Friday, September 23, 2016

Kickfurther Defaults

As those who read this blog regularly know, I invest some money via Kickfurther, a platform that finances inventory for businesses.  In short, a business creates on offer on Kickfurther that states what inventory they are purchasing with investor's money, along with the rate of return and time frame.

How is a Kickfurther Offer Designed?

Wanda's Wonderful Widgets might want to finance 1000 blue widgets, which cost them $10 each to make, and which they sell for $20.  They believe that once they have the money in hand, it will take two months to make the widgets, and then four months to sell them.  They write an offer asking for $10,000 for six months, with an investor profit of 10% (a typical return, though some companies offer more and some less).  By some process Kickfurther does not publicize, it is determined how much of the revenue, per widget, goes to Kickfurther and how much goes to the vendor.  That split determines the PSR--the percent sold for return.  Let's assume that for these widgets, there is a 70/30 KF/Vendor split.  For every $20 widget sold, Kickfurther gets $14 and Wanda gets $6.  That means that 786 widgets have to be sold to give Kickfurther their $11,000.  The PSR is about 79%.

How is a Kickfurther Payback Supposed to Work?

If things go the way they are supposed to, investors look at the offer and believe that it is in their best interest to invest, and do so.  The vendor then gets the money, pays for production or buys the inventory, and starts to sell it.  Once the lead time for production passes, the vendor starts repaying the investors.  The way it is supposed to work is that as the product sells, Kickfurther gets paid.  In the case of our widgets, if Wanda has sold 300 widgets when the first payment comes due, she is suppposed to pay Kickfurther $4,200 (300X$20X70%).  If she only sold 100, she only owes $1400.  Wanda is supposed to pay monthly until she has sold enoough to repay Kickfurther completely.  Obviously, the lower the PSR, the more room Wanda has to discount the product, offer samples or otherwise sell for less than the originally figured price.

What if the Widgets Don't Sell?

What if six months has come and gone and Wanda has only sold 200 widgets?  At that point the investors can vote (on a dollar weighted basis) to either let Wanda continue to sell the widgets, or to end the contract.  If they decide to end the contract, Kickfurther gives Wanda the option of purchasing the remaining inventory for enought to make the investors whole, or of turning the inventory over to Kickfurther, which will then attempt to sell the widgets.  

How Has This Played Out in Real Life?

Kickfurther is a relatively new platform that is learning while it is growing.  Originally vendors were pretty much on the honor system as far repaying backers.  Most who have repaid their backers have done so in a linear fashion--dividing the total amount due by the number of projected payments and paying that amount monthly, or until they wanted to do another offer.  There have been a number of companies who have not paid anything or who have paid so little that it seems hard to believe the sales did not require a larger payment (and in some cases the vendors have admitted to having sales but using the revenue for other expenses).  Kickfurther has said they have tightend up their contracts and, for new offers, will require reporting on inventory sold.  Suffice to say there have been times when backers should have been repaid more quickly, and I suspect some where they were paid with the vendor's money, just to stay on track.

Is Kickfurther Really a Consignment Sales Platform?

Honestly, at this point, I don't think so.  If Kickfurther really wants to enforce the consignment sale contract they need to 
  • Assure that money raised goes to purchase inventory.  There was an offer up this week from a swimwear company that said in the offer that part of the money raised would go to advertising, not inventory.  
  • Integrate into the vendors' sale system and automatically transfer KF's share of the revenue away from the company as payment is received.  Otherwise you are asking investors to make a decison on the credit-worthiness of the company as opposed to the saleability of the merchandise.  
As things stand now, vendors are on the honor system as far as paybacks go.  They have no incentive to stick to the contract if sales are better than expected and every incentive to not use other money to pay off the offer if sales are worse than expected.

  Also, getting action from Kickfurthe requires at 50% vote of the investors.  I have one co-op that is over 140 days late with their first payment and KF has done nothing because 50% of the investors have not voted "no-confidence".  I don't have a problem with the "no confidence" vote if a vendor is selling, paying and way behind schedule.  At that point it becomes a decison for investors: Do you think KF will do a better job of selling this merchandise than what the vendor is?  If you think KF will, then vote "No confidence".  However, when a company is clearly in breach of contract (or even apparently in breach of contract if they have all that merchandise and have been unable to sell it) then KF needs to step in legally which the business and/or its owners can still be found. 

