Our Crowdfunding Story So Far
For those of you who don't know us, we are My VIP Card, we won SBS last weekend,
We are the UK's fastest growing discount scheme, and we offer free advertising to any small businesses who can offer a discount on their rodict or service.
We are crowdfunding so that we can continue to support the small businesses we work with , we are struggling like lots due to cash flow so we are doing reward based crowdfunding to get some money in to help whilst people can't get out to the pysical places we help.
here is our story so far….
There are thousands of parents trying to work at home with their kids at the moment ,
I am sure that most people are finding a great level of work life balance I am not one of them
But muggins here decided that on top of solo parenting two under 5’s and running a business single handed that she would also attempt to crowdfund at the same time. My husband is a key worker so not around during the day at all
Crowdfunding isn’t for the weak at the best of times, it is a brutal emotional roller coaster and bloody tough!
And I decided to do it in lockdown whist attempting to “home school” my 4 year old and somehow manage to look after a screaming teething one year old!
So I thought I would give you a window into my world! Some of it is pretty funny!
And some pretty dark!
So I have been running my business pretty successfully for the last 2.5 years, we are a discount scheme that help people to save money when they shop local and support small businesses , I set the business up after suffering with post natal psychosis which is a very horrible condition where you think and sometimes want to kill your child. Genuinely the most horrific thing I have been through, and it took lots of counselling and mental health support to get me back on the right path.
My counsellor suggested that I started to connect with my community more and I set up the Southampton parenting forum, it was a safe space for parents to connect and arrange meet ups etc.
One day I arranged a meet up for the group, with a discount and realised how much connecting with the community had helped me.
So I decided to set up a discount scheme that helps people to shop local.
The more I worked towards it, the more I loved helping small businesses and it actually became what I am all about.
So when lock down happened for me, I instantly knew it would be hard. I am not one for staying home with the kids,
We are always out and about doing stuff and getting discount , I only ever go to places that offer My VIP Card discount, but there are so many we are never stuck.
But for me it’s about showing I am there for the small businesses I work with.
I only use My VIP Card businesses for my services , or people who use My VIP rewards for their employee or member benefits , because I want to support all my people.
So when I realised that I wasn’t going to have an income from card sales anymore and no way to support my businesses I work with and pay my bills I panicked.
What the hell was I going to do? I called the bank, they turned me down for a loan flat out! And said I would need to apply for the corona virus interruption loan.
That was 4 weeks ago, and despite chasing several times, still nothing, I started wracking my brain as to how I could raise the money to pay my businesses , and nothing! Serious stress!
Yes I “could” not pay them, but it’s not in my nature or my ethics!! These people are not just small businesses they are also my friends, when you work so closely with people you get to know them, and I was not about to let them down.
So I decided to crowdfund, so I could pay all of my small business suppliers, and also so I could continue to offer them free advertising moving forward. We have never wanted to charge people to advertise because they offer a discount. I wasn’t about to start.
I wrote my crowdfunding page over the weekend when my husband was home to look after the kids, he is a keyworker and not around during the week, which is partly why I struggle.
I also did it hungover from virtual pub the night before!
It took sooo long to add all the rewards kindly donated by our wonderful business partners! We actually had too many donated! Which was lovely!
That took a day in itself, I didn’t realise how time consuming crowdfunding would be.
I have an incredibly active and engaged network, and lots of friends , family and acquaintances but it’s still be hard. Which is why I said it’s not for the faint hearted.
So many people have sent me nasty messages, made snide comments about why am I different to anyone else.
I didn’t have to defend myself to those people but I felt like I had to. It was upsetting and really got me down at times, but I have never been anything other than honest about why I am crowdfunding, I am doing it to help small businesses, I am doing it to help my business which does so much for the community.
But still that wasn’t good enough for some people, and I even had a message from someone telling me I had to donate it all
To charity , they clearly don’t know me! Last year we donated thousands of pounds to charity, over 3k was donated in raffle prizes for school fete and charity fundraisers, and for every employee benefit sale we ask our clients which charity they want us to donate to.
The range of emotions this week has been mental, I have been happy, sad, angry, scared, elated , joyful, thankful, grateful , jealous , loved , mental (not sure if that is an emotion but throwing it in!)
So with all this going on , the last week of “home schooling” has given us the ofstead rating of piss poor! We have done some crafting, kinetic sand, drawing, and walks , which is pretty much it.
But hey it’s confusing for a 4 year old suddenly having to do work at home. And it’s even harder for a mum who is trying to run a business and has been stupid enough to crowdfund at the same time!
