Class Gives New Biz Owners Crowdfunding Kickstart

Jun 11, 2015

Crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe exchange money from small investors to small businesses over the Internet.
Credit Steven Depolo Via Flikr

With the new legislation passed this year, crowdfunding is taking another step forward. The University of West Florida and the Florida Small Business Development Center are working to help new business leaders learn to harness the power of the people.

For the Florida Small Business Development Center in Panama City Thursday, one thing is on its mind: raising large sums of money for a business through supporters via the Internet. Crowdfunding on websites like Kickstarter, RocketHub, or GoFundMe have helped jumpstart businesses and charity causes alike. In the UWF information program, “Crowdfunding For Your Business,” Business Consultant and Instructor Len Eichler hopes to connect entrepreneurs with the right crowdfunding for their business.

“I think the crowdfunding – the Internet crowdfunding – is an idea whose time has come," Eichler says.  "I think small individual investors want to be able to get into the marketplace, and see exciting companies that are just starting up and be a part of that.”

Eichler says crowdfunding can give businesses more options and more flexibility. He adds banks have limitations that smaller investors might not.

“While banks are great partners for small businesses, banks are limited on what they can do, and in some cases, there are some kinds of projects that banks just really can’t loan money against,” Eichler says. “And so in those particular cases the only other option that a small business has is to try to raise money.”

Eichler says crowdfunding isn’t a new phenomenon, but new laws are making it easier than ever before.

The Florida Intrastate Crowdfunding bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. It allows people across the state to invest in Florida businesses through crowdfunding platforms without federal registration.  

The UWF program is one of many hosted by the Florida Small Business Development Center. Different instructors cover a variety of topics throughout the year including, inventing, social media and business start-ups.