When we hired InventureX to assist us with our crowdfunding campaign, we had no idea what a frustrating, exasperating, exhausting experience it would be.
InventureX will claim the only reason I’m writing this review is because our crowdfunding campaign wasn’t successful. To some degree, that’s true. But even if we had reached our goal, my business partner (BP) and I would never have given them a good review or done a video testimonial. Our hope is if someone has a product similar to ours (i.e., a platform, service), they will heed the warnings we received and realize crowdfunding may not be the best option. If they have a consumer product, we hope they will choose one of InventureX’s competitors.
Why We Chose Crowdfunding
In February 2018, I had an angel investor and potential partner who was going to be a co-founder in my digital health startup Cancer University (Cancer U). Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree on the partnership terms. To save our friendship, we decided not to be partners. Determined to move forward, I found another partner who brought lots of sales/entrepreneur experience, but little cash to the business. I had been putting every dollar I made from my coaching business into Cancer U, but it didn’t feel like enough. I began exploring other funding options.
As a female business owner, I thought an SBA loan was a possibility. A long shot but still a possibility given my good credit score. I found a service online that matched me with potential lenders in my area. After rewriting their horrific business plan, I met with a loan officer at BB&T. He and his boss were terrific. They understood what I wanted to do. The problem was I needed more than a strong credit score to get a $100K SBA loan. I needed proof of income, which I didn’t have. As a self-employed career coach and consultant, my business had not matured enough to show consistent income over a period of years. If I wanted an SBA loan, the best way to get it was to have someone either willing to co-sign on the loan or willing to guarantee the loan by giving $100K to BB&T (preferably the latter). I don’t know many people with that kind of money and the people I do know are not willing to part with it.
I felt the next best option would be crowdfunding, but I didn’t want to do it alone. I knew we needed a company who specialized in crowdfunding to make our campaign successful.
Why We Chose InventureX
I did what I think most people do … I Googled. From the results, I created a list of companies to contact.
- InventureX (Reached out 7/5; Had screening call on 7/6)
- Funded Today (Reached out 7/7; Rejected 7/9)
- Enventys Partners (Reached out 7/7; Rejected 7/9 but provided resources)
- The LaunchPad Agency (Reached out 7/7; Not outright rejected but not a good fit)*
- The Crowdfunding Formula (Reached out 7/9; Received an e-book)
- Rainfactory (Reached out 7/9; Never heard from them after multiple attempts)*
*Recommended by Indiegogo
Sometimes, I wonder if I hadn’t reached out to InventureX first and if they hadn’t gotten back to me so quickly, if we would have chosen them. As you can see, the other companies rejected us or never returned our emails/inquiries through their websites. The ones who rejected us were kind. They didn’t know how to sell a service on a crowdfunding platform saying “Crowdfunding for platforms does not work, no matter the audience.” RED FLAG #1
Six Reasons Why You Should Not Hire InventureX
1. They don’t seem honest. The screening call is step #1 in the process of InventureX making you what they call a “live offer.” During the 10-minute screening call, Greg asked me several times about my career coaching business. Every time I brought up why I scheduled the call, he asked about my coaching business. I couldn’t understand it and felt conflicted about moving forward. However, I gave him the requested $500 deposit to create a proposal.
When I emailed him and asked that my card not be charged, Greg wrote, “I didn’t process it. (we just use that to weed out curious people from serious people) As we do get a few hundred requests per week here so it’s hard to know who is serious and who is not. So now that you know it hasn’t processed the real question is does not taking a chance really move you forward on you goal or are you letting your fear prevent you from moving forward.”
Wow. He lied about charging my card. (I was glad he didn’t but the lie made me suspicious.) And he pulled the fear card. Really!?! I was livid. I didn’t return his email for several days. Here’s how I replied: “I’m concerned you don’t get me at all. And if you and the rest of InventureX’s team don’t understand me or my business, we won’t be successful.” Why didn’t I read my own words? RED FLAG #2
2. They don’t answer direct questions. After a phone call with Mike, the VP of Marketing, my BP and I were figuring out how to get the money to hire InventureX. However, we wanted to know where our dollars would be spent. I specifically asked Mike on August 2nd the following questions:
- Does the game plan (their terminology) include a detailed marketing budget showing where our dollars are being spent?
- How do you bill your clients? Before/as/after services are procured/completed?
- We need a week to have the $15K in one lump sum, but would you need all of it at one time?
His non-reply reply was, “Hi Andrea, good questions. It sounds like budget is a big concern at the moment. Let me connect you with Greg from our team so he can go over how we work and the process in more detail. If you feel like it makes sense then I’m happy to put together a plan and funding goals that are aligned with your budget.”
When I asked again on August 3, “Does the game plan include a detailed line-item budget?”
I received this reply from Greg, “Hi Andrea, 100% of the budget goes to marketing we come up with a game plan and go over it with live with you. We make our % off the backend.”
A week or so later, I sent this email to Mike, “My team has justified concerns about the lack of communication/transparency. Greg has not gone over how you work or the process in more detail. It’s been like pulling teeth.”
When I asked Mike again if the game plan included a detailed marketing budget showing where our dollars would be spent, he replied, “Yes.”