In another case, the company was sold and the new company has refuesed to pay.  The "no confidence" vote is under 50% .  In that case KF did step in despite the lack of vote, and sued the new company.

I still think the concept of Kickfurther is good; the question is whether the contracts can be designed to be enforceable and whether the offered rates are sufficient to offer a profit to investors.  If you think you'd like to invest via Kickfurther, use this link and you'll get $5.00 towards your first co-op.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Morality and Investing

About the Book:

Offering time-tested wisdom on the complexities of the investment process, this guide provides advice on how to invest in a morally responsible way. It provides information on how to screen and exclude companies according to a clear set of faith-based criteria: those who support or service the abortion industry, producers and distributors of pornography, and companies involved in embryonic stem cell research. Based on this set of guidelines, as well as the success of the Ave Maria Mutual Funds, the guide demonstrates that high returns are achievable without supporting companies that do not support similar values. Also included is insightful commentary on the current political policies affecting the country’s financial state.

My Comments:

Good Returns: Making Money by Morally Responsible Investing is written by the founder of the Ave Maria family of mutual funds.  The Ave Maria funds practice what they call morally responsible investing--they do not invest in companies that promote abortion or donate to its supporters, sell or promote pornography or which have policies supportive of homosexual or other non-marital sexual unions.  He contrasts "morally responsible investing" with "socially responsible investing" which generally supports left-leaning causes. 

While this is a book about investing and the economy; not about religion, the author, George Schwartz, does quote papal writings on the economy and a little scripture.  He sees free-market capitalism as a moral good and socialism as a moral evil.  The book is definitely pro-Regan, anti-Obama. 

Good Returns: Making Money by Morally Responsible Investing has its good points, and its weaknesses.  The first chapter, on money and morality is excellent.  The next two chapters were about Schwartz himself, and frankly, I wasn't that interested.  He then spends a couple of chapters talking about his investment principals, and about how investors think.  Those chapters were good.  Chapters 6 and 7 are highly political; my husband will love them.  They do serve the purpose of reminding the investor how politics affects the economy, for good and for bad--and how even good intentions, like  providing home ownership for those kept out by traditional lending practices, can have bad effects--like the housing bubble and its subsequent pop.  Chapters 8-11 are, in many ways, commercials for the Ave Maria funds. If you know nothing about investing or financial planning, there is good information there--and even those who read investment books may learn something about investing that they can use, even if they never buy Ave Maria mutual funds.

While most of us want to follow our values, most of us also invest with the idea of making money.  One question that came to my mind after reading this book was "How well do Ave Maria funds do?".  Ave Maria has a Rising Dividend fund which outpeformed the S&P 500.  Morningstar give it four stars and the expense ratio is 0.92%.  Their Growth Fund has also outperformed the S&P 500.  However their Values Fund and World Equity Fund trail their indexes.  Still, I don't think any of them are really bad investments and I do like the idea of investing in companies that share my moral values.  


Friday, September 9, 2016

Is "Debt" a Dirty Word?

In reading many financially oriented blogs, one would get the impression that debt is something awful, something to be avoided at almost any cost.  But is it?  Is debt something that is intrinsically bad or is it simply a tool?

I'm a Girl Scout leader and I teach kids to play with matches.  I always ask them if matches are dangerous and they all generally agree they are.  I think ask them if pencils are dangerous, and they all reply that they are not.  I then ask them if they want me to poke them in the eye with a pencil, and of course, they don't.  At that point I explain that matches and pencils are both tools.  Use them properly and they are useful; use them improperly and they cause pain.

So what about debt?  Is debt a tool or an evil?  Debt is a tool, but it is a tool that is often misused.  The misuse gives you bad results but those results don't make debt a bad thing any more than poking someone in the eye with a pencil makes pencils a bad thing.

Misusing Debt

What does it mean to misuse debt?  It is when you buy something that you don't need and can't afford.  It is when "debt repayment" is a major part of your budget for a long period of time and when it keeps you from saving for the future.  It is when the interest on debt becomes a significant expense. It is when it takes longer to pay for something than it takes to dispose of it.

