While pondering whether to develop her own product line, the Cornell graduate discovered how costly and unpredictable start-ups could be, as customary practice involved coming up with an idea; making a business plan; obtaining loans/investors; actually creating the product; and then seeing if people want to buy. Molly and her co-founder, online entrepreneur Stason Strong, felt a better solution was necessary for success and created GreenFunder.com, a Website that “eliminates the expense and risk while helping the environment and local communities.”
The fundraising site was created for socially responsible projects and business ideas, and the partners have provided a risk-free resource that helps all eco-conscious and creative community projects get off the ground amid current economic conditions. According to a recent company release, projects can range from simple student field trips to multi-faceted green business start-ups, and the user-friendly Website is designed to assist everyone (i.e., entrepreneurs, nonprofits, teachers, artists—even children) get the funding they need.
GreenFunder.com actively sought proposals for its new project funding launch on Wednesday, May 25, offering individuals and organizations a unique, risk-free avenue to test, market, fund and sell their projects or events while retaining 100 percent ownership.
Conscious cultivation. Malio Oddie (left) and Marina Galvan of Waikinalani Farm in Ha‘ikū hope to use fundraising platforms such as GreenFunder.com to help finish their aquaponics farm. Along with Mike Drescher—who attended the recent GreenFunder.com discussion—these partners maintain a natural aquatic ecosystem in a man-made container that naturally grows local food—and one day, fish—without using harmful chemicals and much less water than conventional methods. The eco-conscious trio is now marketing the produce as Kama’Āina Greens, and looks forward to utilizing GreenFunder in the future.
The Maui Research and Development Center hosted the free group discussion, “Crowdfunding Your Project Idea: A Workshop for Preparing for GreenFunder,” last month to introduce this exciting new opportunity. GreenFunder.com is geared toward local green projects and products, and is “Hawai‘i-centric” yet available worldwide, according to Molly’s mother, Lynn Rasmussen of Icanology LLC, during the April 26 introductory event.
“Crowdfunding” is a form of “crowdsource” financing. Rather than seeking financing from institutional resources such as a bank, coordinators use online platforms to attract funding and look to the community to support the project in a distributed fashion. GreenFunder believes this method can accomplish goals by pooling money from a vast group of people—everyone from your neighbors to global consumers.
Lynn is extremely proud of her daughter’s endeavors, and likes that the site adheres to the project developer with a community perspective who might not necessarily get the boost they need from such worldwide funding platforms as Kickerstarter.com or IndieGoGo. Unlike these sites, GreenFunder offers perks when projects open, and visitors of GreenFunder are able to both peruse projects and shop for rewards. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are built into GreenFunder, and projects are highlighted and recommended by location, giving interested funders a way to help friends and neighbors while supporting their local economies. “We’ll support any projects with good intentions,” said Molly. “We have features that will promote Maui projects, and people everywhere will be able to shop for perks offered on Maui by Maui people.”
“People don’t want to give money unless they think the project is valuable, and perks you define will help,” said Lynn.
Award-winning business consultant and educator David Fisher of Maui Venture Consulting hosted the recent gathering with Lynn. He was happy to see some familiar faces in attendance intrigued in what GreenFunder has to offer creative entrepreneurs. “There are very interesting challenges as to how to flesh these ideas out and make viable,” said Fisher, owner of www.CoolProjectsMaui.com and a leader in the movement to create a local stock exchange. “This site [GreenFunder] is a unique way to get people moving on their ideas and gain community support.”
The workshop included vibrant artistic minds such as Gabe Mott (acolorbox.com); idea men like Jerry Isdale of MauiMakers.com and Jim Jacobson of Functional Nutriments; and progressive women and community educators like Melanie Stephens and Lehn Huff, who bounced thoughts off each other in a friendly, brainstorming environment. Isdale hopes to use GreenFunder to pay for a centralized, permanent container space from Community Work Day Program in Pu‘unënë, where members can come together and experiment with technological ideas like “The Chill Box.” (See www.mauimakers.com for more information.)
Veteran teacher Huff is committed to sustainable agriculture and health education on Maui, and hopes to use GreenFunder to raise $4,000 to pay for an expert to write an appendix of nutritional curriculum for Department of Education schools across Hawai‘i, which supports using school gardens as a “creative nutritional living laboratory.” (Visit www.mauischoolgardennetwork.org.)
“Instead of developing a business plan, looking for investors and loans, producing and then testing the product, GreenFunder allows you to test and market your product before spending a dime,” said Molly. “We love GreenFunder because anyone can use it—individuals or groups, businesses or nonprofits—to get their ideas off the ground.”
Pave your road to success by jumpstarting your project and funding good intentions with www.GreenFunder.com.