Maybe the idea has been fermenting in your mind for years, or maybe it just hit you suddenly, in the middle of the night like a freight train, but however you got it, your new start up concept deserves at least a shot at that big marketplace in the sky. But the main thing that start ups need is money, right at the beginning – thus the sobriquet ‘start up’.
There are lots of ways to raise cash for your incredible new inspiration. From hitting up your rich uncle to selling a totaled car fast, they’ve all been tried and most are true because, as they say: money is fungible and your investors and as well as your suppliers will accept it in any way, shape or form.
Crowdfunding Platforms Just Waiting for Your Dream
But in these days of floating venture capital that’s always searching for that safe, and profitable, harbor, and an Internet that can connect investor whales to your start up in an instant, there are many avenues to the VC bank. Here are a few of them that just might be your ticket to ride that entrepreneurial diamond highway.
Blasting off with Kickstarter
The most popular new way of seeking investors for your start up is Kickstarter. This Brooklyn, NY based company is number one among crowdfunders because it was first.
Kickstarter began with a unique idea: providing a slick website where entrepreneurs could display their new product in a variety of the latest media formats and seamlessly interface them with a company template in which a funding goal could be set and a definite time interval for achievement of that goal could be scrupulously tracked – giving the whole funding paradigm a sort of horserace feel that was enticing.
It was an all-or-nothing proposition – if the funding goal was not met in the time allotted; then your credit card would not be charged for your pledge. Kickstarting also incorporated rewards into the equation. The start up owners could dangle shiny, one-off examples of their products, or promotional gizmos, as rewards for different levels of funding.
There are several Kickstarter success stories in its relatively short nine-year life span. Documentary films Sun Come Up and Incident in New Baghdad were kickstarted and both received nominations for Academy Awards. Singer Amanda Palmer’s kickstarted debut album, Theatre of Evil, made it to number 10 on Billboard’s Top 200. And the Pebble Time smartwatch is leading the new field of wrist-based android platforms.
Dancing with Indiegogo
If you want a more flexible online crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo offers a similar, slick online website but you’re not hamstrung by the all-or-nothing funding strategy over a strict timeline. This may work better for you if your product or service is in a start up position where every little bit helps?
Indiegogo is more of more of an initiative funding mechanism and its relationships with giant retailers Amazon and Brookstone mean you can partner up with them earlier in your company’s nascent process and get help with manufacturing and distribution hassles that plague so many start ups at the beginning.
An entrepreneur may have to give up a little more control over his dream idea with Indiegogo, but the trade off in networking and connections with proven retailers and distributors could be well worth the compromise.
Some of Indiegogo’s biggest success stories are the Jibo Family Robot, a smartspeaker system that can look, listen and learn your family’s environmental and media preferences. And Solar Roadways, a company developing solar-powered road panels to form smart highways that will not only produce electricity but also augment the development of the driverless car market.
Saddling up with Crowd Supply
If your start up dream concept is super geeky, and maybe a little too hack-tastic for Kickstarter or Indiegogo? You might consider Crowd Supply for your crowdfunding platform.
Crowd Supply does not employ the kinds of rules and exact procedures of its other two more acknowledged competitors. It is more of a mentorship or business incubator program where entrepreneurs, with start up ideas that may not be as well formed as a typical new project, can get advice and direction from seasoned capitalists. These are the types of mentors who will often venture into a really innovative, or bizarre if-you-will, new type of project, because they have the experience and the capital to ride a riskier trail.
One of Crowd Supply’s triumphs is Novena, the hottest new open source hardware project. If you’ve got an offbeat idea like that, it could be the platform for you.