WeDo Honor Their Service: Army Veterans Turn to Crowdfunding to Start Small Business

After almost a decade of military service including a stint in Desert Storm, Sean Natale had his fill of commands, or so he thought. The army veteran now takes orders from consumers along Florida’s gulf coast who want him and his partner to do something with the furniture and household items they can no longer use.

Along with Stephen Hampton, a local army reservist, Natale started his own business at the beginning of the year. WeDo, based in St. Petersburg, does much of everything that taps into the founders’ passion for working with their hands to restore furniture pieces into a recycled condition that makes them useful and, just as important, keeps them out of landfills.

But, like others who start most any small business, the army veterans found themselves on the short side of funds to make their concept work. Rejected by banks and lacking a history of credit, Natale and Hampton refused to throw up their hands and give up. When Natale started reading up on crowdfunding as an alternative source for start-up revenue, he landed on YouHelp.com.

Because furniture is a slow-moving inventory and repurposing recyclable household goods can take up space in both housing and transport, Natale hopes his crowdfunding campaign 2 U.S. Army Vets Need You !! will provide the funds that the army vets need to purchase a truck and additional tools, equipment and supplies to make their business thrive.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of YouHelp, said the free crowdfunding site offers a platform for veterans who have run into financial difficulties to get the assistance they need to live out their dreams when their military service has been completed. For the founders of WeDo, that means overcoming the most challenging aspects of getting a small business off the ground.

Natale said, the seed for restoring furniture was planted in him at an early age, when he would watch his father strip and retain old rocking chairs. But his fervor for “watching old paint fall off” and working with his hands didn’t begin to materialize until after he left the military and bounced around as a restaurant manager.

“We were both pretty good at working with our hands, enjoyed it and owning our own business is better than working for someone else,” said Natale, who is both surprised and sometimes annoyed at what people are willing to discard.

On any given day, Natale said, he stumbles on antiques like an armoire hand-built in 1900, which, after three hours of labor, he can transform into an item of furniture worth $250.

“If I had room, I could get to 70 of these pieces,” he said.

But, with each potential restoration, he also sees plenty of lost opportunities.

“I watch the recycling bin behind my house,” said the former radio communications specialist, who learned the value of recycling during a military tour in Europe. “I see people walk by and put plastic bottles that could be recycled into the dumpster. It irritates me. You don’t have to throw things away.”

YouHelp.com, a free fundraising website, offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, veterans, and individuals seeking to raise money and awareness about start-up initiatives. The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add high resolution images and a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and the campaign is promoted properly, contributors will pledge their support.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for YouHelp

Sources:

www.youhelp.com/2-us-army-vets-need-you

MEOW is Time to Start Crowdfunding Campaign, Says Arizona’s First Cat Cafe Owner

For just 10 dollars, patrons of the newest lounges in Tempe won’t be offered food or drinks, but can spend an hour playing with “Moonchi,” “Drew Berry” or the dozen or so other cats at La Gattara.

Arizona’s first cat café, which provides customers with a place to hang out with cats or shop for furry-themed merchandise, opened late last year with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. Now, the owner of La Gattara – or crazy cat lady in Italian – is out to raise $10,000 through crowdfunding to comply with local building codes which require a wall to separate the cats and boutique.

Small Business Start-Up Cat Cafe

Melissa Pruit said she fell upon the idea for a cat café after 20 years in apartment management where she would find strays or cats that former tenants had left behind. Instead of relying on just her money to care for the cats, Pruitt raised $18,000 in her first crowdfunding campaign in 2016, enough to open La Gattara.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform YouHelp.com, said crowdfunding can provide enough money to overcome the most challenging aspects of getting a small business off the ground. Small businesses can take advantage of a crowdfunding campaign to solicit funds directly from their customer base. To serious-minded entrepreneurs, who are willing to invest their time to secure support, she suggested these simple tips to consider while developing a YouHelp campaign:

  • Only one-third of all crowdfunding campaigns succeed; so be prepared to learn from past mistakes and try again;
  • By creating a more urgent need, shorter crowdfunding campaigns are likelier to achieve goals;
  • Set realistic goals to crowdfund for only the amount of money that is required of the project.

Pruitt said because she is good with business, people and animals, the cat café was the purr-fect fit for a career change. She said her small business saves the lives of hundreds of cats that might otherwise been euthanized.

Cat cafés got their start in Taiwan in 1998, and spread to Japan, where many residents live in apartments that don’t allow pets. These alternative coffee shops that permit felines to roam about the dining area have now popped up across the United States and Canada. Most of the cafes also serve as adoption centers.

And some including Community SEEDS will try crowdfunding to get these unique businesses started. The Washington-based nonprofit devoted to enhancing the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, hopes to rally support through crowdfunding to open a cat café in Yakima, considered the first of its kind east of the Cascade mountain range.

Community SEEDS, which received $75,000 in start-up funds from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services believes the proposed café will not only encourage adoptions at local pet shelters, but also provide jobs to deserving adults with disabilities.

YouHelp.com, a free fundraising website, offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals seeking to generate revenue and awareness for capital building campaigns. The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add high resolution images and a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and the campaign is promoted properly, contributors will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer at YouHelp.com

Sources: