This story actually starts at the end of another story. A point in a business where the founder decided enough was enough. He’d had enough no’s:
However, the founder of Happy Cow Milk Company, Glen, got a response he didn’t expect. His crowd wouldn’t let his business die. He had a crowd of people come around him to offer support, and try and talk him into crowdfunding.
He wrote this Spinoff article “I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed.“ about the experience. But he ended with:
And then my fatal flaw emerged. The one that got me past all those early ‘no’s and sustained me through four years of hard graft – my relentless optimism. So 24 hours later, I was back on Facebook, sketching out ideas on how Happy Cow V.2 might work. Change is hard. You have to climb over a lot of ‘no’s to get there. But this story might not be quite over. If you would like to help our cause, please consider signing up for updates at happycowmilk.co.nz.
And sign up for updates they did. With the support of his 467 Patreon fans, he decided to spend a year really solidifying the technology and patents he needed to make true change in the dairy industry. With $3,694 in funding coming through from them monthly, he had the breathing space to create a plan.
Fast forward 18 months, and Glen raised $400,000 of investment in eight hours of going to the public. This is how he did it.
- His crowd supported him. They pledged to a Patreon to get him through. They joined his advisory board. They provided skills and space.
- He communicated with them regularly – through his newsletters, traditional media and social media.
- He put together a plan, and started delivering it. Glen first contacted us in 2015, but it was only 2 months before his campaign launched that we started preparing his campaign in earnest. We took him through our CrowdfundingU programme, which includes support drafting the offer documentation, video scripts, and opportunities to pitch to a crowd of people that knew him (and didn’t). And, he brought his crowd on board to help deliver the campaign – from engineering support, to comms, to governance.
So while Glen managed the awesome feat of raising $400,000 of investment through equity crowdfunding in eight hours of going to the public (or 30 hours if you count the time that his crowd had to privately pledge), it’s really over four years of work iterating his model, 18 months of keeping his crowd updated while he pivoted, and then a lead-in campaign to fully prepare his documentation and communications plan before the launch.
Here are the three things we learned from the Happy Cow campaign:
- Don’t just launch your campaign into the world and expect your crowd to come. Start building your crowd of friends and fans now. A successful campaign needs a good team. Regina Speer; design, Kris Herbert; copywriting, Marcia Butterworth; marketing Stephen Morgan; financial analysis, Brockden Barr; website. & obviously the Narrative team.
- Be ok with admitting the things that haven’t worked out. Things seem to have gotten easier for Glen when he admitted he was having A Hard Time. His crowd had seen all the work he was doing, and when he was in need they responded. They sent messages, they subscribed to his Patreon, and they rolled up their sleeves – including a team of experts who helped refine his messaging and plans.
- Have a good communications plan in place and find different channels to build your crowd. Glen wrote columns for Stuff monthly ranging from opinions on dairy farming to environmental regulation, sent updates out to his crowd through his regular newsletter, and was good at hitting the pavement and just chatting to people about his plans.
Glen had the support of a dedicated team throughout the process which also helped him prepare a comms plan which drafted out posts from the announcement of the campaign until its end. They had a plan for almost every day, which included the date, the theme, the content, and image suggestions. The plan was broken out between drafted posts (highlighted red if not yet approved, green once approved) and at the end all the published posts (which were moved after posted).
Here’s an example:
Glen’s team of support was wider than the Happy Cow Milk crew – it was friends, family, peers and general members of the public who really loved the concept.
Want to learn more about equity crowdfunding? Get in touch, or check out our Education guide.
Visit https://happycowmilk.co.nz/ to check out a kinder way of dairying in Aotearoa and to join the moooovement.