Plum Alley: A Crowdfunding Site For Women By Women

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deborah-jackson-plum-valleyPhoto: Courtesy of Plum Alley.
The Internet is chock-full of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe. It's a big business — all told, they raised more than $2.7 billion in 2012. But, there's one site that's attempting to do a little bit more by focusing on women. Plum Alley, which officially launched this week, is the first crowdfunding site specifically for female entrepreneurs.

By aiming to "connect women entrepreneurs with markets, capital, and advice," Plum Alley enables users to shop for products, raise funds, and get advice from other female movers and shakers. Just like Kickstarter, users are encouraged to support projects through incentives. The energy drink VROU, for example, offers supporters a sample bottle in every flavor for donating $20. A $10,000 donation earns you a trip to Las Vegas to play golf with pro Natalie Gulbis (and a year supply of the drink).

Founded by former investment banker Deborah Jackson, the site doesn't simply provide a platform for projects to make money, it also links users up to experts who help women successfully grow their businesses. Jackson sees Plum Alley as a business incubator, a testing ground for what may eventually become wildly successful or what may still need tweaking. “The beauty of this is you can actually test it in the market,” she said. “In a way, it de-risks the business.”

So far, just eight companies have signed on to the platform, but Jackson's business partner, Heidi Lehmann, has high hopes. “We are going to discover the next Tory Burch, the next Kate Spade, the next Bethenny Frankel or the next Sara Blakely through our program,” she said. We hope so. Given how male-dominated the online space is, a crowdfunding site that's dedicated to female entrepreneurs is a welcome change. (The Wall Street Journal)