I was about six months into developing Sponsorist.com, an online marketplace where businesses can buy and sell sponsorships from one another, when I realized I needed about $10,000 to get beyond the beta version.
I tried talking to my local bank but because I didn't have any sales, it wasn't willing to help. Then I remembered meeting members of Peerbackers.com at a tech event a year earlier. So last summer, I began to put together a pitch including how I planned to grow and brand Sponsorist.com.
Peerbackers is a lot like Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site where you post your project and, in turn, friends and complete strangers can contribute money to help you grow your business.
So I posted information about Sponsorist and started to spread the word through e-mail and Twitter to anyone I could think of. Peerbackers.com posted my project details on its homepage, which attracted even more traffic.
Eventually, a total of 15 people agreed to back my site -- two of which I had never even met -- helping me raise $2,500, a quarter of my goal, in just eight weeks. I'm sure I annoyed a bunch of people by asking them for money but crowdfunding really worked for me. I was able to pay a developer to add just enough functionality to create a beta version. In return, Peerbackers.com took a 5% cut of the money I raised, and I sent my project backers T-shirts as thank-yous.
Some small business owners say they're hiring but they can't find employees.
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