One to Watch: Indiegogo, where 300,000 people have raised money for crazy projects
Can the crowdfunding model work in London? We speak to Anastasia Emmanuel, director of UK Hardware, technology and design, Indiegogo
3 REASONS TO WATCH INDIEGOGO
1. A campaign on Indiegogo (Flow Hive) just raised $10m – smashing all records for the most funded international campaign on any platform, ever!
2. Indiegogo is truly global. The platform has hosted 300,000 campaigns in 224 countries and territories, is available in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish) and five currencies, USD, CAD, AUD, GBP and EUR.
3. With 30% of its campaigns located outside the United States, Indiegogo distributes millions of dollars each week to campaign owners across the world.
- Company: Indiegogo
- What it does: The world’s largest global crowdfunding platform
- Founded: 2008, San Francisco
- Founders: Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin, Eric Shell
- Size of team: More than 85 people in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York
- Your name and role: Anastasia Emmanuel, director of UK Hardware, technology and design
What problem are you trying to solve?
Indiegogo is democratising the way ideas get funded and realised across the world. Our mission is simple: to empower anyone to fund what matters to them, whether creative, cause-related or entrepreneurial.
Indiegogo provides the tools to help all campaigns – large and mainstream, small or personal – boost awareness and funding for their ideas.
How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?
When we started back in 2008, we were the world’s first crowdfunding platform. Back then the word crowdfunding didn’t even exist. Now there are over 900 platforms in the UK and several different models, from perk-based to lending and equity.
Every month, 15 million people from all over the world visit Indiegogo to fund amazing products, films and causes, and 224 countries and territories across the world have drawn Indiegogo users. We are fully focused on and committed to trying to help as many people as possible raise money to bring their ideas to life.
How do you make money?
We charge campaigners a small fee to run a campaign on the site. We have two funding options so that campaign owners can choose what’s right for them.
There’s ‘Fixed Funding’, which is all or nothing and means that if you don’t hit your goal, the funds are returned to contributors.
Or you can opt for ‘Flexible Funding’, which means you can keep anything that you raise regardless of whether you reach your goal. Either way, if you reach your funding goal you will only pay 4% Indiegogo fees. If you use Flexible Funding and do not reach your goal, we charge 9%, but you keep the funds.
Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?
Danae Ringelmann was an MBA student trying to open an Off-Broadway play. Eric Schell was helping a Chicago theatre company fundraise for their productions in his spare time. Slava Rubin started a charity event for myeloma cancer research after losing his father to the disease.
Their struggles to fund these varied projects and causes revealed a fundamental and universal flaw in the system: for centuries, access to capital has been controlled by a select few.
Danae, Eric and Slava started Indiegogo to revolutionise funding so that the ideas that matter to the world can become reality.
Everyone at Indiegogo is committed to democratising access to capital and we have helped hundreds of thousands of ideas get off the ground in the past seven years. As we grow, we will support even more entrepreneurs, creative projects and great causes that get the world excited to rally behind them.
Who’s bankrolling you?
We raised a $40M Series B investment round in Jan 2014 led by Kleiner Perkins. We have also received investments from leading global business leaders, including:
- Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder
- Max Levchin, Affirm CEO, Yelp Chairman, PayPal Co-Founder
- Megan Smith, entrepreneur, VP @Google[x]
- Maynard Webb, Webb Investment Network Founder, Chairman of the Board at Yahoo!, Board Member at Salesforce.com and Visa
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?
Consider crowdfunding! No, seriously. If you have a product, creative project, personal cause or not-for-profit, consider an Indiegogo campaign, not only to raise money, but for other benefits such as market validation, awareness, customer feedback and more.
Even Richard Branson recently said “I would have used Indiegogo to start my business if it had been around.”
What do you believe the key to growing this business is?
Simple, great campaigns! We have built the best platform in the industry to enable campaigners to maximise their fundraising potential. Behind all great campaigns are great ideas, and we’re quickly proving to people across the world with great ideas that Indiegogo is a viable alternative to traditional forms of finance.
However, there are still lots of people out there who don’t know what crowdfunding is. Educating people and raising awareness is how we will bring even more projects to life.
What metrics do you look at every day?
My metrics are my campaigners. I have the pleasure of working with very smart people trying to bring innovative technology products to market. It’s my job to make sure they are set up for maximum success and can make the most of their Indiegogo campaigns. I am constantly looking for cool products that I can support and ensure they have the best experiences possible on the platform.
What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
You may think you know the market but you don’t! My favourite part of working at Indiegogo is seeing the success stories that surprise me. We all have our opinions on what is a great idea, but we’re not always right. Cat Ear Headphones can raise $3.3 million and even if you wouldn’t buy them for yourself, over 20,000 people across the world did.
Or, who knew there was $7.2 million worth of people excited about beekeeping? The beauty of the crowd is that they are much more representative of the world than traditional financiers. The world will fund what it wants and believes in, regardless of what any specific individual buys into.
What’s been your biggest mistake so far?
With the benefit of hindsight, I would probably reconsider taking on a 10-city tour across the UK in two weeks, all on my own. The mission was to spread crowdfunding awareness and get British projects funded. I held master classes in each city as well as meetings with previous campaigners and journalists to spread the word for ‘Go Crowdfund Britain’ and unearth great British ideas.
We raised over £1m from more than 50 businesses, creative projects and films, which was amazing, but I definitely could have done with a clone!
What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?
As a company, we’re mainly focused on improving our platform offerings and giving our customers the best experience possible in raising funds. In terms of projects themselves, the UK is rife with talent and we expect to continue to see incredible innovation in the Internet of Things, wearables and robotics in the coming year. Medical technology and niche products that solve specific health needs are also becoming increasingly popular, so this is a space to watch!
Which London start-ups are you watching, and why?
Cocoon raised over $220,000 via Indiegogo last year. The team members are all experts in the security field – four out of five of the founders came from leading security firms such as Trend Micro and McAfee.
They have created a fantastic product from both security and design perspectives, and even won silver at the London Design Award last year. Cocoon is also the first UK start-up to join Internet of Things accelerator Breed Reply, securing considerable investment.
The team behind Desolenator are also doing incredible things. They have invented the world’s most affordable and environmentally friendly solar-powered water purifier and raised over $164,000 to make it available to people across the world.
Hundreds of units were donated thanks to contributors in over 60 countries. These are just two of the amazing London start-ups doing great things worldwide!