In the midst of holiday package arrivals at my house, I recently found an unexpected one: a 12-pack of sweetened sparkling water that I had crowdfunded almost two years ago (and nearly forgotten about).
How could I forget, I ask myself? This is no ordinary fizzy drink. This is pure nostalgia in a bottle; a beautiful, light-blue, tear-drop shaped glass bottle containing the sweet nectar of my youth: Clearly Canadian. When I was young and was allowed to pick a drink when we’d stop at the gas station, I always reached for Clearly Canadian (usually the Mountain Blackberry flavor). It was the best.
At some point in the early 2000s, it was gone. (The company launched in 1987, and was also responsible for a wacky space-age drink of the late 1990s: Orbitz, which resembled a lava lamp complete with gelatinous floating blobs, and was only on the market for about a year.)
Alas, I moved on with my life and mostly forgot about the clear soda beverage, until May of 2015, when suddenly, there it was in my Facebook newsfeed: Clearly Canadian was coming back to life! And I could help through crowdfunding!
I had only crowdfunded one other thing (if you’ve seen the Veronica Mars movie, you’re welcome); and it was such a fun experience to see that come to fruition, and to realize I had a teeny, tiny part in making it happen.
Crowdfunding is still a fairly young concept. It has been around since about 2008 and emerged as a response to banks lending less to artists and entertainers in the wake of the economic recession, according to a World Bank report from 2013. It has expanded far past entertainment, however, and the World Bank report notes that by 2025, the potential for crowdfunding investment is $96 billion a year.
And in Indiana, rules passed in 2014 allow Hoosier entrepreneurs to raise up to $2 million, and investors to invest up to $5,000 per company (the JOBS Act of 2012 dealt with federal rules for crowdfunding).
Of course, there are risks associated with crowdfunding. As an investor, sometimes things don’t go smoothly and you risk the company or product not being executed. That was definitely the case for Clearly Canadian. Expected delivery dates (September 2015, then October 2015, then November 2015) came and went. Email updates mostly stopped. Apparently there were problems with vendors and at one point the production facility shut down in the middle of a production run.
Early in 2016 there was an update, but again, nothing happened. I basically thought I’d lost my $30 (the base-line contribution for this campaign was around $30 for a 12-pack). C’est la vie.
Until earlier this week, when I received a shipment on my doorstep. I’m not ashamed to admit there was squealing and dancing on my part. I am slightly ashamed to admit the first thing I did was take a photo of my prized possession and post it on Facebook to make my fellow ’90s friends jealous. It worked, they were jealous (except for the one that also participated in the campaign. We did a virtual “cheers” with our drinks).
Do you crowdsource? Has it all gone smoothly? Share your stories! I’m interested to hear your experiences, too.