Tampa Bay Entrepreneur Tries Innovative Funding

Olga Bof has a business idea -- an innovative children's bookstore that offers more than just books. But she can't seem to find the funding. Enter the Internet.

Bof's idea is Cheeky Monkey Books and Toys, a full-scale creative learning, wellness and cultural hub for Tampa Bay children of all ages, offering free tutoring and a wide variety of special events as well as unique books and toys. She has been working at raising funds and soliciting investors, but has had a tough time. So she turned to crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept that has taken off in the age of social media. Crowdfunding is a way of asking the cyber-community for money to help fund a cause. In this case, Bof elected to use the services of IndieGogo, an Internet resource for raising funds from Web surfers.

"I've been trying for a long time to get funding and I've had to get creative in this economic climate. And it hasn't been easy," says Bof. "Crowdfinding can help more than just creative businesses. It can be anything from a bride trying to pay for her wedding to someone who  wants to go over to India to do a service but needs funding.

"I heard about it via another bookshop that actually did this a couple months ago," continues Bof. "She's one of the few businesses out there who used crowdfunding as a vehicle to raise money. And she raised about $2,000, which isn't $50,000, but in this economy it's better than nothing.

"IndieGogo has actually gained strength and will become a business in the spotlight at this year's South by Southwest," says Bof. "IndieGogo manages the analytics and the funds for you. They tell you who your biggest refer is and help with social media and incentives."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Olga Bof, Cheeky Monkey Books and Toys

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