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Wheaton seeks students to support ‘Quickstarter’

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The new “Quickstarter” crowd-funding initiative conceived by Mercyhurst University intelligence studies professor Kristan Wheaton got a financial boost this week in the form of a $10,000 grant from Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Wheaton is now ready to pay Mercyhurst’s top students to work with him on campaigns for local entrepreneurs seeking cash through the world’s largest crowd-funding platform:  Kickstarter.  Thanks to a Mercyhurst Academic Enrichment Grant of $2,000, Wheaton already has students working on three Kickstarter projects for local entrepreneurs. The Ben Franklin grant will enable him to do five more between now and June 2015.

Wheaton began Quickstarter, which essentially is his strategic plan for conducting Kickstarter campaigns, after meeting with success on several of his own campaigns, among them generating funds to send a liturgical dance team from Mercyhurst to perform in Jerusalem last year.

“Quickstarter is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in the Erie region who need funds to launch their ideas and potentially turn those ideas into businesses,” Wheaton said. “The more successes we can generate through Quickstarter, the better opportunity we have to produce a culture change for Erie as an idea hub.”

It’s also an opportunity for Mercyhurst students to benefit from the university’s promise of hands-on learning, to use the skills they have learned in the classroom to help others, to enhance their resumes, and to get paid for doing it.

Wheaton is looking specifically for highly organized students across multiple disciplines who are skilled in copywriting, graphic design, public relations, business analytics, social media and leadership.

Wheaton has found that successful Kickstarter campaigns begin with advance outreach that creates awareness through social media platforms like Facebook. Thus, students would oversee both Facebook and Kickstarter campaigns simultaneously. Traditionally on Kickstarter, participants have 30 days to raise a specified amount of money. If that amount isn’t raised in the allotted time, the deal is off and all funds are returned to contributors. If more is raised, however, the entrepreneur gets to keep them.

The three projects Wheaton’s student teams are working on include: a local couple seeking money to start their own Thai restaurant; an initiative called “The Happy Gardener,” through which an individual is seeking funds to produce tools he’s designed to make urban gardening more efficient; and a writer who wants to start his own comic company.

Wheaton said entrepreneurs who want the support of Quickstarter and students who would like to participate can contact him at 814-824-2023 or e-mail him at kwheaton@mercyhurst.edu.