We don’t have to look far past our smartphones to recognize that a great idea can change the world. But in this digital age, when everyone seems to have an idea, it can be challenging to get a project off the ground. Crowdfunding sites like IndieGogo and Kickstarter popped up to provide a solution, by offering perks to early adopters of technology and products in exchange for funding, and by 2015 the crowdfunding industry was estimated to have generated $34 billion in revenue — a figure that’s projected to grow to $96 billion by 2025.
That’s a lot of projects and ideas vying to be seen.
So, while crowdfunding can be a great way to finance a project, the increasingly crowded space presents us with the same problem aspiring entrepreneurs needed to solve in the first place — standing out among the crowd.
That is, because of the competition for eyeballs and dollars on crowdfunding sites, most ideas get lost in the milieu.
Fortunately for startups, savvy entrepreneurs have recognized the need to help aspiring entrepreneurs attract attention to their ideas. Here are three resources that startups can leverage to earn hard-won crowdfunding dollars.
1. Gadget Flow
Gadget Flow is a unique product discovery platform thought up by three friends while in college. It essentially curates a custom catalog, depending on user interests. The little-known platform reaches 25 million people per month and has churned out two million in revenue through ad sales.
Advertisers on their site include all ends of the business spectrum — from heavyweights like Polaroid, Sony and Amazon, to projects in the crowdfunding stage hoping to build awareness and interest around seed-stage ideas. When potential advertisers submit their projects to the platform, Gadget Flow gets to work on delivering the ideas to precisely the right audiences.
“The tricky part was to increase our revenue by getting more customers advertising their products on our platform but without becoming too sales-y for our users,” says Cassie Ousta, co-founder and CCO of Gadget Flow.
To do so, they invite users to create a free account, allowing the site to tailor product results to user tastes. Then, visitors scroll through their front page’s social media-like stream of ideas and projects of interest, some of which are already funded and in-production, and others which are actively seeking crowdfunding dollars.
The value for crowdfunders is in the curation — the way an art museum will have rotating collections and artists coming through, Gadget Flow curates interesting product ideas via their employees, trend algorithms and individual user input.
For example, if a user likes superhero-themed gadgets, their stream will feature relevant items, delivering products to precisely the audiences who would be likely to take interest. Furthermore, they keep a constant flow of new ideas percolating to pierce bias bubbles. The power of this is that it makes what is essentially advertising feel much more vital, in effect, making the featured products more vital.
You have a good product, people are interested, you successfully fund it. What comes next?
The crowdfunding graveyard is filled not only with projects that never got funded, but also by projects that were successfully funded, but still never came to fruition. It’s not surprising — a major reason would-be entrepreneurs use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that they lack the experience and resources to launch their project in a more conventional way. Because of that, they may not know how to go about ensuring successful launch and follow-through once a campaign is funded.
Fortunately for them, BackerKit exists.
Their self-billed “Crowdfunding Fulfillment Software” is there to handle some of the things creatives involved in starting a campaign may not anticipate.
They manage surveys of backers during and after the campaign, to make the connection between backers and creators strong and constant, providing useful information that would be difficult to source and maintain alone.
Part of their platform is built to make add-ons and upselling available to backers, making projects even more profitable. They can even induce upgrades to pledges from backers, keeping them in the loop and making them more likely to increase their role in the funding of a campaign.
They’ll also manage pre-orders in a streamlined fashion, and take over the minutiae of backer support and shipping. With success stories like Taika Waititi’s modern cult classic What We Do In The Shadows and the Reading Rainbow revival, they certainly have some clout.
Crowdfunded projects live and die through networking and digital word of mouth. But how does one start a conversation? How do you make something go viral?
Sometimes through chance. Sometimes with a little help.
KickBooster gets a conversation going. The idea is simple: Provide incentives to backers and affiliates to get the word out about a project they’re invested in. It’s a punk-rock mode of marketing that has yielded excellent results for companies like Ravean, who, according to the KickBooster website, owe a lot of their heated jacket line’s massive success to this social rewards platform.
Additionally, there’s the KickBooster Marketplace, which provides a list of projects they do business with, so that people interested in backing crowdfunded campaigns can see who has additional incentives for spreading the word about their projects.
The future of crowdfunding is huge and complex, and can seem hopelessly fragmented to budding entrepreneurs. But with companies like Gadget Flow, BackerKit and KickBooster, exposure and success can be a lot simpler.