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Quickstarter success record climbs: 16-1

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Quickstarter formula for creating crowd-funding campaigns for area entrepreneurs seeking to finance an idea, a project or a business, has worked its magic once again – this time for the expansion of a local business, Bison Hill Stonecrafts, operated by Andrew Church of Waterford.

During his month-long crowdfunding campaign – The Marble Plates of America – hosted on Kickstarter’s online platform, Church has raised $3,432 from 51 backers. With his campaign ending May 25 at 11 p.m., he has more than doubled his goal of $1,500.

Quickstarter, conceived by Mercyhurst University Associate Professor of Intelligence Studies Kristan Wheaton, has netted $157,421 for local businesses and nonprofits in the past year and a half. During that time, Wheaton and approximately 50 paid student employees from Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend advised 102 entrepreneurs and successfully achieved funding for 16 of 17 campaigns, most overfunded by 200+ percent. In Church’s case, his campaign reached its funding goal in the first six hours.

Church and his team at Bison Hill Stonecrafts take locally reclaimed roofing slate and hand cut the tiles into coasters, serving trays, ornaments, house numbers and many more products. Since its founding in 2015, Church’s entrepreneurial venture has been gaining momentum and he decided to expand by adding a new line of marble display trays and coasters cut into the shape of U.S. states. However, that meant additional resources.

So, he turned to Wheaton and Mercyhurst University to orchestrate a crowdfunding campaign for him. Students assisting Church included Mercyhurst sophomore Abby Rose of Waterford as project manager, Mercyhurst freshman Billy Wager of Erie as videographer, and Penn State Behrend junior Sydney Sample of Corry, as writer.

“Once again, we are witnessing another local success story, and it is not just for the entrepreneur, but for the many students who are getting paid for their expertise and gaining precious hands-on experience,” Wheaton said.

In addition to the 16 successful campaigns of the past year and a half, another 16 active cases are in various stages of development, Wheaton said.

The Mercyhurst Quickstarter projects are funded through several agents, among them Mercyhurst University Academic Enrichment Grants, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst and Behrend.