December 31, 2013, 10:37 AM

A crowdfunding campaign helps to launch an e-commerce venture

An Indiegogo campaign helps jumpstart’s marketing to consumers and investors—and raises nearly $16,000 in startup capital.

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Over the course of six weeks last summer, startup brand manufacturer and e-retailer raised nearly $16,000 from an array of nearly 240 individual investors via Indiegogo Inc., an online fundraising platform that lets business ventures make pitches to individuals to make small investments in their companies. The individuals, who invested anywhere from $25 to $1,350 in the Indiana-based company, will get the first packages of Just Food Blends’ shelf-stable products when they roll off the production line later this month. The company blends food to a consistency that can be ingested by people who must take their food through a feeding tube.

Apart from generating funds that helped Just Food Blends—which recently renamed and rebranded its products as Real Food Blends—move along its production path, CEO and founder Julie Bombacino says the Indiegogo fundraising helped prove her business case by showing other potential investors, suppliers and advisors that there is a market for the product she is making. The pledge page included a 3-minute video, with extensive product information and the company’s creation story. Due to a medical condition, Bombacino’s son, AJ, has been tube-fed since he was an infant. Bombacino came up with the idea for Real Food Blends while researching how she could provide an alternative to packaged commercial formulas for her son.

“Indiegogo helped me soft launch the product and create a following among people who need or know people who need this specialized product,” she says. For example, Bombacino credits the Indiegogo campaign for connecting her with Randy Lewis, former vice president of supply chain and logistics at Walgreen Co., who now sits on Real Food Blends’ advisory board. Bombacino says she also has been able to market via e-mail and Facebook to the investors who came through Indiegogo as the company gets ready to launch online sales Jan 15. The company received additional funding from angel investors following the crowdfunding campaign and from Elevate Ventures, a non-profit venture capital firm backed by the state of Indiana.

To learn more about how e-commerce entrepreneurs are raising capital, check out the January issue of Internet Retailer magazine. Click here to read stories from the magazine online or here to subscribe for free.


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