On Tuesday March 3rd, 2015, we saw a gathering of over 700 people from all sorts of organizations looking for insights and discussions at the first 2015 Canadian Crowdfunding Summit in Toronto, Ontario.
Canada is a leader in donation-based crowd funding. We are seeing companies built in Canada bolstered by the crowdfunding and collaborative economy. There are over 45 crowd-funding platforms are currently based in Canada. Platforms like FundRazr, Chimp, FanPush and others are really making huge impacts (more can be seen here).
Crowdfunding can be seen as the great equalizer when you have that great idea about starting a business. It's no longer about reliance on your rolodex, secret investor meetings, clandestine R&D, and the big splash launch. It's a more democratic approach where you develop you business in the open and where consumers, and consumers can get plugged in to the opportunity immediately. In addition, and most importantly, five times the number of women (vs. those raising money through traditional models of VC and Angel funding) achieve funding through crowd-funding campaigns and platforms. A balanced gender-based economy is so very important.
We can see the big Canadian success stories of crowd-funding. Look at Pebble's campaign in 2013. They were hoping to raise $100,000. Instead, they generated more than $10 million from almost 69,000 backers in two months on Kickstarter.
What is incredible is that this revolutionized an industry that was too slow to make this happen -- see Samsung, Apple and many other smart watches hitting the market right now. Then we saw them launch Pebble Time last week. It took just 17 minutes to raise $500K and now they sit at over USD$12m with 24 days to go. BAM! This sets a new precedent. Again. But, not everyone has the profile or resources at hand to make this happen.
With this in mind, I caught up with Vancouver-based Daryl Hatton, Founder and CEO of FundRazr, about the challenges that can exist when building a campaign and product. He said that often founders, after raising money through crowdfunding, often get dragged into every part of the business v.s. focusing on what is important. This is a mix of being wary in spending money on people that are supplemental to the business v.s. creating a value-based core product or service. Raising money is the first step but working smarter is key to keeping going and creating success.
Diana Yazidjan, a specialist crowdfunding consultant, also added to this and said "be good at what you do and don't waste you energy. Writing and video are two prime candidates for finding help with", she also warns "remember, you still need to own and educate the team about the story."
This leads us to think about why matching your crowdfunding campaign with finding supporting resources and looking online is a logical step when planning a crowdfunding strategy and utilizing online resources:
Find a fresh, non-traditional approach.
Why just hire the same people into your organization for engineering, technology, sales and fundraising? We know that diversity can deliver some real, and sometimes surprising results. This is why people hire creative agencies. But that's expensive. It's why people look to online resource platforms to get people working online immediately and providing value quickly.
Find help today.
Finding the right people (and team) to get the work campaigns created, fund raising. Personal networks run dry quickly so looking online is a logical step. Suddenly, you have access to tens of thousands of people online ready to help immediately.
Being sure that the work will get done, and to the level that is needed is critical. Online platforms provide support and dispute resolution. It protects you budget if there is a problem.
Focus and work efficiently.
Many companies forget to just focus on creating the core team and flexing out when needed i.e. for marketing, PR or other supporting capabilities. Being able to onboard resources, like designers, web developers, copy writers, art directors, fundraisers etc., is key.
Plan for sustainability.
A startup is like a marathon. It's about focusing on getting to the goal without burning the energy reserves. More affordable online resources means that you can run longer without distracting from creating the core product and service.
At the startup company showcase I chatted with Colin Campbell, Co-founder of BetterCurrent, a solar charging solutions startup, and he summarized a core truth beyond those stated above.
"You have to get creative and have a win-win. You need a village of people to make this happen. A great team can carry you through."
It's clear that Canada is significantly bigger than a village so maybe it's time to raise money through crowdfunding, create incredible products and services and then run businesses in a way that is efficient and impactful using a core team working with freelancers when they are critical to make things happen in an affordable way. That is where crowdfunding meets resource sourcing.