Stories from our successful campaigns: “Hummus Wars”

Through the years, we have had a lot of successful campaigns on Jewcer. We wanted to share their stories and what they learned while crowdfunding with us. Our next interview comes from Avital Levy, the documentary filmmaker behind “Hummus Wars”. She raised over $8,000 on Jewcer to make a film that brought Middle Easterners together rather than pushing them apart.

1. Tell us about “Hummus Wars”? What inspired it?

In 2009, Israel broke the world record by making 9,000 lbs/4,090 kilos worth of Hummus. Then, Lebanon sought to defeat this record. “Hummus Wars” is a documentary about the battle between Israel and Lebanon for the Guinness Record for the largest dish of Hummus in the world.  My Middle Eastern friends and I wanted to make a film about how the people in our countries share similarities – especially passion over this food, hummus, and how that could potentially bring us together, even as our countries are at war. Those were the roots of the project. After a few years of developing and filming “Hummus Wars,” we discovered a bigger love story too, not only a war story, and are currently following the new stories and people in a documentary titled FOR THE LOVE OF HUMMUS.

Image by AV22 Productions

2. What piece of advice from the Jewcer team stuck with you the most that you can remember?

The Jewcer team was incredibly supportive and so much of their advice was instrumental to the success of my campaign. For me, the most beneficial piece of advice was to convey that others could help and be stakeholders in your project – to enlist people to share in your vision. If we could present our projects as opportunities for others to contribute, invest money and energy, then the rewards could be that they helped make it happen, in addition to cool campaign rewards. Translate the contributors’ investment as being a participant in the making of the film.
If you can make someone’s dream come true with $5 and you get a credit for it and even a gift, wouldn’t you want to give?

3. How did you promote your campaign? What was the most challenging aspect?

First of all, there was the building of the campaign and video to help promote it. This is the most important element because I presented a link of the campaign and video when approaching potential contributors. I contacted as many people as I could on a personal level and avoided mass emails as much as possible. Jewcer emphasized this and it was something I learned in college when I was running for a dorm office position. I knew that visibility is the most important to win a campaign, so getting in front of potential supporters, learning their names and having a conversation is more likely to lead you to win a YES from them. If you have any competition, your strength will be in personalizing and making others feel important – that they can be a contribution. Once they know they are a part of your project, they become champions of it as well, since your success is also their success.

The hardest part was time and energy aspects needed, sometimes money as well for parts of the campaign that were instrumental to get more people on board. Indeed, while working a day job, time was the biggest challenge because the campaign required consistent and persistent action. We also decided to hold a live event – a Hummus competition – and that added to the workload and spending, so there were some sleepless nights and incessant workdays, but, in the end, it was well worth it for creating an unforgettable event and making a couple thousand dollars for the campaign.

4. Is there any advice you’d give for those considering crowdfunding?

Make sure you have as much support after the campaign to complete the project as you had during the campaign. Outline and plan out the fulfillment aspect of the campaign as much as the campaign. This will help keep you on track. People will tend to drop off the project, as it is natural for a long project, but if you have a plan in place, you can get through it much easier.  

5. After successfully getting funded, how have you been using the funds towards your project?

To pay for filming overseas in Israel, hiring camera people, and crew, as well as renting equipment.

Image by AV22 Productions

6. What are your three favorite online or mobile tools that help you run your crowdfunding campaign?

Icalendar/Clock, Google (docs + email) and Photos

7. If you had to choose a one-liner piece of advice for aspiring Jewish entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Gather your tribe and help each other, don’t go it alone. 

8. Add a question of your own that we did not ask and give the answer to it…

What was your favorite experience during your campaign?

Giving the campaign a live event where we could see our contributors and host an unforgettable event while also fundraising. It felt like we had created a real community with the event and also drew many more fans.  

To stay up to date with Avital Levy’s latest work check out her website, vimeo, and YouTube.