Forty-five days may not seem like a long time. But for Janel Ordemann of Pride Enjoy, a Calverton-based alternative baking company, it might as well have been an eternity.
That was the amount of time she had to raise $6,200 on Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site where individuals can raise money from "the crowd" -- the public at large -- in exchange for rewards.
But with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing.
Once you set a time frame for your campaign -- 60 days being the max -- you must reach your entire funding goal by that deadline to receive any money.
And for Ordemann, who selected 45 days, the pressure was intense.
"Every day is so stressful and exhausting," says Ordemann, 30, who makes vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free rainbow cookies called Radical Rainbow Cookies. "There's always the fear that if you fail, you look like a failure to everyone."
Of some 245,600 projects launched since Kickstarter's inception in 2009, only about 89,400 have been funded, according to the site.
Identify backers early
"The dirty secret of crowdfunding is that you kind of have to bring your own crowd," says Don Steinberg, the Philadelphia-based author of "The Kickstarter Handbook" (Quirk Books; $14.95). "The day you launch your campaign shouldn't be the first day you're working on it."
From the start, figure out your constituencies and how to reach them, he notes. "Many of the really sophisticated Kickstarters I've seen lately are lining up press even before they launch their campaign."
And you need to work all channels until the end, says Steinberg.
"It was total adrenaline until the end," notes Ordemann, who started her firm in May 2014, four months before launching the Kickstarter campaign. "I felt like I had a one in a million chance."
Pride Enjoy's campaign launched Sept. 2 and by Sept. 3 it had become a Kickstarter staff pick, a designation that can help increase pledges.
To publicize that, Ordemann put a "staff pick pin" on her page, and by Day 3 created fliers letting people know about her campaign.
As donations started to trickle in, she knew she needed to do more. So on Day 6 she started paying Facebook to boost her social media posts, but it wasn't until Day 11 when she created an edgy online ad that she got her biggest leap.
"I had a rainbow cookie covering the private parts of Michelangelo's David statue," said Ordemann. It had the slogan, "I'd rather go naked than eat animal products." Pledges jumped from $670 to $1,296 in five days.
Another big break happened when she was written up in the Northforker.com. By the three-quarter mark, she'd raised $4,040.
Along the way, she offered different rewards to backers. For example, $1 got you good karma, $25 got you 11 cookies and a mystery gift (a puzzle), and $100 got you 44 cookies.
It pays to keep dollar amounts familiar, with multiples of 10 or 25 being popular, says Mario Lurig of Denver, Colorado, author of "Unlocking Kickstarter Secrets" (Kindle; $3.99). It also helps to offer early-bird rewards and stretch goals tied to reward bonuses, to encourage backers to increase their donations, he says.
At one point, Ordemann offered reward upgrades for donors who recruited more backers, and in the final days ramped up all efforts including calls, emails and social media.
Down to the wire
And on Day 45, with only 80 minutes to spare, she reached her goal thanks to a $45 pledge from Jennifer Greene of Bellport, who runs a group for local vegans called Vegan Long Island Meetup.
"On the final day, I saw a reminder from Janel in my inbox," says Greene. "I was thrilled to help her reach the finish line."
All told, Ordemann raised $6,389 to buy equipment and ingredients. She shipped rewards to 156 backers -- about 1,600 cookies.
Since then, she's sparked the interest of Whole Foods (she sells at their Jericho farmers market on alternating Thursdays), is in talks with Wild by Nature, and is planning to expand beyond rainbow cookies.
"It was an amazing experience," says Ordemann, who sells at about half a dozen venues. "It almost felt like a sporting event, having these people cheer you on."