The world’s biggest crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, has been key to the success of countless startups – so what hacks does its head of UK and Europe recommend to RISING readers seeking funding for their own innovative projects?
RISING What are your top five tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign? JOEL HUGHES, INDIEGOGO HEAD OF UK & EUROPE Plan, Plan, Plan ‘It’s so important to leave at least two months to plan before your launch date to perfect your strategy and marketing, and prepare for the worst case scenario.’
Be Flexible ‘Prepare yourself for a tough journey and be agile. It’s important to have an adaptable attitude to last through all the challenges that come your way.’
Build The A Team ‘Gather your dream team of diverse, passionate and intelligent colleagues where you can leverage each other’s strengths and skills, and remember, there’s no ‘I’ in team!’
Boost It With Social ‘Raise your profile on social media platforms to help spread the word and keep your community updated throughout your campaign. A good tip is to focus on one social media channel to create standout, shareable content rather than creating several mediocre social media pages.’
Grow Your Fan Base ‘Prior to launch, you need to build a strong mailing list using your marketing tools such as social media platforms, hosting competitions and attending events. The bigger your community and fan base, the higher your chance of reaching your funding goal.’
Potential backers pay more attention to how much has been raised than what you wish to raise
RISING What are the three classic errors you see entrepreneurs making? JH Setting An Unrealistic Goal ‘Potential backers always pay more attention to how much has been raised than the amount you wish to raise. Thus, it’s better to set a lower funding as your percentage will automatically be higher with every pound that you get.’
Developing Too Many Perks ‘Perks are crucial for a successful campaign as they act as incentives for those contributing to your campaigns. Make sure you don’t overdo it, over promise or confuse your backers. I recommend creating two to five creative perks that cater for small, medium and big budgets, and will appeal to your audience.’
Underestimating Time And money For Shipping ‘It’s important to sort out the logistics of shipping perks to both local and international backers. Give yourself a decent buffer when planning how much time and funds you would need for shipping. Remember, it’s always better to impress people by under promising and over-delivering rather than the other way around.’
RISING How is crowdfunding democratising innovation in 2018? JH ‘Crowdfunding has enabled anyone – engineers, office workers, housewives – to participate in the next wave of innovation. For the past 10 years, Indiegogo has paved the way for democratising innovation and will continue to do so, especially with our recent offering of equity and ICO funding, which allow us to support creative ideas even further. Every day, I meet entrepreneurs who bring their concepts to reality using crowdfunding, which reduces the dependency on bankers and other traditional funding routes.’
RISING Is there a single thing that more entrepreneurs should do to communicate better with potential investors? JH ‘I always tell entrepreneurs that it’s crucial to plan as much of their campaign the best they can. This includes how to communicate with potential backers and what to say to them. It’s important to say something new and interesting on email, and social media as it will help engage and appeal to a wider audience.’
RISING What has been the most surprisingly successful crowdfunder you’ve seen over the past year? JH ‘One of the most surprising, successful campaigns was the Gemini PDA Device, which was launched in April 2017 by Planet Computer. The campaign raised more than $1million, which wasn’t a surprise as it was a great product. What surprised me is that they had backers from every part of the world, especially Japan and other parts of Asia. Since winning awards at the biggest consumer tech show Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, they have grown exponentially and will start shipping very soon.’
RISING Where do you think crowdfunding will go next? JH ‘Indiegogo has recently done equity and ICOs in 2017, so it’s definitely the platform to watch to see what’s next. Recently, I’ve seen an influx of large, established businesses such as General Electric, Hasbro, Motorola and Morphy Richards turn to crowdfunding to take advantage of its benefits. Most recently Bose sold out their noise masking sleepbuds, proving there’s a lot more potential for more big brands to get involved. We’re definitely going to see this space grow even further as more established brands get involved in crowdfunding to gain market insight and to use the platform as a marketing tool to engage both loyal and new customers.’
I’m predicting a 40% increase in AI products launching on Indiegogo in 2018-2019
RISING What emergent technologies do you think will be ideal for crowdfunding? JH ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in the technology industry and I’ve seen many AI consumer products launching. So I’m expecting this trend to continue especially over the next couple of years. I’m predicting a 40% increase in AI products launching on Indiegogo in 2018-2019 over 2016-2017.’
RISING Are there any pitfalls that you need to look out for in the latter stages of a campaign? JH ‘Running a successful crowdfunding campaign can be a very exciting time for entrepreneurs and it’s important to remember that backers will have questions, so don’t ignore them. Nurture them and you’ll probably learn something, and gain some valuable insights. Many of our top campaigns are inspired through the direct communication they have with their customers via Indiegogo.
RISING What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given? JH ‘People appreciate honest feedback in the long run. In my role, it can be challenging to manage dozens of campaigns simultaneously. I’ve been in the crowdfunding business for over four years and have learned to identify campaigns who aren’t ready to launch so that I can give them honest, appropriate advice so that they can come back next time better prepared.’
WHAT NEXT? Check out this Indigogo blog2015/12/crowdfunding-pitch-videos-2015.html with some of the best video pitches, including the one for Supertroopers Two, the fan-funded follow up to the comedy cult classic.
Follow the writer @mattfitnessray