Turning a vision into a reality with PledgeMe

Matt Pryor
December 21, 2023
In the world of business, the hīkoi of turning a vision into a reality is often paved with challenges and moments of inspiration. For Natalie, the founder of Seasick Sunscreen, this journey was marked by a significant milestone: a successful crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMe.

PledgeMe, a Kiwi crowdfunding platform established in 2015, has been a catalyst for businesses aiming to raise capital from their community—be it friends, whānau, customers, or fans. Recently, Whāriki partnered with PledgeMe to extend its support to more pakihi Māori to use 'Tā Koha', encouraging them to leverage the platform to grow their pakihi.

Natalie, driven by a passion to expand her popular product, seized the opportunity and embarked on her crowd funding endeavour with PledgeMe. Reflecting on her experience, she shares insights into her journey and the lessons learned along the way.

"Running a crowdfunding campaign with PledgeMe was a dream I nurtured even before launching SeasickSunscreen," Natalie shares. "Attending the PledgeMe founders' events in collaboration with The Ākina Foundation in my hometown of Pōneke Wellington, fuelled my inspiration, introducing me to remarkable speakers like Oli from Wā Collective."

She recounts the pivotal pātai that lingered in her mind: When is the right time to initiate a crowdfunding campaign? Her answer unexpectedly emerged through a social media post by Anna on PledgeMe's Instagram, affirming that the time is 'now.' The encouragement clicked, further fuelled by the tautoko from her mentor, Saara Tawha, now part of the PledgeMe team.

With determination, Natalie meticulously prepared for her campaign. Engaging in Q&A sessions, listening to PledgeMe's advice, and studying successful campaigns became her routine."Planning was key," she emphasises. "I dedicated months to strategising, ensuring everything was ready for a successful launch. It's crucial because once the campaign begins, things get hectic. Having everything in place is a game-changer."

Natalie also took PledgeMe's advice on 'warming up' her audience—informing and involving her circle well in advance. "Building anticipation and seeking feedback early made a significant difference," she says. "When I finally made the funding request, it wasn't out of the blue. They were already on board, primed for the cause."

The unexpected happened—Natalie achieved her target 10 days ahead of schedule. "It was a thrilling moment, albeit unprepared for," she admits. While she fell short of her stretch goal, the experience was transformative.

Post-campaign, there was an avalanche of mahi—reward fulfilment and business scaling per the commitments made to backers. "Outsourcing manufacturing was a pivotal step," Natalie beams. "We've hit milestones, producing our first 100kg of sunscreen, and projections indicate 350kg by summer's end—an achievement we're proud of!"

Natalie's journey through PledgeMe reflects power of community support and strategic planning. Her success stands as a testament to the platform's capacity to empower passionate entrepreneurs in realising their dreams.

As Seasick Sunscreen continues to grow and make waves, Natalie's story remains an inspiration for aspiring kai pakihi navigating crowdfunding and business expansion.

Whāriki held an online hui to give pakihi some more information about crowdfunding. You can watch the recording from the hui here.

Behind the scenes of Nat's new and improved production.
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