One difficulty companies can face when first starting out is trying to connect with other businesses that have a similar goal. Networking for anyone first starting out is absolutely key, but for small businesses, it can make or break you. However, when your industry is super specific– like, say, sustainability– it can be a struggle to connect in a meaningful way outside of cold calling and sending hundreds of unreturned emails.
This week’s Small Business Spotlight, AMP, is changing this for professionals, students, and social entrepreneurs working in the renewable and sustainability sector. As a rapidly developing industry, sustainability can be challenging to keep up with and AMP functions as a collaborative tool and starting point for those interested. And they put their collaborative money where their mouth is: AMP got its start by an Indiegogo campaign.
Currently, AMP is development and production. Keep a look out for the beta version in early July and sign up here for updates.
Founder Sarah talks a little bit more below about sustaining AMP’s mission:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
I’m an entrepreneur, and the co-founder of a soon-to-launch online business called AMP that allows professionals working within the sustainability sector to more easily share and discover the best information and resources. Think Yelp (or Angie’s List) for sustainability resources – we organize the best peer-reviewed links, media and documents for individuals using the power of business to solve social and environmental challenges. I also write – articles, poetry and songs.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
We raised our first round of funds through Indieogogo and crowdfunding tends to work best for projects that have mainstream consumer appeal. Our website is for professionals working on very specific issues, so that created a challenge in getting the campaign to go viral. We became increasingly aggressive with our “ask” and had to leverage media to increase exposure and build momentum. Gratefully, we met our goal of $30K and were able to put that towards developing the beta version of our platform.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
Probably learning how to establish, and maintain, a healthy level of emotional detachment from AMP. Being so passionate about something that you’ve worked hard to create can make it difficult to not take feedback personally. But I’ve continued to ask for a ton of advice throughout this process, and have gotten much better at filtering out what’s not useful, and applying what is. People are always projecting their own experiences, which, for entrepreneurs, can tend to skew negative. I’m able to see that more clearly now.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
I reached out to a friend of a friend that’s a designer, to help me create a logo for my company. He suggested I crowd source the design using crowdSPRING as a way to both manage costs and increase my exposure to a variety of ideas. He worked with me on the creative brief, understanding what information designers would be looking for, and guided me through the process. I’m really happy with the final logo we selected.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
I don’t think it would qualify as crazy, but one of the biggest surprises for me has been watching my creativity expand after giving myself permission to pursue AMP. I’d always worked for established companies and done what I thought I was supposed to do to be successful. Shortly after deciding to focus on AMP full-time, all these wonderfully inspiring and creative new friends came into my life, I picked up my guitar and couldn’t stop writing songs, began having my poetry published, and started writing articles for GOOD, PandoDaily and TriplePundit. It’s been really fun, and gives me the fuel I need to keep moving AMP forward.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I’m not a big fan of harboring regrets, as I think everything we experience in life teaches us something we needed to learn at the time. That being said, I might have formed a team sooner. My current partner and I started working together about six months after I’d begun down this path, and those first months were really tough. But in many ways they were necessary, as I likely needed to crystallize my vision before someone else would want to hop on board.
Ten words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
Follow what lights you up and remain willing to fail.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
The beta version of our platform will be live in July, and from there we hope to experience steady growth while making continued revisions to the site based on analytics and user feedback. During this time we’ll also be seeking additional investment needed to scale growth. Finding the individuals who understand our vision – of becoming the largest peer-reviewed sustainability resource directory in the world – and believe they can contribute significant value will be key. I’m looking forward to those conversations.
Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahmck
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