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Whether you’ve been tinkering with your prototype, are ready to hit the global market, or just have a cool idea, you’ll want to check out “For Creators, By Creators” (FCBC) this Wednesday.
Hosted by the retailer and entrepreneurship hub We The People (WTP), the event will offer advice on crowdfunding and distribution, networking opportunities, and a chance to check out the first all-Kickstarter product store in the U.S. The event is free, but be sure to claim your ticket soon.
We The People Wants to Help Your Project Succeed
A reusable ‘smart’ notebook. Leather dinosaur fossils. A pirate potato coding game. Picture your design among these innovative items, part of a rotating cycle of successful and in-development projects showcased at We The People’s new outlet in West County Mall.
WTP brings crowdfunded products to shelves, offering a hands-on experience that can help build enthusiasm and reassurance about unfamiliar products. They started with one outlet in Singapore two years ago, and have since expanded to five, with additional locations planned for Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Meanwhile the business has grown from 14 to 160 brands, with a healthy 800% revenue increase in 2017.
“The world’s only multichannel crowdfunding retail chain,” WTP works to support entrepreneurial innovation throughout the entire development process. Part of the WTP model is to invite innovators to show their early prototypes in the store. The organization’s vision is to be a “community hub” for innovators, helping them avoid the typical pitfalls of crowdfunding, and develop sustainable business plans that take makers beyond their initial project. The FCBC event is part of a national tour to provide insights and relationship-building for entrepreneurs throughout the country.
Doing Business in St. Louis
By choosing St. Louis for its flagship U.S. store, We the People is responding to the city’s established and growing reputation as a Midwestern innovation hub. Local companies enjoy a friendly network, while new enterprises avoid the high rent and costs of locations like Silicon Valley. That said, the ecosystem is still evolving, and St. Louis entrepreneur Meghan Winegrad finds it pays to be scrappy: “We’re always the underdog,” she admits. But investment is growing quickly (see: Arch Grants’ most recent round of grant funds).
The St. Louis business community, and leaders from throughout the industry, will be out in force at FCBC. The event will be moderated by Kim Plank, the Midwest Regional Director at Captains of Innovation, and include featured speakers from a range of backgrounds. FCBC panelists include Akeem Shannon, founder of the flipstik, a smartphone wall mount.
To produce flipstik — now the top-selling product in the WTP St. Louis store — Shannon had to spend the year teaching himself about patents, production, and international trade. “There was a learning curve,” he says. He wishes he had known about WTP, with their network of manufacturers in Asia: “They really lead people through the process.” Shannon is currently working with WTP to develop a flipstik shipping process for Asia delivery, and is building on his in-store success to establish additional mall kiosks.
Drew Nikonowicz, St. Louis native and co-founder of Standard Cameras, believes the city offers a productive intersection of arts and business: “There’s potential for people with strong ideas to really succeed in St. Louis.” His key to success? “It’s important to be passionate about your idea,” he says, because at some point the process will be an uphill battle. He also suggests that creators take time for reality checks, whether that means talking your idea over with a friend or seeking advice from a group like WTP.
With her St. Louis-based tech startup Generopolis, corporate innovation specialist Meghan Winegrad is making the leap to being a “full-fledged entrepreneur.” She shares WTP’s belief in the power of crowdfunding — Generopolis itself taps into community support (to fund nonprofits). Launching in 2019, the platform is open to anyone who wants to give back: “Everyone has talents, goods, or services they can offer.” Winegrad also sees exciting potential for makers to use her platform as a marketing channel. As a panel member at FCBC, she will be on hand to share a wealth of knowledge and answer any questions audience members may have.
What FCBC Offers the Aspiring Entrepreneur
FCBC offers a chance to meet other inventors, share your ideas, and strengthen your network. Check out over 40 products built through crowdfunding projects, and chat with some of their creators. Local and national entrepreneurs will be on hand to provide their perspectives on every part of the process, offering a wide variety of panels and discussions. Topics include the following:
- Getting Started: Maybe you’re at step zero with your product idea. No problem — check out “Being a Creator as an Artist, Coder, or Gamer,” and “Student Entrepreneurs: Finding Resources and Mentors.”
- Fundraising: Find out more about the power — and pitfalls — of “How to Get Started Using Crowdfunding,” with advice from some of the biggest creators to have gone through the process.
- Distribution: You have your final product in your hands. Or maybe you have 2,000 of them. What happens next? Learn from “Forming Partnerships: Incubators and Retail Spaces,” and avoid common mistakes with “Top 10 Reasons Why Projects Fail.”
- Networking: You’re in one of the nation’s most innovative cities — how will you use that to your advantage? Get the insider scoop at “Being an Entrepreneur in St. Louis” and “Funding Opportunities and Resources in the St. Louis Region.”
While FCBC is free and open to all aspiring innovators, tickets are limited. The event runs from 5:30-9:00 PM on Wednesday, December 12th, 2018, at the West County Center in Des Peres, MO.