Why Opportunity Zones May Be Good For Urban Real Estate Development

Introduction

Opportunity Funds were created in the 2017 tax law to promote investment in the development of low-income communities across the US. They offer investors federal tax advantages that are only available through the new Opportunity Zone program. When investors put their money to work in qualified Opportunity Zones through a qualified Opportunity Fund, they can defer and reduce their capital gains tax burden. investors can defer and reduce realized capital gains on the principal invested, and even eliminate their capital gains tax burden on returns earned through the sale of investments in qualified Opportunity Zones.

What Are Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones are census tracts of low-income areas designated by state governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. These areas are being targeted for economic development through the newly created Opportunity Zone program. Investors can invest in the development of qualified Opportunity Zones through Opportunity Funds, which can provide significant federal capital gains tax advantages, both immediately and over the long term.

Why Opportunity Zones are Perfect for Buy The Block

Buy The Block is positioned to take full advantage of the Opportunity Zone laws and it has a very similar mission to provide capital for the redevelopment of  inner-city real estate. The Opportunity Zone program was created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments rather than taxpayer dollars. To stimulate private participation in the Opportunity Zone program, taxpayers who invest in Qualified Opportunity Zones are eligible to benefit from capital gains tax incentives available exclusively through the program.

Why Affordable Housing  Is a Must

According to an article by UrbanLand By 2025, affordability will have lost over 25 million  units based on the expiration of government subsidies and another 3 million unities of organic affordable housing units those are unites not subsidized but develop naturally occurring affordable price points. But what will not change—and in fact only stands to increase—is the demand for affordable housing for people on fixed incomes and those earning 40 to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Takeaway

At the same time, members of a new generation of “social-impact investors” are eager to place their equity in housing as a platform to address a variety of issues they care about, including economic mobility and disparities in health outcomes and educational attainment. Opportunity Zones working in collaboration with with real estate crowdinvesting platforms have the potential  to create expanding pools of equity investors with the potential to shore up the supply of affordable housing while creating a rapidly expanding housing workforce.

Urban Redevelopment Across the Midwest

Introduction

There is a renaissance occurring across the Midwest with the miracle in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine and now moving to Gary, Indiana’s central business district. Gary once a large and prosperous. One hundred years ago Gary, was a new settlement on the south shore of Lake Michigan nicknamed the “city of the century.” Gary was founded and funded by the industrial colossus U.S. Steel—chairman Elbert H. Gary, for whom the town is named.

Classic Rust Belt

Today Gary is a Rust Belt city with a predominantly African-American working class population points to its perception not as an historic boomtown, but a city left reeling when the manufacturing left. Gary stand as a model for the failing Midwestern industrial town  with white flight and the disorderly departure of industry in the later half of the 20th century resulted in a lack of jobs and development. But the promise of the city and community needs vision for revival that could apply to other working class cities on the ropes.

Urban Renaissance

There is today a focused on blight busting and targeted development, attempting to inject optimism back into the town and its citizens. A number of new community initiatives and institutions, including ArtHouse, run by Chicago’s Theaster Gates, are using art as a catalyst for urban renaissance.

Francine Anderson

Francine Anderson is the youngest in a family of 5.  er father migrated to Chicago from Greenwood, Mississippi.  Her mother migrated to Chicago from Brookhaven, Mississippi.  Both were fleeing the racism, violence, and lack of opportunity that plagued the south. Francine worked in corporate finance as a financial analyst after completing her BA in Finance at Clark Atlanta University.  She later worked as an Illinois Realtor while investing in properties in Chicago’s Englewood and Washington Park neighborhoods.

Lakichay Nadirah Muhammad

Lakichay Nadirah Muhammad affectionately known as “The Queen of Self Improvement” and “The Wellness Angel” has an extensive background in the healing arts. This international bestselling author, speaker, earth steward and community leader is committed to the awakening and refinement of the indigenous family. With an extensive background and training in the world of Real Estate Investing, Philanthropy, and Community Building this wife and mother is able to effectively marry her skills to aid in the transformative rebirth for individuals, families and communities.

More Gold Investors, LLC

Enter More Gold Investors, LLC to put their own brand of redevelopment on downtown Gary. More Gold Investors consist of a pair of highly skilled and experienced real estate developers that have combined forces to bring the redevelopment of 624 Broadway with approximately 6,250 square foot retail development space.  The project is located on Gary’s main downtown street, Broadway, and is walking distance from City Hall, the Metra Train Station, US Steel, and the city’s minor league baseball stadium. The project site is on the west side of Broadway Street, midblock, near the Centier Bank Building.

The Convergence of Locavesting and CrowdInvesting

When we look into the investment portfolios of most individual investors we will find stocks and bonds of large multinational companies that very often send jobs and profits overseas. The new retail investor class that crowdinvesting creates is very cash rich and rarely finds itself being invested in local businesses that as stated above are the economic drivers of communities. How do we change that dynamic? How do we channel more capital to productive use—to the small businesses that create jobs, spur innovation and build strong local economies? Well, crowdinvesting is the vehicle that will be able to transfer this capital to small local businesses and real estate development.

Delivering the Gold in Commercial Real Estate

Introduction

Black women are the fastest growing demographic of business owners and here are three Black women that are moving into the domain of commercial real estate what is considered by many to be the especially in commercial real estate, which has been called ‘the least diverse industry on the planet.’ Real estate ownership is also key to building inter-generational wealth. So many of our inner-city neighborhoods have suffered from divestment and benign neglect for decades after the erosion of the urban industrial manufacturing base. But Midwestern cities are making a comeback led by ambitious and visionary Black women that are taking real estate development to a new level.

Capitalizing on Inner-City Redevelopment

Gary much like Detroit is experiencing an influx of redevelopment capital for major players and these Black women are taking advantage of this urban renaissance by purchasing buildings on the periphery of the major development that will allow them to take advantage of the rising tide of urban development. There are using a new tool called crowdinvesting which became legal in May of 2016 and allows anyone rich or poor to take advantage of real estate development as an investor with as little a $100 investment.

The Project

The commercial project includes 6,250 square feet of retail space that includes office spaces in the basement.  It is expected to be renovated, operational, and leased by 2019. Francine Anderson and Lakichay Nadirah Co-Founder of More Gold Investors And their goal is to serve their community by providing resources and trainings that result in community revitalization and development which will ultimately lead to a more sustainable and enriched community.

Takeaway

Buy The Block    is the only Black female owner real estate platforms in the United States and it provide the infrastructure for the African-American community to shift some of the $1.3 trillion we have in purchasing power to small Black-owned businesses, inner-city real estate development and tech businesses that lack access to capital to grow and prosper. Buy The Block is open to any sort of project as long as there is a real estate component, whether residential, business or industrial projects. 

Women Owned Businesses and Crowdfunding

Women are Driving Business Growth

Women are creating more businesses than their male counterparts, and African American and Latina women are driving that trend. However, women, especially non-white women, still lag in  revenue and job creation. According to the report State of Women Owned Businesses From 2017 to 2018, women–owned firms—defined as firms that are at least 51% owned and controlled by women—grew by 6% compared to 1.6% growth by all firms. Women make up 40% of all firms, but their numbers have been growing at an average 4% per year for the past decade, compared to 1% for all firms. If that growth rate continues, women are on track to become the majority of small business owners.

Women Owned Businesses by the Numbers

These women-owned businesses employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3% of total revenues. When firms that are equally owned by women and men are included, those numbers jump firms at least 50% owned by women account for 48% of all businesses, employ 14% of the workforce and generate $3.1 trillion in revenues (7% of revenues). Yet Less than 1% of black women founders get VC funding. What does this mean for the future of inclusive innovation?

The Failure of Venture Capital

The Venture Capital industry is 70% white, 82% male, and only employed eight black women and two Latinas. With such homogeneous and insular industry statistics as these, it can easily lead to under funding, or not even finding, good technology and founders born of these communities. Black women are the most educated and entrepreneurial group in the U.S., yet they receive less than 1% of VC funding. What is the solution to this financial and cultural conundrum.

Enter Crowdfunding

While many women pursue the dream of having their own business, many fail because of insufficient capital to cover start-up and operational costs. And that’s unfortunate because research shows that women-led business enterprises are more profitable. Enter Crowdfunding frustrated female entrepreneurs struggling to get funding should set up a Kickstarter or Indiegogo page. While female-led ventures have long struggled to get financial backing from banks and investors (who are predominantly male), a new Indiana University report finds that women actually have an easier time getting money on crowdfunding platforms than men do.

Influencer Marketing on Twitter

Introduction

Influencer/Blogging marketing involves a collaboration between crowdfunding campaigns and a select number of experts in a relevant field who have a large following on social media specifically Twitter for this post. Influencer marketing distinguishes individuals who have a significant influence on a potential group customer. When the right influencers endorse your product or brand, it can create a huge impact!

The way audiences interact with content continues to shift, making influencer/blogger marketing an even more effective and efficient model to exciting and engaging your crowd. Millennials purchase based on endorsements, reviews and ultimately trust. They view authenticity as one of the most, if not the most, essential elements of purchasing. For example, 33% of millennials read blogs and expert reviews before buying a product, so it makes sense for crowdfunding campaigns to highlight these expert opinions.

A quick review of your Twitter feed will show that people don’t always flock to companies for information about their products and services. Instead, they’re seeking influencers – popular, personable, and independent content creators who aren’t afraid to share opinions on social media. More than 90% of consumers trust earned press – characterized as word-of-mouth and recommendations from trustworthy sources – more than all other types of advertising

As founders building crowd investing campaigns how do we harness the power of earned media through Twitter influencers/bloggers to build our engaged and excited group of investors. These are the steps we use to tap the influencer/blogger marketing on Twitter

DEVELOP INFLUENCER MARKETING GOALS

  1. Expand brand awareness- Influencers have the power to rapidly increase your brand awareness because they have an established and engaged audience.
  2. Generate leads – A simple way to implement influencers into your marketing plans is to partner with them to share your brand’s blogs, features, products.
  3. Check influencer contribution – It is essential to quantify the overall reach and impression of your content. Use these numbers to calculate the ROI of your campaign by different parameters such as followers gained.

IDENTIFY INFLUENCERS

Identify relevant influencers/bloggers who are affiliated with your industry. Find your target audience and the influencers’ followers should be mutually inclusive. You can use Twitter Advanced Search to search Twitter and keep an eye on specific hashtags, mentions, and conversations about your brand.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH INFLUENCERS

After identifying several leading influencers/bloggers, reach out! Rather than sending a cold email with your interest, go the extra mile by engaging and showcasing the fact that you have mutual interests.

  • Start following them on Twitter and start a casual conversation
  • Retweet their content to introduce them to your audience
  • Discuss something they have tweeted recently
  • Share their blog posts on Twitter
  • Connect on other social media platforms
  • Offer to write a guest post on their blog
  • Send products to them as free samples to review

Take time to source valuable influencers/bloggers and cultivate a professional relationship. When trust is established, and you’re confident that there is a mutual fit, you’re in a high position to launch an influencer/blogger marketing campaign.

DEVISE A MARKETING STRATEGY

From creating brand awareness to boosting sales, influencer/blogger marketing on Twitter has the potential to drive amazing results to your crowdfunding campaign.

  • Keep these things in mind before creating an influencer marketing campaign:
  • Prepare a list of leading influencers/bloggers you are in touch with
  • Define your target audience and goals for the campaign
  • Create a call-to-action and several achievable deliverables
  • Come up with a hashtag for the campaign and keywords
  • Research what your competitors are doing and what they have done previously

Going through this process will help clearly define what you want to get out of an upcoming campaign and ensure that you can meet those goals.

START RUNNING YOUR INFLUENCER/BLOGGER CAMPAIGNS ON TWITTER

After developing a clear strategy concerning the influencers you are going to work with, start implementing your campaign. Have the content of your campaign ready and prepare the tools your influencer/bloggers need to succeed before the campaign launch.

TAKEAWAY

Measuring the outcome of the Twitter Influencer/blogger marketing campaign using keywords and anchor hashtag from the campaign to track its overall reach and performance. Use a Twitter monitoring/social listening tool to do the individual analysis:

  • check the retweet count
  • calculate impressions/reach
  • gauge other relevant data-oriented results.

Not only will it help you judge the overall efficiency of your present campaign, but it will also let you identify leading influencers for your next campaign. This will be vital to maintaining an effective and efficient process for developing and implementing a Twitter Influencer/Blogger marketing campaign.

Place-Based Impact Investing and Crowdinvesting

Introduction

For far too many years we, as a distinct demographic, have been looking to government and philanthropy to help relieve the vast concentrated poverty and benign neglect that has been signature of inner-city communities of color for the last 60 years. Today crowdinvesting has ushered in a new day that will allow our communities to pool our extensive purchasing power to begin the investment process and lead our communities into decades of economic and political prosperity.

Place-Based Impact Investing

Place-based impact investing has a focus on specific local or regional communities and is seeing renewed interest with the growing community capital, local investing, and crowdinvesting movements. Place-based initiatives for poverty alleviation and economic development are not new, but decades of philanthropic and public policy initiatives have rarely yielded the scope and scale of impact required to reverse decades of neglect and economic policies that crippled inner-cities. An impact investment goes a step further, it must offer to reduce homelessness, or break a pattern of criminal behavior, for example.

Multi-Stakeholder Approach

A major component of place-based investing is that it involves diverse, coordinated sources of capital that require multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. Using a multi-stakeholder approach and the layering of capital from diverse entities reduces the risk and inserting Regulation Crowdfunding campaigns into the mix opens the investment to the community that will be impacted to participate and build wealth along side of the impact investors.

Community Development

This will also provide an opportunity for the development of human by allowing to community member to be developers, contractors, and the bulk of the workforce. This empowers the community in multiple ways that teaches a person to fish! Crowdinvesting supported by impact investing and community capital provides an infrastructure for a worthwhile approach for job growth, innovation and business development.

Takeaway

There is also the wealth building and market principles that will allow corporations, banks, and foundations to invest as partners that have an incentive to see these communities become successful and not to view them as charity cases that will never become sustainable. The impact investment in entrepreneurship and real estate development creates a new dynamic between stakeholders and communities of color in inner-cities. Community capital, localism, and crowdinvesting  working together to improve the quality and functioning of local economies will improve cities all across the nation.

Engaging Through The Twitterverse

INTRODUCTION

Twitter is a potent tool for promoting your crowdfunding campaign. Twitter allows you to implement a #Hashtag strategy that provides your crowdfunding campaign with the ability to create an identification on the platform. This Hashtag identification enhances your campaigns ability to engage with the hundreds of millions of Twitter users on the platform who can become part of your audience. Using tweets, and retweets, like the sparks that ignite the interest of others, you’ll be able to personalize your crowdfunding campaign, tell your story, and enlist the benefit of others who share your goals.

USING TWITTER TO TELL YOUR STORY

Twitter is a great place to engage with your audience and keep them up to date on all of your latest adventures, and it provides a fun, laid-back atmosphere–the perfect venue for building an exciting and dynamic brand. Storytelling is an essential aspect of any crowdfunding campaign. The goal is to create a campaign brand that resonates with your audience–and to do that; it is critical that your name tells a story. A flat, one-dimensional label doesn’t give an audience any reason to pay attention. Telling your story and letting your brand evolve will naturally generate interest in your campaign brand.

USE TWITTER TO ENGAGE

Twitter is a great place to engage with your audience and keep them up to date on all of your latest adventures. Twitter provides a fun, laid-back atmosphere, so it’s the perfect venue for building an exciting and dynamic brand.  Always allow your followers to be a part of your campaigns ongoing experience by letting your followers know what you are up to many times a day if it drives the campaign narrative.

USE TWITTER TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Your Twitter profile should not be all business, and in fact, it is much easier for your audience to truly connect with you when they perceive you as a “real” person. Tweet about your family, your hobbies, your opinions… don’t be afraid to open up a bit. The more you share your life on Twitter, the better your audience will feel that they know you. And the more they know about you, the more likely they are to support your campaign with dollars.

ENGAGE FOLLOWERS

The most overlooked concept when it comes to branding on Twitter is that interaction is critical. Too many business owners treat Twitter like a bulletin board–they log on a couple of times each week, post something, and then leave. But as you know from real-life experience, it is hard to connect with someone who won’t interact with you. Take the time to respond to your followers; your profile will become a much livelier and inviting place. And when your audience is paying attention, you can tell your story much more efficiently.

USING HASHTAGS ON TWITTER

When developing the all-important Hashtag on Twitter make sure that you do some research on hashtags that will be relevant to yours and your campaign that will enhance your campaign’s visibility which will foster a broader community and more re-tweets. When you send out tweets, don’t forget “#” the words and phrases that are connected to your crowdfunding campaign so that people can find you. Make sure you are judicious in your use of the #tags to ensure that your messages don’t come across as spam.

TWITTER RESEARCH USING HASHTAGS

Check out the rest of Twitter using hashtags to ensure a relevant search to find out if someone is involved in a similar project to yours. Then determine your role in that conversation. Should you join in or should you be the one to get conversational? Their audience might be your audience. Make use of the connective tissue of Twitter hashtags to build a network of like-minded people, starting with the people you know. They may share some of your views; can you encourage them to share your vision?

