Los Angeles Business Journal

Crowdfund Site Taps Star Power

By James Rufus Koren Monday, July 8, 2013

Donald’s Picks campaigns might get Trump money as well. Wyman and Zanker hope to bring in other celebrities to endorse campaigns, though wouldn’t release other names.

Celebrity stable

Along with hiring endorsers, Zanker wants FundAnything to work with celebrities to raise money for their own projects.

Carolla, who has 400,000 Twitter followers and one of the Web’s most popular podcasts, last week launched a campaign for “Road Hard,” a movie he is writing and producing.

To find more celebrities, FundAnything is hiring a team of salespeople with relationships in the film, television and music industries. The goal is to get big names to raise money through FundAnything rather than another site.

The company last month hired actor and musician Donovan Leitch, son of the British ’60s pop star of the same name, to lead its music sales team and attract big names.

“The sales force has to be out their attracting high-impact campaigns,” Wyman said.

Once celebrities are running campaigns on FundAnything, Wyman said the company will expect them to promote other campaigns as well. The idea is that both the celebrity-run campaigns and their endorsements of other campaigns will drive more traffic to FundAnything, providing more exposure and more money to all campaigns on the site.

“It all filters down to the little people who don’t have a celebrity following so they can have a little exposure, too,” Zanker said.

Celebrities command large and attentive audiences through Twitter and Facebook, but no celebrity can sell everything. MJ Eng, president of Santa Monica’s ShoeDazzle, said FundAnything’s celebrity-focused model will likely attract a crowd, but he cautioned that Zanker and company should make sure celebrity endorsers are promoting campaigns that make sense.

“The key is authenticity – whether there’s a true connection,” he said. “If it’s a product, are they using the product? Are they passionate about the business? If not, we’ve found clients and consumers see right through it.”

He said even polarizing celebrities who have as many fans as haters – Trump and ShoeDazzle’s Kardashian, for instance – can be effective if they stick to what they know.

“People will respect Donald Trump for the success he built in business. He’s a knowledgeable person in that space,” he said. “Kim might be polarizing in some aspects of her life, but she’s still respected for her fashion.”

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