Using Debt as a Tool

Debt is a way to obtain something now, and pay for it over time.  Sometimes you have no choice.  If you don't have health insurance and end up in the hospital, you will owe the hospital money for some time.  On the other hand, at times we do have choices.  If your uninsured car was just totalled, you need another one--but you don't need a new car.  The cost of your "new" car shouldn't keep you in debt for a long time and you don't want interest to make you pay for the car twice.

On the other hand, if you need new furniture, are buying furniture you can afford, and are offered 2 years same as cash, why not take it?

If you have the choice of cleaning out your savings to buy a car, or financing the same car at less than 2% per annum for three years and you expect the car to last ten years, I dont' think financing it is a bad idea.

While some super savers may be able to afford a home without a mortgage, for most of us, foregoing the mortgage just means more money thrown away on rent.

Like matches, debt is a tool. Like matches, debt can burn you if misused.  Like matches, debt can make life much easier.
Disease Called Debt

Monday, September 5, 2016

Kickfurther Merchant of the Week: Noodle Mon

category chillraft

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Susan Laudwig, one of the founders of Noodle Mon, a company that had inventory funded by Kickfurther.

As my regular readers know, Kickfurther allows ordinary investors to help companies that sell tangible products buy those products.  Instead of the investors lending money to the companies, the investors purchase the inventory and then return it to the company to sell on consignment.  As the inventory sells, the companies re-pay the investors, with a profit to the investors.  If the products sell more quickly than anticipated, the investors are supposed to be paid more quickly than anticipated.  If the products take longer to manufacture than planned, or if they do not sell as quickly as planned, the companies are only obligated to repay the investors for the products sold, and the investors do not receive additional compensation for the additional time.

Q:  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.  Where are you located?  When did it start?

A:  Noodle Mon was started the in 2011 by Steve and Susan Laudwig, it is located in Osage Beach, Missouri @ the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.  Steve had been in manufacturing for 30 years and had sold his company.  Susan Laudwig had been an entrepreneur for 15 years and had recently sold her marketing company.  They both had wanted to live at the lake and had wanted to start a business so that they could live full time at the lake.  Steve felt he could manufacture a better water toy than was offered on the market and Susan could provide the sales and marketing to take the product to the market so the CHILLraft was born!

The company was named Noodle Mon after an tale of a Jamaican Captain that was chartering a boat full of young & fun college kids boating to Party Cove.  A random guy had ended up on the boat ride back and was being overly obnoxious.  The girls had requested the Captain drop this guy off at the next dock as they wanted him removed from the boat.  However, the Captain, pulled the boat right over in the main channel and asked the guy to get off the boat, leaving him swimming.  As the boat pulled away, the young girls were upset that the Captain had just left him in the main channel.  The Captain said, "What?  I gave him a Noodle Mon.”

Q:  This picture shows kids standing on a CHILLraft.  Did the photographer get them just before they landed in the water or are these mats that stable?  How many people can use one raft at a time?

A:  Kids and some coordinated adults can run and stand on the CHILLraft all day long and it isn’t hard.  They hold over 1000 lbs so they can support a lot of weight.  These mats are stable in the water but if you are running down them, you are likely to eventually fall or jump in the water as they are in constant movement.

Q:  If a raft is used every weekend, but cared for properly, how long will it last?  What is proper care?

A:  The raft can last 5-7 years if taken care of properly.  The main thing is keeping it in the shade when not in use.  It has UV protection but the sun can dry out the foam over time.  Also, don't jump on the raft from a boat or dock.  You can run on it or step down onto it, but bigger kids and adults that jump from another object onto the center can risk ripping it.  However, the CHILLrafts come with lifetime repair and rips can be fixed.

Q:  Can you pull a CHILLraft behind a boat with a passenger on the raft?

A:  No.  CHILLrafts are not meant to be towed.  The inflatables work much better than foam for that.

Q:  Your website has a form potential customers can fill out and get information about dealers near them.  In general, can most people find a dealer near them? 

A:  We do not have dealers in all the states.  We are in 15 states but we do offer free shipping some of the year for those customers who do not have dealers close to them.

Q:  How did you first hear about Kickfurther and why did you choose to use them?

A: I found them via an internet search and they had good reviews.

Q: You are right on target, having paid back about 2/3 of the offer.  So far, what has been your impression of Kickfurther?  Do you think you will use them again?