TWITTER AND TRANSPARENCY

Your followers need to understand why you’ve decided to launch this crowdfunding campaign. What do you intend to do with the money and the business you are beginning? Let them know why you’re the one who can do it, and what happens when they help you achieve your goal. Let your voice be heard. Your Twitter followers need to feel that they know you, and they can best do that if you convey a personal sense of yourself. Don’t be afraid to stir things up in the Twitterverse through transparency and thought leadership make it personal and make it real for you and your followers. One way to excite and engage your followers is to ask questions. Questions are irresistible, and people love to answer them.

THE POWER OF THE RE-TWEET

Tweets with 100 characters or less are 17 percent more likely to get noticed than longer tweets. When tweeting be brief, succinct, and memorable. When using Twitter for crowdfunding remember your goal is to excite and engage your followers and to spread your campaign reach, so a couple of tips at the end of each tweet, please ask your followers to “Please Retweet” spelling out “Please Retweet” increases the retweet rate by a factor of 23 times. Always leave space for your @Username and the “Please Retweet” and leave 25 characters of free space at the end of each tweet.

TAKEAWAY

Twitter is a dynamic and engaging mechanism for building your crowdfunding community that will support your campaign. Twitter provides a way to reach out, excite, engage and make a city with the ability to test and measure your success at the same time. Twitter also provides the ability to engage with influencers and bloggers. These people already have developed trust based transparent relationships with large numbers of people on Twitter, and you can tap into that community through Influencer Marketing.  It is not easy to build the relationships once you do over time you will understand the power of influencers.

Crowdfunding and the Talented Tenth

Introduction 

I was working on a creating a spreadsheet of black professional organizations that would be my target for a political crowdfunding campaign that is a collaboration between Lynn P and her crowdfunding portals and WeCycl, Inc my crowdfunding and digital marketing company. I was entering data when I was hit with an epiphany. Black professional organizations leading the charge to economic and political empowerment not only through education, but through crowdinvesting.

The Talented Tenth

“The talented tenth” a concept espoused by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois  to describe the likelihood of one in ten black people becoming leaders of our race in the world, through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change. Crowdinvesting provides another avenue for African-American leaders to empower the community through politics and economics. Crowdinvesting provides an element of both social engagement and capital aggregation for the community using social media and the platform.

Black Professionals as Investors

As I input the data of the immense number of Black professional organizations the thought came to me that for the price of a single cup of coffee per month these organizations have the ability, through crowdfunding, to raise $5 million monthly to finance the incredible work these organizations are doing. When put into proper context is, a single cup of coffee a month a large sacrifice, when we observe the many sacrifices our ancestors made for us to be able to access an education or the right to vote?   

Due to the strict levels of segregation and discrimination in the United States black professionals were forced to create their own associations. Today these associations of black professionals may just be the segmented crowds needed to bring crowdinvesting to African-American communities as a political and economic empowerment tool. The crowds are already formed now it is all about the messaging that will be able to engage and excite these crowds to constructive action.  

Conclusion

If we raised $5 per month from 1 million black professionals to support their organizations on a rotating basis that would be $5 million monthly that would support the black professional organizations and help them prosper and carry out their missions. As these groups became more and more familiar with crowdfunding they would be able to move to Buy The Block and begin the process of crowdinvesting.

If these same 1 million Black professionals invested $100 the minimum for an investment on Buy the Block monthly through a dollar cost averaging process that would be $100 million monthly invested in real estate development and  entrepreneurship in inner-cities with a estimated 10 percent return on investment we would achieve economic empowerment, increased real estate development, accelerated entrepreneurship and job creation.

Join The Movement

 

The Reality of Life in An Urban Food Desert

Introduction 

People living in food deserts also find it difficult to locate foods that are culturally appropriate for them, and dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., also limit the food choices of those who do not have access to larger chain stores that have more selection. Additionally, studies have found that urban residents who purchase groceries at small neighborhood stores pay between 3 and 37 percent more than suburbanites buying the same products at supermarkets.

The High Cost of Being Poor

Healthier foods are generally more expensive than unhealthful foods, particularly in food deserts. For instance, while the overall price of fruits and vegetables in the US increased by nearly 75 percent between 1989 and 2005, the price of fatty foods dropped by more than 26 percent during the same period. While such inflation has strained the food budgets of many families regardless of their financial status, the higher cost of healthy foods often puts them entirely beyond the monetary means of many lower-income people.

The Consequence of Cheap Food

While unhealthy eating may be economically cheaper in the short-term, the consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that ethnic minority and low-income populations suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population. Whatever their age, obesity puts people at a greater risk for serious, even fatal health disorders particularly coronary heart disease and diabetes,] the first and seventh leading causes of death in the US respectively.

Shining a Light on Food Deserts

Public awareness of the formidable problems posed by food deserts is growing, thanks largely to the efforts of community activists, entrepreneurs and government officials committed to increasing people’s access to healthy food options. Million investment from the government focused on providing tax breaks to supermarkets that open in food deserts.  Many urban areas are also implementing initiatives locally to solve their food desert challenges.

Food Deserts are Real in Chicago

In Chicago more than 500,000 residents mostly African-American live in food deserts, and an additional 400,000 live in neighborhoods with a preponderance of fast food restaurants and no grocery stores nearby.  Some food justice activists have sought to close this gap by opening food co-ops in under served areas where supermarkets have historically been unsuccessful. In addition to selling fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and beans, and soy-based meat substitutes, some of these stores also offer cooking and nutrition classes to educate the public about making healthy food choices.

The Roots & Vine Solution

Roots & Vine Produce and Café Inc., is a start-up aiming to revolutionize the convenience store concept.  “Connecting Farmers To People & Reconnecting People With Real Food.” Their core mission is to target and eliminate food deserts in blighted neighborhoods, create jobs for the communities They serve as well as specialized franchise opportunities. They are dedicated to building relationships with family farmers nationwide to supply our locations, that will increase their bottom line and provide Roots & Vine Produce and Cafés with the best quality produce available.

They are offering communal space alongside the store gives each location the possibility to connect with people of the community, host workshops, classes, food demos and healthy dialogue with customers to introduce to them healthier food options, recipes and solutions to reduce food related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Takeaway

Please visit Roots and Vines offer as they sprout up in food deserts across the country and will quickly make the new startup a household name. Inserting themselves into blighted communities and providing fresh produce, bulk dry goods and essentials in areas that need it most and creating new markets for Black farmers.  

Crowd Investing Through The Black Church

The Black Church as Catalyst Wealth Creation

As I was conducting research for this article I found many people that have written in the negative about the Black Church and its relationship to the poor Black community that supports it financially. The Black Church is big business, whether one likes to admit it or not this is a simple fact. The church like any other organization must operate along sound business principles or risk becoming insolvent. LiveSteez research shows that Black churches, in aggregate, have collected more than $420 billion in tithes and donations since 1980.

That figure is staggering when analyzed alongside demographic data about concentrated poverty, low home ownership, low  business ownership, access to capital for businesses, and almost zero in accumulated wealth in the Black community. Annually Black Churches rack in over $14 billion tax-free, yet this demographic data has grown worse as time moves forward into the future. I live in a Black neighborhood and I see is a church on every corner (sometimes 3-4 per block), a liquor store, and businesses that aren’t owned by Blacks and these business plague our communities.

The majority of people that lie in the Black community don’t owns the place where they reside. This data in comparison to the amount of money that flows into the Black church annually has brought me to this reality as a Black crowd investment consultant that was raised in the Black church. My goal is to help the people in my community build wealth and community equity using Regulation Crowdfunding and impact investing. The Black Church must play a significant role in making this goal a reality.

The Black Church as an Economic Center

So, before this becomes another article on how corrupt the Black church has become let me state for the record I strongly believe that the Black church as an entity has a substantial role to play in community economic development through the creation of Black-owned businesses, increasing home ownership, developing inner-city commercial real estate, and increasing Black wealth. Why do I believe this, first because I have met and spoken in depth with Black Pastors that care deeply for their communities and their people, but don’t have any workable solutions to drive economic development forward.

Second, there are much easier ways for people to make a living than pastoring inner-city churches that were devastated by the “Great Recession” and are struggling to keep their doors open for members. The Black church provides hope and direction for tens of millions of Black people in the 120 largest urban centers. The people are there and the funds are there, so let’s bring the crowd and the investment capital together through Regulation Crowdfunding platforms like Buy the Block and begin the process of Investing Black.

Black Churches and Black Investment

I urge all inner-city Black churches to use this unique opportunity to redirect the fortunes of their community. Rethinking the inner-city in economic and social terms will be uncomfortable for those who have devoted years to only social causes and who view profit and business in general with suspicion. The private sector, government, inner city residents, and community based organizations all have vital new parts to play in revitalizing the economy of the inner-city using Regulation Crowdfunding. The African-American Church, business people, entrepreneurs, and investors must assume a lead role and community activists, social service providers, and government bureaucrats must support them in our goal to transform these communities using market principles.

Takeaways

When such Black church-based developments takes place in low-income neighborhoods, they will increase property values, attract new residents and become magnets for diverse businesses and better-paying jobs. Church-based business enterprises will help rebuild the community’s social infrastructure and provide such much-needed values-based services as child care, youth development, elder care and substance abuse counseling along with other economic drivers. These activities tend to lead to improved schools, better public safety and an enhanced quality-of-life. From this type of community economic development, everyone—those living in the area and those in surrounding communities—benefits.

 

The Dearth of Black Farmers

Introduction 

Today in Illinois there are only 59 farms owned and operated by by African-Americans across the state, down from 123 in 1997, according to newly revised figures from a 2002 census. As farming has become a big business, it has become one of the least diverse businesses around. Whites operate more than 72,000 Illinois farms, Hispanics 488 and those of other ethnicity 219 combined.

The Rapidly Disappearing Black Farmer

In 1920, Illinois had 892 black farmers, and African-Americans owned 14 percent of the nation’s farmland. Now they hold less than 1 percent. The same pressure to consolidate that has reduced the ranks of farmers for the past century is making any turnaround unlikely. The number of black farmers in Illinois, currently less than one in 1,000, appears destined to eventually hit zero.

The numbers are dwindling across much of the Midwest, according to the Agriculture Department census, which was updated in April. Iowa has 31 black farmers, down from 40 in 1997. Indiana has 55, down from 61. Several states, such as North Dakota, list no black farmers at all. A few states reported small gains, but the numbers are tiny across the region.

Understanding the History of The Black Farmer

The scarcity of African-American farmers stems from a troubled history as well. Racial discrimination played a big role in driving blacks off their land in southern states. During the Great Migration that began with World War I, blacks moved north for jobs in industrial cities, not the hinterlands.

For sharecroppers, farming was associated with the poverty and backbreaking labor of slavery. For those who owned land, unequal treatment made it difficult to retain the property and earn a living. The Agriculture Department acknowledged that it had abused black farmers for generations. USDA agents approved only a fraction of financing requests, delayed loans until after the planting season and withheld other key payments.

Why is this Important to You

Why does any of this information matter to the most urbanized people in the world. Well it matter on many levels and we are going to explore some of these in this post. Today in most inner-city African-American communities are what the USDA classify as “Urban Food Deserts”. These urban food deserts have similar characteristics: Food deserts can be described as geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance.   

The Economics of Urban Food Deserts

Economic forces have driven grocery stores out of many cities in recent years, making them so few and far between that an individual’s food shopping trip may require taking several buses or trains. In suburban and rural areas, public transportation is either very limited or unavailable, with supermarkets often many miles away from people’s homes.

What are Urban Food Deserts

The other defining characteristic of food deserts is socio-economic: that is, they are most commonly found in communities of color and low-income areas (where many people don’t have cars). Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones, and that white neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and that grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection.

People’s choices about what to eat are severely limited by the options available to them and what they can afford—and many food deserts contain an overabundance of fast food chains selling cheap “meat” and dairy-based foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Processed foods such as snack cakes, chips and soda typically sold by corner delis, convenience stores and liquor stores are usually just as unhealthy.

Urban Crowdinvesting and Entrepreneurship

Crowdinvesting has the ability to close the African-American urban-rural divide by allowing inner-city entrepreneurs to create local food stores that are able to provide healthy food choices to people living in urban food deserts and it opens new markets to the dying Black farmer.  

Roots & Vine Produce and Café is a unique and innovative new concept that is actively pursuing solutions to social justice, food justice and Black farmer issues from both the supply and demand side by creating a brand that addresses the needs of both of these groups of Black people using market based strategies that will create jobs, revenue, health and wealth for both inner-city urban food desert dwellers and the rapidly disappearing Black Farmer.

Takeaway

Please visit Roots and Vines offer as they sprout up in food deserts across the country and will quickly make the new startup a household name. Inserting themselves into blighted communities and providing fresh produce, bulk dry goods and essentials in areas that need it most and creating new markets for Black farmers.  

Invest in the First Black Woman-Owned Cafe & Farmers Market Franchise That Will Be Owned by the Community

Nationwide — Roots & Vine Produce and Café, spearheaded by Ena Jones, a single mother of 3, born and raised in Chicago, has set its Grand Opening for this fall 2018 on Chicago’s South Side in the Morgan Park Community. The plan is to create a Wi-Fi friendly café with a healthy menu, coffee, smoothies, and juices as well as tempting pastries.

Their in-house farmers market, supplied with fresh produce and bulk dry goods, are grown from black farmers nationwide. The company aspires to be a low cost and cashless grocery chain at the convenience store level to help eliminate food deserts across the country.

With nearly a quarter of the American population living in a food desert, access to fresh and healthy produce is crucial in the battle to reduce diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other food-related illnesses in our families. Stop by to join in healthy discussions with their #GreenTableTalks, food demos and workshops; as they create jobs and unique franchise opportunities for people of the community.

#GreeTableTalk

Roots & Vine is a solution looking for investors. There is an opportunity to join their mission and invest at BuyTheBlock.com, with as little as $100. You can look at their offering and truly encourage the community, family and friends to live a healthy life. The momentum of Roots & Vine Produce and Café as they sprout up to bring water to food deserts across the country will quickly make the new startup a household name.

This startup is dedicated to addressing the problem of urban food deserts and revitalizing blighted communities. Connecting farmers directly with consumers and employing community residents, Roots & Vine aims to strengthen communities in several ways:

#1 – Offering fresh produce and bulk dry goods at the convenience store level.
#2 – Providing Farmers an economic opportunity to market their products in every store.
#3 – Providing local employment opportunities in serving communities.
#4 – Providing Communal Space in a daily open, free Wi-Fi café.
#5 – The café will offer food demos, workshops, and education on nutrition and meal planning that will enable those of the community to take control of their own health.

About the founder

Ena Jones is a caterer and seasoned entrepreneur with twenty years of experience and counting. She is also a self-published writer & owner of Everyday Butterfly Home Spa Collection, a self-care product line of 100% natural and organic ingredients.

Notes for Editors: Invest in their effort and bring water to the desert, visit their Buy the Block page at https://buytheblock.com/campaign/connecting-farmers-to-people-reconnecting-people-to-real-food

PRESS CONTACT:
Ena Jones
Roots & Vine Produce and Café Inc.
773-979-0199
EJones@RootsAndVineInc.com

Posted on October 6, 2018 By Staff With 1 comment

3 Reasons Why Black People Should Take Back The Beauty Industry

Barbershops and beauty parlors are often focal points for entire communities. They’re part beauty parlor, part gathering place, and all about the community.

That’s why we’re proud to announce an effort to fund and open twelve beauty parlors and nail salons in 28 months.

An Ideal Investment

Beauty parlors and nail salons represent ideal investment opportunities for underserved in a number of ways.

  1. The overall financial commitment is relatively small. Nail salons don’t require the massive floor space or expensive equipment of a factory. They don’t have the low margins or spoilage found in restaurants and food stores. They’re easier to fund and easier to get off the ground.
  2. They serve a broad niche. Everyone wants to look good. We can talk all we want about looks not being all this or all that but at the end of the day, everyone wants to look good. That means the base of potential customers is a large one. If a nail salon opens in a community that isn’t already being served by one, its chances of success are quite high.
  3. They’re an investment in the community. Nail salons don’t ship overseas. They don’t hire workers from outside the community. They quite literally function to make people in the community feel better about themselves. That works on a micro level with their customers, but they will employ members of the community who will spend their wages at other businesses in the community and the entire community profits.

An Ideal Entrepreneurship Opportunity

Those same factors make nail salons an outstanding entrepreneurship opportunity, so we’re looking for entrepreneurs in underserved communities to step up and make a difference.

We’re looking for hard-working people of good character who are dedicated to making their communities a better place. With our help, we think you can make a real difference for real people.

We’re offering some training and other assistance that we think can really make the difference for the right candidate. That includes an e-book with information on budgeting, dealing with suppliers, marketing, and more.

On top of that, we’ve got in-house experts who can help you with crowd-investing strategies and tactics that will help your project full fund a quickly as possible.

Be the Change

If you want to change your life while transforming your community, this is your opportunity. They always say that the best social program is a job, and they aren’t wrong, but the always neglect to mention who does the hiring.

Here’s your chance to do the hiring. Here’s your chance to build on the strength of your neighborhood to make that neighborhood even stronger.

