On Our Bucket List

If you follow the business of creators like we do, you’re probably familiar with the age-old financial dilemma of too many great artists. Sadly, they end up trading their work, identity, or both for the backing to give their visions life.

There’s the singer/songwriter who unwittingly loses the rights to his own hit tune. Novelists who lose control of their narratives and the royalties, too. Celebrities whose images, even names, are owned by someone else. Remember when Prince became “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince?” We do, too.

All of that is one big reason our founder, Lauren Sparkman, is an angel investor in the emerging media company, Bucket List Studios. Founded by Garrett and Jessica Gee, Bucket List Studios is an outgrowth of the couple’s YouTube channel “The Bucket List Family,” which boasts 1.45 million subscribers and counting. The channel documents the real-life adventures of the Gee family after they sold most of their possessions, packed, fired up their cameras, and set out to experience the world with their children.

Values-Driven Investing

In 2021, the Gees announced plans to launch a full-blown entertainment studio. Bucket List Studios would create the Gees’ content—including their animated series—merchandise, and more. Rather than take on traditional VC funding, the Gees pursued an alternative approach to raising capital: equity crowdfunding. Leaving big corporate studio money and predatory contracts behind, this approach put the family in control of their creative destiny and, simultaneously, invited their global community of followers to become equity shareholders in the venture. 

Bucket List Studios is an outgrowth of the couple’s YouTube channel “The Bucket List Family,” which boasts 1.45 million subscribers and counting.

As a longtime follower, Lauren admired the The Bucket List Family’s intentional approach to every aspect of their lives—from their insistence on keeping their family’s health the center of their business model to living lives of service, compassion, and respect for the planet. She became one of 34 investors to participate in a $7 million seed round. Another 30,000 devoted fans–all drawn to the family’s values-driven business model–added $3 million by investing $100 each, for a total of $10 million. 

So the Gees’ bold strategy paid off. Their power in the marketplace, including the leverage to walk away from studio deals, is the result of the passionate global audience they’ve cultivated over time. They even got the attention of The Hollywood Reporter, one of the entertainment industry’s most respected voices. When an article about them was published last year, the Gees became an inspiration for a lot of other artists and content creators who are determined to hold onto ownership of their intellectual property for themselves, their children–and maybe even their children’s children.

Memories for a Lifetime

In true Bucket List fashion, the Gees occasionally invite their community to join them on family-centric adventures to some of their favorite places in the world, bringing together likeminded travelers. We’re learning a lot about those immersive excursions in our office this summer because Lauren, her husband, Jared, and their almost-2-year-old son, Leo, just returned from Africa where they participated in their first Bucket List Family group expedition to Tanzania.

As the Sparkman family’s relationship with the Gees continues to grow, you’ll hear plenty more about Lauren’s investment journey in the future. In the meantime, you can follow along with the creative development of the Bucket List Cartoon, as well as other product launches at www.thebucketliststudios.com.

We love that The Bucket List Family is betting on themselves, and we’re excited to bet on them too.