– Eric, Massage Track
In 2014, my massage tool project raised $72,000 from 850 backers on Kickstarter and I’ve been a big fan of the crowdfunding model ever since then. When it came time for my first inventory re-order, I turned to Kiva to raise an additional $5,000 for my massage tools business. I wanted to share my experience to support and inspire other entrepreneurs crowdfunding a small business loan through Kiva.
Why I chose Kiva
At a fund-raising seminar I had heard presentations by Kiva and a crowdfunding company called Kickfurther. I was all set to launch campaigns on both Kiva and Kickfurther to cover my first inventory re-order, until I discovered that I’d need to offer between 20 and 30% interest on Kickfurther. After researching and learning that that high interest rates are standard for more traditional business loan options, I decided to focus all of my efforts with Kiva given that they offer 0% interest loans.
A Rollercoaster of Emotions
To be honest, I was astonished at the hot and cold reaction to my Kiva loan in my business circles. While many of the physical product entrepreneurs that I met through a Meetup group loaned to me, I didn’t have as much support from my network of entrepreneurs that run larger, more established companies. For many of those entrepreneurs, lending $25 would be like dropping a penny in a collection box, so that hurt.
Still, I pushed on and in 10 days I found 20 friends and family to lend and get the ball rolling for me. My loan went live on Kiva and I sat back to wait for a wave of lenders... My expectations were set high because typically on Kickstarter projects, you’ll see a big surge of backers in the first few days. When that didn’t happen with my Kiva loan, disappointment set in and I became a little apathetic. At one point, I remember a friend apologizing for not lending yet, and I actually told him not to worry about it because it looked to me like my loan was going to be DOA anyway.
But then, something beautiful happened.
The Impact of the Conversations Tab
First, a couple product orders came in from customers who said they found me through Kiva. A little later, one of those customers posted the following message on the Conversations Tab of my loan profile page.
“I ordered a Massage Track from your website after finding you here on Kiva. We've used it daily here in our household for a few weeks, and it was one of the first things we packed in the car before heading out on a 12-hour drive! Massage Track works. Thanks Eric!”
That single message of support left me deeply inspired and I suddenly felt a responsibility to drive my campaign to the end goal. I sent out a Kickstarter update to my 850 backers asking for their help, and the money started rolling in which really helped! However, I experienced another moment of doubt as my loan got closer to its expiration date and I realized I was still $2,000 short from my goal. Thankfully at that same time I had strangers that started to fight for me on the Conversations Tab- like Kent who posted the following:
“I just doubled my loan amount and that brings this loan to 50% funded. If the other 50 people that already loaned would double their loans Eric's loan would be fully funded. Eric's loan only has three more days before it expires. So he needs either new or repeat loaners to step up and fund the half the loan that still needs to be funded.”
And of course, there was also Robert:
“I'm in for another $500 - c'mon folks, push it over the edge!”
I’m still really touched by the kindness of these complete strangers… touched and inspired. If it hadn’t been for lenders like Kent and Robert who took the time to post on my Conversations Tab, I may have given up. I want to be like them. I want my kids to learn from their example. Since I can’t be one of those big lenders now, I figured the next best thing was to write this post and make a video and share our Kiva experience with others.
Thanks to everyone who shared a message of support, lent money and for everyone else who took the time to read this! If you want to help me on my mission (without lending money) and you know somebody with tendonitis or pain from repetitive motion like working at a computer, please have a look at my popular guide – How to treat tendonitis – and share it with someone you care about.
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