Businesses that are owned by community residents and which employ community residents make the community just that much stronger and more cohesive. Invest in your neighbors. Invest in yourself. Change the world—one neighborhood at a time. Join the movement!   https://buytheblock.com/campaign/oh-so-polished-beauty-lounge

Posted on October 4, 2018 By Staff With 0 comments

Digital Marketing and Crowd Investing

Introduction

While at the Crowd Invest Summit in Los Angeles back in September, 2017 the event confirmed what I had suspected for a very long time.  Just like rewards based crowdfunding required a very powerful strategic marketing and PR plan the same would be required in the world of Title III Crowd Investing. Our panel was very lively and the audience was very excited and engaged. You need to have a strategy for putting your capital raise in front of enough people who are willing to invest in you so that you reach your goal, otherwise the whole process is a waste of time. And with only a few exceptions, the equity crowdfunding platforms don’t offer a lot of support for campaign marketing. And that can be really frustrating.

Facebook Ads

An effective Facebook ad campaign allows a company to effectively target likely investors based on Facebook users’ location, demographics and interests. Facebook is truly 21st century digital marketing. Facebook is the number one platform in social media marketing where you can target a customized audience, so you are able to reduce blasting out a message to who-knows-where and to whom. Facebook Ads reduce the waste of advertising dollars. Facebook is like picking up the phone and selling directly to someone. During your pre-launch you can create an ad and test multiple audiences. Whichever, one converts the best and is most engaged that is the audience that you should target for building your email list. Facebook Ads provide awesome targeting and analytic data along with the ability to create lookalike audiences and re-targeting.

Twitter Ads

Use Twitter ads if you have a Twitter handle, you have a great marketing tool for your product. Companies use Twitter to expand their community. Though this is a fast moving source, it can get you a lot of exposure. Twitter is also a great tool for influencer/blogger outreach. Twitter also provide a great platform for digital PR by reaching out to journalist and building relationships. Twitter a is great platform for building relationships with your many audiences.  

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads work best in a B2B context and can be used to drive people to a lead generation page for the right crowdfunding offerings.  Precise targeting of LinkedIn members with investment expertise in their member profiles, plus targeting to members of LinkedIn Groups for venture capital and private equity, helped Spotlight Ads and Sponsored Updates reach investors.

Search Engine Marketing

The most basic form of SEM involves paying for certain search terms and having Google drive traffic to your crowdfunding campaign based on what you paid for. With SEM, we know somebody is a potential investor based on their search terms, so you are directly reaching out to people who have already identified themselves as someone looking to make a purchase or an investment.

Email Marketing

Email marketing may not be as sexy as newer marketing tactics such as social media and video, but it can still be a huge factor in driving a successful equity crowdfunding offering. There are plenty of digital platforms available to deliver your message, but email marketing continues to offer one of the best opportunities to build relationships and drive sales. Early momentum is crucial in any crowdfunding campaign, and building your email list to engage people in what you are doing before asking them to invest or contribute will put you at a huge advantage on launch day.

Takeaway

Digital marketing is an essential part of every equity crowd investing offering, just as it has been for rewards-based crowdfunding. Working with the right professionals with the correct strategy and knowing who to target is the key to success. Digital marketing is a process that takes time. Most say it takes a potential investor seeing an average of five ads before they make a decision to invest. Converting digital advertising is a process, so start early in the crowdfunding campaign.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv  

The Black Panther Movie and Black Crowd Investing

Introduction 

Two months before the premiere of the Marvel’s Black Panther I was invited to take part in a premiere event that was sure to please. I was excited to meet the many Black business owners and professionals in the Louisville area that were going to participate on this project. It seemed that everyone was a buzz about the opening of the first Marvel movie that featured a Black director, predominantly Black cast, and a $200 million budget. To date the movie has lived up to all of the hype. The movie has been a box office smash with receipts in excess of $400 million already.

Crowdfunding for a Cause 

I came across an article by Adrienne Gibbs that brought a smile to my face as a crowdinvesting consultant. The Title of the article was Why Is ‘Black Panther’ Selling Out? Activists, Churches, Schools Buy Thousands Of Tickets. The article describes the in vivid detail how the Black community was willing and able to rally around a cause both politically and economically to achieve a goal. We showed the world, but most importantly our community, the economic power that our community wields in America and globally.

The Crowd Economy In Black America

The article chronicles how the movement began with a single #Hashtag from Harlem with the #BlackPantherChallenge, Frederick Joseph started a GoFundMe page to take some neighborhood kids to the movie. As I read on my heart began to pump faster and harder as I imagined the day in the Black community when we will #InvestBlack, #BuyBlack, #BankBlack and build #BlackWealth.  My hope is that the example of “Black Panther”would start a Black economic movement that would lead our community to commit billions of dollars to Buy the Block a black owned real estate crowdinvesting platform.

Seeing the Future of Black Crowdinvesting 

I thought of the day when business owners and other high net worth Black people would pool their capital into impact investment funds and invest a portion of their portfolios alongside non-accredited community investors to renovate urban commercial corridors and bring back the dense urban live-work-shop-play spaces, not seen since a time before urban renewal destroyed these economic community anchors. Crowd investing and impact investment can create communities where we #InvestBlack which then makes #BuyBlack make sense because there is the economic benefit in building #BlackWealth through entrepreneurship and real estate development.

My goal is that the next time a big-budget movie featuring a Black director and Black cast premieres it will come from majority Black-owned studio that was financed by crowdinvesting and is staffed by Black people that are trying to make their mark in Atlanta the Black Hollywood. The theaters that we buyout for the next premiere will be Black owned and in the urban core in our communities, so that we are employing people from the community.

Takeaway 

According to the article “Black Panther” is a game changer when it comes to imagery and modernity. Also, Black Panther ups the ante because many of the behind the scenes people are Black, as are the leading actors.  The political and economic impact of this one major studio blockbuster film “Black Panther” has had on the Black community across the country is immense.

Let’s make“Black Panther” the driver of a new movement to #InvestBlack with Buy the Block  #BuyBlack where you invested your dollars and build #BlackWealth. We now have a model that provides proof of concept for the power of a united community economic effort using crowdfunding. We have a Black owned crowdinvesting platform so instead of using GoFundMe campaigns to raise charity funds let’s take the #BuyTheBlockChallenge to invest in our communities and be the change we want to see!

Implementing a Crowdfunding PR Strategy

Introduction 

Crowdfunding has caused a paradigm shift in the way startups and creative projects are marketed and funded. Social media has taken center stage in the drive to build an excited and engaged crowd that will fund a crowdfunding campaign in a very short amount of time typically between 3-6 months of the pre-launch period. Sometimes managing customer expectations can be a really difficult task. Customers want to grow their social media targeted and organically form 8 followers to 15,000 in two weeks. How do we approach this issue? We begin the process of PR.

Public Relations

The Public Relations (PR) field has been radically transformed by the rapid and innovative growth of the Internet, social media and the latest interloper crowdfunding. The fact all marketing must now move at the speed of Internet requires a different emphasis for the PR field. It is crystal clear that PR in relationship to the crowdfunding industry is all about reaching influencers such as bloggers, podcasters, and journalists to assist with the promotion of the crowdfunding campaign.

Strategic PR for Crowdfunding

The role of PR in a crowdfunding campaign must be in the context of the overall marketing and Crowdfunding strategy and not seen as a stand alone component of the campaign. This means we have to make PR make sense in the context of the overall campaign strategy. We begin our outreach by tapping the “Inner Circle” and trying to raise the needed 30% to build momentum early in the campaign.

We look to implement the PR/Media Relations plan in the middle of the campaign when you normally see a lull in the campaign funding cycle. By this time if the plan is being implemented on objectives are being met we have developed some traction and the campaign has legs to stand on.

Implementing the Targeted PR

By this point we have develop a database of bloggers, influencers, podcasters, and journalist, so you have a list of targeted media and now you are ready to integrate your media outreach to a campaign that has demonstrated proof of concept and market validation. There is now a story to write about and the media will be glad to pick up on it and help push it forward.

Takeaways

Your media outreach/PR plan should fit into the overall crowdfunding strategic plan and the marketing plan to complete the campaign objectives. The outreach must be targeted to the people that are industry influencers and have an interest in your campaign’s product or project. The timing of the implementing is vital make sure the campaign has traction before launching into this part of the plan.

Crowd Investing Through The Black Church

The Black Church as a Wealth Building Catalyst

As I was conducting research for this article I found many people that have written in the negative about the Black Church and its relationship to the poor Black community that supports it financially. The Black Church is big business, whether one likes to admit it or not, this is a simple fact. The church like any other organization must operate along sound business principles or risk becoming insolvent. LiveSteez research shows that Black churches, in aggregate, have collected more than $420 billion in tithes and donations since 1980.

That figure is staggering when analyzed alongside demographic data about concentrated poverty, low home ownership, low business ownership, access to capital for businesses, and almost zero in accumulated wealth in the Black community. Annually Black Churches rack in over $14 billion tax-free, yet this demographic data has grown worse as time moves forward into the future. I live in a Black neighborhood and I see a church on many corners (sometimes 3-4 per block), a liquor store, and businesses that aren’t owned by Blacks.

These businesses that are not Black-owned plague our communities in many ways. The majority of people that live in the Black community don’t own the place where they reside. This data in comparison to the amount of money that flows into the Black church annually has brought me to this reality as a Black crowd investment consultant that was raised in the Black church. My goal is to help the people in my community build wealth and community equity using Regulation Crowdfunding and impact investing. The Black Church must play a significant role in making this goal a reality.

The Black Church as an Economic Center

So, before this becomes another article on how corrupt the Black church has become let me state for the record I strongly believe that the Black church as an entity has a substantial role to play in community economic development through the creation of Black-owned businesses, increasing home ownership, developing inner-city commercial real estate and increasing Black wealth. Why do I believe this, first because I have met and spoken in depth with Black Pastors that care deeply for their communities and their people, but don’t have any workable solutions to drive economic development forward?

Second, there are much easier ways for people to make a living than  pastoring inner-city churches that were devastated by the “Great Recession” and are struggling to keep their doors open for members. The Black church provides hope and direction for tens of millions of Black people in the 120 largest urban centers. The people are going to church and the funds are there, so let’s bring the crowd and the investment capital together through Regulation Crowdfunding platforms like Buy the Block and begin the process of #InvestingBlack.

Black Churches and Black Investment

I urge all inner-city Black churches to use this unique opportunity to redirect the fortunes of their community. Rethinking the inner-city in economic and social terms will be uncomfortable for those who have devoted years to only social causes and who view profit and business in general with suspicion. The private sector, government, inner-city residents, and community-based organizations all have vital new roles to play in revitalizing the economy of the inner-city using Regulation Crowdfunding. The African-American Church, business people, entrepreneurs, and investors must assume a leadership role and community activists, social service providers, and government bureaucrats must support them in our goal to transform these communities using market principles.

Takeaways

When such Black church-based developments take place in low-income neighborhoods, they will increase property values, attract new residents and become magnets for diverse businesses and better-paying jobs. Church-based business enterprises will help rebuild the community’s social infrastructure and provide such much-needed values-based services as child care, youth development, elder care and substance abuse counseling along with other economic drivers. These activities tend to lead to improved schools, better public safety, and an enhanced quality-of-life. From this type of community economic development, everyone—those living in the area and those in surrounding communities—benefits.

A Blogger’s Role in Crowdfunding

Introduction 

The objective of this post is to define the role of bloggers in the crowdfunding industry, explain the need for a blogger outreach strategy, and provide guidance for implementing an effective blogger outreach strategy. Bloggers are the new journalist of the digital media age. The days prior to the emergence of the Internet your Public Relations strategy could be built on relationships with a few journalists, but in today’s new global communications ecosystem there are new rules of engagement and our goal is to touch on the essential tactics needed to build these vital relationships.

Bloggers Are People

The first and most important rule to remember is that bloggers are people and as such must be treated accordingly. They are not tools to be used and placed back on the shelf until the next time the need arises. Bloggers are writers that unlike their predecessors, journalist, are not constrained by the traditional media business models. Bloggers are usually personal writers that have a passion for writing about a niche market or subject. They have a much broader range of freedom to pick topics and they have the ability to inject there opinion into their writing.

Blogging is Social Media

Blogging is social media driven and what that means is that any digital technology that provides a means to engage in dialogue is social media. Bloggers want to provide high-quality content to educate its readers, and bloggers expect high-quality engagement from its readers and followers. Bloggers love comments and from these comments relationships are developed. These transparent interactions on the blog and on social media platforms build trust that is the foundation of online relationships.

3 Steps to Blogger Outreach

Bloggers outreach should begin with a genuine desire to build a lasting trust based relationship with the blogger. Here are three ways we recommend building a trust based relationship with bloggers.

  1. Read old blog posts and comments to get a better feel and understanding of the blog and its culture.
  2. Read the current blog post and begin to comment where appropriate trying only to be helpful or to ask questions. (No promotion of product or service)
  3. Follow the blog on social media platforms and share high-quality content from the blog with you networks.

Key Takeaways

The power of the Internet has had an immense impact on communications. The Web and Social Media provide a medium of communication that in a matter of minutes information can reach millions of people with internet connections and search engines. Information can reach its audience directly and its reach can be expanded exponentially by influencers such as bloggers who pick up on it and write about it.

Black People and the Crowd Economy

Introduction

I read Antonio Moore’s article Black Wealth Hardly Exists, Even When You Include NBA, NFL And Rap Stars and found it to be spot-on in its analysis of the current situation of the average Black family and their lack of wealth the dearth of Black home ownership and a true path forward. One of the first things that struck me in his article was the fact the so many Black celebrities fame and wealth are talked about in the news and on social media, but only upon in-depth research are you able to find the reality of Black social and economic daily life. I think about the Black people that I know are on the front line of this battle for economic empowerment and the pursuit of the American dream of home ownership.

As I read the data that is out there about the poor and declining state of Black American and the inner-cities. As I live in one of those neighborhoods on a daily basis that lacks access to fresh healthy food options, pharmacy’s, and desirable retail option. Home ownership is dismally low, crime is high and educational attainment is relatively low. These dark and gloomy social realities at their root stem from poverty, which is a of wealth. I have written in the past about how redlining and other discriminatory local, state, and federal government policies have retarded the development of Black wealth and how it will take decades to right these social and economic wrongs. But we have to live today and take care of our families. So we need to build strategies in flight to turn this tide on the bleak realities of Black wealth in 2018.

Black Impact Investing

I think of another writer that is deeply engaged in the fight for the growth and development of Black wealth and that is Dr. Michael Isimbabi author of the seminal book Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework that outlines things we, as a community can do to pool our immense financial resources to organically build our communities and inter-generational Black wealth through entrepreneurship and impact investing. One of the areas of overlap I find between Mr. Moore and Dr. Isimbabi is the desire to tap the high net worth celebrities to have them pool their wealth in the form of impact investment funds that would provide professional management, diversity, and focused investment objective on Black business creation and real estate investment.

Buy The Block

Lynn P. the Black female serial entrepreneur that raised over $110,000 to build out the first Black owned real estate crowdfunding platform Buy The Block that provides a super low entry fee of $100 that lowers the barrier of entry for many of the people in the Black community to make their first foray into the world of real estate investing. This Serial Entrepreneur founded Buy the Block in a tool shed in Cincinnati in 2013. The company allowed her to couple her two passions, real estate investing and teaching others the art and science of real estate investment,  into a seamless online crowd investing experience for the Black community. Buy the Block has solved two of the major issues of the Black community.

The first is access to capital for businesses and real estate development and the second is an investment platform with a low barrier to entry to facilitate the building of community equity and Black wealth at the same time. Buy The Block now serves investors and developers all over the US and is thrilled to be a part of the global crowd investing and alternative finance industry.By bringing investors together with entrepreneurs, we are not just building stronger communities; we are building wealthier communities. In that wealth lies the only real independence.

Black people in the United States have a combined purchasing power of $1.3 trillion which would make us the 13th largest economy in the world, yet our wealth is encroaching zero as our income and education attainment continue to rise. We must as a community embrace the crowd economy pool our immense financial resources through impact investing, crowd investing, and entrepreneurship to create companies and build inter-generational wealth. Please Mr. Moore, and Dr. Isimbabi. Visit  Buy The Block  today and Join the Movement.  

Crowdfunding and Inbound Marketing

Introduction

What is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a compound word and if you don’t build an excited and engaged crowd you will not get any funding. Crowdfunding is essentially inbound marketing attached to an accounting function. Crowdfunding is a very prower global funding and marketing mechanism that has infused the global economy with before unknow capital for projects and businesses.

I am going to talk about the technology driven world we live in that places the power of brand engagement squarely in the hands of the donor/ investor. Selective consumption is the ability of donors/investors to engage or consume information from a brand when, where and on what device they chose to engage any brand.

Inbound Marketing

This new power relationship is driven by social media, which means that brands today MUST be present when and where donors/investors chose to engage them. According to Hubspot 80% of consumers (investors) would rather be engaged by a series of informational articles than an advertisement.

The basic a premiss of inbound marketing is to be present when and where investors are and to provide the information they want to consume. How that tasks is accomplished is precisely what this post is all about.

Inbound Methodology

Inbound marketing is about sharing high quality information that is relevant to consumers and creating content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers, your best prospects will come to you. The question is how will the find you? The content acts as a magnet, or beacon, to capture your prospects’ attention so your potential donors/investors come to you.

