Success Story: Prosperity Candle
The Prosperity Candle story is really incredible. Not only are they a great group of people with an inspiring mission, but their dedication to the crowd funding process will serve as a great example for many entrepreneurs to come. The team proved that by engaging a large group of people, with investments as small as $100, it’s possible to catalyze a business onto the road to success. Their strategy was so effective, we had to ask them to share their story.
About Prosperity Candle, in their own words…
Prosperity Candle is a social enterprise supporting peace and prosperity through the economic empowerment of women in places like Haiti, Iraq and Rwanda. We invest in women as entrepreneurs to start successful businesses from their homes. The business is candle making, and our company is the link to global markets. Prosperity Candle sells high quality, meaningful gifts that have a tremendous impact in places of conflict and natural disaster. This is not charity. Our mission is to enable these women to not just survive, but truly thrive. Through a business model based on the simple idea of shared prosperity, each woman has the opportunity to earn well above a living wage, provide for her family, and create employment in her community.
ProFounder raises have taken a number of different shapes and sizes, with some entrepreneurs aiming for many investors and others focusing on a select few. So far, both styles have proven that they can be effective. The key is finding the right strategy for the business and the team. Prosperity Candle was able to raise the $10,000 they needed from 32 investors. We asked them about their strategy and here’s what they said:
With a team of 3 partners, we felt that we had a large enough community of friends, family and former colleagues that would stand behind us financially if given the chance to make a micro-investment. We decided to reach out to a very large number of potential investors – between the 3 of us, we had over 500 names. Our intent was to reach broadly, imagining that out of that number we would be able to find 100 people to invest $100 each. Some contacts were true wildcards, while others had already expressed interest in supporting us in some capacity.
The Prosperity Candle Team contributed their success to these 3 strategies:
Customizing the Pitch
In the first week or so, we realized that a generic message wasn’t cutting it. We decided to reach out to specific groups in our community that know each other and have shared backgrounds. I was in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, for example, so I wrote a follow-up email to my Peace Corps friends explaining how the work I did in Lesotho has led to me launching Prosperity Candle. I did the same for colleagues in my last job, MBA classmates, study abroad friends, etc.
Leveraging Early Investments
We leveraged each investment as much as possible. Our first investors also tended to be influencers in their communities, so we asked them if they would be willing to reach out to friends in common to share why they decided to invest. Several made very compelling pitches which led to a ripple effect of investments from each community. The influence of peers should not be overlooked!
A Committed Investor in the Wings
Our team was lucky to have a family member that was planning on loaning Prosperity Candle a significant sum outside of our Profounder raise. When we explained what we were doing with Profounder, this investor offered to fill whatever gap was left at the end. While we probably could have completed the raise with the investor interest we were generating, it was comforting to know that the raise would be completed successfully. This took some of the pressure off of our team at a very busy time.
We have always believed that the crowd funding process would benefit the entrepreneurs in more ways than just raising money. Our belief was, once again, confirmed when we received a note from Siiri Morley, Founding Partner of Prosperity Candle, with a list of additional and unexpected benefits from the process.
Our team has seen a number of side benefits to working with Profounder:
- We now have a team of 32 investors who have become – to varying degrees – brand ambassadors for our work. Although they were always supportive friends and family, they are now even more engaged and are helping to spread the word about our work.
- One investor was so proud to have invested that she shared the news with friends and colleagues outside of our immediate network. She said her enthusiasm for a new style of investing has led to their own interest in offering us future loans. So the financial benefits for our continued capital raise continue beyond Profounder.
- Many investors have said that they have never before had the opportunity to directly invest in a company with a social mission & have enjoyed the process. We feel that our raise has likely led to a new community of emerging social investors.
- We are excited to be growing alongside Profounder and to benefit from the increasing buzz around the model. Affiliation with an emerging model will be beneficial for us as we expand our work.