As a child of the Midwest, specifically a town of 5,000 in Iowa, I'm always excited to see a small city success story. I'm thrilled for the ladies of Missoula, Montana, home of both a certain BlogHer cofounder named Lisa Stone and the little parenting magazine that could, Mamalode. I got a chance to talk to Elke Govertsen recently about her journey to success.
BlogHer: What inspired you to do a video response to the I'm a VC video?
Elke Govertsen: I was first introduced to Brad Feld in March of this year at BlogHer Entrepreneurs. He was such an inspiring, authentic and passionate speaker I started following his blog. His firm, the Foundry Group, had this video (I'm a VC) that was funny, over-the-top and executed very, very well. I said if I ever pitched them, I would do a music video. I wrote the first draft of "You fund me all night long" during that trip. When I found out Brad was going to be in Missoula, I knew that even though I wasn't pitching him (we are not needing VC levels of funding), I had to do it. A good idea is worthless without execution. The thought of just telling him about this great idea was too painful for me; we had to make the video instead.
I think it is the mark of a true entrepreneur-- an absolute obsession with execution.
BlogHer: Have you heard any more about your Mission: Small Business application, or do you have to wait until September like us?
Elke Govertsen: Nope, we are waiting until September, too!
BlogHer: Have you done any other fundraising for Mamalode?
Elke Govertsen: I started Mamalode with $400. I printed a rate card and sold something that didn't exist. And then it did!
Since then I have borrowed a bit from family to bridge the gaps, but otherwise, no funding yet. I am possibly the most ridiculous bootstrapper ever. I go for every grant or program that allows my business to grow. I crash couches, use miles and am just generally scrappy. I think turning obstacles into opportunities has created an even better, more nimble and unique product than we would have had we started with funding.
BlogHer: What are your plans if you're able to secure funding?
Elke Govertsen: Well, we haven't actually started fundraising. We mostly had to do the video because it was impossible for me not to.
Looking down the road as we move from a local to national product, we will need to fundraise to build up our team, develop our tablet program and marketing for such and continue our quest for mama-world-domination (or something akin to that!)
BlogHer: How receptive have funders been to a woman-run business? To a Montana business?
Elke Govertsen: We have made excellent relationships with a wide network of fantastic people. It helps that we have made these relationships in an authentic and memorable way, and not because we needed anything from them. As far as gender goes or location, well, again, I think spinning any obstacle into an opportunity is really the only way to move forward. You will note that not only am I a female in our video but there are also kids and chickens running around and we specifically showed we are in Missoula, MT.
I just love people and entrepreneurialism. It is the greatest puzzle ever. I want to live to be 500 years old so I can keep on churning out ideas and making them happen.
BlogHer: Are you hoping this video will go viral?
Elke Govertsen: Isn't everyone? In all honesty, just having Brad Feld see it and remember us was the goal. And I think we have achieved that.
BlogHer: Do you think the I'm a VC video is evidence that VCs are lightening up with a Kickstarter effect?
Elke Govertsen: I don't know that many VCs! I do think the entire world is becoming more authentic and would imagine that the world of funding is, too.
BlogHer: Have you seen anyone else do a response video?
Elke Govertsen: I have not looked. I am too busy keeping up with myself!
BlogHer: Anything else you want to mention about this experience?
Elke Govertsen: My team is beyond amazing. Not only do they humor me, they are all in. Staff, family, chickens. I think we have created a business people want to be a part of, and that makes me very very proud.
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