The four step of the inbound methodology are:

  1. Attract- this is where you attract visitors to your website
  2. Convert – capture the information of visitors and make them leads
  3. Close – make the leads into investors
  4. Investors relations and community management through engagement

Key Takeaways

In future post we will delve deeper into each aspect of inbound marketing for crowdinvesting and how to implement the methodology as the most effective and efficient method of building an engaged and excited organic crowd.

Crowdinvesting for Black Athletes Building Community Building Wealth

Introduction

You have read the headlines time and time again. “athletes make too much money”,  “those guys are overpaid”, but Are we asking the wrong question in relation to the NFL and NBA. These are two industries where Black professionals make at the very least on average over $1 million annually.  There are 32 NFL teams with 53 roster spots each, which means 1,696 NFL players and there are 30 NBA teams with 15 roster spots each, totaling 450 NBA players at any given moment. According to Forbes on average, NBA players make $5.15 million and NFL players make $1.9 million per year  Blacks make up at least 80 percent or 1187 NFL Millionaires and 80 percent or 315 NBA Millionaires annually.  

Professional Sports a Cash Cow

The explosion of television and marketing dollars flowing to professional sports teams is pumping players salaries to unprecedented heights and has ushered in a gold rush of capital, fame, and influence in the age of social media where a LeBron James Tweet is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. There has never been a more lucrative time to be in the sports agency business either as the sports industry has mushroomed to dizzying heights in players salaries, the value of endorsement packages, and management fees.

The Sports Agency Industry

The firms featured in Forbes’ ranking of the most valuable sports agencies have negotiated a collective $37.6 billion in current professional athlete contracts, netting themselves more than $1.85 billion in commissions. Sports agency is an industry where professional Black athletes have the ability to choose their sports agent these numbers should be reflective of the 70 percent of NFL players and 80 percent of NBA players they can potentially represent.

We should dominate this multi-billion dollar industry, but we don’t.  This should be the question we are asking in 2018. The next question we should be asking is where are these millionaires investing their $2 billion dollars annually? According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78% of National Football League (NFL) players are either bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement and an estimated 60% of National Basketball Association players go bankrupt within five years after leaving their sport.

Charting a New Direction

The information above leads me to some questions. Should there be a concerted effort for Black athletes to employ Black sports agencies to manage their business affairs? Should Black players, agents, coaches and upper management make an organized play to exert more influence over the flow of the billions of dollars in professional sports? Sports is a multi-billion dollar industry where the hired help is overwhelmingly Black, but the fans and owners are mostly white how do we exert more pressure on the two leagues to empower our community?

Situation Analysis

With Black home ownership at a 50 year low and Black wealth heading towards zero in the near future what type of social and economic strategies can be put in place to turn the tide on these dismal statistics. I suggest that our Black athletes create impact investment funds that are managed by experienced and capable Black finance professionals. These funds would provide professional management for these professional athletes and targeted investments in building a stronger economy in Black communities through real estate development, retail, and the tech industry to name a few areas where our pooled resources can make a positive impact in our communities.       

Today, some of the world’s most respected and successful figures are in the tech industry. They include the entrepreneurs who have developed innovative products and launched industry-changing companies and the venture capitalists who provide capital and assistance to help these companies thrive. But while the technology sector continues to flourish, and its luminaries are seen as role models, the industry as a whole is suffering from a lack of diversity that has undermined its ability to fully realize its transformative potential.

The Need for Black Capital Aggregation

There were thousands of venture deals minted from 2012 to 2014, so few black women founders raised money that, statistically speaking, the number might as well be zero. (The exact number is 24 out of 10,238, or just 0.2 percent.) Of those few that have raised money, the average amount of funding its $36,000. That’s compared to the typical startup, typically founded by a white male, that typically fails. These manage to raise an average of $1.3 million in venture funding.

This disparity comes even as black women today comprise the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US, with over 1.5 million businesses—a 322 percent increase since 1997. These businesses generate over $44 billion a year in revenue. Yet in the tech world, investors aren’t taking a risk on startups run by black women. I venture to say that these are the questions we should be asking about the NFL and NBA in relations to the Black political economy that operates within the United States.

Takeaway

Black people in the United States have made extraordinary gains in education, industry and even increasing salaries with over 8 million Black families making over $75,000 annually, but home ownership is dismal and on average we have little to no wealth when compared to our White counterparts. One way to increase our wealth both on the individual and community level is to pool our tremendous financial assets through the “Crowd Economy”. The crowd economy provides a basis for more efficient use of resources, but also reduces the strain on the environment and ecosystem services that are fast depleting.  The crowd economy will allow regulation crowdfunding platforms to allow regular citizens to invest in build economic capacity at the community while running capital parallel to the diversified professionally managed community focused impact investment funds of wealthier professional athletes.

Marketing Technology: The New Wave of Business Funding

Introduction

The rise of the internet and mobile has led to significant changes in the marketing and finance worlds. In this new era, the marketing and funding departments now require an evolved set of skills, definitely ground and rooted in technology, to take advantage of this rapid transformation. Are marketers and marketing departments keeping pace with the skills they need to produce the desired outcomes for the SMBs where they work for crowdfunding and marketing which are quickly growing into a single entity?  What about the SMBs that don’t have a marketing or crowdfunding departments or marketers that possess these skills and certainly don’t have the time to keep up with the rapid change of new marketing technology for both marketing and funding.

Technology Driven Marketing 

No part of the business world is changing faster than marketing and funding. Consider the tools that were either in nascent form or didn’t exist just two decades ago: Websites, email, social media, marketing automation, mobile phones. When I entered the marketing field most of these tools were not even on the drawing board of transformation that drives our world into a future that’s only constant, is change at light speed.

Understanding the Power of these New Technologies 

As these new tools have been born, marketers, marketing departments, and funders have adopted by hiring marketers with the skills to leverage them, and the results have been a more powerful marketing and funding outcomes than ever. Marketing and crowdfunding should be recognized as revenue drivers and totally integrated into the strategic business planning process now that the tools to finally prove, through measurement, that marketing spending leads to increased revenue and funding opportunities.

Innovation is Required 

These revolutionary changes are also battering the media marketers and crowdfunders use to reach their target audiences where and when they are online. Marketers and crowdfunders struggle to take full advantage of the myriad options available to reach consumers, who are engaging with mobile, social media, connected TV, and a host of other continuously evolving media.

Keeping Up With Technology

But consumers, empowered like never before, aren’t necessarily engaging with marketers. In fact, they’re able to actively avoid advertising messages with DVRs, internet ad blockers, and the email unsubscribe button In light of these changes, it’s no surprise that 67 percent of marketers said that technology was “evolving rapidly or at light speed,” according to a recent Signal survey. Additionally, a Forrester Research survey found that 34 percent of B2B marketers described themselves as “overwhelmed” by the pace of change.

Data Driven Marketing 

These changes to the marketing and funding worlds may be coming fast and furious, but they also provide opportunities. Many SMB marketers and funders believe that they are already benefiting from these opportunities. The Forrester survey referenced above found that 78 percent of B2B marketing executives said they had greater input on strategy. Today, technology and data have provided marketers with a 360-degree view of the customer that is unparalleled in the organization and puts the marketers in a formidable position. Marketing technology is so strong, an ever increasing amount of business decisions will be driven by data accumulated by this ever improving marketing technology.

Takeaway

With this rapidly changing mix of marketing technology and the ever increasing amounts of data that must be gathered, stored, interpreted to drive business strategy the marketing sector begs the question: Is your marketer or marketing team, as an SMB, evolving the necessary marketing skills sets at the same pace?

Redlining: The Genesis of the “Hood”

Introduction to Redlining

Redlining, is an unethical and discriminatory practice that was committed by banks and other financial service providers (e.g., mortgage companies and insurance companies). These businesses either make it impossible or nearly impossible for people living in low-income neighborhoods in the ‘inner city’ to obtain a home loan, mortgage or other financial product because of a “perceived” high default rate in the neighborhood. The practice is called ‘redlining’ because in the past some of these financial institutions would literally draw a red line on a map demarcating neighborhoods where they would not provide services.

The History of Redlining

This discriminatory policy that continues to impact inner-cities was started in 1933, to relieve housing shortage the United States faced with after the “Great Depression.” The federal government began a program explicitly designed to increase — and segregate — America’s housing stock. The housing programs begun under the New Deal that was commensurate with to a “state-sponsored system of segregation.” There are far reaching social and economic consequences that resulted from this form of government sponsored segregation.

The Impact of Redlining on America

Redlining had the effect of artificially depressing the housing prices in “inner-city” and artificially increasing the prices of homes in the suburban areas of cities. The government for all intents financed the creation of white suburban middle-class families and sealed the fate of African-American families to live in inner-city neighborhoods that were denied accesses to mortgages, insurances. The Federal Housing Administration, which was established in 1934 and the Veterans Administration followed suite, which furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods.     

These decades-old housing policies have had a lasting impact on American society. The segregation of our metropolitan areas today  has lead to stagnant inequality, because families are much less able to be upwardly mobile when they’re living in segregated neighborhoods where opportunity is absent. If we want greater equality in this society, if we want a lowering of the hostility between police and young African-American men, we need to take steps to desegregate these neighborhoods, but this process correction will take decades to right these wrongs committed by government and private industry.   

Decreased African-American Home Ownership

In 2017 African-American home ownership has dipped to its lowest level since the signing of fair housing legislation was passed in 1968 during the Civil Rights era. African-American incomes on average are about 60 percent of average white incomes. But African-American wealth is about 5 percent of white wealth. Most middle-class families in this country gain their wealth from the equity they have in their homes. So this enormous difference between a 60 percent income ratio and a 5 percent wealth ratio is almost entirely attributable to federal housing policy implemented through the 20th century.

Decades of  Disintegration

African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the 1960s, by the Federal Housing Administration, and gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained by discriminatory  policies implemented by both local, state, and federal government and the financial services industries that continue to rake in record profits as the President brags about the astronomical rise of the stock market. The capital appreciation of these government subsidized suburban single family developments created massive amounts of wealth that allowed low-income and middle class whites to provide down payments for their children’s first home, pay for college, and help them gain access to the startup capital for the creation of businesses.  

Takeaway

To correct the massive negative social and economic impact of Redlining on the African-American community local, state, and the federal government and the financial services industry should create an impact investment fund that would run capital parallel to real estate crowd investment platforms that invest residential and commercial real estate developments in inner-city communities. This is not a request for a grant or a handout, but the creation of an impact investment fund that rights the decades of Redlining and it resulting social and economic chain reaction that has led to poor education, unemployment, food and retail deserts, mass incineration and many of the ills that specifically impact African-American communities today.    

Branding Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Introduction 

Today there are a plethora of digital communication tools that can be used to engage our target audience. From social media, websites, and blogs to new IP targeting tools. It seems that the options are endless and more innovation is coming to the market daily. The marketing sector has more option than ever before, but as a crowdfunding campaign manager, how do you continue to innovate and grab the attention of the consumer, and engage them to most importantly keep their attention and engagement?  A digital presence is vital for any crowdfunding campaign, but it is also important to keep your brand tangible.

A Strong Brand

A strong brand presence is always the result of intelligent effort. Insights are not captured from holding an internal meeting with a company’s marketing team. Insights are not captured from solely speaking to a few employees. Insights do not come from guessing who the customers are and then mapping out what the team thinks they think. While these efforts contribute to the discovery process — alone they are not a rigorous approach.

The Value of Insights

Innovative strategic work transforms brands and shifts perceptions, quality work is grounded by insights. Insights derived from qualitative and quantitative research focused on the customer, the offering, and the crowdfunding campaign’s brand. Insights don’t just appear. They are sought out. They are discovered. They are revealed. It’s a process. It takes strategic business planning. Crowdfunding is a business strategy and must be approached as such.

What might not be clear is that while many crowdfunding campaigns use the words customer discovery, but not all discovery processes are the same. And neither are  the outcomes of this vital process. The objective of the discovery process is positioning the brand and articulating its value proposition — is to identify a brand’s unique point of difference before launching a crowdfunding campaign, but during the pre-launch phase of the campaign. Asking the questions over and over again What makes a brand special, better or different? The point of differentiation must be connected to data-based evidence, meaning it must be able to be defended, owned, and true.

Brand 101: A brand represents everything you are as a company. Everything that you say and do shows your prospective customer who you are. It’s your “dress,” the way you talk, your slogan, your signage, your messaging, your social media sites and so much more.

To figure out who you are as a brand, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my positioning statement? (Where is my space in all of this clutter? What does my company offer that no one else does? Why are we special?)
  • What is my messaging platform? (Why should anyone care? What’s in it for my customers?)
  • What’s my brand persona? (Who is my target customer? Who is my company?)
  • Positioning and messaging are a huge–and often underplayed–part of a company’s brand.

It’s time to start working on the visual components of your brand. When creating your brand, it’s important to take its various components into consideration: logo type (the word), mark (commonly referred to as a ‘logo’,) and color scheme.

  • The logotype is a distinct font that represents your company. It should be meaningful to your brand.
  • Bold, curious, flirty, simple–fonts speak visually to your prospective consumer and should be an extension of your brand persona.
  • The logo, or the symbol, supplements the logo type. If your brand is edgy, be edgy! If your brand is laced up, be more formal. However, always remember that your logo should help you make your mark on all things visual.
  • It should work well in black and white, not just in color.
  • Additionally, you should be able to use this mark on any design work–print or online.
  • Think about how it will be displayed on social media, on eblasts, on brochures, on t-shirts, or on uniforms… just to name a few visual outlets.
  • The color scheme. It should use one or two primary colors, one accent color, or colors of differing value.
  • Creating a strong brand color scheme will facilitate your brand’s flexibility across print and online, and it will also help make your brand visually appealing.

Influencer Marketing on Twitter

Introduction

Influencer/Blogging marketing involves a collaboration between crowdfunding campaigns and a select number of experts in a relevant field who have a large following on social media specifically Twitter for this post. Influencer marketing distinguishes individuals who have significant influence with a group potential customers. When the right influencers endorse your product or brand, it can create a huge impact!

The way audiences interact with content continues to shift, making influencer/blogger marketing an even more effective and efficient model to exciting and engaging your crowd. Millennial purchase based on endorsements, reviews and ultimately trust. They view authenticity as one of the most, if not the most, important elements of purchasing. For example, 33% of millennial read blogs and expert reviews before buying a product, so it makes sense for crowdfunding campaigns to showcase these expert opinions.

A quick review of your Twitter feed will show that people don’t always flock to companies for information about their products and services. Instead, they’re seeking influencers – popular, personable and independent content creators who aren’t afraid to share opinions on social media. More than 90% of consumers trust earned media – characterized as word-of-mouth and recommendations from trustworthy sources – more than all other types of advertising

As founders building crowdinvesting campaigns how do we harness the power of earned media through Twitter influencers/bloggers to build our engaged and excited crowd of investors. These are the steps we use to tap the influencer/blogger marketing on Twitter

Develop influencer marketing goals

  1. Expand brand awareness- Influencers have the power to rapidly increase your brand awareness, because they have an established and engaged audience.
  2. Generate leads – A simple way to implement influencers into your marketing plans is to partner with them to share your brand’s blogs, features, products.
  3. Check influencer contribution – It is important to quantify the overall reach and impression of your content. Use these numbers to calculate the ROI of your campaign on the basis of different parameters such as followers gained.

Identify influencers

Identify relevant influencers/bloggers who are associated with your industry. Find your target audience and the influencers’ followers should be mutually inclusive. You can use Twitter Advanced Search to search Twitter and keep an eye on certain hashtags, mentions and conversations pertaining to your brand.

Build Relationships with Influencers

After identifying a number of leading influencers/bloggers, reach out! Rather than sending a cold email with your interest, go the extra mile by engaging and showcasing the fact that you have mutual interests.

 

  • Start following them on Twitter and start a casual conversation
  • Retweet their content to introduce them to your audience
  • Discuss something they have tweeted recently
  • Share their blog posts on Twitter
  • Connect on other social media platforms
  • Offer to write a guest post for their blog
  • Send products to them as free samples to review

 

Take time to source valuable influencers/bloggers and cultivate a professional relationship. When trust has been established and you’re confident that there is a mutual fit, you’re in a great position to launch an influencer/blogger marketing campaign.

Devise a marketing strategy

From creating brand awareness to boosting sales, influencer/blogger marketing on Twitter has the potential to drive amazing results to your crowdfunding campaign.

Keep these things in mind before creating an influencer marketing campaign:

  • Prepare a list of leading influencers/bloggers you are in touch with
  • Define your target audience and goals for the campaign
  • Create a call-to-action and several achievable deliverable
  • Come up with a hashtag for the campaign and keywords
  • Research what your competitors are doing and what they have done previously

Going through this process will help clearly define what you want to get out of an upcoming campaign and ensure that you are able to meet those goals.

Start running your influencer/blogger campaigns on Twitter

After developing a clear strategy in relation to the influencers you are going to work with, start implementing your campaign. Have the content for your campaign ready and prepare the tools your influencer/bloggers needs to succeed prior to the campaign launch.

Takeaway

Measuring the outcome of the Twitter Influencer/blogger marketing campaign using keywords and anchor hashtag from the campaign to track its overall reach and performance. Use a Twitter monitoring/social listening tool to do individual analysis:

  • check the retweet count
  • calculate impressions/reach
  • gauge other relevant data-oriented results.

