The Value of Raising Money
Eighteen months ago, NYTechWomen Founder Jenn Shaw raised over $28,000 to launch Bella Minds in a Plum Alley campaign. The goal of Bella Minds was to create a women-only educational environment that bridges the digital divide and gives women the resources to succeed in the new economy.
Boasting 272 backers, and raising 14% more than her $25,000 goal, Shaw succeeded. She used the money to bring technological education to ten mid-career women in Nebraska. Since running her successful pilot program, Shaw’s plans have evolved. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Shaw is using this experience in creative ways to do more.
After her beta Bella Minds program in Alliance, NE, Shaw realized she needed more data on her customer and embarked upon field research in Kansas in order to better understand the needs and technology uses of the women she wanted to help. As with all early stage ventures, an entrepreneur needs to co-create their product with their ultimate user. As a direct result of her research, Shaw developed the Mastermind Program, with the intention to replicate it for mid-career women in all 50-states.
Mastermind classes are a “cross between a networking event and a class” that join women together under such themes as “Finish It Friday” and “Money Monday.” Twice a week for four weeks, eight women share their skills and experience over coffee to help each other out. It is too early to assess the impact of the sessions, but so far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Shaw believes the money she raised in her crowdfunding campaign on Plum Alley enabled her to more forward with her dream. Her successful campaign provided market validation of her idea, engagement with her customer, and real life experience in starting a venture.
Shaw is an exemplary entrepreneur: she affects real change and never stops dreaming. When a woman pursues her vision, and raises money to more forward, she inspires others. Jenn Shaw has certainly inspired us.