Willow leveraged its prior venture capital raising to bolster its community raise. “We had conversations with VC firms prior to launching our campaign and after it as well. Overall, the impression they have of equity crowdfunding is pretty positive,” Mike explains. “We did crowdfunding to extend a pre-existing funding round, and so we had already done comprehensive due diligence with a third party. And that thorough, deep due diligence process provided confidence and reassurance to VCs. Part of the beauty of crowdfunding is also the third party validation aspect, the fact that we could prove we had shown our idea to a larger audience and they bought into our vision was a powerful message.”
The materials Willow developed through its VC fundraise allowed the team to better activate the existing FrontFundr community and show validation from “smart money.” This didn’t mean its raise didn’t come with challenges though. “Sustained momentum can be difficult to maintain,” Arsh says. “With a crowdfunding campaign there is always a lull in the middle, so it’s important not to panic, to keep going, to stay on course.” Mike added that they, “found a lot of people wanted to wait until the end to invest. People were curious, we had good traction, but we needed to be patient too. When you launch your campaign it’s a very public reveal of what your working on, it’s very personal. There is a certain sense of anticipation about how people will receive your idea. But if you’re not willing to put yourself out there, if you’re not willing to pitch the idea to your friends, your family, or your friends of friends, you should also question whether you should even be doing this in the first place. But overall a cool and energizing experience.”
Helping these challenges was the FrontFundr support team. “FrontFundr did a great job with its marketing and overall support. Very active and engaged team. Happy and eager to help us along and provide expertise. That was a major value add,” which ultimately helped Willow better engage the FrontFundr community and add hundreds of engaged people to Willow who would otherwise not have been there.