Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

A $20 pledge earns donors one Thru Hike game. Photo courtesy of Thru Hike's Facebook page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.


Educator, Eagle Scout, game developer and avid hiker Mark Hanf is a busy man, but he still makes time for fun – this time in the form of Thru Hike: The Appalachian Trail Game. Hanf’s board game presents best practices for hiking the trail in an entertaining and easily digestible format targeted at youths. So far, his game plan is working! The project surpassed its $10,000 goal within 24 hours of launching and the pledges keep coming. Funds will be used to manufacture the games, develop additional playing cards, and eventually launch Thru Hike in digital format. According to the game’s Facebook page, 5 percent of sales will go to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy upon product launch.


Several former Asheville residents have teamed up to launch a wood-fired pizza business, whose facilities will likely be based in Mills River after test launching in Charlotte. Owner Darren Stephens spent nearly two years developing a wood fire oven that reaches 950 degrees, yet fits comfortably within the constraints of a food truck. Stephens’ two-pronged business model will include franchising his mobile kitchens and selling the patent pending ovens to other food businesses. Stephens aims to raise $350,000 by Aug. 27, to procure the first fleet of 20 pizza trucks.


Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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