crowdfundingThe last few weeks has seen Dragons Den return to our screens for an amazing 10th series.  I remember going to Television Centre to audition for the very first series, and even then they were honing their method of selecting the people likely to get investment and the people likely to get laughs/cringes from viewers and Dragons alike.

In many ways it’s a rather sad reflection of the nations view of entrepreneurs and how their ideas and dreams can be mocked and ridiculed by five wealthy individuals.

Thankfully crowdfunding offers budding business folks an alternative to on screen humiliation.  Sites like KickStarter are now enabling companies and individuals to raise a decent chunk of money.  For instance a marshmallow company has raised around $30,000 to get off the ground, whilst here in Britain (and dear to my geeky heart), someone has raised lots of money to produce a book on the Sensible Software house that produced such beloved wonders as Cannon Fodder and Sensible Soccer.

There’s a super interview at the end of this post between Jessica Jackley, boss of ProFounder, and Tom Standage, digital editor at The Economist on the potential of crowdfunding that is well worth watching.  In the meantime, here are some tips if you want to delve into this exciting new world.

6 tips to get started with crowd-funding

  1. Research previous campaigns – whilst it’s quite probable that previous campaigns existed in very different circumstances to your own, you can still learn from what has worked and what hasn’t, so start studying some of the crowd-funding platforms to see what’s going on.
  2. Look at what you can offer – Whilst many crowd-funding campaigns offer stocks, some offer things such as exclusive experiences.
  3. What’s your budget? Whilst of course the aim is to raise money, doing this will cost you a bit.  Leave yourself a 20-30 percent cushion for hidden expenses, then ask for the minimum funds needed to complete your project to make goals seem more attainable to backers.
  4. Who is your target audience?  The key to success is being able to mobilize your community.  If you already have a strong community that’s great, but if not you’ll really need to think through who they are and how you can reach them.
  5. Work out your elevator pitch – Figure outwhat it is that makes your business special and practice until you can summarise it in less than 20 seconds.  This will form the basis of your marketing campaign.
  6. Over communicate – I wrote recently about the 4 keys to effective community management and you want communication to be timely, relevant and detailed.  This is especially so when people are investing their cash in your enterprise.

Here’s that video for you.