My typical day involves being woken by the kids at 5am every day, James gets up and gives them breakfast and gets them dressed while I either attempt to go back to sleep, or so some work. Usually work, then shower and go downstairs to take over so he goes to work. By which time he has also usually cleaned the kitchen and put some washing on. I am incredibly lucky to have him, I would have definitely had a breakdown by now if he didn’t do what he does for me!
I then try and do some sort of activity with the kids, something so I don’t have the mummy guilt. We have made to pretty epic things during lock down!
A car park for Ben’s cars out of Dominoes pizza boxes and toilet roll, we only had two toilet rolls so I had to use the inside of Christmas crackers which I thought was pretty genius!
We made a sheep out of cotton wool and black felt,
We did a collage with lolly pop sticks,
We made monsters out of yogurt pots
We painted rainbows
We made a rocket
Those were all weeks before I started crowdfunding! Since crowdfunding started I have been close to sacking myself as a teacher , I cant be everything right? I’m not superwoman
Mum is hard enough, wife just about managing, business owner hmmm flailing a bit, friend? I am just so lucky my friends get that I busy and juggling so much.
If I can have a phone call without Ben jumping on me or Harriet screaming at me it’s a win,
I just had a call from the lovely Coral at Hampshire chamber for a catch up and I ended up crying on her! Luckily she was super understanding bless her!
But it’s hard, having two kids under 5 is hard at the best of times, but Ben misses his friends, Harriet is a danger baby and is definitely intent on killing herself during lock down, she has even tried to jump off the coffee table, she is sooooo ready for soft play!! Bloody lock down! My living room is basically now a soft play! But with wine! So I will take that!
I have always said soft plays need wine!
Anyway so just over a week in, we have hit £3,672 on our Crowdfunder , we have £328 left to raise to hit target.
We are still waiting to hear about matched funding from Solent Lep I am not massively hopeful on that front now, so we need to get to target on our own!
It’s pay day tomorrow and I am hoping it will pick up.
We have come so far and to lose it all now would be so sad. We NEED to get to target.
Which is why I am giving you all this insight into how much work I am doing and how stressful it all is in hope you may just donate £1
If everyone I know donated £1 it would get us to target!
On top of crowdfunding I am about to launch a new product , Cards for Key workers , which is a version of My VIP Card for key workers, the ones who don’t get the recognition , and it’s going to be a permanent feature in our shop with a 30% donation to the NHS from all sales.
We are actually going to launch it on payday through the Crowdfunder! Where people can buy for a key worker they want to reward! Or key workers can buy for themselves, or employers can buy for their staff! Hoping it will be really popular, and will help us to get to target!
The rewards claimed through Crowdfunder we will be donating £5 to Hampshire air ambulance specifically! They do such good work and are an amazing local charity.
On average I have 2-4 meetings a day, one networking and look after the kids at the same time. My work life balance is seriously non existent!
By the time James gets home I am so frazzled , and I still have lots of work to do , training to give my business partners, and meetings with new businesses, I have to approve listings for new companies joining and keep the app up to date.
I am still working on two huge projects which are launching shortly , but we need to get to this target or we don’t get the money!
I am networking to raise awareness of free advertising to see if we can help as many people as possible,
Yesterday was hilarious as Ben decided to walk in half naked on my zoom networking and flash everyone his winky!! You can’t make this stuff up!!
I think my highlights from this last week have to be a local company donating £500 to our cause, a lovely lady who is just amazing who didn’t want to be named , but Is genuinely my hero!
I had a mystery donation through my door of £250 from an anonymous donor!
And my best friends donating serious amounts of money to help me out.
I honestly feel so much love, from everyone, and the messages I have received are just so heartfelt , this by far out weight the nasty messages I have had.
I am not in a bad situation, I don’t have to risk my life to save others, I am not on the front line helping, like the amazing keyworkers of our country.
We are all in this together but everyone’s storm is different.
I wouldn’t change my storm for the world. I love my kids even though they drive me to distraction, I love my husband even if I don’t have much time for him at the moment, I know I will.
I love my business and I am fighting to make sure it’s here after all of this.
So I have to do what I am doing right now.
And I need your help.
If any of what I have written has resonated with you I just ask for £1 towards our cause.
I can’t continue to help support small businesses if I am not around.
If I don’t have my business I lose not only my income stream, but also my life line.
My business saved my life. I was in such a horrendous place before I started it and it gave me purpose.
So please help to support us.
And give this frazzled mum some time back to improve her Ofstead rating
And just a little bit of advice to anyone crowdfunding, if you can’t give it 100% then don’t do it! It’s a full time job and takes every last bit of strength you have.
It isn’t an easy way to make money, in fact it’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
But if you have it in you , wishing you the best of luck xx
Donate Here To Help My VIP Card