Unique Internet-based fundraising effort helps Monticello swans

A recently established company with Monticello ties is using the power of the Internet to keep Sheila Lawrence’s winter waterfowl feeding legacy flying high.
Steve Kiviahde and Mark Kiviahde grew up near Monticello.
Their entrepreneurial enthusiasm is strong, and both have technical backgrounds coupled with sales and operations experience.
Late last month, the duo joined forces with Tom Harding, the CEO of InfinityDirect.com, a marketing agency out of Plymouth, to create CapitalGrip, an online company.
The three realized the difficultly of starting a business or create something new due to the lack of funding. It helped the trio had been part of other starup companies in the past.
“Mark got to know Tom Harding by attending entrepreneurial seminars and the three of us sat down together for lunch one day last year,” said Steve Kiviahde, CapitalGrip’s chief operating officer.
“We realized we had a great team to build a crowdfunding company. Mark knew of the Monticello swan feeding. We opened for business on Feb. 23 with the launch of the Monticello ‘Help Feed the Swans’ project.”
Wikipedia defines crowdfunding as the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.
Crowdfunding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, startup company funding, software development, inventions development, scientific research, community and civic projects.
Crowdfunding works well social media such as Facebook and Twitter, Kiviahde said.
“Mark and I met with Jim to discuss the funding of the corn,” Kiviahde said. “Jim does not receive much financial support for purchasing the corn to feed the swans. He’s spending about $20,000. This was a perfect hometown project to begin with. Jim thought it would be another tool to help fund his corn costs.”
Entitled “The Swan Lady’s Legacy,” the CapitalGrip flexible funding project has a goal of $20,000.
The online project has 13 days left.
To date, 3 percent or almost $600 has been contributed. Late last week, Jim Lawrence posted the following swan feeding project update on www.CapitalGrip.com:
“Every donation helps lighten my bill and is truly appreciated,” Lawrence wrote. “Thanks again for your interest in the swans and in furthering the legacy of my Sheila, the wonderful Swan Lady, whose passion and perseverance helped restoration of the swans in Monticello and many Midwest states that now have Trumpeters.”
Steve Kiviahde said CapitalGrip allows projects to run up to 60 days. A 30-day project is recommended and has shown to be the optimal project length.
As the  “Help Feed the Swans” project owner, Jim Lawrence set the project timeline. After the project timeline runs out, Kiviahde said the project will be closed. CapitalGrip then provides the funding to the project owner if the project is a flexible type.
Kiviahde said projects with flexible funding receive the funds collected even if the funding goal is not met. Projects in the flexible funding category don’t require a certain amount of funding to complete the project.
For projects with fixed funding, the funding goal must be met before time runs out or no funds change hands. This minimizes any risk.
For example, Steve Kiviahde said if $10,000 was needed to complete a project, it could be difficult to complete the project with only $5,000.
“It allows project owners to test their idea or product without risk,” he said.
“If you don’t receive the needed financial support, you’re not liable for anything,” he said. “If people believe in an idea or project, it will come to life and they will then spread the word to their network. The project owner will have to decide which funding method is best for their project.”
CapitalGrip charges a 10 percent fee on monies raised, said Mark Kiviahde. “CapitalGrip pays the associated PayPal transaction fees. The project owner can simply set the goal with the fees in mind and can typically offset fees with the global nature of crowdfunding.”
Steve Kiviahde said people usually will start a project on CapitalGrip.com and submit it for approval. CapitalGrip staff in Plymouth screens a project to make sure it fits the company’s branding and does not contain offensive material.
Once approved the project will be uploaded to the company’s home page.
The project owner will then market their project to get the community involved in funding their project.
“People who support a project will help market it through their networks and media sites and blogs,” Kiviahde said.
With Facebook and Twitter alone, a CapitalGrip crowdfunding project can reach a ton of people, he said. Through the Internet, a project can receive many small contributions, eventually collecting a larger sum of money.
“We will be getting more projects in the Monticello area when people learn of our website,” Kiviahde said. “It’s especially important for Mark and I to fund local crowdfunding projects around Monticello. CapitalGrip is looking for passionate people who will create projects on our site, especially the folks in our hometown.”
For more about the Monticello swan project and other crowdfunding projects, visit www.capitalgrip.com, call 612-460-1672 or email [email protected]

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at [email protected]