Since August, we asked to see the budget every time we spoke to a representative from InventureX. To date, we have never seen it. RED FLAG #3
They don’t communicate well.
After we signed the contract, we were assigned to Jason, our Project Success Manager. To Jason’s credit, he communicated well via email. But it was nearly impossible to get a meeting with anyone. We felt like we were begging for meetings. Because they didn’t reach out to us, their initial Facebook ads to generate interest in our Kickstarter campaign were way off target. They gathered 1800 email addresses that were potentially useless because they didn’t target the audiences correctly.
I had stressed early on that we wanted to be in the video, and I would be happy to fly to Los Angeles (their headquarters) to do it. Apparently, our budget (the one we never saw) did not allow for a video shoot at their studio in Los Angeles.
Without telling us, they hired a video production team located in Springfield, Missouri! While the team had done some good work, they had not done anything similar to what we needed for our crowdfunding campaign. Fortunately for us, Springfield isn’t that far from Birmingham. (The InventureX team assumed we would not be in the video so it didn’t matter who they hired.) My BP and I drove to Springfield to shoot the video. We also wrote the script, outlined the storyboard, suggested music … we did almost everything except film ourselves.
Our launch was on October 9. But after a meeting on October 2, we did not hear from anyone at InventureX until October 8 — the day before our launch! It was maddening. We couldn’t get a meeting with them until October 11 and again, it was only after we begged. RED FLAG #4
4. They don’t do things when they say they will do them. The InventureX team would often say they would send something for us to review and never send it or send it weeks later (which is crazy given how tight the deadlines were). Examples include:
- On September 12, Jack wrote, “I’ll send over the landing page from the team here along with your PR pitches to review.” We received the PR Pitches, which needed some work, on September 24. Click originals and click revisions to see the difference.
- On September 4 during a phone call, Mike said that Jack would send over a liner/landing page for us to review. We didn’t see the landing page until September 20 and that was only after sending multiple emails asking about it.
- On September 21, I asked again about the detailed marketing plan. The answer I received, “Hi Andrea, yes we will share some of the other marketing assets such as the PR pitches and Ad previews with you shortly.” Marketing assets are not a marketing plan. RED FLAG #5
- On October 25 — two weeks into the campaign — I asked for the third time to see the Facebook Ads.
- On November 20 (after the campaign ended), I reached out again for the third time (11/9, 11/15) asking Jack for a post-campaign call. Third time seems to be the charm with InventureX.
5. They don’t write or do press well. Their first attempt at our Kickstarter page (September 7) was awful. They copied and pasted from our business plan giving little thought to what content mattered or how the text was laid out on the page.
On October 12, Jack sent over a link stating, “First article featured about Cancer U so far from our press efforts.” We were appalled. The story was written by a non-native English speaker and it wasn’t factually correct. The website no longer exists, but I saved the article. Click Health Milis to read it. We asked for the story to be removed from the website before it was cached by Google. Jack said it was delisted on the website on October 16, but it still showed up in searches after that date.
Meanwhile, I had been working with other press outlets to promote our campaign. Every person ran their pitches by me before posting anything and they provided detailed press reports with specific analytics so we knew what/where things were working. If everyone else was capable and willing to offer such valuable information, clearly my expectations were not unrealistic. Yet, we couldn’t get any details, ever, from InventureX. RED FLAG #6
They don’t follow through (or they make false promises).
- They still had assets available to help us. (He didn’t explain what those assets were.)
- They would create a detailed report of what did/did not work by the end of that week. Additionally, they would co-write an email for us to all backers and I would write a personal message to all backers through Kickstarter (I did).
- They were open to relaunching on another platform like Indiegogo.
We never saw a report. Jack later admitted it didn’t exist. RED FLAG #7
I replied the day after Christmas with my Indiegogo login info. Then we heard nothing. Absolutely nothing except for crickets. My BP took over as the lead for the campaign, and he emailed InventureX numerous times. No response.
When I reached out on January 26 (two weeks past the anticipated launch date), I asked for a full refund and explained why we were so frustrated by our experience. I highlighted many of the items I’ve mentioned in this blog post. Mike and I exchanged several emails between late January and mid-March. I let him know I was writing this review and asked him if he wanted to comment. His response was, “Hi Andrea, thanks for the heads up I suppose. We’ll keep an eye out for it and make sure its ‘truthful’ if you chose to post anything.”
I would say it felt like a threat but it’s impossible to decipher tone in an email. This review is our interpretation of our experience with InventureX. (Though everything in quotes can be verified.) They have many satisfied customers and celebrity endorsements so they must being doing something right.
Three Tips Before Doing A Crowdfunding Campaign
- Make sure it’s a good fit for your product or service.
- Research every company and ask for a detailed marketing budget.
- Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Services We Used That Were Helpful
- 100 Crowdfunding Influencers
- Crowdfunding Playbook
- Crowdfunding PR
- The Startup Pitch
P.S. We are not the only ones who had bad experiences with InventureX. Read these reviews: https://inventurex.pissedconsumer.com/inventurex-is-a-complete-scam-201904021506036.html and https://inventurex.pissedconsumer.com/major-scam-201903101489717.html