Not only will it help you judge the overall efficiency of your present campaign, but it will also let you identify leading influencers for your next campaign. This will be vital to maintaining an effective and efficient process for developing and implementing a Twitter Influencer/Blogger marketing campaign.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv

Crowdfunding Is Business

Introduction

Crowdfunding has far surpassed its former reputation as the virtual hat passed round by hard-up inventors. Since 2008, the online collection of funds from multiple backers (“the crowd”) has become a $90 billion global industry. And it doesn’t stop there. Crowdfunding has evolved into a key marketing and branding strategy for entrepreneurs, organizations, and corporations.

Crowdfunding is a great way to road test a brand, product or service among potential consumers. Soliciting valuable feedback from the crowd at the beta stage can help brands fine-tune, iron out glitches, or head back to the drawing board.

Behind every great brand is a great story. Crowdfunding is fertile ground for delivering and developing a winning narrative. It invites consumers to be part of the plot, rather than passive bystanders as part of a marketing strategy, crowdfunding engages consumers by showing them a brand’s more human, vulnerable side, and by letting the crowd “experience” the journey.

Crowdfunding offers brands prime opportunities for testing, marketing and gaining positive exposure. It encourages and rewards creativity, innovation, and risk-taking.We will explore some innovative ways to use crowdfunding as a business strategy.

  • Focus efforts on building total support. Reward supporters with exclusive benefits and incentives to help the process and increase your reach, but make sure your incentives are realistic and affordable.
  • Establish an engaging social media presence. Make people want to learn more by showing uniqueness and creativity to differentiate your brand. Use facts, questions, and quotes to entice people to check out your campaign rather than shamefully solicit support.
  • Involve supporters throughout the project. An involved contributor is more likely to donate and share because she feels like part of the team. Make sure you keep your supporters in the loop on your company’s progress.
  • Use your campaign to learn about how clear your offer is. what message of value is effective, which channels work and to get a better understanding of your audiences. These lessons will build a foundation for your brand and marketing long term.
  • Engage backers to become ambassadors if you engage them regularly beyond the campaign and treat their money, time and efforts with care and respect your crowd will pay long term benefits
  • Build a research and development culture acquired during the campaign into an organizational tool by involving your crowd your crowd with challenges, questions or even hick-up, this will allow the crowd to help build powerful relationships between people inside and outside your organization.

Takeaway

Crowdfunding is an investment model that combines the best aspects of entrepreneurship and social awareness. If your startup is ready to move toward procuring financial backing, a well-designed crowdfunding effort will draw a wide range of people who could expose your company to like-minded new audiences. Make sure that you treat your campaign as a business with a clear strategy and crowdfunding can be a major branding and marketing experience.

A Twitter Strategy For You Campaign

Introduction

Twitter is an extremely powerful tool for promoting your crowdfunding campaign. Twitter allows you to implement a #Hashtag strategy that provides your crowdfunding campaign with the ability to create an identification on the platform. This Hashtag identification enhances your campaigns ability to engage with the hundreds of millions of Twitter users on the platform who can become part of your audience. Using tweets, and retweets, as the sparks that ignite the interest of others, you’ll be able personalize your crowdfunding campaign, tell your story, and enlist the interest of others who share your goals.

Using Twitter To Tell Your Story

Twitter is a great place to engage with your audience and keep them up to date on all of your latest adventures, and it provides a fun, laid-back atmosphere–the perfect venue for building an interesting and dynamic brand. Storytelling is an essential aspect of any crowdfunding campaign. The goal is to create a campaign brand that resonates with your audience–and to do that, it is important that your brand tells a story. A flat, one-dimensional brand doesn’t give an audience any reason to pay attention. Telling your story and letting your brand evolve will naturally generate interest in your campaign brand.

Use Twitter to Engage

Twitter is a great place to engage with your audience and keep them up to date on all of your latest adventures. Twitter provides a fun, laid-back atmosphere, so it’s the perfect venue for building an interesting and dynamic brand.  Always allow your followers to be a part of your campaigns ongoing experience by letting your followers know what you are up to many times a day if it drives the campaign narrative.

Use Twitter to Build Relationships

Your Twitter profile should not be all business, and in fact, it is much easier for your audience to truly connect with you when they perceive you as a “real” person. Tweet about your family, your hobbies, your opinions…don’t be afraid to open up a bit. The more you share your life on Twitter, the better your audience will feel that they know you. And the more they know you, the more likely they are to support your campaign with dollars.

Engage Followers

The most overlooked concept when it comes to branding on Twitter is that interaction is critical. Too many business owners treat Twitter like a bulletin board–they log on a couple of times each week, post something, and then leave. But as you know from real-life experience, it is hard to connect with someone who won’t interact with you. Take the time to respond to your followers; your profile will become a much livelier and inviting place. And when your audience is paying attention, you can tell your story much more effectively.

Using Hashtags on Twitter

When developing the all-important Hashtag on Twitter make sure that you do some research on hashtags that will be relevant to yours and your campaign that will enhance your campaign’s visibility  which will foster a larger community and more re-tweets. When you send out tweets, don’t forget to “#” the words and phrases that are connected to your crowdfunding campaign so that people can find you. Make sure you are judicious in your use of the #tags to ensure that your messages don’t come across as spam.

Twitter Research Using Hashtags

Check out the rest of Twitter using hashtags to ensure a relevant search to find out if someone is involved in a similar project to yours. Then determine your role in that conversation. Should you join in or should you be the one to get the conversational? Their audience might be your audience. Make use of the connective tissue of Twitter hashtags to build a network of like-minded people, starting with the people you know. They may share some of your views; can you encourage them to share your vision?

Twitter and Transparency

Your followers need to understand why you’ve decided to launch this crowdfunding campaign. What do you intend to do with the money and the business you are launching. Let them know why you’re the one who can do it, and what happens when they help you achieve your goal. Let your voice be heard. Your Twitter followers need to feel that they know you, and they can best do that if you convey a personal sense of yourself. Don’t be afraid to stir things up in the Twitterverse through transparency and thought leadership make it personal and make it real for you and your followers. One way to excite and engage your followers is to ask questions. Questions are irresistible and people love to answer them.

The Power of the Retweet

Tweets with 100 characters or less are 17 percent more likely to get noticed than longer tweets. When tweeting be brief, succinct, and memorable. When using Twitter for crowdfunding remember your goal is to excite and engage your followers and to spread your campaign reach, so a couple of tips at the end of each tweet please ask your followers to “Please Retweet” spelling out “Please Retweet increases the retweet rate by a factor of 23 times. Always leave space for you @Username and the Please Retweet and leave 25 characters of free space at the end of each tweet.

Takeaway

Twitter is a dynamic and engaging mechanism for building your crowdfunding community that will support your campaign. Twitter provides a way to reach out, excite, engage and build a community with the ability to test and measure you success at the same time. Twitter also provides the ability to engage with influencers and bloggers. These people already have developed trust based transparent relationships with large numbers of people on Twitter and you can tap into that community through Influencer Marketing.  It is not easy to build the relationships once you do over time you will understand the power of influencers.

4 Steps to Building An Online Community Using Social Media for Crowdfunding

Introduction

Social media has become a ubiquitous mainstay in the lives of billions of global consumers and investors alike. Crowdfunding is driven by social media and this “revolution” has transformed the traditional funding and marketing monologue into a one-to-one and one-to-many dialogue that allows customers and investors to impact the business world like nothing in human history. This is the process I use to organically transform a crowd into an engaged community of backers and brand advocates using social media.

Targeted Outreach

The first step in the process of creating a community funders and brand advocates is to target the people that have a genuine interest in what your brand has to offer. Having a strategy where you are blasting out a general message to a general audience is not going to work as a community building strategy. The goal from the start has to be to create a targeted community organically and that will require sharing high-quality content that is useful and relevant specifically to the community you are targeting. People like to look at the number of likes and follows, but the most important button in social media is the share button. The more your content is shared, the more eyes see it.

Creating a Content Strategy

The true value in a content marketing strategy is to provide high-quality relevant and shareable content on a consistent basis. This is no easy task and will require the first organization of content production. This means using a content calendar to organize the workflow of research, writing, and commenting on other peoples blogs and social media sites. Social media can and will consume your time if you don’t have a plan and stick to it. I set aside time daily to engage my social media and comment as much as I can on the information that is of the highest value to me. This is done on a timed basis and when the time is up it is up. I set aside time for research and writing all of this is on the calendar and allows me to provide high-quality content on a consistent basis while building relationships.

Listening to Your Community

There are so many brands that implement 21st Century digital communication tools using 20th Century strategies and tactics. Social media is a dialogue one-to-one and one-to-many, so if I am always blasting out my message I am not listening to what is being said about the industry, my brand, and what problems need to be solved by the people that are willing to invest their precious time with me and my blog. If your blog solves the issues that the community is having people will invest in and share your content.

Engagement

Engagement is about gaining a level of emotional buy-in from the community that will create a willingness to invest time in your community. One of the best ways to get a person to truly invest in what you are offering is to provide them with something of value in exchange for their buy-in. Hubspot is a perfect example of providing a high-quality information in the form of e-books in exchange for information. Engagement is a two-way street as well. I remember when I began reading Crowd Clan’s blog I found the information to be high-quality and consistent, so not only would I comment on their post, but I would share this information with my network.

Content Curation for Crowdfunding

Introduction 

Creating compelling, engaging, and unique content on a daily basis is an extremely grueling and laborious task. This is where the imaginative and resourceful use of content curation is invaluable to a crowdfunding campaign.  What exactly is content curation and how does it relate to the content and inbound marketing strategy I am using to increase the reach and awareness of my crowdfunding campaign?

What is Content Curation

According to Wikipedia Content Curation is the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Services or people that implement content curation are called curators. Curation services can be used by businesses as well as end users. Using this definition we will explore ways crowdfunding campaigns can implement this strategy to drive traffic and build awareness.

Content Curation as a Tool

Content curation is a very powerful tool for crowdfunding campaigns that allows the campaign creator to create high-value content based on the ideas of influencers and thought leaders in your field, which adds tremendous value to your target audience while building relationships with key industry influencers that will more than likely notice that you have referenced them and their content.

Content Curation and Influencers

Content creation is a great tool for building trust with your target audience by allowing them to see that you are very aware of the industry and the influencers that are driving the thought leadership and that you are trying to be truly helpful in solving their pain points. Curating others content build trust by demonstrating that you are concerned with their issues and are not just self-promoting. So many crowdfunding campaigns use social media as a bullhorn and forget to be social.  Content curation provides an avenue to be social on social media which provides transparency in your campaign.

Building Trust with Content Curation

The goal of a crowdfunding campaign is to demonstrate that my product or service provides solutions for my target market and content creations provides an avenue for my campaign to show that I am addressing the needs of my target market and that I don’t know everything and I am willing to gather information from other credible sources. This helps to separate value from the noise and to become a trusted and authoritative voice in your industry.

Takeaway

Content curation is an extremely powerful tool for a crowdfunding campaign to build trust through transparency. It is a way to build brand awareness and reach while engaging industry influencers. It provides an avenue to produce compelling and engaging content that is relevant to the campaign without having to build it from scratch. If you want to learn more about crowdfunding please read our latest e-book Crowdfunding Essentials and sign up for our newsletter.

Marketing A Crowd Investing Campaign

Introduction

I remember my first introduction to crowdfunding when someone told me that if you shot a really cool video on this platform called Kickstarter that people would send money to fund your business. This statement has some level of truth, but not nearly enough to raise any funds. Crowd investing seems to follow the one simple rule of crowdfunding that I learned many years ago. “If you don’t build and excited and engaged crowd of investors, you won’t get the funding.”

Building an excited and engaged crowd will require unique messaging that will engage investors at the emotional level and then resonate with them enough to elicit an emotional response. Remember in today’s online world that moves at the speed of internet grabbing information is like taking a drink out of a fire hydrant, your campaign must quickly establish a unique brand voice that can cut through all of the fast paced noise and connect at an emotional level. Once this unique messaging voice is found your campaign will achieve its two major objectives increasing brand awareness and raising the capital for the campaign. If the emotional connection is not made the campaign may be dead on arrival.

Understand Your Target Audience

Like any other marketing endeavor you must do your research to garner an in-depth understanding of these two vital questions: Who is your audience? What are their needs or reasons to support you? A deep researched back answer to these two questions are the initial steps to creating the emotional connection spoken of earlier. The in-depth understanding of your potential supporters and catering to their needs, both with a quality product and impact storytelling will begin the journey to a successful capital raise.

Building this mystic emotional connection happens when you understand your audience, many time entrepreneurs, are not skilled at this, but must get it done to move their audience. You must have messaging that will have weight and depth. The message must provide something your audience can believe in, and build the level of emotional connection that inspires them to action.  

It’s in the Message

Your branded message must be unique, it must stand out from every other piece of content that is streaming out of the fire hydrant of the internet spewing tons of noise that mostly means nothing and is going nowhere fast. So what does this messaging look like and how do we get to this unique messaging that will resonate at the emotional level of our target audience? I always ask the question when trying to generate a unique message the will resonate:

  • Why is my product different than the competition?
  • How does it answer a need or desire for their lifestyle?
  • Is it user friendly?
  • What value does it provide to the end user to improve their life?

Providing high-quality images and videos that allow your target audience to visualize themselves as a satisfied customer. Providing them as deep of an understanding the product brings customer of always of value and provides  a visual emotional connection. A picture paints a thousand words.

A Simple Concise Message

Keep your message simple. Never overwhelming audiences with too much information! Remember the goal is to create a unique and emotionally engaging message. The more concise that message the better. If that concise messaging is in the from a cool hook even better your audience will repeat a catchy hook until it become a part of them. Try to create a simple, distilled description of your product always remember there are lots of other competing products, so you need to keep it very, very simple.

Remember as your target audience move further down the investment funnel you will add more in-depth information. Next, you must align your unique brand messaging with where your target audience is located You want to be careful and deliberate about picking your alignment, from the platform you choose, to the way you approach it, to the methods you use always building your email list. The email address invites you into their life like nothing else.  

Build a Powerful Online Brand

When building your online brand remember to begin this process long before you get to your platform of choice or you have failed before you have started the process. You will need to build a clear brand and associated message for your campaign early. A strong brand clearly and succinctly expresses what your company is all about. Strong brands cut through the noise to grab the audience and immediately shed light on the character of the product. Once hooked, the audience will naturally gravitate toward learning more. It’s not enough to have an idea in a huge market. The key to what gets funded is how you connect this market to the idea that satisfies it.

Takeaway

The equity crowdfunding industry is changing fast, so being able to pivot and adapt as the marketplace shifts is imperative. Remember Equity crowdfunding was meant to spur innovation and growth, while providing Main Street investors with a means to access high growth companies. It is certainly not an untapped source where everyday web users are patiently waiting to visit an online investment opportunity. Be prepared, be proactive, and remain top of mind, and maybe the idea hatched in your own home will one day be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv  

3 Ways Use Twitter Search for Crowdfunding

Introduction

Twitter is an incredible discovery tool that provides an array of industry information for companies that are in the pre-launch phase of their crowdfunding campaign, and Twitter Search is the best place to begin the process. Twitter Search provides a great starting point for competitor analysis, influencer search, and industry news.

Influencers/Bloggers

Find out who the influencers and experts are in your target area(s) and interact with them on a regular basis. Use Twitter search to find like-minded prospects, customers, and influencers/media by searching keywords that relate to your industry. Follow and interact with them on a daily basis. Here are some quick tips we use:

1) Make a list of the 100 most influential people in your space — journalists, thought leaders, potential clients/customers, big-name bloggers and writers, potential partners.

2) Add them to a private Twitter list and engage with them daily by being casual and helpful, not promotional.

3) The goal is to build a real relationship and then look for opportunities to collaborate.

Keywords

Here are some tips for beginning the process of analyzing what the competition is doing on Twitter without spending a lot of cash on expensive software.Your competitor analysis must start with a keyword analysis list. This list of keywords associated with your competitors will help you cut down on the noise on Twitter.

1) Develop a list of 10-20 keywords initially, and adding or subtracting as you go.

2) Include obvious ones, like your competitor’s name, products, and any major individuals/employees you want to keep tabs on.

3) Also include keywords more broadly associated with your industry, and any specialty words like hashtags that are related to your competition.

Takeaway

No matter what line of work you’re in, it’s important to always be looking for new opportunities to grow and make improvements. In this fast paced always connected world we live in having access to a fast moving news feed is vital and Twitter provides that service. Whatever topic is on the top of your to-do list, Twitter search can help you locate and then expose you to a vast array of news and informational resources. the steps in this process are going to be very similar to finding information on a competitor, but the search will be for industry news.

 

Why Buy The Block

Introduction

While growth slowed somewhat in 2016 the 40% figure is still robust, and the US accounted for a large share of the $1 billion of overall industry growth this year. In 2015, the $1.5 billion in volume for US real estate crowdfunding represented only 0.3% of total real estate finance transactions in the US, indicating that the sub-industry still has enormous room to grow, even while remaining modest as a share of overall commercial real estate activity in the economy.

Crowdfunding and Wealth

Over the last few years crowdfunding platforms have specialized and molded themselves around particular niches within the space, focusing the profile of their deals. One of the main determinants in the absence of wealth in the Black community has been a systematic negative relationship between our community and the policies of the majority community that have historically maintained the Black labor resulting in White wealth dynamic. Redlining was a common Federal practice that impedes the development of Black wealth to this day. Why is wealth important?  

