Amazing humans: Jackson James Wood from PledgeMe

Exactly 2 weeks ago today we sat down with the lovely Simone Hunter from Boosted and asked her a series of questions about crowdfunding. That blogpost was so popular, it seemed like the natural thing to do next was pop down to our BizDojo Wellington office (across the interwebs of course) and fire the same questions at the one and only Jackson James Wood, "Chief Media Wrangler" from New Zealand's other crowdfunding platform, PledgeMe

"Helping Kiwis fund the things they care about."


 Jackson James Wood (far left) and the PledgeMe team: Image courtesy of the man himself!

Jackson James Wood (far left) and the PledgeMe team: Image courtesy of the man himself!


HC: Hi Jackson, first up can you tell me what are the motivations/inspirations behind PledgeMe? And how did you get involved?

JJW: PledgeMe helps Kiwis fund the things they care about. Whether that's a funny little project, a big serious project, or a company we help people go out to their crowds to get the support they need to make the world a little bit of a better place. 

PledgeMe itself was born out of Anna Guenther's Masters thesis on crowdfunding. She was inspired to make it easier for people to fund the things they're passionate about because so many ideas don't get off the ground. She started PledgeMe just over three and a half years ago and it's pretty awesome to see almost 900 campaigns and 11 companies successfully crowdfunding over $7 million!

I came on board just over a year ago to help Anna out with the communications and story telling side of PledgeMe. I love how many amazing people are doing amazing things. Every day is different and it's great to be able to tell people about how PledgeMe helps New Zealanders.

HC: What would you say have been your highs and your lows?

JJW: The lows: our first two equity crowdfunding campaigns not making their goals. It was a bit of a blow, but we learnt from them and have since run 11 successful campaigns which have raised over $3 million on that side of the site.

The highs: PledgeMe has crowdfunded itself twice since I've been here. Each time we've gone out to our crowd to sell share in ourselves on our own platform. Crowdfunding crowdfunding! The first time, in November last year, was exhilarating. We raised $100,000 in 23 hours. Last month we went back to our crowd and raised a massive $365,000 to help fund our expansion. Very exciting times ahead too.


PledgeMe's Crowdfunding crowdfunding pt.2 video from July 2015

HC: How do you guys differ from other crowd-funding organisations?

JJW: Three things make us different from other crowdfunding organisations:

1) We're unashamedly focussed on New Zealand. We love these little islands down the bottom of the South Pacific and the people that live on them. We love helping the people do the cool things they care about and we're super linked into our communities so we can help connect people to their crowds.

2) PledgeMe offers both project and equity crowdfunding (and maybe soon another kind but shhhhhh don't tell anyone). This means not only can individuals and organisations fund projects they are working on, but companies and go out to their crowds to gain investment. 

3) PledgeMe is fun, seriously fun. We like to do things different and in a world where you often end up scrolling through an FAQ, we're committed to being a human presence in the crowdfunding scene. You'll see Anna and the rest of Team PledgeMe talking at events almost every night and we help our campaigns by providing awesome resources so they can crowdfund better.


HC: Now we’re particularly interested in crowdfunding for the arts - why would artists choose your platform over others?

JJW: As I said before, we're focussed on New Zealand crowdfunding projects and we've helped hundreds of New Zealand artists. From piano players to playwrights to painters, artists are in good crowdfunding company on PledgeMe. Also, by offering rewards for pledging, artists ensure pre-sales of tickets to their shows and a value exchange that engages their crowd. We've also got pretty good pickup when it comes to publicity for campaigns on the site, when you run a campaign you're not only getting the funding but you're also creating a buzz and PledgeMe buzzes like a hive of angry bees!

HC: What tips would you offer to artists looking to crowdfund their endeavours via PledgeMe? And how can they achieve greater funding success?


JJW: Rewards rewards rewards! Make them fun, interesting, engaging. They don't have to be a 1=1 value exchange, but they should be something that people in your crowd will appreciate. 

Short sharp video pitch: keep it clear how much funding you need, why you need it, and what you'll do with it. Make it fun. Doesn't have to be too professional, but still of a decent quality.

Go out to your crowd! PledgeMe doesn't promise a 'crowd in the cloud' you've got to go out to your friends, family and other networks and ask them to fund you. Tell everyone that you're crowdfunding and use it as part of the publicity for your project.

 JJW in Washington (Artist's Impression) from Jackson's PledgeMe campaign

JJW in Washington (Artist's Impression) from Jackson's PledgeMe campaign

HC: And lastly, who is Jackson?

JJW: I'm some guy who tweets too much. I met Anna a couple of years back when I was in a play which used PledgeMe to crowdfund its initial costs. We got talkin' and became pals and here I am working for her. Previously, I've done a whole lot of weird and whacky stuff from going to Space Schoo (twice)l to working for the Greens in Parliament to heading over to Washington DC later this year for a drug policy conference. Which, coincidentally, I am crowdfunding for so check out my campaign.