|October 22, 2012 12:01 AM
A Sampling of Successful Optical Crowdfunders
VM checked out what types of projects are raising money on crowdfunding websites and highlights some of the most successful eyecare campaigns to date. The following profiles showcase projects that have met, and often surpassed, the support they needed to reach their financing goals. By sparking the interest of Internet-browsing supporters, these eyewear and eyecare initiatives exemplify the ease in which a campaign can be structured, maintained and achieved.
“An international crowdfunding site where anyone can raise money for film, music, art, charity, small businesses, gaming, theater and more.”
Blenders Eyewear: Shades for Scholarships
Campaign Length: 30 days
Also conceived as an SDSU business school project, Blenders Eyewear was formed by Blake Jensen and Chase Fisher after graduation. Interested in alleviating the financial strains of student life, they targeted college students to provide affordable sunglasses, as well as scholarships. After applying to Kickstarter and being rejected, Blenders Eyewear turned to Indiegogo—which had a “quicker, more streamlined application process”—and launched their project the very same day. Within two weeks, their campaign became the most visited on the website, remaining the homepage feature until its conclusion. Each donation of $20 promised funders a pair of shades.
| The Indiegogo campaign page for Blenders Eyewear.
“We launched on a shoestring, with a budget of $2,000. Obviously, to grow we really needed more than that,” Jensen told VM. In just 30 days, the newborn business received donations from nearly 200 backers from more than 15 countries around the world, and continues to see rapid progress—they have sold over 10,000 pairs of “blends,” have given two scholarships, and plan to grant one scholarship per month going forward.
Jensen’s partner, Chase Fisher, stressed that communication with the audience is key to a campaign’s success. “They’re supporting you from the beginning and can be lifelong customers; keep them in the loop,” Fisher said. “That way, they can learn about the brand and connect on a personal level.”
Lovett Productions: Going Blind and Going Forward (Film)
Campaign Length: 30 days
Believing blindness to be a taboo subject, film producer Joseph Lovett felt the need to expose his and others’ personal experiences with low vision. “There’s such a fear of blindness that it becomes a prejudice,” said Lovett, who was diagnosed with glaucoma as a young man. “What we’re trying to do with the film is to create a better relationship between doctors and patients, and to make patients more aware of what their diseases really are so that they can become better advocates for themselves.”
|Going Blind’s Julie Gaynin and producer Joe Lovett.
Already supported by a number of optical organizations, Lovett’s crowdfunding efforts were unique in that they began after the film was completed, licensed to educational institutions, and traveling the globe. After a recent surge in exposure, such as a Capitol Hill screening in September, Lovett and his team, namely outreach coordinator Julie Gaynin, used Indiegogo to gather continued support to fund the film’s unexpectedly lucrative outreach.
Though the campaign did not receive all of the funding it hoped for, it rapidly expanded the network of Going Blind fans. “We wanted to raise money, but we also thought it was a wonderful opportunity for getting the word out on a grassroots level,” Lovett said. The film’s immediate future includes distribution to 300 public television networks throughout the U.S., along with continued licensing to educational institutions.
Other Successful Campaigns:
Epiphany Eyewear: Social Video Sharing Glasses, Electric Powered Sunglasses (Design)
Call to action: “Record your point of view as video and share socially on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.”
Polar Vision (Health)
Call to action: “World record setting trek to the South Pole by a visually impaired person to raise awareness for sight issues.”
Two Blind to Ride (Film)
Call to action: “Documentary about two blind people tandem biking the Americas—from Argentina to Alaska!”
Driving Blind (Film)
Call to action: “Limited sight, unlimited vision. All net proceeds from the film will go to the Lions Club and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) who raise money for the blind.”
Bamboo Eyewear by Corvus Fittings (Small Business)
Call to action: “Style and Sustainability: Corvus Eyewear is made from bamboo and we're here to help better the fashion world and the whole world.”
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