WSU business alums create success

John Wise

When Zach Smith began his matriculation at Weber State University, he was studying political science, but this soon changed.

“My life has been a series of pivots,” Smith said.

The 29-year-old from Washington Terrace is now the CEO of the multi-million dollar company called Funded Today.

Zach Smith.jpg
Zach Smith, WSU alum, owns Funded Today, a crowdfunding organization. (Source: Nick Thurgood)

After switching to an accounting major, Smith started a company trading currency. While lucrative, the business was not what he wanted for his life.

“I didn’t love it,” Smith said. “I couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life.”

That business was sold for a profit, which enabled Smith to pivot once again.

A startup company making magnetic running pockets was looking for someone to help with their crowdfunding. The small company, RooSport, offered Smith a percentage of profits if he would handle their media crowd sourcing. Smith said he jumped at the opportunity.

With the success of this venture, Funded Today was born. The self-proclaimed crowd funding experts have since raised more than 100 million dollars for start-up companies.

Smith speaks fondly of his time spent at WSU, even though it was a hectic time in his life. Smith said that he was sometimes enrolled in 21 credits per semester.

Funded Today is based in Ogden, providing 40 jobs in the community.

“I have hired a lot of students from WSU,” Smith said.

One WSU graduate that Smith hired is Nick Thurgood.

Thurgood is the director of public relations at Funded Today. After graduating with a degree in advertising and public relations, Thurgood was brought onto the Funded Today team.

Smith and Thurgood met at WSU and became friends. Thurgood said he was impressed with Smith’s vision and was eager to help him with the new business.

As Funded Today have grown, they have studied successful crowd funding tactics. This has enabled Funded Today to provide help to start-up companies that may not have been successful otherwise.

Funded Today works for its clients through multiple aspects. Helping the client produce a quality video makes the most difference. Other strategies include cross-promotion and media campaigns.

Thurgood says that the media campaigns have been incredibly successful.

“We drive media like crazy,” Thurgood said.

Thurgood said that Funded Today works on a commission, with the company taking 30 to 35 percent of the funds raised.

However, if clients do not meet their Kickstarter goals, Funded Today does not make any money either, Thurgood said.

Before signing contracts with them, Funded Today pre-qualifies potential clients. Through this prequalification, both parties are ensured a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The majority of Funded Today clients are through Kickstarter, but the company also does follow-up campaigns through IndieGogo.

One criticism of Funded Today is that the company is inauthentic.

Nathan Resnick from the Huffington Post wrote in September 2016 that “Kickstarter has become corrupted.”

In his article, Resnick claims that originally, Kickstarter campaigns were grown organically through the Kickstarter community and “the genuine buzz they created.”

Resnick cites crowdfunding agencies and paid advertising as two reasons Kickstarter has lost its natural feel.

“Kickstarter is only as good as their campaigns are successful,” Thurgood said in response to these criticisms. “We’ve earned Kickstarter a ton of money.”

More information about Funded Today can be found online on their website.