A:  No, I will not be using them again as long as their payback plan is the same.  Also, they never set up my payback schedule correctly which made all my investors question us and why we weren’t providing that information.  I prefer just equal payments rather than paying as you sell your product as that can be an accounting nightmare since some units are sold at retail price and others sold wholesale.  Also, customer payment terms and what funds were used for what shipments just makes it difficult to pay the way Kickfurther wants us pay.

Q: Have you tried Kickfurther from the investor side?  Knowing what you know, would you recommend it to family and friends looking to invest money?  Why or why not?

A:  I have not tried it from an investor side.  I would recommend it to investors that are able to have riskier investments for decent returns.

Q:  Do you have a giveaway for us?

A:  We will offer two winners $40.00 coupons  from our sister company, The Water Soul Nautical Apparel Company.

Thank you!  That will allow them to buy some of these cute items;

Boating Tank Top - WaterGirl Keep Calm Lightweight RacerbackWaterGirl Distressed Red Anchor Ball Cap
Seaside Zippered Large Anchor ToteMen's Boating T-Shirt- NautiGuy Beer & Boats

You can learn more about Noodle Mon  and Watersoul on their website or by liking them on facebook.  You can also follow them on Twitter.

If you would like to help companies like Susan's, and possibly earn a profit for yourself, use this link and you get $5.00 toward your first investment. If you have a company that needs help purchasing inventory, use this link to learn about Kickfurther and whether it is for you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disease Called Debt

Friday, September 2, 2016

Why I'm Not Making (Much) Money Blogging

I've been blogging longer than most people.  I've had my book blog, This That and the Other Thing since 2005.  I've been writing here since March, 2015.  Over the years I've gotten lots of review copies of books (some of which I'm sure I could have easily sold), some products for review including mixing bowls, dog toys, a breast pump  holder and a stuffed animal.  I've earned about $250 from Adsense, and gotten about $10 worth of credit in my Kickfuther account because of referral links.  If I was counting on blogging to pay the bills, I'd be sorely disappointed.  However, for me, blogging is a hobby.

What I'm Doing Wrong

I've read lots of posts from other people about how to make money blogging and I've realized what I'm doing wrong.

  • My Posts Aren't Search Engine Optimized.  Instead of using various tools to discern which keywords are "hot" right now and then writing posts based on those keywords, making sure to use those keywords in the first and last paragraph and in at least one subheading, I write about what I want to.
  • I Don't Use "Pin-Friendly" Images.  My images are size "medium" on blogger; they are not cropped to be long and thin, like images shown to do well on Pinterest. I haven't gone to Canva and created my "look" that is just like most other people's with a translucent square that goes over my image and holds some writing about it.  I haven't invested the time in learning how to make images like that, and I don't pay anyone to make them for me.  That must be why my posts are never re-pinned and why I never get traffic from Pintrest.
  • I Don't "Get" Twittter.  I have an account.  Bloglovin tweets for me when I publish a new post.  I tweet about my posts sometimes.  However I don't see any traffic coming from Twitter.  I don't follow other people because I've never seen the point.
  • I Don't Spend Enough Money.  According to many things I've read, I'm not spending enough money to make money blogging.  Here are the things I'm not buying:
    • Web hosting.  If you want to make money blogging, you have to self-host, at least according to the things I've read.  Most of the time that helpful advice includes an affiliate link that will give the advice-giver money if I follow the advice to spend at least $4.00 per month on web hosting.
    • A Premium WordPress Theme.  Not only can I not make money if I don't self-host, I have to pay for a premium WordPress theme as well.  I can buy the popular Genesis theme for only $59.95.
    • Social Media Software.  There are product out there that allow you to automate the promotion of your blog on social media and those products cost money--or you could hire a virtual assistant to handle social media chores for you.
    • Premium Photos.  I use Pixabay for most of my photos, just like thousands of other people, so they aren't unique.  Of course I didn't pay for them either...
    • Classes on How to Make Money Blogging.  I'm showing my age, but once upon a time you could pick up the newspaper and peruse the want ads.  There were often ads about how to make money at home stuffing envelopes.  All you had to do to get started was to buy a starter kit for $X.XX.  What was the starter kit?  It was a mimeographed (see I told you I was showing my age) sheet telling you to take out an ad in the paper offering to teach people how to make money stuffing envelopes.  When someone responds, you stuff these directions in an envelope and send it back to them.  It seems the modern equivalent is a course in how to make money blogging that tells you to create a sell a course on making money blogging.
    • Mail Chimp.  While you can get a Mailchimp account for free, and use it until you have over $2,000 subscribers, I'll bet the $10/month version is much better.  Since I don't collect my readers' email addresses unless they enter a giveaway, and I don't do anything with them, that must be a big reason I'm not getting rich blogging.

