Merchant Spotlight: How Call Number Used Crowdfunding to Launch a Subscription Box

This year for Small Business Week, Cratejoy is highlighting a different aspect of owning and running a subscription box company. Each day, we’ll feature a different merchant that excels in a specific area of subscription business.

Day five is all about funding, so we interviewed Jamillah Gabriel, the CEO and founder of Call Number, a library-inspired book subscription box celebrating black literature and authors. We interviewed her about what all went into launching and funding Call Number through the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo.

Jamillah Gabriel, CEO and Founder of Call Number

What crowdfunding platform did you use and why?

I used Indiegogo for crowdfunding. At the time, I was only familiar with one other platform, Kickstarter, and I preferred Indiegogo because even if I didn’t reach my funding goal, I would still receive all of the funds that had been pledged.


How did you calculate the amount of money you needed to launch?

The amount of money I needed to raise was determined by the number of the initial boxes I had produced as a test run. I believe it was a total of 20 boxes. I also estimated how much I would need to launch the first official box.

How did you market your crowdfunding campaign?

My marketing relied heavily on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) as well as various opportunities to promote the box via media outlets (local newspaper, Huffington Post, Bustle, Salon, etc.).

I created a landing page pre-launch to promote the box and build a robust mailing list, reached out to relevant industry bloggers for reviews, and posted listings for the box on popular subscription box directory sites.

Were there any unexpected bumps during the crowdfunding process?

The major bump I encountered was that I only reached 51% of my goal, which proved to be an issue as far as scaling up. In addition, while the campaign was semi-successful, it did not garner as much attention and interest as I had hoped, which would have translated into more sales.

Do you have any tips for future sub box owners who are thinking of using a crowdfunding platform?

I would recommend taking some time to create a landing page far enough in advance of the crowdfunding campaign to get the word out about the box and build a decent mailing list that will successfully garner the interest, and thereby the funds needed.

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