On March 11, 2014, Alex Daly launched a Kickstarter campaign for folk superstar Neil Young, specifically for the Pono Music Player, a portable device he was developing. By the end of day one, they’d raised $800,000. After a month they’d raised $6,225,354 all from her kitchen table in Williamsburg.
Nobody understands the new world of crowd-funding better than 27-year-old Alex. Dubbed the ‘Crowdsourceress’, she’s the Dumbledore of the Flat White Economy. She discovered a talent for writing grants whilst working at a boutique film production company, and after running some of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns, she turned this skill into a flourishing business of her own: Vann Alexandra.
“People are so busy making their art that they don’t have time to run their own campaigns – that’s the reason our company is doing so well.”
“We partner with creators to bring their projects to life through crowd funding,” explains Alex, “And what that means is basically we raise money for people, whether they’re artists, authors, designers, filmmakers. That’s the reason our company is doing so well: people are so busy making their art that they don’t have time to run their own campaigns.” Vann Alexandra is not another tech start-up – rather, it is a start-up that understands tech. A team of five handles everything from copywriting and digital marketing, to donor engagement and even video production. Of the 28 campaigns Alex has worked on so far, every one has been a success by surpassing their goals.
Vann Alexandra is no longer managed from Alex’s kitchen table, and has been based in Greenpoint (conveniently just down the road from Kickstarter itself). The space was designed by Alex’s boyfriend, a designer at internationally renowned design firm Pentagram, and is filled with plants, rugs from Mexico, and a vintage Bang & Olufsen amplifier.
“This is very much an artistic space, and also like a home,” says Alex. “We’re trying to create a sense of family here; the campaigns work we do is so stressful and intense that I want to create an environment where we sharing everything and become a part of each other’s work.”
“A lot of the time, clients say ‘Alex, we don’t know what we’re doing.’ The fact that they’re turning to us for our expertise in bringing their projects to life really is an incredible feeling.”
With her 100% success rate Alex can pick and choose which projects she takes on, leaning towards larger, often intellectual undertakings. They worked most recently on a documentary about essayist Joan Didion and a film chronicling the final tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera Einstein on the Beach. “A lot of the time, clients say ‘Alex, we don’t know what we’re doing.’ The fact that they’re turning to us for our expertise in bringing their projects to life really is an incredible feeling.”
Alex’s campaigns have also landed her in the most unlikely situations. Last year she helped Eliot Higgins, the British journalist known for breaking stories about the Syrian civil war by studying YouTube, launch Bellingcat, a website for other civilian journalists to publish their stories.
At the other end of the spectrum, she helped TLC to raise $430,255 from their fans to record their final album a few months ago. “We went to their hotel, bought a bottle of champagne, and celebrated hitting the goal in just 24 hours!” Alex explains, “But they were like, ‘Girl, don’t bring that devil juice in here!’ because they don’t drink alcohol… They’re moms now.”
Alex’s project shows that everybody can change the world and has important skills to offer, that one day TLC might be calling you up asking you for your advice about whether or not to chase a waterfall. When asked to give advice to budding entrepreneurs, the Crowdsourceress says: “Work your ass off, and always be one step ahead. Be aware that there’s something better out there, or something that you could be doing better. Work really hard, and also be cognisant, and also be intuitive about what’s going on with the world. Most importantly, do what it is that you want to do!”