Lauren Beasley came to IFundWomen with an idea for a dance program for people with special needs - a concept she wanted to bring to life out in Nashville, TN. After successfully reaching the funding goal of her first campaign within 24 hours of launching, she knew she would be back to crowdfund again. Lauren put that first round of funding towards testing her idea, and after experiencing what a huge hit her first summer camp was, she was ready to come back to IFundWomen to raise even more capital in order to build out the very first studio for MOVE Inclusive Dance in Nashville. Spoiler alert: Not only did she reach her goal, she managed to secure Carrie Rezabek, the Founder of Pure Barre, as a $50K backer for her campaign - putting her over the funding finish line and helping her make her vision a reality. In an effort to pay Lauren’s success story forward, we reached out and asked her to share her journey.
What is MOVE Inclusive & why did you start this company?
MOVE Inclusive Dance is a dance program for individuals of all ages with special needs. We are based in Nashville, TN and later this month, we are opening our first studio! In this space we will offer year-round programming to our students. It’s the first of its kind in our area. I started MOVE because I knew there was a need for it. Dance transformed my life for the better and I wanted to share that same experience with a group of people who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
When did you know it was time to go out and raise money for your business?
When I realized you couldn’t become a verified non-profit for free, ha! My friend (and attorney - God bless her) suggested I do a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs. I remember thinking “Who would donate to me? I don’t even have a product yet!” In fact, at that point, I hadn’t even spent anytime with anyone with any type of special need. It was just something I felt lead to do. It was just an idea. After a coaching call with iFW and lots of brainstorming, I decided to set a goal of $5K to cover my start up costs and launch my program... and to my surprise, we hit the goal in just one day!
Why did you decide to crowdfund and how did you choose IFW?
iFW was a no brainer for me. I stumbled across them on Instagram a while back and loved their vibe. After looking into their website and everything they have to offer, I knew it was the right option!
What did that first round of funding through IFW enable you to do?
My first round of funding enabled me to put my idea into action and get the ball rolling. We had a lot of milestone moments in our first year and all of that was made possible by the funding I received from my first iFW campaign!
When/why did you decide to crowdfund a 2nd time?
I knew as soon as my first campaign was wrapping that I’d be back. I just wasn’t sure when. After we launched with our first summer camp, I knew it was time to take this full-time. It was then that I started making a plan to open our first studio, which meant I needed more funding. Way more this time.
What are some of the key strategies that led to your crowdfunding success?
Social media was key for me. In the months leading up to the campaign, start amping up your activity. Posts, stories, even replying to comments, DM’s, etc. These posts are not campaign-related. You just need to be actively using the app! Learn to work that #algorithm. Closer to time, start teasing the campaign. Once you launch, keep it up. Screenshot your campaign page each time you reach a funding milestone and post it to your story challenging your followers to get you to the next milestone. Tag people who make large contributions! This inspires followers to contribute more.
How did your second crowdfunding campaign lead to Carrie Dorr, Founder of Pure Barre, contributing $50K to your campaign?
About half-way through my second campaign, I hit a major plateau. I had been sending cold email after cold email to potential donors with little success for weeks. Carrie was at the top of my list but I hadn’t reached out yet. Honestly, I think I was just nervous. What if she doesn’t respond? How will that make me feel? Carrie has been my CEO-boss babe-idol for years now. I didn’t want to feel let down if it didn’t pan out. Then one day I woke up and realized you only have one shot in these moments. And sure, maybe she wouldn’t respond, but I’d never know unless I went for it. So I guessed her email address and hit send. The next day I received a response. I couldn’t believe it! Not only was she interested in what I was doing, but she asked me to come to Denver for a meeting to learn more about MOVE. And as they say, the rest is history! All of this absolutely would not have been possible without the help of my IFundWomen coach. Not only did she help me strategize and build out the campaign, but more importantly she gave me the confidence I needed to go out and get the funding!
Any advice for entrepreneurs who are thinking about or are currently crowdfunding on IFW?
Make a plan. Figure out what your idea looks like and how it will benefit the world. Then start talking to people in your community. Do they see a need for your idea? Are they interested in it? If so, it’s time to jump.
Set up a coaching call with IFW and take notes. They will provide you with so many tools and ideas you haven’t thought of yet! I can assure you of that.
When the going gets tough, think outside of the box. Who needs to know about your idea? Who would find interest in it? Hunt those people down and educate them on what you are doing.
It’s half strategy, half heart. The strategy and plan will land you the meeting. Your heart and passion will bring in the funds.
Thank you to Lauren for sharing her funding journey! You can check out her funded IFundWomen campaign here and learn more about her Nashville-based studio at moveinclusivedance.com.
Ready to utilize the IFundWomen coaching program like Lauren? Join our coaching program today.