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Slipstream opens team crowdfunding with a $2 million match

Cannondale-Drapac launches its crowdfunding campaign. The Fairly Group offers a $2 million match to save the team.

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Slipstream Sports opened its promised crowdfunding campaign on Wednesday with an announcement that the Fairly Group, which was already a lower-level sponsor, will match all donations up to $2 million.

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The matching offer, if fully successful, would close $4 million of the $7 million gap that the Cannondale-Drapac team faces heading into the 2018 season. The Fairly Group is a risk management firm run by Alex Fairly, the father of former Slipstream rider Caleb Fairly. Caleb retired from racing last year and is now a rider agent.

Slipstream announced the shortfall on Saturday and immediately released its riders and staff from their 2018 contracts while it seeks the required funding.

Following an outpouring of support on social media and elsewhere, the team announced it would attempt a crowdfunding campaign to close some or all of its funding gap. Until Wednesday, it was only possible to register interest in the campaign, but not actually donate.

The response to this exploratory effort, according to team CEO Jonathan Vaughters, was beyond his expectations, with about $1 million pre-pledged.

“The crowdfunding campaign has gone way over any of our wildest dreams,” he said. “I expected maybe 50 grand or something. This blew the doors off.”

The crowdfunding campaign offers donation levels from $25 to $50,000. All levels offer insider perks, including special content from inside the team. Larger donations increase team access, up to the $50,000 Argyle Owner level, which offers invites to team camps and rides inside a team car at major races.

Slipstream will not take any of the funds if the team shuts down in 2018, or if a large corporate sponsor steps in, according to Vaughters.

The crowdfunding effort is part of a multi-pronged approach taken by the team to close its funding gap. Team management views the campaign as serving dual purposes. It will bring in cash, and it could also prove to another potential sponsor that the team has a dedicated fan base.

“More so than the actual money, what that says is people are invested in this team,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “The fans are invested not only emotionally, but they’re invested and willing to see this team go on.

“I never thought that we would see that level of funding come in. It’s flattering. But of course, my true hope is that a corporate sponsor looks and says, ‘Hey, wow, there’s a lot of love for these guys. Maybe we need to jump on this.’ Because people are speaking with their wallets, which is really nice.”

Listen to the full interview with Vaughters on the VeloNews podcast: