The Transformational Power of Crowdfunding
Kathleen Minogue Helps Entrepreneurs Succeed
Devin: Kathleen, what do you think of as being your superpower?
Kathleen: I knew you were going to ask me this, and I have to tell you, I sat on this for weeks and came up with a lot of things. I think it’s transformation. I’m really persistent and patient. To me, there’s change, and there’s transformation, and we can legislate a change, but transformation takes time.
Kathleen Minogue leads Crowdfund Better, a social enterprise designed from its founding to help entrepreneurs access capital through crowdfunding. Much of her effort has focused on underserved communities, including women and BIPOC entrepreneurs.
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“Our goal is to provide education to help empower people to understand that this opportunity exists to use crowdfunding as a capital-raising tool,” she explains. “While I believe it is magic and it is transformational for so many people, there’s a mystique around it, and you know, we want to pull the curtain back, and you can see the man or the woman moving the levers.”
Kathleen didn’t start in the business community. “I taught middle and high school, and so when I came to this space, I wanted to find a way to reach anyone, no matter what level they were at and help them to crowdfund better, which is how I named the company.”
She believes she can help anyone learn the skills to crowdfund successfully if they invest the time to learn. She applies “mastery learning,” something she learned as an educator. “You just keep going back until you master the skill. You keep going back until you master the information. And I think crowdfunding is exactly that way.”
Entrepreneurs often want to raise much more capital than they can realistically raise. “They do have the network they need for $50,000. But they don’t have the network for a million dollars.” She helps them develop plans for success based on what they can raise.
One of the things Kathleen loves about crowdfunding is the inherent obligation to connect with people. Sometimes, she’s asked why she can’t scale her business with less human interaction. “I would not want to show up for work if we took the human out of it.”
Kathleen is excited to help everyone with crowdfunding. Her experience at JP Morgan Investment Technology Bank gave her a glimpse into traditional finance. “I saw who walked in and got money.”
“When we started doing this work in crowdfunding, I started to see the same people getting access to crowdfunding dollars, and I asked the question, ‘Why?’” Since then, she’s been working to change things.
One critical observation was that underserved communities have less formal training and coaching, especially around crowdfunding.
She’s clear, however, that she has an egalitarian view of entrepreneurship. “someone said to me, ‘why do you always help the underdog?’ I said, ‘It’s because I don’t think they’re underdogs.’” She sees them as having the same potential for success as any other entrepreneur.
Over the years, Kathleen has learned to involve herself in some fish-out-of-water circumstances. That has allowed her to play a role in obtaining funding for Crowdfund Better programs. She’s also played a role in programs targeting Black entrepreneurs. She has collaborated with Bill Huston, CEO of Crowd-Max Publishing.
Working with Renee King of Fund Black Founders, Crowdfund Better provides the training to largely female Black entrepreneurs. The work is supported by the JLH Fund from NBA player Jrue Holiday and his wife, Lauren.
The program serves as a crowdfunding accelerator with a 16-week program that typically leads to successful five-figure crowdfunding campaigns.
One of the best features is that the money raised is matched up to $25,000 by the JLH Fund, helping address another challenge in the African American community: the wealth gap. “Many of these entrepreneurs of color do not have the same networks and don’t have the same backer pool; they can’t access perhaps the same level of capital,” Kathleen notes.
“I want to see more people and not just people of color supporting entrepreneurs of color,” she says, echoing a call from Bill Huston for the broader community to be intentional about supporting Black-owned businesses.
An essential part of Kathleen’s work is to help entrepreneurs transform themselves. Kathleen now sees that as her superpower.
How to Develop Transformation As a Superpower
Kathleen began developing her superpower as an educator, so she frames it through that lens. “Everyone’s in their very own classroom. I can’t do your homework for you, and I can’t move you any faster.”
That’s the first critical insight. Transformation takes time, much like growing a baby, and you can’t rush it. You can’t have a baby in half the time by eating twice as much. While human mothers develop babies consistently in nine months, the gestation period for mammals varies widely. The time to complete a transformation also varies widely.
Transformation takes time, she reiterates. “If you’re in kindergarten on this one piece, but you’re in college on another, it’s not for me to say, ‘hurry up and get there.’” She is committed to giving herself time for transformation and gives others the same allowance.
In her case, it’s paying off—finally. “So it’s taken a long time. It’s been ten years that I’ve been in this crowdfunding space, and it was just in the last couple of months, after five years of advocating, that I created professional development training for federally-funded small business advisors.”
Giving yourself and others adequate time to succeed is essential. “I think because of technology, everyone assumes that change is fast,” Kathleen says. “We live in a human body, and my partner in this business, Scott, he’s he always reminds me of what I say to people. ‘You can only accomplish what you can accomplish in human time.’”
She shared a more personal example of applying patience for transformation. “My daughter will tell you I’m very patient when it comes to her timing. She didn’t want to wear socks for two years, so she didn’t wear socks for two years. And then she came down one day and said, ‘I’m ready to wear socks.’ And she wore socks.”
A second fundamental principle, she notes, is to work with what you’ve got. Whether you are working on your own transformation or helping someone else, you can only start where you are. You can’t begin a transformation anywhere else, even if it would be nice.
To help others develop the ability to transform, Kathleen draws on her training as an educator, building on the mastery learning principles. You can’t blame people for what they don’t know or don’t have.
“You come in with whatever you have, and that’s what you have. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It just is.” That’s where you start.
By combining these principles, you can transform yourself and others. Kathleen notes that one defining feature of true transformation is permanence. When a transformation is complete, people don’t revert to their old ways.
By striving to be like Kathleen, you can make transformation a strength that will positively impact your life and the lives of those you serve. It could become your superpower for good.