CrowdSourcing.com. KickStarter.com. CrowdTilt.com. We've covered various endeavors that have been funded through one or more of those i=Internet platforms. It's a fascinating concept: Come up with an idea. Make a video about it. Write (preferably eloquently) a few paragraphs about the details. Then, wait and see who takes the bait. No loss to you.
There have been many inspiring and legitimate business plans and dreams realized through this new financing channel. Like the newlyweds roving the country having breakfast with strangers, about which they'll publish a book next year. And Dallas' very own Pearl Cup coffee, which has a campaign on Idiegogo to raise money for a Pearl Cup Coffee Truck.
"Crowd funding" became a viable option earlier this year when the JOBS Act was signed into law, which made it easier for small businesses to raise money. The HuffPo lays out the details here. But, in general, your mom, aunt Sally or third-grade science teacher can create a page to raise money with just the click of a few buttons. Easy as pie. And, there's a fool born every minute, right?
There's the BeerBug, which "connects you with the inner workings of fermenting beer." The entrepreneurial hopheads for this Kickstarter campaign said they needed $25,000. They've raised more than twice that amount.
My favorite is the Run Free fake marathon. "Ridiculo.us" needed $999 to pull it off. With three days to go, the campaign has more than $15,000 in the coffers. And, yes, they're going to create an entire fake marathon, replete with a Facebook page, updates, bibs, T-shirts, medals and aid stations.
(What will they do with the extra money? See KickItForward.Org.)
But, these types of platforms aren't constrained to just those with brilliant ideas. Anyone can set up almost anything. Anything? Yes. I asked Marek Zareba with CrowdTilt that very question.
"Yes, Crowdtilt can be used to finance pretty much anything!" wrote Zareba in an email. "There really are no restrictions besides the obvious immoral or illegal stuff."
Zareba said three trends they see with the holidays are group gifts, gift donations and vacation home rentals.
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So, let's say you have zilch ambition and no groundbreaking ideas, but you do have a group of friends and every year you all like to get together to tell lies, spend too much money and eat too much.
And each year you reserve the room/keg/party boat/whatever using your credit card, while the others promise to pay (so long as they haven't forgotten). Still with me? Of course you are. After a few years, you pulled your card and demanded someone else handle the financing, because it's always a beat down. You wonder why you bother. (Until after the get-together, when you're reminded that your friends rock.)
Well, through CrowdTilt, you can set up a campaign for your dinner party, kegger, tailgating party, weekend vacation or whatever. The specifics vary, but essentially everyone pays up front and only after there is a certain level of commitment (in cold hard cash), does it actually happen.
Look forward to getting together with friends for some holiday merriment? Heck, even want to split of the cost of an extended family Christmas dinner or make sure enough people will show up before you rent the jumpy-house? Get the crowd to tilt it.