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What do Bret Easton Ellis, Ricki Lake, and Whoopi Goldberg all have in common? Believe it or not, they have all successfully launched projects through Kickstarter—the world’s largest crowdfunding site. They’re not alone, either; since the site first debuted in 2009, more than 5 million users have made donations, funding over 50,000 individual ventures that otherwise would never have seen the light of day. It is fair to say that Kickstarter has been a modern phenomenon, helping to fund a wide variety of different projects, from video games to fashion labels and even multi-million dollar feature films. It truly is an entrepreneur’s playground.
But while Kickstarter is number one for a reason, being top dog doesn’t necessary mean it’s the right choice for you. Competition is rich in the crowdfunding sector, with literally hundreds and hundreds of sites out there all vying for your attention, so you are hardly stuck for choice when it comes to alternatives.
If you are keen to get involved with crowdfunding, either by donating and supporting projects, or by seeking financial backing for you own brilliant idea, it’s really worth your while to explore many avenues before making any commitments. Indeed, you may already have used Kickstarter and found it difficult to raise funds, and are wondering which other sites have a good track record of raising money. The problem is, there are just so many to choose from. Which ones should you consider?
Leaving aside the specialist sites that concentrate on one particular area or industry, here at Maximum PC we have done all the hard work for you, whittling down the hundreds of Kickstarter alternatives to three main contenders: Indiegogo, Rockethub, and Fundable. Read on, to find out how they differ from Kickstarter and why they might be worthy of your attention.
A word of caution: Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with crowdfunding that you will be able to safeguard your ideas or any investments you make. Any money you decide to commit to a project is done at your own risk.
Pioneering crowdfunding site boasts openness
Arguably Kickstarter’s biggest and longest running rival, Indiegogo started life in 2007 when Danae Ringelmann met fellow business partners Eric Schell and Slava Rubin while attending the Haas School of Business at the University of California. They shared a common goal of creating a fund-raising model that would allow people a means of raising revenue for their business ideas. They officially launched Project Keiyaku—an early version of Indiegogo that, to begin with, focused purely on funding movies—at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.
Since those early days, the site has changed its name to Indiegogo and diversified the projects it hosts to cover just about any venture an entrepreneur can think of. In the ensuing five years, the site has emerged as one of the perennial crowdfunding ventures, having launched over 50,000 campaigns. Indiegogo removed the middleman and helped pioneer the way for the “modern” crowdfunding solution, influencing numerous other sites, including Kickstarter itself.
Indiegogo doesn’t just limit itself to business ventures; it covers pretty much everything—you will find just as many private causes, such as appeals to raise money for charity or helping the needy, as you will more commercially minded projects. The site prides itself in its openness; you can take part no matter what country you come from—as opposed to Kickstarter’s limits on residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—and over a third of Indiegogo’s business is conducted globally, making it a truly international venture.
Open to any industry and any idea (as long as it’s legal), Indiegogo isn’t fussy when it comes to what you can raise money for—unlike many of its rivals that impose restrictions on what type of campaigns you can run, Indiegogo is free of rules, no matter how serious or trivial your idea. You can even raise money for personal needs if so desired, although your needs would probably have to be pretty compelling to get people to part with their money.
To get started at Indiegogo, you have to set up an account and a funding page. You then decide on a list of perks to offer users who donate, depending upon their level of investment. It’s then up to you to promote your Indiegogo page through social networking platforms in order to gain publicity.
You keep all of the money a campaign generates until its target revenue is achieved, and there is no limit to the amount you can raise. Once your campaign has reached its goal, a charge of 4 percent is levied to Indiegogo. Should your campaign not reach its goal, then you have the choice of keeping all of the money raised thus far, but paying a 9 percent fee to Indiegogo because you didn’t reach your stated goal, or simply refunding all of the money back to your donors.
More favorable rates and a greater diversity of projects allowed on the site are the two main reasons you might opt for Indiegogo. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo distributes your funds immediately when contributions are taken through a donor’s PayPal account. On the flipside, payments made by credit card are held by Indiegogo until the end of the campaign. Indiegogo’s 4 percent charge for funds (when the target is reached) also bests Kickstarter, which charges a 5 percent commission on successful campaigns. As mentioned above, you can even keep the money if your project doesn’t reach its goal, for a nominal 9 percent charge. Kickstarter users don’t have this option—if a project doesn’t reach its goal, they will receive no money at all.
Setting up a new project on Indiegogo is both quick and easy—the step-by-step guide takes you through everything you need to do in order to get your project up and running.
As mentioned earlier, Indiegogo tends to support any project, no matter what it is. If your project doesn’t meet Kickstarter’s criteria—such as not allowing you to raise money for causes—then chances are Indiegogo will accept it.
Size really does matter when it comes to running a successful publicity campaign, and Indiegogo scores high in this area, too. Half the battle when running a promotion is finding an audience with which you can engage. Being the second-largest crowdfunding site on the Internet, Indiegogo ensures your project will be part of a vibrant community that will share your project with their friends and grow a following organically.
With tens of thousands of successful campaigns under its belt, it is not surprising to find that Indiegogo boasts a number of famous projects. Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum was launched to establish a science museum in Long Island, New York, and sparked a surge of public interest, with the campaign taking home $1.7 million in just six days.
An Indiegogo project in action: Genesis 3D Movie is going great guns, and thankfully has nothing to do with the Phil Collins band of the same name.
Canary: the First Smart Home Security Device for Everyone broke the Indiegogo record for most money raised for a project, at $1.9 million. Its original goal of a modest 100K was met within a few hours of its launch in July this year, and it went on to gather contributions from nearly 8,000 users across the world.
Indiegogo’s most famous project, however, was Let’s Give Karen – the Bus Monitor – H Klein a Vacation! After a number of disturbing videos were posted online depicting a hapless bus monitor being ruthlessly bullied by students, a campaign was set up to give Karen a well-deserved vacation. The original goal was to raise $5,000, yet all in all $703,833 was raised by people sickened by what they saw. The victim of the videos said she planned on using $100,000 of the money toward setting up an anti-bullying foundation.
Your project may be the best thing since sliced pizza, but no matter how innovative it is, unless you attract the attention of others, you will struggle to find the financial backing needed to get it off the ground. After all, your project is just one of hundreds on a given site. So, how do you make your project stand out from the crowd and get the attention it deserves? Here are our five top tips for crowdfunding glory.
Best Practices Before you rush headfirst into a campaign, take your time and study what others have done first. Look at what projects have been successful, and find out how they set about attracting publicity and backing. Follow their lead and use their success as an inspiration.
Be Prepared to Change Devise a flexible business plan that will allow you to adapt should your original idea need tweaking. If things are not going to plan, you will need to be prepared to make changes so you can appeal to your target audience. By repositioning your product if needed, you could achieve greater results and more backing.
Plan Ahead Even before you have reached your goal, make sure you have all eventualities covered should you get asked any tricky questions about your project’s launch and long-term future.
Embrace Social Media Twitter and Facebook are powerful tools when it comes to promoting your ideas. Not only can they help spread the word, but they can also be a useful forum for gathering feedback from your fans and followers.
Be Ready to Go Prepare for your project’s completion. You should devise a marketing plan that you can start using straight away, along with lining up any suppliers you may need to use once your project is launched. This way you will hopefully be able to eliminate long delays after you reach your goal.
Click the next page to read about Rockethub.