By Victoria Bennett, Strategic Marketer, Crowdfunding Ambassador
In the five years since I ran my first successful crowdfunding campaign, I’ve learned a lot about which products and organizations are right for this model. Currently, I take a few meetings a week from companies and individuals who are considering their first crowdfunding campaign. What they usually want to know is, will crowdfunding work for us? These are the questions I ask them:
1. Do you have a product or service that meets a need?
We’ve all seen that person on Dragon’s Den who has spent their life savings and mortgaged their house developing something that they are passionate about. The only problem is, no one else wants it. Don’t be that person. Remember: something you love that doesn’t make money is called a hobby.
If your product or service meets a measurable need, you can define a meaningful addressable market that you can reach, and you can clearly differentiate yourself from the competition, you have the potential for a backable business.
2. Can you deliver?
I’m not talking about UberEATS here, more do you have a believable business plan that details how you will execute? Backers need to see you have the right partners and a fully-costed plan to deliver. Additionally, when you apply for equity or debt crowdfunding, your business plan will be reviewed by the platform’s due diligence team, and you may also need to provide audited accounts.
3. Do you have a team?
So, you have a plan. Great! But do you have a team that can deliver the plan? Throughout a crowdfunding campaign, you are looking to build trust with potential backers. Those backers want to be able to trust that you know what you are doing and that you can deliver. You’ll need to show that your team has the skills and experience to follow through on your promise.
4. Do you have a story?
Venture capitalists and bankers focus primarily on the numbers – they want to know if you’re financial feasible and likely to make multiples return. Your crowdfunding backers want more. They need a story they can believe in – something worth sharing (which is how you build the crowd). If you haven’t developed a story yet, start thinking about the following: How did you discover the need for your product or service? How did you invent the product? What impact has your product or service had or will it have in the future (once you’ve raised funds).
5. Do you have a crowd?
I often say there is a clue in the name, crowdfunding. You need to have a crowd of people willing to back you, willing to share, willing to support your campaign. This typically comes from your personal network of friends, family and business connections (and those of your team). You should plan to achieve between 10 and 33 per cent of your goal from your personal contacts and advocates on the first day of your crowdfunding campaign. This provides social proof to those who don’t know you personally.
Another thing to remember is that you’re not just asking your network for money. You need your network to help you get the word out about your campaign, talking about it over coffee, at the water cooler, over a beer on a Friday night, and also online.
Your job is to articulate your story, find passionate advocates who believe in your story, and provide them with the right tools to share it. Once you’ve established social proof, you can continue to build your crowd through social media, bloggers, influencers, the press, events, and paid advertising. That’s how you build your crowd.
If you have answered yes to these five questions, then I’m going to sneak one final question in. Are you willing to invest significant time, effort, and money into your campaign? Crowdfunding is not a quick and easy fix to your funding gap. However, if you’re committed to doing it right and want to raise funds while building a group of advocates who are committed to you and your product, crowdfunding may just be for you.