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Crowdfunding: Turning your reputation into money

The stack of black plastic cases, some of them sprouting wires, begged the question: What was PJ Conley building at his dining room table? High-tech tackle boxes? Electronic first-aid kits? Something nefarious? “This was actually my original one,” Conley said, grabbing the device he calls the RaspCarry, a protective case with a built-in screen and Bluetooth keyboard designed to hold the Raspberry Pi, a $35 no-frills computer that sells separately. Thanks in large part to the nearly $8,000 Conley raised this winter on Kickstarter, he has built and shipped 150 RaspCarrys. “From there it really opened up doors that I never really thought were possible,” said the 24-year-old packaging designer, who has started his own website, picked up a business partner and is developing a next-generation RaspCarry prototype. In the age of social media, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites are giving charities a new way to pass the hat, helping artists find patrons and allowing entrepreneurs, like Conley, to raise capital in ways they never could before. CALLING ALL CROWDS Richard Bliss, a California-based crowdfunding coach, calls Kickstarter the “the monetization of your reputation.” “There are no gatekeepers,” he said. “You put together your pitch. You go to the public, […]

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