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    Crowdfunding Goes Hyper-Local

    This post originally appeared at Shareable.net.

    There used to be a time when, if you wanted money to create public
    art, produce your invention, or start a company, you had to appeal to
    higher authorities. Big banks, wealthy relatives, local governments–they had the green, and we the humble innovators had to prove we were worthy of it. 

    Thanks to the internet and the rise of collaborative consumption,
    however, this bureaucratic bottle neck need no longer stifle our
    entrepreneurial spirit. Ever heard of a little startup by the name of Kickstarter?
    This online crowdfunding forum created a place for individuals to
    showcase their ideas, and appeal to the masses for financial backing.
    Turns out, there are millions of people willing to chip in a few dollars
    to help bring fantastic concepts to market. Now Kickstarter is the
    world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, raising a total
    of $327 million dollars and counting. 

    With this kind of success, it’s only natural that different
    iterations of Kickstarter would emerge. There have been many imitators,
    some successful, some not. What’s setting the latest crop of crowdfunding
    platforms apart from the rest is a passionate focus on local projects.
    Instead of looking for backers in all four corners of the world, these
    hyper-local fundraising outlets are helping to connect local
    entrepreneurs with their neighbors in an attempt to energize local
    economies, and create lasting relationships between innovators and their
    supporters.

    Lucky Ant
    Unlike Kickstarter, which launches hundreds of campaigns a day, Lucky Ant
    features only one project per week. Also unlike other crowdfunding
    platforms, the projects chosen are all already established businesses.
    Members list their neighborhood when signing up, and every week Lucky
    Ant lets them know about a local business that needs to be funded. The
    great part is, you get rewards and perks from the business in which you
    invested, creating a lovely little reciprocal loop designed to keep you
    coming back for more. Founded last year, Lucky Ant is currently
    operating in Downtown New York City with plans to expand to more cities
    this year.

    Community Funded
    Founded in the sunny little town of Fort Collins, Colo., this
    crowdfunding platform is focused on finding and spotlighting projects in
    the community that might otherwise be swept under the carpet. Among
    other things, CommunityFunded supporters
    recently prevented a two-screen, downtown movie theater from closing,
    and helped a local designer realize her dream of having a storefront to
    showcase her clothes. If you don’t see a project that piques your
    interest, there’s also an open fund that helps CF provide a boost to
    campaigns that need it.

    SmallKnot
    SmallKnot
    is a
    crowdfunding platform designed exclusively for small,
    independently-owned businesses. No franchises. No big box
    stores. Smallknot aims to help local businesses connect with fans and
    gain new customer by offering products or services in return for
    providing financial support. For instance, making a small investment in
    the Saucey Sauce Co. (actual name) will earn you a 3 pack of their newly
    bottled Vietnamese dipping sauces, but a big investment earns you a
    private dinner for four. “If you desire a neighborhood full of diverse
    and independent businesses,” write the SK founders, “you have the power
    to step up and ensure your neighborhood stays that way.”

    Do you know of a hyper-local crowdfunding platform that belongs on this list? Share it in a comment!

    Image by Jorge Barrios, in the public domain.

    Published on Aug 31, 2012

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