In the past, future entrepreneurs saw their path forward as finding people with deep pockets – friends, family, investors – and the way to reach them was through dozens of meetings and personal contacts. Then came Kickstarter.
Kickstarter was launched as a way for individuals to share their creative projects online and to solicit small contributions from people who believed in their vision. The person seeking funding describes their project and establishes a funding goal and deadline. If the goal is reached, the project designer gets the money. To date, 73,000 projects (44% of concepts presented) have been funded.
Tea entrepreneurs have embraced the concept with new projects that include the launch of tea bars, new product lines and special projects.
Atlanta tea blender K-Teas needed funds to get FDA approval for their teas and blends so they could expand beyond local markets to national distribution. They launched their project on September 19 and by November 1 they had the support of 191 backers who helped them surpass their $5,000 goal by nearly $1,500.
In Horbelt’s first campaign he hoped to raise $500 for a label dispenser to make his new iced tea line more efficient to produce. Supporters came up with almost $18,000. Since that time he has raised money for custom printing projects, a packaging machine and exhibition fees for World Tea Expo.
“We chose Kickstarter because of what Kickstarter is. It’s a dream factory. I honestly believe that the one thing that people love almost as much as realizing their own dreams is helping someone else realize theirs,” said Horbelt. “You can spend a lot of time analyzing what makes a successful project and learn all kinds of tips and techniques that can help your project work better, but the bottom line is, Kickstarter is a market unlike anything else, because it is a market for dreams. You are selling a stake in your dream.”
Some recent successful tea-themed Kickstarter projects:
- Tea Spirits 2015 calendar – Raised $10,846 (against a goal of $6,500) – Illustrated wall calendar inspired by tea types
- Alchemy of Tea – Raised $16,716 from 380 backers (against a goal of $3,000) – poster of the famous tea recipes from around the world
- Loose Leaf Tea: Sip & Slip into the Leaves of a Story – Raised $5,070 (against a goal of $2,500) Development of a tea line with fairy tale themes. The launcher hopes to open a fairy-tale inspired tea room someday.
- Anthem Coffee & Tea – Raised $16,080 – To expand their Tacoma, Wash. tea shop and relaunch it as Puyallup’s Living Room
- The Honeysuckle Tea House – Raised $21,638 – To open an apothecary cafe, selling tea, kombucha, herbs and smoothies with a focus on wellness