And the media asked, “Amanda (…) how did you make all these people pay for music?” And the real answer is, I didn’t make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you.
– Amanda Palmer at TED2013, The art of asking
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when crowdfunding – a practice of funding a project by a group of its enthusiasts – have started. People have always been gathering around ideas that could spark their imagination. However it was the Internet that really kickstarted this model of funding, which made finding, sharing and backing up new projects easier than it ever was before.
For many entrepreneurs, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo were a way to gain early-stage funds without falling into debt. For others, like Amanda Palmer – musician who gathered over $1,000,000 for her artistic activity – it’s as an alternative way to connect with their audience and gathering funds without involving investors, like record companies or publishers.
So what are the benefits which come with crowdfunding? Apart from funds that can potentially be gathered, there’re quite a few gainings for the creators.
On July 3 2014 Zack Brown started a crowdfunding for a potato salad. He wanted $10. He got over $55,000. Why? Because people loved his humble idea, because they kept sharing it with their friends and because everyone likes to be a part of something great (and when a project gets more than 1000% of its initial goal, you know it’s going to be great). By crowdfunding you’re creating a story around your project. And if people like this story, they will keep spreading the word about it long after the campaign has finished.
- Proof of concept
If you’re creating something totally new and never seen before, there’s no way of knowing if people will accept your project. Observing their reactions during a crowdfunding campaign may be a good indicator of how the market will react. Are they excited? Are they willingly to back you up in order to bring your concept to life? Or maybe your idea was completely ignored or even ridiculed? Well, now you have some idea what can happen. And luckily, you got it before launching mass production.
- Early feedback
So you have this brilliant idea; it’s unique, it’s revolutionary and it’ll make the Earth a better place. But such a simple thing as wrong colour, shape or even the name can cause your potential customers to turn away. Gathering feedback as early as possible is crucial and crowdfunding campaigns are a perfect opportunity for that. If people like your overall idea, but there’s something that makes them hesitate before the purchase, they’ll let you know right away. And as they do it before your product hits the shelfs, there’s still enough time to change it.
- Closer relationship with community
Asking for an opinion in order to improve the first draft of your idea is not everything. Establishing close relationship with your backers allows you to gather a community around your product. By letting them participate in your project, you’re building a long lasting relationship; you provide your audience with details of your decisions regarding your product and your audience is evaluating it, providing you with their opinions at every step along the way. They’ll become the first early adopters to spread the word of your upcoming success.
- Failing faster
All of those benefits come with one additional advantage – it’s absolutely risk free. In the worst case scenario, you’re not getting your funds. That is the only consequence of failing to successfully fulfil your campaign goal. Your proof of concept, early feedback and marketing stays with you, so you can keep improving until you’ll perfect your idea. And you’re free to keep trying again as many times as you wish. Till it finally works.
by Barbara Kciuk, Product Owner at Reality Games.