What is Wealth

Wealth is a crucially important measure of economic health. Wealth allows families to transfer income earned in the past to meet spending demands in the future, such as by building up savings to finance a child’s college education. Wealth also provides a buffer of economic security against periods of unemployment, or risk-taking, like starting a business. Wealth is needed to finance a comfortable retirement or provide an inheritance to children.  In order to construct wealth, a number of building blocks are required. Steady well-paid employment during one’s working life is important, as it allows for a decent standard of living plus the ability to save. Also, access to well-functioning financial markets that provide a healthy rate of return on savings without undue risks is crucial.

The Value of Wealth

Wealth is a vital component  to understand the many of the racial inequalities that exist in the United States. Wealth taps not only contemporary resources, but also material assets that have historic origins and future implications. Private wealth captures inequality that is the product of the past, and often passed down from generation to generation. Viewing racial inequality through the lens of wealth revolutionizes the concept of the nature and magnitude of inequality, and of whether it is decreasing or increasing.

The History of Wealth

The focus on wealth sheds light on both the historical and the contemporary impacts not only of class but also of race. Income is an important indicator of racial inequality; wealth allows an examination of racial stratification. The wealth perspective contends that continued neglect of wealth as a dimension of racial stratification will result in a seriously underestimated racial inequality. Tragically, policies based solely on narrow differences in labor-market factors will fail to close that breach. Taken together, however, asset-building and labor-market approaches open new windows of opportunity.

Takeaway

Buy the Block provides the real estate/technology basis for the Black community to begin the process of pooling our funds and using cooperative economics to build our communities through real estate development, business and job creation, and as investors and consumers of the very businesses that we create. There will be a real incentive for “Buy Black” and “Support Black Business” campaigns and that will be financial in either an interest payment or equity payout. Buy the Block provides the mechanism for our entire community to begin to create Black Wealth.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv  

How To Create A Strong Brand Identity For Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Introduction

In today’s digital driven world before someone chooses to work with you, they spend time searching for you online, looking at your website and your social media, seeing what they can find out about you before they purchase. This is one of the reasons why creating a strong brand identity for your crowdfunding campaign is vital. If they’re looking, then you need to make sure that what they find is what you want them to see.

Of course, this isn’t all down to your brand identity – visuals are very important and tell a lot of the story, but you’ll need to think about how you come across in your messaging and also what people say about you. Before you can think about any of this it’s important to spend some time working out what it is that makes your crowdfunding campaign unique and what you want your brand identity to say about you.

Steps in the Process

Once you know what you do, you need to consider who you do it for. You might even have nailed that part when you were thinking about what you do! Now – how specific can you get? The idea here is to imagine your ideal client, give them a name and find out as much as you can about them. What do they read? What do they like to do during their spare time? Where do they shop? What do they watch? What car do they drive?

  • Ask them. If you already have questions then ask them in person, pick up the phone or send out a survey. See what you can pick up from conversations. If you make friends with them on Facebook check out their profiles and see who they are and what they like to do.
  • Check out your social media analytics. You can do this on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and it can be really eye opening to see who is following you – and then to see if it’s the result you’re after! Don’t forget to check out your Google Analytics too.

Think about your business and what you believe it should be. These are the beliefs of your brand. What is it that you want people to think of when they think of your business. So grab a pen and write whatever comes to mind. These are things like “professional, friendly, quality, experienced…” but do try and come up with something different, because they are the kind of values that EVERYONE has.

What makes YOU stand out? This might sound like a really easy exercise, but it’s not – it takes time to come up with the right words, and I believe that it’s time well spent because once you have your words you’ll be able to use them to influence everything that you do. These are really crucial.You need three to five values (which can be phrases as well as just words).

Once you have your values you can spend some time thinking about each way that you interact with your customers and work out how you can communicate at least one of your values at each touchpoint, so that your brand is permeating everything you do.  Now that you’ve considered these things – and hopefully a few more questions too – you can work on creating a strong brand identity online.

Your logo. You need to be happy with your logo – if it doesn’t fit with your values and won’t appeal to your audience then consider finding a designer to tweak it or create a new one. Then ensure that you use it in all the right places. I actually don’t think that you need to use your logo every single time you put some content out there – as long as you are using part of your brand identity the whole point of creating a strong brand identity is that your business should still be identifiable without your logo. BUT – it’s not a bad idea to include it if you can, and as we’re talking about online here that shouldn’t be hard and adding your website address wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Your brand colors. You’ll need to choose colors for your business which – you may have guessed this – communicate your values and appeal to your audience. Shocker. There are only 11 basic color terms although there are of course millions of colors, so honing down your color is the easy bit. Determining which shade is harder. Spend some time on this, it’ll be worth it. Then make sure you have a file with your color codes handy.

Typeface. Just as each color has a different meaning, each typeface will give out a different impression, so once again spend some time deciding which typeface you want to use for your crowdfunding campaign. I’d recommend going with something really clear for your main typeface.

You’ll need to think about the different uses you’ll have for text. You need text for the main text on my website, and text for my social media images, the images I use on my website in the sidebar and for my blog posts. I only use two typefaces, but you might think that you need more. Then you can set some rules about them – what colors you’ll use them in, what sizes, italic, bold – make some decisions and stick to them.

Your images. Now, it can be very hard to create images which look exactly the same style every time. But you can try. Even if you can’t quite manage to get the lighting the same or photograph everything with the horizon at the exact same angle, there are certain things you CAN do to help your imagery look consistent and on the brand.

  • You could include one of your brand colors in each image. You could have a mascot in each image.
  • You could always have a similar layout for a certain type of image.
  • You could use the same filter each time – Color Story is an app you can use where you can create your own filter and use it on all of your photos to help them have a similar feel.

Pattern. This is something else you could add to your images of course – and it’s a great way to have a background image for text with very little thought whilst ensuring you’re on the brand. The pattern can also be handy for use where there’s white space and you want to make it more interesting, for backgrounds, for headers on social media such as on your LinkedIn profile and anytime you need an image but just don’t have one.

Takeaway

Once you have all of this in place you’ll find being consistent with your brand identity will be fairly easy. Making decisions before you start and gathering a library of images to use means you don’t need to think too hard about how to create your social media images and blog posts – which you’ll be making regularly – and gives you a great place to start for anything you need to create for your website – or indeed anything that you need to design for offline use.

Making sure that you don’t deviate from the decisions you’ve made and keep to the guidelines you’ve set yourself will help your business to stand out online. You’ll have a brand identity which shows up over and over again with images that people know to be yours before they notice the URL or the logo you’ve added in the corner. Being consistent with all of this will help your brand be memorable – which is what we all want really isn’t it? So that when someone needs what you do, they remember you right away.

The JOBS Act and Underserved Communities

Introduction

Following the housing crash of 2007 — as regulations were introduced and credit tightened — emerging companies were left with little or no access to the capital markets. In an effort to alleviate the credit crunch, Congress drew up the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act for short), broadening the scope of who can invest in startups. While the legislation was conceived with startup businesses in mind, interested parties quickly realized that the new rules could extend to real estate equity investments, allowing real estate companies to essentially market shares of projects to individual investors — a method of raising capital that had been legally precluded since the Securities Act of 1933.

Real Estate’s Use of Crowdfunding

Real estate companies are able to broaden the reach of their investor network through this new paradigm, individual investors also gain access to a realm of real estate projects that were previously available almost exclusively to very wealthy individuals and institutional players, lowering the barrier to entry and allowing many investors to participate in commercial real estate investing for the first time.  This value was evident enough to encourage the creation of Buy The Block a f hybrid real estate/tech company to enter this new and vastly untapped wealth and community building space for inner-city communities that have been systematically excluded from investing in commercial or residential real estate projects as a syndicate.

Buy The Block

Providing a platform that allows multiple investors to in multiple project throughout the country both in business creation and real estate development. This new investment technique will provide the needed access to capital for budding social entrepreneurs and experienced small business owners to provide many of the needed services that many of these under served communities have been starved of for many years and it develops these businesses in close proximity to the people that require the products and services. These new business owners now have the ability to raise capital directly from the people that will become the consumers of their goods and services. These consumers will have the unique ability to become a funder as well as investors in these community based retail projects. This is a very important concept in the “Buy Black” movements that have sprung up in many of the major markets that have large Black populations.

Financial Incentive

Today these “Buy Black” mantras don’t ring hollow in the ears of consumers looking for the best value for their dollars. By becoming the actual investors in these projects they now how financial interest in in Buying Black. The more profit these business do the higher their potential benefit will be. There is also a double bottom-line and a large part of the return on investment will be community equity of an improved shopping experience in their own communities, the growth in employment opportunities for community residents.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv  

6 Benefits of Crowdfunding Besides the Funds

Introduction 

We are going to talk about the benefits of crowdfunding besides the funding, but the other 6 business benefits. Crowdfunding is an incredible business tool that provides many benefits to any business that puts them into action. It’s not all about the money. Yes, the money might be the driving factor behind your campaign, but you stand to gain a whole lot more from crowdfunding. Here’s our quick rundown of the 10 (yes, ten) BIG benefits of crowdfunding:

1) Market Research

Crowdfunding is the perfect tool for very low-cost market research. Social media is a one-to-many communication channel, but it also provides a many-to-one dialogue. This dialogue capability provides a platform to receive feedback that can provide answers to many questions that can save you both time and money. The crowd will provide an answer- yes, no, or not right now. They can provide many insights for product development. A successful campaign can help you gauge size of the potential market for the product.   

2) Focus Group Like Product Feedback

If you have taken the time to properly engage and excite your crowd then you have built a level of trust that will provide much-needed focus group like feedback. Your crowd will tell you what they like about your product and share their ideas for improvement. Your crowd will invest in your story (emotionally and financially). Your crowd will be so much more than just another customer; they will consider themselves a part of your project. Take pride in your success and are much more likely to get involved in helping spread the word than a traditional consumer. This is the unseen value of an excited and engaged crowd.  This is why it is vital to take the time to build a trust based relationship with your crowd.

3) Pre-orders

Your crowdfunding campaign should become a pre-selling machine for your product or concept that is driven by your engaged and excited crowd. The number of pre-orders will provide some insight into the size of the market. Your Crowdfunding campaign is a place to sell a product or concept before you’ve brought it to market and this process allows you to start production with little or no financial risk. For many people, this is the major benefit of crowdfunding.  

4) Crowdfunding Provides High-Energy Promotion

Crowdfunding requires a concentrated high-energy marketing, promotion, and public relations blitz. Full-out marketing and promotional blitz from the safety and corners to the linebackers. Once the pre-launch begins it is a nonstop march to the final day of the campaign. During this 3-6 month period, you become the number one cheerleader for you campaign beginning with your closest family and friends to your social media activities to build an email list to the media that has the ability to push your story out to millions.  

5) Loyal Brand Advocates

There’s no question about it; crowdfunding builds you a team of loyal customers, but these customers are so much more. They are brand advocates that will shout from the highest mountain about the good thing they have found. They are part of your success and as such the revel in the growth of your brand. They will buy your latest product, respond to your surveys, push out your latest social media or blog post and smile the entire time and this is a benefit of a well organized and implemented crowdfunding campaign.

6) New Partnerships and Relationships

You’re not just targeting backers and the media. Create a buzz around your crowdfunding campaign, and you could draw out potential partners and investors as well. Don’t underestimate the power of a professional network to bring benefits. One campaign did not reach its goal, but an investor found the product and made the engineer a deal that he could not refuse. Optimize your crowdfunding campaign to attract new partners by ensuring your campaign is literate and includes testimonials from people you’re already working.

Takeaway

There are far reaching benefits to a well organized and implemented crowdfunding campaign as illustrated above. On top of the benefits mentioned in the post, there is, of course, the rewards of the successfully funded campaign which will provide many backers that will result in a large database of highly targeted customers brand advocates.

 

The Power of Home Ownership

Introduction

A decade after the housing crash destroyed the American Dream for millions of homeowners, black homeownership rates have dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s, hobbling African-Americans’ efforts to build their wealth Nationally, only 42.2 percent of blacks owned homes in 2016, compared with 71.9 percent of whites, according to a new report by Harvard University‘s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The Power of Home Ownership

Home ownership is a way for people to generate stability and wealth and not just go to work everyday work and make someone else wealthy by renting.  Home ownership can change the trajectory and direction of neighborhoods. As the individual wealth of community members increases the pride and community equity will increase.   Without homes, blacks lack a powerful source of wealth creation. Homeowners generally build equity that allows them to eventually buy other homes or businesses and send children to college. Homes also are passed to younger generations upon death, allowing future generations to build wealth.

The Black Community is Losing Ground

After decades of making gains, the most recent nationwide African-American home ownership rate was the lowest it’s been since the Fair Housing Act of 1968 began tackling discriminatory housing practices. Historically, home ownership has been 28.4 percent higher among whites than blacks, but the racial gap in home ownership is now the largest since data became available in 1940. Prospects for black home ownership have gone from hopeful to pessimistic in only 15 years. Harvard researchers attribute much of the plunge in African-American home ownership to predatory lending practices that saddled buyers in poor minority neighborhoods with more debt than they could afford.

The Great Recession and The Black Community

As a result of “The Great Recession” and predatory lending practices that targeted Black and Hispanic communities these inner-city communities were hit especially hard by the housing crash and the foreclosures that ensued. The disproportionate foreclosure rates in Black communities resulted in increased credit scores damage by foreclosures and the short sales kept people from bargain-hunting in the wake of the housing crash. Prices were low, but even people with good credit struggled to get mortgages as lenders focused on borrowers with great credit. So as home buying has picked up among whites, Asians and Hispanics since the crash, African-American ownership has fallen, according to the Harvard research.

Rent Is Slavery

High rents also are keeping some from home ownership. As demand for rental housing has climbed, rents have surged the last few years, making it hard for many to pool enough funds for a down payment. Rent is slavery that prevents us as a community from building wealth and results in wealth building for someone else. Renting has moved our community to a place where a large number of our community members are paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent, which results in a deficiency in other area of our lives.These high rents keeps on the treadmill that will never allow us to build wealth for ourselves and our future generations.  

Takeaway

When empty foreclosed properties are fixed up and inhabited again, the values of surrounding homes rise. Without the rehab projects, the abandoned properties can “become nuisances in the community that bring unintended consequences,” such as crime, reduced home prices, and low levels of community equity. Buy The Block has create a crowd investment platform that allows us to pool our money together and buy, rehab, and sell properties as a community. The power of the Buy the Block program is that as a community we are able to increase home ownership, create employment for contractors and their workforce, and provide renovated housing stock in our community while allowing members of the community invest and build wealth.

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv    

5 Steps to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

The Numbers Behind Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is democratizing the access to capital and with all the encouraging news stories, every inventor, creator, engineer, and startup would want to launch a crowdfunding campaign today to fund the next big thing since sliced bread. Kickstarter, the New York City-based crowdfunding platform saw 37 percent of its campaigns reach their fundraising goals in 2017, according to a report. That’s the highest success rate among the five crowdfunding platforms included in the study.  

The High Failure Rate of Crowdfunding Campaigns

Twenty-six percent of crowdfunding campaigns on Vancouver, Canada-based FundRazr met their goals in 2016, and a dismal  13 percent fully-funded success rate for San Francisco based Indiegogo. These numbers smack in the face of what the press is reporting about the crowdfunding industry as a place to make easy money for your startup.

Crowdfunding The Real Story

This is what the press is not reporting the amount of time, energy, marketing savvy, and work it takes to build an engaged and excited crowd of backers to complete a successful crowdfunding campaign. The pre-launch, a 3-6 month preparation stage before the launch of the campaign is crucial. After years of working on crowdfunding campaigns in many different facets, I have learned this one fundamental rule: Crowdfunding is a compound word and if you don’t build an engaged and excited crowd before the launch of your campaign you will not get the funding your desire.  

Implementing The Pre-Launch Strategy

There are many steps to creating a pre-launch strategy and the first step is to create a budget and a timeline. So many people head into crowdfunding campaigns with little knowledge of the cost of both time and capital that this 3-6 month process will entail. Always begin the with a timeline that realistically documents the task, the team member responsible for completing the task, and the time frame that task will be completed. This will be the driving force for staying on track while moving along this very labor and time intensive journey called a crowdfunding campaign.    

These are the steps that must be completed during the pre-launch phase of the campaign.

  1. Create consistent messaging and branding – Every company has a brand, whether they make it a priority or not. A brand is what people think about your product and the impressions they have when hearing or seeing your name. In most cases, your brand is reflected initially in your logo, and then supported by your messaging. These experiences influence attitudes and opinions about your company, product, or service. A good brand is built over time and requires thought, strategy, and consistent implementation.
  2. Leverage your social capital –  from the inside out to ensure 30% of the funding goal is guaranteed by friends, family and anyone else you can line up to make a financial contribution to your campaign on the day it launches. If you can raise 30% in the first couple of days of your campaign, you significantly increase your chances of reaching your goal.
  3. Build an email list –  Your email list is the lifeblood of your crowdfunding campaign. The more emails you have the better and using social media like Twitter and Facebook ads to drive traffic to a landing page to collect email address is vital. Services like MailChimp allow you to send out emails and drive traffic to your campaign page when it launches.
  4. Build your crowd using Social Media –  that is large enough so you can tap into not only for financial support but also to share your campaign with their followers. Twitter is the most active social network in the crowdfunding sphere. Depending on your funding goal and how many followers you currently have, this process can take several months. The goal is to identify and connect with relevant supporters and build a targeted audience.

