Indiegogo Founder Speaks on Why Crowdfunding is an Equal Opportunity Platform

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Paste Magazine |By Jonathan Keane | November 8, 2014

Web Summit London DanaeFive years ago crowdfunding wasn’t the ubiquitous phenomenon that is now and Indiegogo was still in its nascent stages, founded in 2008 by Danae Ringelmann, Eric Schell, and Slava Rubin. Since that time, crowdfunding has grown out of its ‘buzz’ stages and become a legitimate threat or benefit (depending on your opinion) to the traditional means of accessing capital for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Indiegogo, its peers in Kickstarter and several more sites big and small have been at the forefront at this shift in how people seek funding.

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Speaking at the Web Summit this week in Dublin, Ireland co-founder and CDO Danae Ringelmann spoke of how Indiegogo has been working for entrepreneurs in the tech and innovation space lately, citing the successes of projects like the Misfit Shine activity tracker in arguing how Indiegogo is becoming a permanent fixture in global financing for entrepreneurs.

The Web Summit conference is very much a global attraction now, pulling in the likes of Eva Longoria to Facebook executives and corporate beasts like Coca Cola all the way down to new born start-ups desperately seeking funding. However, most attendees come from around Europe and the given the Irish location, this begs the question of how crowdfunding fares in Europe against the US. Some commentators have stated before that Americans have simply proven to be better at crowdfunding their projects than Europeans but does Danae agree with that sentiment?

“I think that we’ve seen more campaigns out of the US but that’s awareness and exposure. It’s so early still, there shouldn’t be any conclusions around who is better,” she tells Paste, pointing out that there have been over 300,000 campaigns on Indiegogo since its launch and 100,000 of those are from outside the US.

“That’s why Indiegogo was started because we knew entrepreneurship and creativity exists everywhere,” she says. “It’s part of being a human being and the only reason that Silicon Valley is the way that it is… it became a hub, it became where capital is, so entrepreneurs came to the capital. But if you actually break down the barriers in access to capital and make capital available everywhere then the ideas that were meant to be actually come to life everywhere.”

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Crowdfunding can sometimes be shrouded in mysticism though. Why do certain campaigns blow their targets away and garner incredible attention while others struggle to raise a couple of bucks and end up covered in digital dust? The art of crowdfunding, if you’d like to call it that, is far from being mastered universally. This is down to the attitude of your approach, says Danae.

“The first big mistake entrepreneurs make is asking for money. I think it sounds a little counter intuitive but Indiegogo is not a way to beg for cash,” she remarks with a laugh. Of course the aim is to gather funds but simply asking for money will get you nowhere the co-founder explains.

“It’s a way to test your idea, it’s a way to invite an audience in to be a part of the ideation and creation process and if you speak from that perspective it’s a much more empowering experience for funders,” she comments.

The platform is considered a gauging tool for the size of your audience, the features they would like and most importantly, the price they are willing to pay.

However it’s still not that simple. As we saw recently with the severe backlash against the Kickstarter project for Anonabox, an alleged Tor router, if you’re not entirely honest and transparent from the get-go, you’re likely to dig your own grave. In the case of Indiegogo, Ringelmann says its platform is “focused on education and empowerment” and coaching campaigns.

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