Why Am I Not Doing It Right?

You might ask why, if I know what I'm doing wrong, I don't choose to do it right.  
  1. I don't want to spend the money and I'm not convinced it is worth it.  If I moved this blog to  a self-hosted WordPress site that cost me $4.00/month I would spend almost all the money I am now making on this blog.  By itself, would that move pay off?
  2. I  don't want to spend hours on each post.  As I said earlier, this is a hobby.  Doing keyword reasearch, creating Pin-worth graphics and promoting posts on social medial takes time.  I have a job already.
  3. I don't want to create a product to sell  The bottom line seems to be that in order to make big money  (like job-replacing money) blogging, you have to create and sell something that you use the blog to promote.  The blog is the hook but it doesn't get them in the boat--the content that you sell is what makes the real money.  

How Am I Doing?

This, That and the Other Thing gets about 3,000 hits per month, and most of my posts that are more than a week old have 20-50 views.  Racing Towards Retirement also gets about 3,000 views a month; however, most posts get over 100 views.  Some get as many as 700-800.  

As far as money-making, I used to get periodic sales from Amazon on my book blog, but since my state decided to try to tax internet vendors Amazon kicked its residents out of the affilliate program.  

I run a lot of articles on Kickfurther and they usually include my affilliate link.  I've made about $10 from that.  I haven't sold any ad space but I do get a few dollars per month from Adsense.  I still have more books than I can read. 

My blog has helped me land some freelance customers.  I've done alright with that but not enough to quit my day job. 

For now, I think I'll remain a hobby blogger.
Disease Called Debt

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Kickfurther: My Current Results

A few weeks ago, I posted a bunch of statistics about the Kickfurther platform as a whole.  Someone on Kickfurther's subreddit asked how I was doing.  This post is an attempt to answer that question.

Total Offers

While Kickfurther  has funded about 360 offers (I'm not going to count them again, but I know there have been some in the last two weeks), I have invested in 105 of them.

Cancelled Offers

About 6% of the offers have been cancelled and collection procedures of one sort or another instituted.  11 of mine have either been cancelled, or I don't think there is any hope for them, so my stats are worse than average in that regard. I have seven more offers that are substantially behind on their payments but which I think have a good chance of paying eventually.

New Offers

I have eighteen offers which have not paid anything because payments aren't due yet. Kickfurther has about 100 offers that haven't entered payback stage yet.  That means my portfolio is weighted toward older offers.  There are two reasons for this:

  • I've withdrawn about $550
  • Kickfurther has moved to a "pack" system which generally means I invest more than my previous $50 standard in each offer.

My Returns

If you add up my profits on completed offers (while Kickfurther considers part of each payment to be profit, I don't consider it a profit until I've gotten back more than I put in), and subract what I've lost or anticipate losing on cancelled or bad offers, the total is -$124.66. Yes, my aproximately $3,000 investment, most of it initally invested last summer, has lost money--at least before you add in the refunds Kickfurther has issued.  My refunds total $173.13 so as of this moment, I have gained 48.47, minus my $8.30 in withdrawal fees.

A Little Hope

The merchandise has been repossessed on two of my failed offers.  Kickfurther said they'd sold some of the Mulberry Silk Comforters and were in the process of figuring out how to divide the money, but they didn't say how much money they had.  Still, it should mean a bit more money in my pocket.  Also they have the Baboon Bamboo drawer trays.  They are trying to sell them in a variety of places, including Amazon.  You can get one here.