Run a Press Release –  Create a press release through a service like Press Release distribution and high impact media lists. To make your campaign look attractive to journalists, do not send your press release or contact media before you have reached the 30% funding milestone. Journalists don’t just write about campaigns so they become successful, they write about successful campaigns in the making.

Understanding Wealth and Income

Introduction

Income inequality has been accelerating, which suggests that the wealthiest, typically meaning Whites, are getting wealthier. According to a new study, the imbalance will shift so far that median Black and Latino households will lose the little relative wealth they have by about the time people of color form a majority of households in the U.S. By 2053, Black households will have a median wealth of zero. It will take Latino households another 20 years to drop to the same level, according to an analysis by non-profits Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Wealth and Why Is It Important

Even black and Latino families who’ve achieved the traditional middle class status  a good-paying job and a college degree still lag far behind their white counterparts in terms of wealth. Black and Latino families with a member holding a four-year degree own just a fifth of the wealth of equivalent white families. In fact, they own less wealth than a white family whose head has just a high school diploma.

We typically describe middle class status in terms of income. But, if we change the definition to wealth, meaning you’d need between $68,000 and $204,000 in household wealth than middle class White households have nearly 8 times as much wealth as median Black households and 10 times as much as Latino households. Black and Latino families now have to earn two to three times as much as White families to catch up.

If we look at life as a 100 meter dash, wealth becomes the head start in a race, like putting someone on the starting line at the 100 meter mark and another, on the 10 meter mark in a 100-meter dash. By talking almost about income inequality, we essentially pretend that a problem made over decades can be addressed on a single year’s scale. It can’t mathematically work.

On the Road to Zero Wealth

According to the  report The Road to Zero Wealth The divide between the wealth of a typical black family and a typical white family today is vast. A median black family has just $1,700 in wealth—total assets minus total debt. Thirty years ago, that same family had $6,800 in today’s dollars. Latino families at the median have similarly small assets, just $2,000, and also saw a decline over the past three decades. White median household wealth, meanwhile, is significantly higher: $116,800, up from $102,000 over the same period.

So black and Latino families at the middle have seen their wealth slip while white families in the middle saw their wealth rise. What does this look like projected into the future? By 2053, just 10 years after the country is projected to become majority non-white, black median families will own zero wealth if current trends continue. Twenty years later, Latino median families will follow suit. White median families will continue to own six figures.

Takeaway

Changing our priorities in the savings and investment arena such as investments in bold new programs that focus on using social entrepreneurship to solve Black issues, by creating Black owned businesses and jobs, increasing home ownership, and using crowd investment strategies to increase community and personal wealth.  These tactics could reverse the decades-long rise in the racial wealth divide.

Buy The Block allows investors make debt or equity investments in opportunities that were historically difficult to access. Thanks to the Regulation Crowdfunding rules promulgated by the SEC under the JOBs Act, Buy the Block can create a community revolving around its web-based investment platform geared towards making investing in real estate easier for more investors. It presents an opportunity to invest with other connected investors, and provides the added benefit of giving each investor individual ownership in the “block.”

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv

The Benefits of Blogging for Crowdfunding

Introduction

Using a modified inbound marketing strategy to drive traffic to your campaign website is the number one method of making your website a valuable marketing asset. The more pages your website has, the more chances you have to rank in search engines. Every time you post a new blog post on your website, you have a new web page on your website, and it’s all housed under your blog so your website doesn’t get cluttered with pages.

The New Marketing

Digital technology is driving a new wave of marketing that according to Hubspot by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their sales relationships without talking to a human.

More and more people are asking search engines to find them the services and products looking for. They’re looking up reviews, watching videos, and building discussions to find the answers they’re looking for before committing to a certain product or service.One of the easiest ways for potential new customers to learn about you is through your blog. Look to answer the questions they’re asking, address their concerns, and provide them with reliable information about your product/service/industry. The trust you build there will be indispensable in generating new customers.

Blogs add a Human Touch

Blogs, by nature, have a personal touch to them. For this reason, they’re a trusted source of information. Your blog serves as a great opportunity to extend your brand and showcase your personality. Usually, when typing in a question to a search engine, the first results to come up are blog posts. If you can consistently provide value and answers the questions your personas are asking, you’ll find it easier to rank on the first (or first few) pages of a search engine.

Blogs are the Marketing Workhorse

Your blog posts are working for you 24/7. Once they’re up on your site, they’ll work for you until you decide it’s time to take them down. By putting out valuable and targeted content, you can easily raise your exposure (organic traffic) and leads. Even your older blogs can get you noticed if they’re relevant and answering a question many visitors are searching for. Make sure you’re constantly updating older blogs so they continue to bring in the high-quality traffic.

Add Value to Readers

Producing reliable, insightful industry news to your visitors pays off. Not only will it increase your reputability, it will also increase your inbound links. Other websites want to seem helpful and credible as well and will share your content to do so. This will send their visitors to your site and gives you an opportunity to build your own relationship with them.

Takeaways

Business blogging is a low-cost way to create opportunities to get your website found by the people that you want to find it, so you can generate new leads and customers for your business. If you’re looking to start a business blog or get more investment for the one you’ve already started, the statistics above are a great place to start arguing your case.

 

The Crisis in Black Home Ownership

Introduction

The national home ownership rate fell to 63.4% in 2016—the lowest yearly average in 50 years, according to the business data firm CoreLogic. And there may not be a rebound anytime soon. But the largest factor holding down the home ownership rate could be racial inequality. The rate among white Americans is more than 30 percentage points higher than among black Americans, according to Trulia, a real estate site. One recent study found that 72% of all household growth from 2015 to 2025 will be from groups other than non-Hispanic whites. So if these groups face hurdles to buying homes, it could harm the overall growth of the market.

Historic Housing Policy

For decades institutional racism has harmed minority borrowers ability to own an affordable home. An analysis by the The Wall Street Journal found that only 5% of mortgages were offered to African Americans in 2014, down three percentage points from seven years earlier. Hispanics were offered 9% of mortgages in 2014, down two points compared to 2007. Meanwhile white Americans saw their percentage rise by five points during that span.

The legacy of discriminatory housing laws, like the National Housing Act of 1934, which “redlined” predominantly black neighborhoods and shut out minorities from bank loans, continues to have lasting damage as well. African Americans and Latinos suffer from residential segregation, resulting in less value for their homes. If there were no racial disparity in homeownership rates, the overall gap in wealth between black and white American households would decline by nearly a third, according to a recent study from left-leaning public policy group Demos.

Black Home ownership Gains Erased

The Black community got hit harder by the housing crisis than other groups. In general, African Americans bought homes at the peak of the bubble at higher rates than whites and were often offered costly subprime loans, even when they qualified for prime loans with lower interest rates. Also, black families did not benefit as much as white families, overall, from the post 9/11 recovery.

According to Nextavenue homeownership has historically been the best way to build wealth by far. The average wealth of homeowners versus renters. The average wealth for black Americans who are homeowners is $90,000, with $50,000 of that in home equity. The average wealth for black Americans who are renters is $2,000.”

Future Impact

Home ownership declines have affected African Americans of all ages, but among the most alarming are the trends for African American Gen X’ers and Millennials, according to the Urban Institute. The home ownership rate for blacks aged 35 to 44 fell from 45% in 1990 to 33% in 2015, half the rate of whites in the same age group. If  these trends continue, people born from 1965 to 1975 [now age 42 to 52] will likely to be the first generation from the 20th century that reaches retirement age with more renters than homeowners.

Takeaway

Action must be taken quickly in the private real estate  market to reverse these trends or our community will find itself in deeply immersed in a form of economic serfdom. Home ownership builds wealth and wealth is a cushion against economic instability. But the problem is deep-rooted and there is no easy solution.

Buy The Block allows investors make debt or equity investments in opportunities that were historically difficult to access. Thanks to the Regulation Crowdfunding rules promulgated by the SEC under the JOBs Act, Buy the Block can create a community revolving around its web-based investment platform geared towards making investing in real estate easier for more investors. It presents an opportunity to invest with other connected investors, and provides the added benefit of giving each investor individual ownership in the “block.”

Please visit the Buy The Block website to sign up for this historical opportunity to be become a BlockVestor or Block Developer and own your piece of your community @ http://bit.ly/2zbAmzv

Don’t Launch Your Crowdfunding Campaign Until You Build A Crowd!

Introduction

I usually don’t write from the personal perspective, but today, I am going to do something different. I was reading a blog post from CrowdfundBetter.com entitled The Real Reason Your Crowdfunding Campaign Is Failing and it jarred a memory in me that I normally bring a smile to my face as I tell the story of the events that led to my career in the crowdfunding industry. Today I laugh when reminded of the 2011 events that led me to crowdfunding.  My son and were venturing into the digital marketing and online video marketing space and we were working with a program operated by Louisville Metro called CAP.

The Importance of the Crowd

The director of CAP approached us with a novel concept called Kickstarter, and said, “ that if we shot some really cool videos people would send us money.” Well, I was game, so we reserved the basement conference room in the Downtown branch Louisville Free Library and we shot 8 “really cool videos” and no one sent any money to fund these businesses. I was perplexed because I trusted the judgment of the CAP director. I decided to research this new funding concept for myself. I became consumed with crowdfunding and its possibilities to transform economies by solving the age-old startup and business expansion question of access to capital. But as I continued to research and participate in this nascent industry one of the things I discovered early was the importance of the crowd.

The Power of the Crowd

I discovered that crowdfunding is a unique and innovative marketing tool that provides research, promotion, and engagement, which are essential for any business. Crowdfunding, through digital marketing platforms, provides access for creators to promote and engage with community members in an unreserved relationship. Crowdfunding, as a marketing tool, is invaluable to any brand as a way to create social media-driven communities that link their current customers, new customers, new product launches, product development, product testing, customer service, while increasing brand reach, and brand awareness. Crowdfunding has one fundamental rule and that is if you don’t build an engaged and excited crowd you will not receive the desired funding.

Building the Crowd is Vital

This newly found information sent me on a quest to educate the crowdfunding industry of this simple fact. The stated mission of my company is to build a crowd for the purpose of crowdfunding. 2017 finds crowdfunding to be a global industry that has raised billions of dollars and Kickstarter has produced multi-million dollar campaigns, Facebook and Twitter ads have changed the way creators are able to promote their campaigns, but there is still one fundamental in crowdfunding. Building the crowd before you launch is vital for a success. I had to be reminded of this by the blog post referenced earlier what my true mission is in the crowdfunding industry is.

I once consulted with a woman that paid me to provide my insights and information based on my experience in the crowdfunding industry. We spoke for hours over a few days and I insisted on her taking the time build an excited and engaged crowd. According to Kickstarter, 14% of projects finish not having received a single pledge. This figure always given me pause considering, Facebook has surpassed the 2 Billion daily user milestone.

Takeaway

As a crowdfunding consultant that has been around the industry for a while and has managed, consulted, and assisted on more than a few successful crowdfunding campaigns I feel that it is my mission to educate people on the importance of building a crowd and educating them on how I go about that process. As an industry, crowdfunding must expand the pool of backers and retail crowd investors to grow the industry into the marketing and funding juggernaut it should be.

Locavesting For Urban Community Development

A revolution in early stage finance is changing the way inner-city African-American communities relate to capital formation, real estate development, entrepreneurship, and job creation. Thanks to the passage of the JOBS Act of 2012, a new market is being born that will revolutionize how early stage investing and community economic development works — It’s called Crowd Investing.

Bill Huston

To this end, I personally believe that equity crowdfunding is the most significant piece of financial based legislation for African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation 1863 emancipation of the Southern slaves.

Rodney Sampson

“If African-Americans shifted just 1% of the $1.3 trillion they have in purchasing power to small Black-owned businesses and real estate development it would amount to $10 billion invested in Black Communities.  

 

That’s not a game-changer. That’s a revolution!

 

Shifting Dollars  from Consumerism to Local Crowdinvesting

May 16th 2016 the  SEC Rulings on crowdfunding intermediaries went into effect and today ordinary Americans are able to collaborate en masses to give small individual amounts of funding to startups, small businesses, and real estate developments online through crowd investing, and become shareholders in the process.

The Power of CrowdInvesting

When people understand the power of local crowd investing and begin to pull from their bank savings, mutual fund accounts and begin investing 1 percent of their disposable income  in order to put their money to work in their own communities. Crowdinvesting will have the power to change how African-Americans from all income levels make decisions about where to put their money and how to spend that money.

Buy The Block

Crowdinvesting isn’t a new way of investing, but as we transform the way we see ourselves as participants and investors in companies as well as customers there will be a paradigm shift.  Crowdinvesting will make investors into local companies a shareholder and brad advocate leading to the the birth of a new locally driven capital market that brings new access to capital for inner-city community entrepreneurs. To help shape and guide this new investment market, crowdinvesting platforms like Buy The Block  are working hard to help ordinary African-Americans understand the power they wield as crowd investors and how they can participate in this social and financial revolution.

From Consumer to Investor

Crowdinvesting will usher in a radical transformation forever redefining what it means to African-Americans to be a crowd investor in America by bringing local crowdinvesting into the homes of inner-city community members in the Internet Age. If African-Americans embrace the power of crowdinvesting then the most socially transformative part of crowdfunding will come from the power of local or community-based investing.

The Case for Local Businesses

There is overwhelming amounts of recent research from prominent economists, sociologists, and other researchers that find that small, local businesses are critical to overcoming many of our biggest challenges, from reducing economic inequality to building resilient communities. According to the Kauffman Foundation new businesses account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation.  

Takeaway

According to Local Investing fostering an economy of small-scale businesses may be one of the most effective ways to close the gap between rich and poor. Civic leaders are increasingly grappling with income inequality, and creating policies to foster an economy that’s based on local ownership and community-scaled businesses may be one of the most effective ways to do it. That’s the implication of new research that identifies links between corporate consolidation and the widening gap between the rich and poor.

Data Driven Crowdfunding Campaigns

Introduction

If you are a creator planning to use crowdfunding, it’s important to know what to expect.  A big part of setting expectations for yourself and your team is knowing and understanding crowdfunding metrics. I encounter many people daily that are searching for funding for their business, but they don’t understand the numbers behind what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign and what the realities of crowdfunding outcomes are. My goal is to use data collected from many sources to put crowdfunding into better perspective and understand what it takes to launch and manage a campaign and the realities of crowdfunding campaign outcomes by the numbers.

I was introduced to a former fortune 500 company executive that want to start their own business. They had an in-depth understanding of business and the numbers from 20 years of corporate experience. Our first meeting the budget was laid out and ready to move forward. One of the best most thought out plans I had ever encountered from a creator. The ask was almost $200 thousand and there was practically no crowd built on social media or a large email list for the project. Managing expectations was the first step in this process. So many people come to the crowdfunding world with the unrealistic expectation of what crowdfunding is and what it can do for a startup. Kickstarter has a tap on their website where the constantly post and update the data of crowdfunding.

Analyzing the Data

We took a look at the real outcomes of crowdfunding on Kickstarter as a whole and then we drilled down on the specific industry and we decided on a realistic goal based on the data point of Kickstarter.  Of the 131,535 successful Kickstarter campaigns the 73,801 fell between $1,000 and $9,999, and if you combined all other funding categories the total was 5,7734 the total was 16,067 less successful campaigns. There is a sweet spot for Kickstarter campaigns based on the data.

Crowdfunding Math

A basic way to calculate a marketing budget. Say that a campaign has a fundraising goal of $300,000 and the average perk of $50. This means that 6000 perks need to be sold at $50 to hit the goal. An average marketing campaign, regardless of whether its social media, PR, email marketing, re-targeting, etc., has a typical click through rate to a campaign of 3%. Of the 3%, 1/2 to 1% actually convert and make a donation you need to reach 20,000,000 target customers in order to drive 3% (600,000 visitors) to a campaign URL with a conversion rate of 1% (6000 donors) to purchase a product $50 to hit a $300,000 goal.

Takeaway

Crowdfunding is a data analysis game that requires research into the numbers and understanding the process of successful campaigns and avoiding the mistakes of the failed campaigns. Make sure that your decisions are based on the best data available and do your research before you launch your campaign. 

Putting The Crowd in Crowdfunding

Introduction

Is Crowdfunding no more than persuading individuals to each give you a small donation $10, $50, $100, maybe more. Once you get thousands of donors, you have some serious cash on hand. Driven by the proliferation of social media platforms nonprofits, artists, musicians — and yes, businesses — are able to raise funds. Crowdfunding has been growing at an incredible clip since 2009 and there have been billions of dollars crowdfunded during this time period. I always tell people that crowdfunding has one fundamental rule: If you don’t build an engaged and excited crowd then you won’t get the funding that you desire. The next logical question would be how do you build an engaged and excited crowd to fund your project.

