I know you’ve heard the buzz words. They’re all over the internet these days. Words like crowdfunding, Kickstarter and the like. But you’re sitting there with squinty eyes and perhaps a confused look on your face. Well worry no more, my friends. I am here to help! Crowdfunding, in its simplest terms is a way for projects to get funding online. You essentially go onto one of the sites below, list your idea or project and your price goal. Voila! Several people have access to your idea and can decide if they want to invest. Usually, the only real thing you get out of this investment is a reward for a specific dollar amount. Some of these goals are for non-profit, some can be for low-budget filmmakers and some could be an awesome mobile application idea. Since you are reaching millions of people through these sites, if your idea is worthy you can get funding rather quickly.
I know of people who invested in a brilliant low-budget movie idea many years ago. Invest $10 and you were given an autographed t-shirt from the director. If you gave $250 or more you might even get a credit on the movie. Rewards like these are not the sole reason that money is invested in these projects. This is a way to get funding from many, many people instead of one or two who perhaps would want creative control or a percentage off of the project.
Now that President Obama has signed the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), it is much easier to get funding online for projects and not be held back by red tape. I talk about crowdfunding and your small business for several reasons. You could want to invest, but you could also have projects in the back of your mind that you didn’t know how to get funding for or didn’t have the right channels laid out for you. As in all things it seems, where there is a will there is a way.
KICKSTARTER– Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has raised more than $350 million for about 80,000 different projects. It has become synonymous with crowdfunding and is the biggest site out there for such projects. But, the gap is closing quickly.
INDIEGOGO– Indiegogo has become the second largest source for your crowdfunding needs. Mostly boasting their “largest global crowdfunding platform”, they are causing Kickstarter to look outside of the U.S. and increase their international following, also.
PEOPLEFUND.IT– Recently partnered with Crowdfunder and specifically geared toward the U.K., peoplefund.it is now considered a monster in the business. While it may have started out for as a way for charities to raise money, it is now in full-blown competition with Kickstarter in the area and boasts 2 million users in the U.K.
MEDSTARTR– “Join the crowd that cares” using this funding healthcare innovation. This allows you to donate, adopt, advise, partner or yes even invest into a new idea or project in the medical technology world.
SMALLKNOT– Smallknot is another crowdfunding site, but allows you to search locally for projects and businesses in your neighborhood. They hope that you’re investing or funding needs will hit a little closer to home. And, if they are the ones that bring your needs together, then it is all in the community’s best interest.
ROCKETHUB– From musicians to philanthropists, Rockethub is home to thousands of people and their crowdfunding projects.
SPOT.US– Used by journalists around the world to get funding for specific articles or columns, Spot.us wants to keep you interested in the literary world. As of this article, they are not accepting “new pitches or donations at this time.”
GAMBITIOUS– Done a little bit differently and applied to the gaming world, Gambitious makes its own rules. They meet up with the gamer and discuss their business plan before allowing them to ask for investors. Instead of allowing a reward system, investors are given a share of game profits if the game does well.
GIGFUNDER– One of my particular favorite crowdfunding sites is, of course, in main support of the arts. GigFunder allows fans of smaller bands to contribute to anything from recording an album to touring in their own hometown. Want that Canadian band that you love to show up at the local bar? GigFunder gives those amazing opportunities.
Sites like GigFunder really are basic examples of why this new “trend” is just so awesome. Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and for every reason imaginable. It just takes that one idea to spark a life-changing journey and this is a way to get there unlike any available before. I want to stress that these crowdfunding sites are not just for the arts or personal projects, but many allow you to get funding for your small business. It’s just another way to gain capital and make your dreams come true. Put yourself out there and see what you can do!
As always, SBA.gov is on the ball and has a 30 minutes course titled Introduction to Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs. There are many tools available for small business owners and there is no reason that you shouldn’t take advantage of them. I’ve said it once and I will say it a million more times, unless your knowledge of your small business is fluid with the times, you will stay stagnant and so will your revenue. Step your game up, because with opportunities like this, it is too easy to make your dreams come true.