someone with cancer. Windrum also plans to donate a portion of future revenue to cancer research organizations.
The SMAC! campaign opened with the highest-earning first day in the history of social crowdfunding site StartSomeGood, raising over $5,000 within 24 hours.
“Crowdfunding was such a natural and appropriate way to fund this venture,” Windrum says. “Everything about the SMAC! monkeys, from the inspiration behind their creation, to development of the prototype, to naming of the monkeys, was community driven through social media.
“Part of the strategy included building a private group of ambassadors on Facebook who were involved in the development of the campaign from the very beginning – they watched the making of the prototypes, followed as we searched for a manufacturer and knew all the details it took to bring the SMAC! monkeys and the campaign to launch. Once the campaign kicked-off, this group had a very vested interest, an emotional connection, to these little monkeys and worked to help make them a reality.”
Windrum attributes her success to a hybrid online/offline marketing strategy that combined comprehensive social media coverage with real world, offline events.
“I had several mini campaigns to help keep the momentum throughout the month-long campaign, such as blogger outreach, Twitter ‘bombs’, as well as ongoing media relations, emails, texts and posts on all social media platforms. But I also took it offline, where those who aren't plugged into the social media world could participate by holding SMAC!-downs - basically a girl's night out with a social good twist, and laptops set up for people to make donations on the night.”
StartSomeGood co-founder Alex Budak said the SMAC! crowdfunding campaign exemplified the power of crowdfunding to cultivate, connect and grow a community. “Jennifer’
So what advice does Windrum have for other budding entrepreneurs considering giving crowdfunding a go? “Just start. I didn't know the first thing about making a sock monkey prototype. I don't sew. I didn't know the first thing about manufacturing. There is so much more I still don't know, but that's part of the entrepreneurial journey. Just start making calls, connect online, ask questions - lots of them. You will find your way!”
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StartSomeGood aims to empower people from around the world to create social impact by connecting those with ideas for improving the world with the financial and intellectual capital they need to take action.
Read more StartSomeGood success stories here: http://startsomegood.com/
SMAC! is Sock Monkeys Against Cancer, gang of monkeys (lead by Jennifer Windrum) that provides tangible support to those with cancer, reminding them no one fights it alone.
Learn more: http://www.smacancer.com