Baboon Bamboo Utensil Drawer Organizer
The Risks of Kickfurther

Any investment has risks, and a new investment platform is likely to have more risks that something that is established.  The trick to any form of investing is to figure out what the risks are and how you can mitigate them, and to make sure the possible rewards make up for the risks.  When I started with Kickfurther, I saw the risk as being that the merchandise would not sell.  If figured that most merchants would manage to sell some of the products; and so few if any offers would be total losses. I was mistaken.  While Baboon Bamboo and Mulberry Silk Comforters have worked that way--neither was able to sell all the merchandise and both promptly turned the unsold product over to Kickfurther for liquidation, most of my other failed offers have paid very little and none have easily returned the merchandise to Kickfurther.  

Clearly, at least at this point, Kickfurther is for money you can afford to lose.  Kickfurther is a work-in-progress; they are in the process of refining their legal documentation of these offers. They say they are refining the vetting process to get stronger companies involved.  They are strengthening the link between sales and payback.  Hopefully those things work to eliminate some of the fraudulent deals and make it easier to recover something on deals that go bad.  

My Plans

My plans are to withdraw funds from Kickfurther unless the rates go up or the defaults go down.  According to my count, about 1/6 of the offers go bad.  If you assume that failed offers end up being a 100% loss, and if you assume investors want at least  a 7% return on their money annually, then offers that pay need to average about 2% per month, and Kickfurther's rates now aren't that high.  If you assume a 50% return of investment on bad offers, you'd need about 1.5% per month on the good offers.  This means that at the current default rates, a six month Kickfurther offer would have to pay between 9 and 12%. Most don't, and those that do fill in seconds.  Unless the rates go up or the defaults go down, this is not a good investment.  
Disease Called Debt

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kickfurther Merchant of the Week: Wild Mantle

Founder Avi Loren Fox wearing the Charcoal Alpaca Mantlet

Today I'd like to welcome Avi Loren Fox to Racing Towards Retirement.  Avi is the founder of Wild Mantle, which got some financing from Kickfurther.  As my regular readers know, Kickfurther allows ordinary investors to finance inventory for businesses and earn a profit for doing so.  

Q:  Tell me a little about yourself--where are you from, where did you go to school and what did you expect to be doing at this point in your life?

A:  I was born and raised in Narberth, Pennsylvania, a small town just outside of Philadlephia on the Main Line. I was homeschooled from second to eighth grade, giving me an early dose of what it's like to be independent and have agency over my path in life. I then attended Lower Merion High School and went on to graduate from the Honor's Program at Temple University. Growing up, when I pictured my life, I don't remember picturing the "career" aspect of my life. Whenever I tried, I got a total blank. I realized in high school that perhaps the job I would have wasn't invented yet. In hindsight, this turned out to be true as I went on to start my own company and create a job for myself. But when I was younger visualizing my future and where I expected to be at this point (I turn 30 in October), I remember thinking more about the lifestyle I wanted to have and also what kind of woman I wanted to be. I had a lot of strong female role models growing up and I sort of took my favorite virtues and characteristics from each and decided that that was the woman I wanted to be. Although I'm a work in progress like anyone else, I very much am living into this woman that I visualized years ago. 

Q:  Give us a short conception and birth story about Wild Mantle

A few years ago, I made a hooded-scarf out of some beloved old cashmere and wool sweaters. It felt cozy and warm, and when I put it on, I felt a quiet sense of comfort and courage. When I wore it out into the world, people noticed, and they’d ask “What is that? I want one!” I heard the same thing from each person who tried it on: “it feels like a hug" and “I feel like a warrior.” I decided to call it the MANTLE, and before I knew it, I was making them for lots of other people. You see, the word MANTLE not only means a loose fitting hood or cloak, it also means your role or responsibility in the world. I decided I would design all my mantles to deliver a hug of coziness and courage. And in turn, the MANTLE would be an invitation to think about what mantles one carries and how they can step into more of an empowered role in their world. 

After demand exceeded my capacity to make the mantles in my hometown, I launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised nearly $40,000 to produce our flagship Alpaca Wild Mantle at a B-Corporation artisan knitting mill frozen in time in the Colorado Rockies. This past May, I launched a second Kickstarter and raised nearly $50,000 to produce our premier Summer Collection. Now, we are growing a community of women around the world who can relate to this idea of "taking up your mantle" and want to come together with other women over topics such as sustainability, empowerment and adventure. I host events for these women in the Philadelphia suburbs, and I'm excited to grow this in the future as we get bigger. 

