Published on LinkedIn Influencers on May 16, 2014.
In the not so distant past, access to capital was extremely difficult. It didn’t matter how brilliant your idea or project may have been, the reality was that a select few people held all the cards in terms of financing, and whether you were trying to record an album, start a company, make a movie, or write a book, your project lived and died by those select few gatekeepers of capital. But no longer! We’ve seen the rise of the phenomenon known as crowdfunding, and last year I wrote about crowdfunding and highlighted Catapult, an online crowdfunding resource for backing projects that support women and girls across the globe. Now it is time to share the story of a particular Kickstarter campaign, one that could not be nearer or dearer to my heart.
The back story: It’s no secret that I love superheroes. I’ve written many times about my love of superhero movies, my obsession with Wonder Woman, and my frustration with Hollywood’s inability to get Wonder Woman to the big screen. This love of superheroes began as a child with my weekly dose of the Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends, but as an adult, my passion for superheroes was ignited in 2001 when I read an article by Tom Peters in Fast Company Magazine: “50 Rules of Leadership”. The last rule was left blank, inviting readers to come up with their own rule of leadership, and after thinking it through, I wrote in, “Be A Superhero.” I typed up this statement, and a colleague of mine added superhero visuals around it, in which Wonder Woman was prominently displayed. The finished product remained on my desk until I left that job, and it is currently hanging in my home office, reminding me every day to be a superhero and to strive to be the best I can be.
That colleague’s name was Dawn Nadeau, and just this week she and her partner, Julie Kerwin, launched a kickstarter campaign to support their new company, IAmElemental, that will produce a series of female action figures that represent The Elements of Power. These elements form a new version of the periodic table, and are based on the idea that we don’t need a radioactive spider to bite us in order become powerful; we are all already powerful, and that power comes from within. The action figures will be released as a series, with each series consisting of seven figures that each represent an element of a particular power. The first series is that of Courage, with the seven elements being Bravery, Honesty, Energy, Persistence, Enthusiasm, Industry, and Fear. Should these prove successful, IAmElemental has plans for many more series that when combined will create a periodic table of power.
What is potentially revolutionary about IAmElemental’s toys is that these figures do not have set origin stories, but instead encourage kids to create their own stories based on their own ideas and the powers they see within themselves. As the Kickstarter campaign states, IAmElemental believes that kids “are not only capable of creating their own stories, but that story creation is a vital part of their emotional development.” In other words, these action figures are meant to be more character than characters. It’s an amazing example of the power of play, and how something as simple as an empowering action figure can have a huge impact on a child’s imagination. It also helps that these action figures look amazing, and for once, offer realistic body sizes and ratios that stand in stark contrast to the female action figures currently on offer, thereby making them every mother’s dream come true for their impressionable daughters (and sons!).
So why did Dawn and Julie decide to start this company? Because as mothers they were frustrated with the lack of quality superheroes and action figures on the market for girls. Although my baby just turned 14 years old, I remember feeling the same way when she was younger. That is why I know this company will be successful. Smart, intelligent, let’s get it done women are creating something that they would want to buy, and know their friends would want to buy as well. They are not waiting for the market to give them what they want, they are creating the goods themselves. This is what is at the heart of the growing trend in women’s entrepreneurship, and platforms like Kickstarter are helping their dreams and hard work become a thriving business.
Needless to say, I immediately backed this campaign, not only because a dear friend started it, but because I want this product to exist. I know so many little girls who all have birthdays coming up, and this is a gift I can’t wait to give. A set of female action figures that helps us find our superpowers! Are you kidding me? Aside from a pint sized Wonder Woman t-shirt, this has ‘Jacki gift’ written all over it. And I’m not the only one who believes in this project, because just three days into the campaign, it met its initial goal of $35,000, and as of this writing, it’s 193% funded and climbing. Let’s not stop there. Join me in supporting these two incredible women and turn it from a campaign into a movement, and prove to the powers that be that there is a market for empowering female action figures and superheroes. Let’s bring the GIRL POWER to these GIRL POWER toys. And better yet, let’s bring the GUY POWER too.
If this project does not ring your bells like it does mine, consider supporting another project. With over 4,700 hundred live Kickstarter projects at the time of this writing, and more being added every day, there’s a project out there to suit everyone’s interests. And that’s just on one platform! Regardless of what project you ultimately decide to support, the important thing is that platforms like this are democratizing capital and I love it. While unlocking bigger pools of capital is still challenging, the proof of concept that success on kickstarter demonstrates offers a big head start, so let’s all support the projects we believe in and help make dreams a reality. Now that’s the stuff of superheroes.
Jacki Zehner and Laura Moore