What happens when two women who spent their entire careers focused on micro-finance and assisting start-ups, decide to start a venture that will help women fund new businesses? They create a business called ‘Moola-Hoop.’
Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes first met while working at IBM in the 1980s. They each went on to different career paths but both were always involved with small businesses through non-profits or education.
Although Brenda lived in Dallas and Nancy in San Francisco, the two stayed in touch and began to talk about a business that funds women-owned ventures. Working with a software company, they developed the platform needed to create a crowd-funding site to do just that. Brenda and Nancy are targeting women who need between $5,000 and $50,000.
Using a play on the words ‘money and hoop, they named the new venture Moola-Hoop.
“We started a month ago—now the word spreading and women are reaching out to us,” says Brenda.
The first step is when Brenda and Nancy help women entrepreneurs define their business project. Then, they create videos, choose photos and develop detailed descriptions about their businesses on www.moola-hoop.com.
While any type of business can use this source of funding, a large percentage of the women who work with them are in food or fashion. Each project includes an outline of non-monetary “rewards” the contributors can choose from at each level of support.
Brenda and Nancy work with the client to create the hierarchy of the reward scale. Let’s say a project needs $5,000 to build a web site.
Rewards could be structured like this: “Donate $25 to this venture and get a personal letter of thanks from the founder,” or “Donate $50 and get a t-shirt.” “Donate $100 and get tickets to the launch party.”
The possibilities are endless for what the rewards could be – a book, a t-shirt, the product, a phone call, lunch with the woman entrepreneur.
Unlike other crowd-funding sites, Moola-Hoop sets a half-way point that allows for funding. The more interesting the woman’s story is, the better. The number of followers a potential client has in the traditional social media channels, plays a big part in whether or not the founders feel the campaign will succeed.
“Because we expect 40% of the funding to come from the woman’s own network of people, we need to see an interesting story to sell and a strong platform that they can work from,” said Nancy. “ Once we craft the request, we help them put it out to their network.”
Brenda and Nancy then push out the request to the Moola-Hoop network they have created for potential funding.
Brenda and Nancy have had years of experience with micro financing and are adept at creating the basics of a request. Moola-Hoop takes a small percentage of the capital raised once the project is funded.
“We spend a lot of time in crafting the request, from the description, the creation of the reward scale, a video of the woman explaining her capital needs, an email campaign to a social media plan,” said Brenda. “That’s the most fun.”