September 18, 2017
When we hit the road back in May and officially kicked off Searching For Sero, we were on top of the world. Our followers (you guys) we’re sending great feedback, thank you’s and support from every way. The thank you and support emails still pour in at a rate we struggle to keep up with. It keeps us running in high gear and motivated to produce a Sero Story once a week, as promised.
Even before hitting the road, all of you filled us with stoke. Almost exactly a year ago today our crowdfunding campaign surpassed our $10,000 goal and we thank everyone that contributed, shared and told friends about what we were planning on doing.
We have also had some great sponsors jump onboard and supply us with some additional funding and amazing products to use and love on the road. Many of these products we needed to purchase for life on the road, so it was very helpful.
We had crunched the numbers. We had done the math. We knew we didn’t have enough funds secured to complete the 2 years of the project. We knew we didn’t even have enough to finish the first year.
We still decided to set sail and keep with our promise of a spring kick off, because after publishing our 8 preview stories the summer before, everyone was hungry for more and so were we.
Even on our heavy peanut butter, rice and beans diet, and fuel conscious driving, our monthly expenses were hitting at least $1300 just between those 2 needs.
We tried as hard as possible to keep food budget under $400 each month but fuel was really racking up. It was costing us about $70 to fill the tank and we would get about 400km between fill ups.
Other, less obvious expenses have started to add up too, like car insurance, cell
phone bills to keep you guys up to date, website expenses and monthly subscriptions to computer programs I use to edit photos. When you are counting pennies, all this adds up pretty quick. We also have to sit down at coffee shops almost 4 days a week to work and connect to wifi. Although we only get a great coffee each, it’s another expense that is taking its toll.
The plan was to pick up some work and photo contracts along the way, while still remaining focused on the project. And while some opportunities did present themselves, all of the contracts fell through at the last moment, leaving us short on what we needed to complete the first year.
If you are doing the math of us being on the road for 6 months, and spending at least $1,300 per month, you know that only adds up to $7,800. The problem is, that was an at least number. We have had a few brake downs on the road, the ferry to and from Newfoundland was $700, some provinces cost significantly more in fuel (Newfoundland and BC… we are looking at you)
We also had to keep a reserve of funds to create the perks for the crowdfunding campaign. And don’t worry, they are still coming, but it really takes a bite out of our $13,000 campaign. In the end, between the expenses for the perks and the percent the website takes, it left us with $6000 to put towards the project.
We had hoped that once we got this project moving, that a bit of a saviour would come on board. Either a publishing partner willing to support our weekly stories, a sponsors that could fill our Presenting Sponsor slot, or an investor that simply just saw the value in what we are doing and wanted to help and be part of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
The scariest part is, we believe we are still about $20,000 to $25,000 short of completing the road leg of the project, which include 18 more months and covering a lot of miles around the USA.
With all that being said, both Tracy and I want to send our greatest apologies for misleading you. Firstly to our fans and followers that look forward to a weekly boost of outdoor inspiration.
Another big apologies to our sponsors. They have all supported us greatly either with gear, with finances and with helping share and grow the project.
We are sorry for deceiving everyone, including ourselves. We are sorry for not being able to make Searching For Sero happen as promised.
If we can give any little bit of good news (we always try to end on good news here at Searching For Sero) it is that the project is not over. We are still going to finish it, somehow. We are going to finish the Canadian leg (scheduled to end Feb 10th). We will have to go into personal debt to do it but we feel like it is the least we can do for all your support. We owe it to contributors, sponsors, and fans.
We have also learnt, as did Chad, that “following your passion doesn’t always pay.” We thought that maybe trying to do a little bit of good would fund itself.
We still are not entirely sure of what the plan for after is, yet. At first glance, we have talked about returning to our home in Ottawa in February and focus on getting jobs to make the money we need to finish the US leg of the project, but we aren’t even sure we have the budget to make the drive back across the country. And getting work in February is very difficult as it is slow season for most businesses, including photography.
So with all this being said, please bare with us. We are committed to finishing Searching For Sero. We are committed to fulfilling all our promises to contributors, fans and sponsors. We will publish our the photo book and donate the proceeds to charities working in suicide prevention. But this little break (which we would prefer not to take) seems to be needed for us to replenish our bank accounts.
Both Tracy and I have put our life savings into making this happen. We are both down to nothing, which we are okay with, but we still feel gutted to write this news today.
From our deepest consciousnesses, we are sorry.
-John, Tracy and RainDog