25 years ago when Melinda Clarke and her team began creating the very first illustrative map of Melbourne, the concept of online crowd funding was not a facility most could have imagined.
It was a time when the web browser Netscape Navigator was still in its infancy and Yahoo was something you shouted loudly in glee. Murmurings may have been heard about the enormous impact this Internet – a distributive, connected technology was expected to have on the world, but in 1994 the concept of using it to connect people across the globe for a unified goal of raising capital would have seemed like a radical idea.
By the time Melinda conceded that Melbourne’s explosive growth had been so vicarious during the 25 years since the creation of the first Melbourne map that a completely new map needed to be drawn from scratch, crowd funding for enterprising ideas was a common and well-trodden path.
Melinda was confident about the project but wondered if the project would arouse public interest and more importantly, would they dig into their pockets to raise the much-needed capital required to create a modern, exquisitely detailed, illustrative map Melbourne.
Melinda spent 18 months researching and filling her head with knowledge about how crowd funding worked. She attended courses and seminars, read books, listened to podcasts, audiobooks and subscribed to industry “gurus” spruiking their crowd funding expertise. She asked questions and even offered to buy them coffee so she could learn as much as possible from those who had already ventured successfully down the crowd-funding path.
The technology was developing and changing quicker than she was learning which meant everyone had something new and valuable to share with her. With forced bravado, a good dose of tentativeness and gritting of teeth, The Melbourne Map team launched a Pozible Crowd funding campaign on 3 April, 2017 with the goal of reaching $20K to get their project underway.
Melinda chose Pozible as the platform to launch her campaign as they were based in Melbourne and she appreciated their responsiveness to all her questions as she gained knowledge of the crowd funding landscape. “The fees were reasonable and they were constantly improving what they were doing and genuinely wanted to assist. In the end it was supporting an Australian company that felt like the best fit for our campaign” Melinda explains.
Melinda’s tentativeness quickly diminished as the campaign took off like wildfire. By Day 2 of the campaign Melinda felt confident that all their pre-campaign planning, learning and work had been worthwhile.
Melinda recollects the initial soft launch with family and friends the day before official launch huddled in a hired a room in a pub and showing the campaign video and talking about the plans, so that when the campaign officially started they already had early backers. They had a long list of people they then tirelessly emailed with links to the campaign and just kept working on these opportunities for the entire 31 days.
Putting into action all she had learnt, Melinda and her team created graphics for all their social media platforms. They were ready to tap into and remain relevant throughout all stages of the campaign. Despite the initial apathy from the press, they were quick to reach out once the public mass of support was evident, rewarding the team for the hundreds of information kits and press releases they had distributed. The Melbourne Age, The Herald Sun, National television stations and radio interviews further fueled support for the campaign.
The Campaign offered backers a PDF of the original 1991 map and different versions and quantities of our future Melbourne Map products – all offered at discounted prices. They also gave four people the opportunity to be drawn onto the map for and extra $500. These spots sold out on the first day and created a waiting list of people wanting to the opportunity to be etched into Melbourne’s history.
A corporate package was offered however the crowd funding style of capital raising was seen as too risky at the time for many corporates to consider. Once the project gained traction a corporate partner was secured and the rights to be included appropriately within the illustration.
Melinda was careful when planning the backer’s rewards, even costing out the exact minutes it would take to produce and deliver them. Melinda offers good advice to would be crowd-funders – to keep rewards simple and relevant to the campaign. “There is no point offering fantastic looking t-shirts if they cost a bomb to make and are a hassle to deliver”.
The campaign delivered $116,872 in 31 days and all involved were absolutely blown away by the response. Despite having spent 18 months researching crowd funding Melinda says the whole journey was a learning experience and extremely exhausting. Melinda attributes the support and expertise of her colleagues for getting her through it. Despite being a hugely successful crowd funding campaign Melinda was not prepared for the amount of work it would involve but couldn’t be happier that the Melbourne Map crowd funding campaign success meant creation of a new illustrative map of Melbourne would become a reality.
The Melbourne Map black and white version was released in December 2018 with all backers receiving their copies in time to pop under the Christmas tree. The colour version of the Map will be released in March 2019 with various other products including a jigsaw to be available later in the year.