August 25, 2015
For a lot of people, the realization that they’re meant to walk an entrepreneurial life path strikes at seemingly random times – almost out of the blue. That is, most of the entrepreneurs I speak with can trace their journey back to one formative moment when they realized their current life trajectory wasn’t quite up to par.
Some people know they’re destined to be entrepreneurs from a very young age, others find the desire much later in life. Regardless, this moment of realization is one of the common threads amongst all entrepreneurs – we chose this lifestyle.
For Will Crane, that moment came after a long, crappy day at an internship he had no desire to work. When he got home he whipped his laptop out to take his mind off of the day.
Not long after he happened upon a video of a toddler experiencing rain for the first time ever. She was beyond pumped in the video while Crane sat, dejected and stirring in his gloom.
“I’m here having this bad day, and this kid is having way more fun,” he explains. “It’s so weird that we have to work in a job that we’re not excited about so we can get to a place where we’re happy experiencing life. It might sound preachy, but that was a weird, emotional moment of realization for me.”
It was that video that pushed Crane and his brother, both military veterans, to choose a better life and found BRAND: it’s what made them both truly happy. Together they built out the platform as a universal crowdfunding solution where users can raise money for pretty much anything.
That is, if you want to buy a new bike you can post a campaign and try to get the costs funded. Alternatively, if you want to host a charitable donation extravaganza to the Red Cross, you can do that as well. Users on BRAND also don’t have to worry about time limits on their campaigns either.
Outside of that the other massive difference between BRAND and their competition is that donors can only fund ten cents, fifty cents, or one dollar as of now. According to Crane, keeping it small like this at first will help keep the company – which is very early stage at the moment – easier to manage as they scale.
“It’s a one click process right now,” says Crane. “We want to plant the idea first and then grow it out as we get bigger.”
So far Crane and his brother have seen some decent traction, but still, the road ahead is steep and wrought with jagged potholes. We’ve seen plenty of other crowdfunding platforms like this climb, slip, and ultimately fall into the abyss.
Crane and his brother are hoping to bring their unique experiences from time in the military into BRAND though. Admittedly, it’s something we don’t hear too much of in the tech community because veterans are absolutely members of an underserved demographic.
“Veterans aren’t prepared to make that leap from military life into the entrepreneurial world – that’s how they’re underserved,” says Crane. “Everybody assumes that veterans get jobs after serving, but the truth is they don’t. They might if they went to West Point, but typical military don’t get hired for positions that require a degree. You just need to know how to apply translatable skill sets. It’s a question of education and teaching people how they fit into the bigger picture.”
What’s ironic about all this is that the skill sets a veteran develops during boot camp and basic training alone are widely applicable to most professional markets. Can you imagine any scenario where strong mental fortitude and deft organizational capacity under pressure wouldn’t be a good thing? I can’t.
To that end, Crane spends a majority of his time outside of BRAND at Chicago’s Bunker Labs, helping to build veteran entrepreneurs from the ground up, no matter what it takes. To take it full circle: it was never about the money for Crane, it’s about helping other people live their dreams.
Image Credit: Pixabay
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