My company, Emmy's Organics is three years old. I started it with my life and business partner, Ian Gaffney. We make and manufacture gluten free and vegan snacks and desserts. We literally have grown Emmy's from the ground up, starting in Ian's mother's home kitchen and now working out of our own manufacturing facility in Ithaca, NY. After making use of the first small business loan we took out from our local credit union, we decided to launch a crowd-funding campaign through a donation-based website. We raised $15,000 in 30 days. Over the next 11 months, we used that capital to hire a designer and create custom packaging that was pre-printed and also compostable (our company uses almost no plastic in all of our packaging). We launched our new packaging in December 2011 and in that short time, we have seen a 150% increase in our sales, our products are now available in 1,000 stores and our company has grown from four to seven full time employees. Truly a success.
The best part of crowdfunding was the experience of our local community supporting us. We have always been and continue to be very community-based. We are proud to label our business as "made in Ithaca, NY" and we use as many local resources as possible. It was such an acknowledgement to us that our fans and neighbors were willing to contribute their dollars to take our business to the next level.
Earlier this month I had the honor of attending President Obama’s signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. As I write that, I almost cannot believe it. I would have never thought, back when I started my company that I would be recognized by the White House as an entrepreneur and asked to be a part of history. As I am twenty-five years old, you can probably guess that I have never owned or operated a business before this one. This experience continues to teach me lessons as I continue to grow and develop myself alongside my business. Being at the White House and having the opportunity to speak with government officials, members of Congress, and successful entrepreneurs was a reminder that truly anything is possible.
Both in the immediate and longer term, the JOBS Act opens new possibilities for the future growth of our business. With its emphasis on crowdfunding as a way to raise capital – not just donations but for the first time true investments -- I am excited for other businesses to have that same experience.
Learn more about the JOBS Act: