What 10,000 Kickstarter projects reveal about Canada’s entrepreneurs

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CBC | By Roberto Rocha | April 27, 2017

smarthalo-velo-connecte-20161127In the last six years, Canadians took nearly 10,000 shots at glory on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Only about a third succeeded.

But what are these projects? Which are the most successful? Are there big differences between the creative economies of every city?

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and FundRazr have changed how creative entrepreneurs fund their passions. No longer confined to traditional sources like banks and venture capital, anyone can get money for an idea provided they inspire enough people to cough up cash.

These sites enable people to donate money to fund a project, usually in return for a reward — for example, early access to a new product, a T-shirt or dinner with the creators. The more one gives, the juicier the reward.

The CBC looked at six years of Kickstarter projects with data provided by Web Robots and HiveWire, two firms that track crowdfunding sites. Only Kickstarter data was used, since it has the largest and most representative sample of Canadian crowdfunding projects.

See:  Christopher Charlesworth, CEO and Co-founder of HiveWire, Joins NCFA's Advisory Board

More than half of all Canadian Kickstarter projects are concentrated in the three biggest cities.

It's generally known that Montreal is a hotbed of video game development, while Vancouver has a rich film scene. These are known industry facts, and the Kickstarter data confirms that bootstrapping creators in these cities also operate in these areas.

But some cities seem to flout stereotypes. Halifax, better known for its music, has more game-related projects than other categories.

Equal parts preparation and perspiration

Not all Kickstarter campaigns have the same shot at success. If you want good odds of making it, try funding a play or a comic book. These have the highest success rates: 60% of these types of projects reached their funding goals.

But if you want to fund a tech idea, the cards are strongly stacked against you. Of all the Canadian tech projects on Kickstarter, only about 20% got the money they asked for, making it the toughest category.

And if you don't reach your goal on Kickstarter, you don't see a cent of what users pledged.

SmartHalo, a multipurpose attachment for bikes, is an anomaly. Not only did the project reach its Kickstarter goal, it did it in 15 hours, and is one of the most successful recent projects based in Montreal.

It had a fundraising goal of $67,000. It raised nearly $540,000.

"Early adopters of technology know that's where innovation happens, on Kickstarter," said Xavier Peich, the business director of SmartHalo. "Getting something that no one else has, it's a compelling offer."

See: 5 Things You (Probably) Never Knew About Kickstarter

How Canada compares internationally

Canada is the third-biggest country on Kickstarter in terms of number of projects. Of the 301,000 projects analyzed, fewer  than 10,000 were Canadian, compared to 245,00 in the U.S. and 25,000 in Britain.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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