Jonty Evans’ crowdfunding success delivers 5 worthwhile lessons to help your career
Crowdfunding is a concept that was originally a major funding resource for budding entrepreneurs and start-ups who were looking for help to make their next big idea a reality.
With the creation of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and IndieGoGo people began to raise money for other reasons than business ideas. Crowdfunding quickly became a way for members of a community to work together and support a good cause. The most popular campaigns raise money for college funds, medical emergencies, travel, volunteer work, and now… horses.
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This week, in the most ambitious and talked about crowdfunding campaign for a horse in history, Jonty Evans (IRL) secured the ride on his Olympic horse, Cooley Rorkes Drift. Jonty started his crowdfunding effort to raise £500,000 and against all odds, managed to do it before his August 11, 2017 deadline. “Art” will remain with Jonty and together they will continue to represent Ireland.
When Jonty first launched his campaign, many people were hoping he could do it, but many more were sceptical. Jonty’s fantastic efforts came to fruition and along the way this has been a master class in daring to dream and not being afraid to be creative and resourceful to make it happen.
Watching this unfold with a marketing and fundraising background, I want to make sure that the lessons learned from this chapter in Eventing history are not lost.
1. Before you take over the ride on any horse, have a contract
Riders are so desperate to ride that often when they are provided a mount, they practically will sell their souls to hop on. Regardless of the relationship you have with the owner, good friend or family, have the agreement in writing. Key things you need to address:
- Horse expenses
- Training compensation
- Prize money
- Ownership (will the rider get a share, if so how and when)
- Plans for selling the horse (fielding offers, commissions, timeframes)
Owners have different reasons for participating and they are not bound to own a horse for you forever. You cannot expect them to either. As a rider, it is your responsibility to know what you are signing up for and ensure that you are compensated for your time and effort. You are bound to bond with the horse, prepare for the day you may have to let the horse move on.
2. Fans respond to potential not pity
Do not fool yourself into thinking that droves of people are going to participate in a crowdfunding effort to buy you a horse because you don’t have the cash. People did not support Jonty because he was poor. People supported him because the partnership he was creating with Art was getting better and they have the potential to win at the highest levels of the sport. Together, they had proven themselves at the 2016 Olympics with a 9th place finish. This was not a pity campaign; this was a “We believe in you” campaign.
You need to have something to offer that excites and moves fans. You need to deliver competition results to embark on a campaign like this. You don’t necessarily have to be winning, but you need to show that you have the talent and commitment worth getting behind to take you to the next level.
3. Be creative and confident to build your string of horses
Jonty managed to raise the money through:
- an auction, and
- a couple of big contributors who are now official owners.
So he was working three different cash flow options to get the results. Jonty had nothing to lose but his horse by going public to rally up the support. He could not be sure how his plea and campaign would be met. He put himself out there, took a risk and it paid off.
Be creative to raise money and don’t be shy to ask for help. Brainstorm with your friends and family about ideas on how to raise money. Brainstorm a list of potential owners you could approach. You are going to get more people saying “No” than “Yes”. But remember, every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes”.
4. Work hard and treat people right always
I have never had the pleasure of meeting Jonty, but through social media and his interview series you can’t help but like him. His likability was obvious by the many top riders from many nations who were sharing his crowdfunding campaign and encouraging the masses to support him.
Eventing is a small group despite it being a global sport. Everyone is likely at the most about three degrees of separation. Jonty could never have been as successful if he did not have the respect that he does. Treat everyone well always! You never know when you may need to call upon others for support.
5. The Eventing community is good to the core
If there’s one thing that Jonty’s crowdfunding campaign taught us more than anything, is that the Eventing community is generous in spirit and with their cash. I was moved by all the people in my social media feed that said, “I donated $10.00. Not sure if it will help but donate if you can.”
As a group of fans, riders and owners we are a powerful lot and we can make things happen. Look what we were capable of by spreading the word and contributing cash to keep a man with his horse. There are so many issues that the Eventing community could come together for to help benefit the sport. Safety is the one that always comes to mind. Let’s not forget this example and be supportive and keep informed about everything Eventing. Make yourself heard and always be on the look out on how you can contribute to make the sport better.