When 8 women get together to make vision boards, there are a lot of smiling faces at the end of the night ❤️ #women #dream #vision @nikki_maloney @gracefulphilly @laieasmith

Q:  Which of your products is your favorite, and why?

The Charcoal Alpaca is my favorite. It's the first color of alpaca we made during our first Kickstarter campaign. We are actually currently sold out because it is so popular (don't worry, we're making more for this fall and you can currently reserve yours via pre-order on our website!) and I love how it has become such a classic amongst our other newer styles. It's the one I wear pretty much every day in the winter; inside with the hood flipped down as a cowl and then outside with the hood up to help maintain my core warmth. 

Charcoal Alpaca Mantle

Q:  As a woman entrepreneur do you believe you have run into any problems that your male counterparts have not?  Do you believe being a woman has given you a leg up on the guys in any way?  

We live in a time where women stepping up in the work force is not only encouraged, but also highlighted and celebrated. My parents raised me to believe I could be anything I wanted to be. For example, when I was a kid, I remember thinking about running for president when I grew up. It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it because I was a woman, it was more a thought like "I'm probably not going to run for president someday because being in the political system isn't the game I want to play....but if I did...what if I won? Wouldn't that be cool?" Entrepreneurship is the game I want to play, and I haven't, to date, run into any problems (that I know of) that my male counterparts have not. I have received support from organizations specifically targeted at women, and I do feel very supported by my community because I am a woman entrepreneur. 

Wild Mantle Dreamer
Q:   I notice that you have done a lot of crowdfunding of your business via Kickstarter and Kickfurther.  Is there any reason  you have chosen this type of funding?

A:  Kickstarter was an obvious and fun way for me to get started, as it enabled me to test my idea among the community and only manufacture orders that were previously placed. It is an amazing way for a new entrepreneur to test their proof of concept, build a customer base, and also get through the inevitable first round of learning experiences that come with launching a new product. We've successfully completed two Kickstarters and one Kickfurther. I also received a loan from Kiva and the Tory Burch Foundation, both of which are paid back. 

Manly Mantle
Q:  Where did you first hear of Kickfurther, and why did you decide to use them?

A:  After I did my first Kickstarter successfully, I started getting emails from companies eager to help with the next phase of funding. Kickfurther caught my eye, and I decided to use them because the immediacy of the raise was advantageous to my timeline and I liked the idea that backers might turn into future customers, as they did on Kickstarter. 

Q:  You successfully finished your first Kickfurther campaign a month early, which I'm sure made your investors happy.  Are you planning to use Kickfuther again anytime soon?  Why or why not?

A:  Yes, I hope this made them happy! I am not planning on using Kickfurther again. While I really like the team and concept, the interest rates are really high and I'm currently switching to a line of credit. Additionally, I didn't find that the backers on Kickfurther translated into customers or helped at all with sales (as was the case on Kickstarter) so from a purely monetary standpoint Kickfurther no longer makes sense for me. 

Wild Mantle Kickfurther

Q:  Would you recommend Kickfurther to other business owners?  Why or why not?

A:  I would recommend Kickfurther to a business if their needs matched what the platform delivered. I've referred a few friends to date, actually. 

Q:  Have you tried Kickfurther from the investor side?  Why or why not?  Would you recommend it to friends or family who have money to invest?

A:  I am an investor on Kickfurther. When I decided to launch my campaign, I wanted to know what it was like to both sides. I would recommend it to friends and family with caution. Most of my investments have gone really well, but one person completely dropped off the planet and I'm still waiting to see how that will work out. It is probably the case that the money I'll make in the investments that went well will equal the money I will lose on the one that went bad. So in the end, although a good learning experience, it will probably not be a financially lucrative experience. 

Q:   Would you like to offer a giveaway? 
A:  Sure, how about we do a $20 gift certificate to my website?

I'd like to thank Avi for joining us today and for offering a $20 gift certificate.  You can visit Wild Mantle at their website, They are also on Instagram, facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  

 If you want to know more about Kickfurther, click the "Kickfurther" label under this post.  I've written extensively about Kickfurther and my experiences with it.  If you would like to invest with Kickfurther, use this link and you get $5.00 off your first investment.  If you have a business which needs money to purchase inventory, if you use my link, I get referral credit, and bloggers have to eat too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disease Called Debt