News & Events

Ben Franklin Invests $10,000 in Professor’s Crowd-Funding Project

Erie, PA – Kristan Wheaton, a Mercyhurst University professor, has developed a way to encourage entrepreneurship, beat brain drain, and help foster a local “startup culture” – it’s called Quickstarter.

Wheaton’s Quickstarter initiative is designed to create excitement around startup activity. By identifying potential entrepreneurs, who already have great ideas as well as many of the organizational skills needed for success, the goal is to then help them get funding to move the concept forward. Rewards-based crowdfunding platforms are ideal for testing new ideas, but they also force the entrepreneur to hone their marketing message, explore pricing strategies, and secure some initial customers as the first steps. Once the campaign begins, the entrepreneur typically has about 30 days to raise a specific amount of money. If that money is not raised, the deal is off, and the funds are returned to those who contributed.

Professor Wheaton commented, “Quickstarter, which is basically just my plan for supporting crowdfunding campaigns and increasing the likelihood of their success, is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in the Erie region, who need specific kinds of technical support, to launch their ideas and potentially turn them into real business opportunities.”

Successful campaigns usually begin with advance outreach that creates awareness through social media platforms like Facebook. Skill sets that include copywriting, public relations, graphic design, and video production are essential and are provided by Wheaton’s students. Thanks to a Mercyhurst Academic Enrichment Grant, Wheaton already has students working on three projects for local entrepreneurs. The Ben Franklin investment will enable him to do five more between now and June 2015.

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