You only have to say the words “start-up” to your mom and dad’s blank faces to know that the business world has changed quite a bit since they were young professionals.
For many millennials, the shifting markets and changing economy can be a scary time – but it can also be an exhilarating era for those who aren’t afraid to opt for an unconventional route to success.
There are plenty of ways prospective entrepreneurs can fund their own businesses, whether it’s a grant, an incubator, or simply the bank of mom and dad.
But one of the growing trends, for better or worse, is crowdfunding. But what if they could fund not only your businesses, but our vacations too?
FundMyTravel is the latest online crowdfunding website. Like other sites it offers a platform for raising money, but unlike others, it offers to “fund meaningful travel experiences.” Which is all well and good, but a little open to interpretation.
Sure, volunteering at a nursery in Thailand might constitute “meaningful” in plenty of people’s book. But so too could raising enough cash to take your mother, who hasn’t been on vacation in over a decade, on a trip to Europe.
And with optimistic campaign titles like “Help me help the world” and “My Exchange Is Only The Beginning Of This Adventure,” it seems like everyone’s got their own reason why a stranger on the internet should put their hands into their pockets and help them reach their goal.
Can’t afford to go on holiday this year? Never fear, there are plenty of donors out there who are just waiting to facilitate a meaningful trip to Cuba.
It does sound pretty amazing. Who wouldn’t want a donation (which you receive immediately, not just if you reach your goal) for that safari you’ve always fancied taking in South Africa? Of course, the site takes five per cent – but it is essentially FREE money, so we’ll let that one slide.
“In our conversations with people who want to study, intern, volunteer, or just travel abroad, many have told us that cost is a barrier. FundMyTravel makes it easy to budget for your trip, incentivize donors to contribute, and even request offline support. We believe in the power of travel and want to make it possible for anyone to take the trip of their dreams!” says the site.
In theory, crowdfunding is a great way to raise some capital when you have a million dollar idea – without a million dollars. If you could only explain to people (preferably ones with plenty of money) how great your idea is and that if it had some revenue behind it for production, the product would practically sell itself.
Enter Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo and countless other websites that allow you to exhibit your genius idea to the good people of the Internet. Then when you’ve raised enough and get down to business, you can repay the favour by offering people the finished article.
Simple. Or is it? Products like Laser Razor have raised large sums of money on crowdfunding sites ($4 million to be precise) without ever having a working prototype. Others, which received funding and mass produced their wares, proved to be a complete scam, like the CrystalWash 2.0 laundry balls.
Other donors simply never received their products despite pledging money to a campaign that reached its target.
It’s one thing to seek unique ways to gain financial support when you’re looking to get your business off the ground – but making promises you can’t keep is wrong, no matter how out-of-sight-out-of-mind those internet donors are.
And even when it’s all plain sailing, is it OK to put our hands out for money just because we can? Or is this all part of the millennial entitlement we hear so much about?
“I have a dream – give me money to help me turn it into a reality.” When do we stop being a savvy would-be entrepreneur (or vacationer) and become Kanye West – a crazy person begging for money on the internet?
Of course you should turn to others for help and support when you’re trying to build something amazing. But isn’t that what friends and family are for? Enlisting the help of strangers simply because we think we deserve something – without the sweat, blood and tears to show for it – sounds dangerously like charity.