Lack of funding is nothing new for many young entrepreneurs.
Without assets or experience, traditional funding sources are often out of reach.
As luck would have it, 23-year-old Sydney-based entrepreneur Ryan Wardell thinks he’s hit upon a solution. His company, Project PowerUp, pitches itself as “Australia’s first crowdfunding platform for startups and small businesses.”
Wardell even used Project PowerUp to crowdfund – you guessed it – Project PowerUp.
The businesses that came before
Despite being a pup, Wardell already has three businesses under his belt – the first two of which he launched while still at school. The third – a simplified student discount card that lost its distribution a week before O-week – taught Wardell “an awful lot about business.”
“I’ve applied a lot of those hard, expensive lessons learned to my current venture, Project PowerUp.”
“My first business put me on that path – I’ve still got that first $1 coin from my very first customer. My second business taught me about how to manage people and larger organisations. My third business taught me the most, because ultimately it didn’t work out.”
The ‘Eureka!’ moment
Inspiration for Project PowerUp came from Wardell’s brother, an independent filmmaker.
“At the same time, I was struggling to get a bank loan to start another business.”
“That’s when the ‘Eureka!’ moment happened.”
Wardell took the crowdfunding model that has been used successfully by the creative industry – including Australia’s own Pozible – and tweaked it to suit a different market segment.
The future of Project PowerUp
Project PowerUp had its self-launch back in late August, securing $2,985 in 30 days from 39 backers in order to complete the company’s website. In return, backers received anything from early access to Project PowerUp, to ‘Featured Project’ homepage placement, to $250 towards their first project.
So far Project PowerUp is feeling the love from both entrepreneurs and would-be investors.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Wardell says.
“Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met love the idea and tell me I’m onto something really big.”
“We haven’t taken external investment yet, but I have had some loose discussions with would-be investors and they are really keen on the idea – not just because it’s a viable business and they want a piece of the action, but also because Project PowerUp makes the process of finding and screening potential investments a lot easier for them.”
So who does Wardell recommend his latest venture to?
“The ideal [Project PowerUp] client is a young entrepreneur who wants to sell a physical product to consumers, and needs $5000-$25,000 to bring their product to market.”
“Entrepreneurs – especially young entrepreneurs, who lack assets and experience – really struggle to attract seed funding from traditional sources.”
“But the great thing about Project PowerUp is that people are constantly finding new ways to use the platform. I spoke to a cafe owner recently who wanted to raise money to get new tables and chairs in – he was willing to name an item on the menu after customers who pledged $1000 or more.”
“How cool is that?”