Last Updated Dec 2, 2010 3:43 PM EST
After a few round table chats, I learned that many of the entrepreneurs in the room just did not know how to approach their friends and family. It felt weird or uncomfortable. That is when I told them about my recent social-giving experiment a la Facebook and how I raised about $3,000 in two weeks.
In every experiment, one needs a hypothesis to prove or disprove -- at least that is what my science teachers drilled in my head. So, for this experiment I tried to prove that, "If you just ask your friends and family to believe in you, they will."
I to wanted to see if the traditional friends and family route would really work but I thought I'd try a nontraditional way of asking them. I set up an "event" on Facebook and linked it to EventBrite and PayPal. I called the event, "Help an Entrepreneur Out" and set three levels of payment options ranging from, "Yeah, I am living the dream" ($500 donation) down to "I feel ya, here's dinner on me" ($50 donation). Then I went crazy and left an open amount option as well. I then posted the event link to my Facebook page for all of my connections to see.
Shortly thereafter, I received a few calls from loved ones and I quickly explained that no, I was not on the verge of homelessness, but rather was hoping that they, too, believed in my company and had a few dollars to spare. In about two weeks I raised $1,000 and by the third week nearly $3,000. Then I turned off the event and quickly refunded folks who were so kind to donate to my cause. A few donors who really believed in what I was doing and wanted to support my entrepreneurial dream insisted that I keep their money.
I am sure there are easier ways to do this in your own life. Perhaps just call up Mom or Dad, the in-laws or even a cousin. If your own family won't invest in you, then maybe you need to take a hard look at your concept to make sure that your good, sound idea really is just that. Let them be your sounding board --besides it is good practice for future investor meetings. If you are going to fall flat then better to do it with family by your side.
Tina Cannon is the CEO and co-founder of PetsMD, a pet health website and veterinary software company dedicated to improving pet health. She has been a financial auditor, business consultant, a featured speaker and member of several boards.
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