We've all been there—killer idea, and no way to execute it. Fabulous business model, but no investors that have your back. And so, several dreams have been put out by reality, until...enter crowdfunding.
The idea is technically as old as 1997 (when, for the first time in history, fans funded a band—Marillion—going on a US tour through an Internet campaign). The same thing kept happening sporadically until ArtistShare was launched in 2003—the first 'real' crowdfunding portal. Then,
of course, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo happened, and the rest, as they'll say, is the future. So, how can you get people to fund your project? We put together a panel of crowdfunding experts and successful campaigners to give you the 101 on what to do, and how it's done...
Find Out If Your Campaign is Crowdfundable...
The likelihood is that it probably is—the range of things you can use crowdfunding to back you for is pretty limitless. "We've been part of campaigns that have spanned everything from tech to the arts to NGOs," Varun Sheth, Co-Founder of ketto.org tells us. And, if you're wondering if people are even likely to fund it, he assures us that people will most definitely come forward if the idea has punch. "We're no longer a country where it's only about connections. The Indian public is waiting for good ideas to support—and crowdfunding gives them a way to do it directly without fighting any red tape," he tells us. "You like what they're planning to do, you help them do it. Anything goes," adding that once, someone even campaigned to buy a pizza! "He ended up raising 3000 bucks when all he need was 300!" Varun laughs.
Pick a Category There are three kinds of crowdfunding, Varun tells us. "Equity crowdfunding—you give money, you get shares. Lending cowdfunding—you give money, you get it back; with interest," he tells us. "And lastly," he adds, "there's reward-based crowdfunding; the most common form. You give money, you get some kind of reward for it—even something as small and simple as a Facebook shout-out."
"What works better in India is reward-based crowdfunding," notes Priyanka Agarwal, Co-Founder of wishberry.com. "It lets people that connect with campaigners' ideas back them with funding, not for charity or monetary return, but simply for making ideas happen." Ergo, reward-based crowdfunding essentially eliminates the need to pay people back...with money. Instead, you pay them back by doing something amazing!
Get These Things in Place
Before you pitch your campaign, having these basics sorted is a major prerequisite. "You should know the budget of your project—the exact amount you need to raise should be calculated to the T," says Anshulika Dubey, Co-Founder of wishberry.com. "Then, you put down the team that plans to be part of it on paper. Thirdly, you need to have time to dedicate to the cause—three months is ideal. And lastly, a community of active supporters who will help put your project out there, either online or through personal networks. Strangers aren't going to fund a project unless it's been vouched for by the creator's own fans and followers," she summarises.
Then, Put Up Your Campaign Deets
The term 'easy-breezy' comes to mind—though you will have to tackle Formophobia, the fear of entering personal information into a pre-made template (yes, it's a thing! The National Health Service says so!). "You just have to submit an idea by filling out a simple form," Anshulika says. "If the idea goes through, you'll be given a unique campaign page to fill out your project details. On Wishberry, the campaign requires a pitch video, a set of interesting rewards, and other details—such as information about the project and the team members that'll be involved," she tells us. And, if you haven't the slightest about where to start, the portal comes to rescue. "We provide a coach to each creator to help them with their pitch video, rewards list, as well as a PR and social media plan to work on. With our help, It usually takes about a month for creators to get ready to launch their projects," she says. A crowdfunding campaign then runs for 30-60 days, based on the portal you choose to go with.
Make Sure You Spread the Word
The campaign will only be as effective as the publicity it gets—something for which you as a creator and the crowdfunding portal share responsibilty. "The idea is to really get the campaign out there—people can only care and contribute if they know enough," Varun says. "Once your campaign is fully ready to go, you start sharing it on Facebook. We combine your network with ours, and use them both to tell people about your project. We get involved in the PR, speak to people from the press, and try to get them to write about it—the works," he explains. "Time is of the essence, and you need to get people to come forward and contribute to it in the limited amount you have to run your campaign."
And Finally, Cash In!
Getting the money out is fairly hassle-free."We collect the funds and transfer them to the creator at the end of their campaign," Priyanka explains, and goes on to talk about the portal's 'All or Nothing' policy. "If a creator is unable to raise 100 percent of their target amount by their set deadline, the money collected will be returned to backers." There is, however, a facilitator's fee. "We take a 10 percent fee from whatever we have raised together from the campaign—so always account for that when you're setting your budget," Varun advises.