Building the Crowd

Crowdfunding can create a powerful marketing and funding chain that moves from reward to equity to an IPO on-ramp to take the company public. Crowdfunding is creating an entirely new path to funding that is completely customer focused. These are the 4 basic step that I begin the process of identifying and engaging people to build an excited and engaged crowd:

  1. Research Similar Crowdfunding Campaigns
  2. Define your target audience
  3. Develop a narrative and video
  4. Fund a project yourself to experience the process  

Understanding the Funding Cycle

List all the campaigns (both successful and not successful ones). Contact the manager and ask about activities that worked best/worst. Open Kicktraq.com, paste the URLs and review their funding curves. If most of the funding occurred in the beginning, it means most came most from their own network. More stable curve means there are interested backers from the platform.

Understanding Your Crowd

Conduct a survey on your Facebook Page and share it on social media. Ask about the problem you are trying to solve. You will gather invaluable info about your audience and most importantly their email addresses. Estimate what the key problems and pain points your audience is experiencing. Engage with them and provide as much value as you can. In a couple of months, you will have a strong community of targeted people who will help you get your early seeding as they fall into their role as brand advocates. Now you have defined your audience now segment them according to demographic data.

Who is the Creator

Be able, to sum up not just your campaign but yourself as well, using the ‘elevator pitch’ approach. Make it personal and authentic. Build both your campaign and personal story. It is just as much you as your product that they are investing their hard earned money.  Some things to include in your few-sentence bio:

  • your professional experience
  • where you’re from
  • why this is important to you
  • your passions and hobbies
  • how you got to where you are today
  • what you’re working on next.

Takeaway

The last but, maybe most important action is to participate in a campaign as a backer or funder. This experience is something that you can’t read about. Participating in a campaign is a unique experience that will help you craft your own campaign. Traditionally, you’d spend months sifting through your personal network, vetting potential investors, and spending your own time and money to get in front of them. Crowdfunding provides a much more linear path to get in front of the most interested parties and give them more ways to help grow your business, from investing thousands in exchange for equity to contributing $20 in exchange for a first-run product or reward. This is an experience I recommend to everyone that is thinking of creating a campaign.

Black Female Serial Entrepreneur Tackles Commercial Real Estate

Introduction

Linda P. Smith is a serial entrepreneur that founded my first company at 28, with the help of family and friends. In 2010, she established BBE to pay it forward by providing education and funding for businesses. With Buy the Block, she has created the first Black-owned real estate crowdinvesting platform enabling the Black community to pool their immense $1.3 Trillion in purchasing power to come together to make real estate and business development investments.  

What is Crowdinvesting

Traditional real estate investments require a significant financial commitment. Buy the Block is reducing the barriers to entry to as low as $100 which opens direct real estate investment to the vast majority of people in the Black Community. Crowdinvesting became a reality when then President Obama signed the bipartisan JOBS Act of 2012, and May 16th, 2016 Title III of the JOBS Act became legal and opened up direct real estate investment to all Americans. This opened the floodgates to hundreds of millions of new investors.   

Buy The Block

Serial Entrepreneur Lynn P founded Buy the Block in a tool shed in Cincinnati in 2013. The company allowed her to couple her two passions, real estate investing and teaching others the art and science of real estate investment,  into a seamless online crowdinvesting experience for the Black community. Buy the Block has solved two of the major issues of the Black community. The first is access to capital for businesses and real estate development and the second is an investment platform with a low barrier to entry to facilitate the building of community equity and Black wealth at the same time. Buy The Block now serves investors and developers all over the US, and is thrilled to be a part of the global crowdinvesting and alternative finance industry.By bringing investors together with entrepreneurs, we are not just building stronger communities; we are building wealthier communities. In that wealth lies the only real independence.

The Commercial Real Estate Development Industry

Buy the Block’s latest foray into the commercial real estate industry that lacks diversity in the C-Suite. According to a report from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, a national organization founded almost 50 years ago and that has more than 18,000 members, used Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data and found that more than three-quarters of senior commercial real estate executive positions nationwide were held by white men. Hispanic, Asian, black and other women — hold less than 1 percent of the CRE senior executive jobs nationwide, according to the report. Buy the Block building on its success in the residential real estate development has made its first incursion into this, White male dominated field of commercial real estate development, by leading investors in  purchasing a 24,500 square foot retail structure with tremendous potential for neighborhood retail, office space, and residential space in the downtown area of a major Midwestern city.  

Join The Movement

Buy The Block can manage any project from concept to end, and they aim to develop a large number of construction projects, in areas such as; residential, manufacturing, retail, multi-family, medical, religious, and pre-engineered building construction.

Takeaway

With the focus on the Black communities in America, Buy The Block is on track to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for development projects in these communities. Having the capacity to take on more significant projects and contracts, they project that they will soon change the face of crowdinvesting real estate investing in the country. Join the movement by investing with your peers on the Buy The Block crowdinvesting platform that is breaking ground and barriers in the residential and commercial real estate industry. Visit BuyTheBlock.com and make your investment first investment today with your peers and Buy the Block.   

The Benefits of Crowdinvesting

Raise capital from your customers, so now your customers are owners!

Crowdinvesting is a way to connect with the people. It provides a platform predicated on neighborhood and community among residents, business owners and real estate developers. By allowing customers and community residents to invest in a companies and developments focused on bettering their lived experiences, entrepreneurs and real estate developers are providing opportunity for residents to literally take ownership of their futures. This is a win-win situation and an immense benefit of crowdinvesting.  

Crowdinvesting provides a new opportunity!

Professors, politicians, and community activist have touted the value of black people taking  all the money we spend on clothes, shoes, and hair, and put it into investing or starting a business. Well, it would be impossible to take all of our money and invest it businesses or real estate, but we can set aside a portion of our dollars to invest in the people that desire to start a business or develop real estate and that have the required temperament and skills to be an entrepreneur or real estate developer and invest in them. Crowdinvesting provides investment opportunities that have never in our history in America existed!  

Crowdinvesting is the answer to raising capital and marketing your business!

The U.S. rate of entrepreneurship has declined over the past 30 years, entrepreneurial activity in the African American community has increased. The problem is access to capital. Black entrepreneurs start businesses, but—often—do not have access to the capital necessary to market and grow those businesses over time. Data from the 2015 Survey of Business Owners shows that the number of businesses majority-owned by Black women grew 67 percent between 2007 and 2012, compared to 27 percent for all women and 13 percent for White women. Nielsen quantifies that growth at 1.5 million Black woman majority-owned businesses as of 2015. Crowdinvesting provides a platform for these black women to share the risk and reward of entrepreneurship with their community as investors and consumers.

Crowdinvesting Empowers the Black Community

Crowdinvesting has the potential to  unleashing $1.3 trillion in black buying power to fund black businesses and real-estate projects and it is one of the greatest wealth building opportunities ever made available to the African American community. But none of this will come to fruition without us taking action on the opportunities that crowdinvesting have brought to the table in our community.

African Americans have historically been frozen out of wealth building opportunities necessary to build generational wealth. Usually, when wealth building opportunities have been made available, it was only after other communities had access. This makes crowdinvesting singularly unique in African American history. Crowdinvesting allows black investors and entrepreneurs to have access from the beginning and can share in the economic gains made by startups growing and hiring. Black consumers—trendsetters—can use their dollars and influential platform to select which products, services, and solutions get funded from the beginning.

Takeaway

Crowdinvesting is a great opportunity to both support local business and build livable communities. It provides an opportunity for small businesses, the ones that have the hardest time finding funding, to get investments from those likely to patronize them: local residents. It puts business owners in a place to create a different narrative about their business and who they serve, while allowing them to focus their marketing and fundraising effort in a concentrated area, saving time and money.

Goldman Sachs estimates that crowdinvesting has the potential to be a $1.2 trillion industry. For diverse founders, crowdinvesting can be a game changer for companies and real estate developers seeking investment. It’s a wealth-building opportunity for investors previously restricted from investing in startups.

 

Join the Movement!

Crowdfunding Acts as Fertilizer to the Economy

Introduction

Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers, and individual investors. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals—primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms—and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.

Crowdfunding is a Change Agent

Crowdfunding has helped more than a million startups raise over $3.2 Billion, and is revolutionizing the way small businesses find the capital they need to grow. Crowdfunding provides a tool kit for fundraising success for entrepreneurs that has the ability to level the playing field in the world of capital formation.

Crowdfunding is Growing Rapidly

By 2016 the crowdfunding industry accounted for more funding than venture capital, according to a recent report by Massolution. Just five years ago there was a relatively small market of early adopters crowdfunding online to the tune of a reported $880 million in 2010. Fast forward to today and we saw $16 billion crowdfunded in 2014, with 2015 estimated to grow to over $34 billion. In comparison, the VC industry invests an average of $30 billion each year.

Crowdfunding Acts as Fertilizer to the Economy

Startups and small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and innovation across the globe. They create jobs, new products, dreams, and disruption. They are led by entrepreneurs who work hard to bring their ideas to life. Often overshadowed by failure, they persist and can change the world. We feel that entrepreneurs are heroes that need to be celebrated, and more importantly, supported by a community of fellow founders. It would be great if the process were easy, but it’s not. We’d like to help change that.

Takeaway

So whether you are crowdfunding for equity or rewards, there are a plethora of advantages in using the crowd. Even for campaigns that do not achieve their goals, you will still walk away with something of value, whether that is experience, market data, or a renewed ambition. The main point of this post is it’s important not to lose sight of what supporters have to offer and the power of the crowd. These are some of the marketing benefits of crowdfunding and if you work your campaign effectively, you will benefit in a number of other ways, all vital to help you grow your business in the future.

Alternative Finance for Underserved Communities of Color

Introduction

We are acutely aware that most small businesses and startups struggle to get access to capital and underserved communities of color receive extremely small amounts of funding from traditional funding sources. So, instead of protesting and complaining maybe small businesses and small real estate developer should begin to implement different methods of finding and deploying capital. We are going talk about 6 different types of investing alternatives that are on the cutting edge of new capital formation for underserved communities of color.

Local Investment Clubs

A traditional investment club is a small group of individual investors who come together to learn, share investing experiences and help each other become more successful investors. Clubs provide education, camaraderie and buying power, plus the confidence of knowing you don’t have to go it alone. Clubs can also choose not to pool investment dollars and instead simply come together to discuss stock ideas and analysis.

Local investment clubs will have a focus on investing in local businesses and real estate development in underserved communities using crowdinvesting to allow the club members the ultimate reward derived from  local crowdinvesting to be owner, customer and brand advocate all at the same time. Again this away to build wealth in underserved communities.

Impact Investing From Corporate and Philanthropic Foundations

“Philanthropy is commendable,” said Martin Luther King, “but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice, which make philanthropy necessary.” Philanthropists and philanthropic advisors who champion equality must work to shift from a framework that grounds giving in “charity” to one that grounds giving in “justice.”                  

Dr. Dorian Burton

As mentioned in the above section making local place based investments makes a lot of sense for investors because the benefits that locavesting bring to both the investor and the community where they live. So let’s take the next logical step and examine why more philanthropic and corporate foundations don’t look to the local market to make impact investments along with the tiny percentage of their endowment that they make grants.

So many of the problems and issues that plague inner-city communities are poverty based and many of them stem from government policies such as redlining. If foundations change their relationships in these communities from charity and began the process of providing location based impact investment into these communities to fund local businesses, real estate development, and wealth building initiatives based on market principles a lot of the poverty based issues would be eliminated.  

Rewards Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a new and evolving fundraising alternative that connects social media with an accounting and finance mechanism to aggregate capital on a single platform. Crowdfunding provides a platform for entrepreneurs reach out to the “crowd”—which could include their friends, customers, neighbors, supporters and social network—for funding. The idea is that lots of smaller sums of money can take the place of one or two large investors or patrons, and that technology can help streamline the process.

Crowdinvesting

Crowdinvesting is the truly revolutionary centerpiece of the JOBS Act. It became legal on May 16th 2016. Crowdinvesting provides a platform for   small real estate developers and small companies to raise money from the general public—wealthy, not wealthy, friend or stranger—as long as the investment takes place on a web site operated by a traditional broker-dealer or an S.E.C.-sanctioned crowdfunding portal, and certain other requirements are met.

Specifically, the law allows companies to raise up to $1 million in a 12-month period from the public. Investors are capped at the greater of $2,000 or 5% of their income, if their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000. The final rules also impose a limit on how much those with an income or net worth greater than $100,000 can make: they are limited to $10,000 per year or 10% of their income or net worth.

Takeaway

There are many new and emerging forms of alternative finance that provides the democratization of capital in under capitalized communities of color. Many of the communities find themselves to be isolated in urban centers and are areas of concentrated poverty. These area of concentrated poverty tend to be places that lack hope and many residents become trapped in the despair and hopelessness of the environment. But just like policy created these communities policy and the commitment of investors that want to see their communities changed are able to use their dollars to vote!

Regulation CF and Small Business Finance

Small Business Drives Economic Growth

Despite being the strongest drivers of growth in the U.S. economy, small businesses face immense challenges garnering funding from traditional sources like venture capital firms, angel investor groups, or debt financing. 90 percent of small business owners still believe that banks are the first stop for business financing, despite more than a 30-year history of banks decreasing the number of their loans going to small businesses. Since small businesses aren’t the only ones struggling for financing – startups, entertainment projects, musicians, and others face similar challenges – the new (and popular) crowdfunding industry has increasingly filled the funding gap. 

Traditional Lenders Overlook Small Business

New business owners usually aren’t the best candidates for traditional small-business loans from banks or other funding sources, which typically require collateral, years of successful operation and excellent personal credit. Even if funding were approved, new entrepreneurs may not have the resources to begin making loan payments immediately. Rewards-based crowdfunding is an alternative to traditional small-business financing and provides the means to transform promising ideas into a profitable reality — without having to pay back a penny.

The Crowdfunding Model Works Well For Small Business

Small businesses that have a loyal customer base or large following can investigate the newly passed Regulation Crowdfunding. This new form of equity crowdfunding — which is the result of the new Title III of the JOBS Act — allows companies to raise up to $1,000,000 each year, from investors for their businesses, using crowdfunding platforms. You agree to sell stock in your business and can offer those shares to anyone. However, there are limits on what individuals can invest based on their income. The transactions are done through Web-based platforms — which will both help keep you compliant with all of the laws and rules and will also take a commission on the sale of the stock.

Regulation CF is Perfect for Small Businesses

This form of capital raising is especially attractive to “main street” businesses — which may have a great history and engaged customers, but find that banks aren’t willing, or able to lend to them. This model exists in many other countries, and we see local food-based businesses, bars and pubs, art and creative studios and other product based companies taking advantage of these models and raising on average about $700,000.

Crowdfunding Can Be A Catalytic Funding Event

Crowdinvesting can supply needed capital for equipment, growth capital or for strategic hires. In many cases, it becomes the on-ramp to other more traditional models of financing as a catalytic event. Some savvy small business owners have learned to leverage small early-stage investments through crowdinvesting to increase their bargaining power and get more money from venture capitalists or others later. Whether a tool to provide small funds to launch a startup or as an alternative to the high costs of IPOs, these new rules expand the financing options available to startups and small businesses across the USA.

Locavesting, Crowdinvesting, and Recycling Community Dollars

What is Locavesting

Locavesting is a term that I came across in my work as a crowd investing consultant. I will state for the record that my interest in crowdinvesting lean much more toward local real estate development and local business development than towards the tech startups. I believe that underserved communities must consolidate and recycle their wealth through real estate development and local business development that provides job creation and wealth generation in their community first. According to a Locavestor blog post written by Amy  “Small businesses—which by definition are locally owned—create two out of every three jobs in the U.S., employ half the private workforce and generate half of private GDP.” “They create local wealth by keeping money circulating locally—that’s called the local multiplier effect.  They provide the foundation for a healthy and diversified local tax base, and contribute to the health and well being of their communities.”

Access to Capital

Access to capital is the number one issue facing many local business no matter the size or type of business, but in communities of color accessing capital through traditional methods is almost impossible. Even when the owners have the education and experience accessing business capital is highly unlikely. Big banks, which dominate the market, approve just 2 out of 10 small business loan requests. The odds are worse for women and minority-owned firms: Just $1 out of every $23 in small business bank loans goes to women-owned businesses, for example, even though they represent 30% of all small firms. In the equity space, less that 1% of all businesses receive venture capital funding—and most of that is invested in just three states.

The Convergence of Locavesting and CrowdInvesting

When we look into the investment portfolios of most individual investors we will find stocks and bonds of large multinational companies that very often send jobs and profits overseas. The new retail investor class that crowdinvesting creates is very cash rich and rarely finds itself being invested in local businesses that as stated above are the economic drivers of communities. How do we change that dynamic? How do we channel more capital to productive use—to the small businesses that create jobs, spur innovation and build strong local economies? Well, crowdinvesting is the vehicle that will be able to transfer this capital to small local businesses and real estate development.

Takeaway

There is latent potential capital that is being only as consumer dollars that are leaving the community within six hours of being earned. The vast majority of that money is not being saved or invested only spent as quickly as it is be earned. One solution is the junction between crowdinvesting and locavesting where community members are willing to invest as little as $100 in local businesses and real estate development. Then be customers and brand advocates for the businesses that you have invested in and have a financial interest in being successful. Crowdinvesting and locavesting provide a platform to increase the viability of community based business enterprises. The successful business owners can organize themselves into the next generation of investors and developers as a local investment group.