Crowdfunding: The Ultimate Reference for Tech Founders
Find Hidden Investors Eager to Fund Your Tech Startup: Bypass gatekeepers and go directly to the public for your next launch.
If you have ever thought about alternative methods of funding your early stage tech startup, this guide will give you all the references to achieve your funding goals.
Ever asked, where do I start?
This guide will be source of useful and actionable resource that you can use today.
The information has been compiled with early stage tech startups founders in mind.
In my role as an executive recruiter for technology startups, all too frequent that companies that reach out me will be hamstrung to make their next move based on one limiting factor.
What is that limiting factor?
You may be in a situation looking to raise capital to move your company ahead. Equity crowdfunding can be a realistic alternative
But what is the best way to do put a crowdfunding program together that will yield results?
There is no denying it; crowdfunding has changed the face of product financing forever. The limited gatekeepers are now in competition with hundreds of crowdfunding platforms, that allow for casual investors to contribute to the success of projects that they believe in.
Crowdfunding can seem like a simple concept, but with so much competition for backers today, project creators need to create campaigns that stand out from the crowd. There are many elements that combine towards a successful campaign and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to present to you a resource roadmap to success.
Below is a definitive guide that can be a “go to” reference for your entire crowdfunding ecosystem for a successful launch.
The Ultimate List of the Web’s Best Crowdfunding Resources
From campaign planning to launch, this guide has you covered
How to Find Tech Startup Help
If you are new to equity crowdfunding and looking for a good starting point here are several resources that will jump start your plan.
You will get many of your basic questions answered that will give you a solid foundation for knowing how to proceed for your campaign.
What Crowdfunding Platform Should You Choose?
Before embarking on your crowdfunding campaign, you should have a good knowledge regarding the types of crowdfunding options on offer. There are generally four crowdfunding models and below we have resources that will help you understand the pros and cons of each approach.
On this page we mainly focus on the most popular crowdfunding model, Rewards, however if you decide to take another path know that a lot of the Rewards based tips are universal and will have just as much value for other crowdfunding models.
So take a look through the resources belowthe will help you to choose the best approach for your specific needs.
This is an overview of the four types of crowdfunding modelsDonation, Rewards, Equity, Lending.
What is the right funding model for your project? This article will help you make the right choice for your campaign.
Forbes wades into the topic of equity crowdfunding, breaking down the key elements that will help your startup determine if this is your best option.
A brief look at peer-to-peer loans, a potentially effective alternative to a bank loan.
In a space that isn’t crowdfunding friendly? You’re going to want to read this and be introduced to an alternative strategy for your campaign.
How to Make a Real-World Budget
There are two fundamental aspects of budgeting: the first is what you need to produce your product and the second is what the campaign itself is going to cost. We’re going to assume that you have the former budget carefully planned, so let’s just focus on the crowdfunding campaign cost.
The cost of your campaign depends on a number of factors, but you’d be surprised at the expenses that can tally up if you’re not careful. There are the variable tax implications and crowdfunding platform’s fee. Throw in the legal fees and the marketing, which really is a full time job for several people.
Want a video?
That can be expensive depending on your equipment and needs.
Below we have some resources to help you plan your campaign budget carefully. A successful campaign should be exactly that: a success. But if you’ve underestimated your costs, even reaching your goal could leave you in the red or unable to fulfill the rewards for your backers.
How to Create a Realistic Budget for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Those friendly Canadians offer plenty of valuable advice to ensure that your campaign has one eye on the balance sheet.
Correctly Budgeting Your Crowdfunding Campaign
This blogger uses the power of mathematics to help you calculate what you REALLY need your budget to be.
Preparing a Professional Crowdfunding Budget
A really in-depth look at how to get your budgeting right. The examples are from music crowdfunding, but the lessons can be applied across the board.
Think Before You Kickstart
A user-friendly tool to easily help you determine your campaign budget.
What are the Legal & Financial Issues?
So, you have this exciting product and now you want to hop onto the emotional rollercoaster ride that is the crowdfunding campaign. Before you do that we would recommend stepping back down to earth for a minute. It might be make for the most excitement but the “boring” fundamentals of legal and finances are going to save you a LOT of problems down the line.
In this section we cast an eye across taxes, intellectual property, trademarks and the new legislation that changed the crowdfunding landscape for good.
Indiegogo’s ‘How to Raise Tax-Deductible Funds’
Some practical advice and best practices for non-profits.
Kickstarter and Taxes
A brief overview on how taxes work on Kickstarter, including links to specific tax info for 18 other countries.
Crowdfunding and Income Taxes
For those who want a more comprehensive and thorough look at the tax implications of crowdfunding, the Journal of Accountancy dig a bit deeper.
JOBS Act Explained
Skadden have produced a great breakdown of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, the legislation that has helped small businesses raise capital.
8 Steps to Protect Your Intellectual Property
Putting your idea into the public domain can be scary. Follow these steps to make sure that your IP is secure.
Navigating Crowdfunding Legal Issues
Can you be sued for failing to deliver on rewards? The answer to this question and many more relating to the legalities of crowdfunding.
Prepare Your Product Economically
When it comes to a development timeline for a product, every project is different. Some products are designed, built, tested and ready for manufacture as soon as financing is secured. Other products are in the conceptual stage, using the crowdfunding platform to sell a big idea and raise the funds necessary to take that idea and make it a reality.
Below we have collected some helpful resources that could give your product development the boost that it needs to create a prototype that will capture the minds of backers.
Upwork was created when two of the biggest freelancing platforms, oDesk and Elance merged. There are great options to help you find freelancers for both tight budget and high end work.
99 Designs 99designs.com
Need a great logo for your project? This platform is focused on design and the jobs are in the form of a contest, with the winning design taking home the prize and you gaining a great piece of work.
One of the oldest and most established Freelance platforms around. It’s incredibly easy to sign up as an employer and exceptionally user-friendly.
Manually search through artist portfolios and contact creative talents directly.
Need a prototype? Upload your designs, choose your materials and receive a quote from Ponoko.
Get a 3D printing of your own design or hire a designer to help you create your vision. They print in over 50 different materials.
An incredible network to help you find someone to build your prototype. Will also come in handy when looking to secure a supplier.
How to Market Your Message
Marketing is not an extension of your campaign. In many ways it IS your campaign. Having a great product or concept is just the first step, a step that becomes meaningless if you can’t get your campaign in front of people.
A clear and multi-faceted marketing plan is truly essential. You need to find and build your audience before you can compel them into action in the form of backing your campaign. Once the campaign is launched you’ll need to keep up the updates whilst continuing to expand your reach.
If you think you can do this alone, think again. A team is needed and hours devoted every day to throwing more logs onto the fire. Below we have a selection of resources to help you shape and then execute your marketing plan.
Traffic Generation Strategy
Want to maximize your chances? Follow the tips in this guide, which suggest starting your marketing efforts at least 5 months in advance of your campaign.
Create a site or a blog to start letting the world know about your product.
Social Media for Crowdfunding
A great guide covering all the tips and tricks to help you leverage social media for crowdfunding success.
An app designed to get your product on the radar. This is a pre-launch service that will transition into a converting landing page as soon as your campaign is launched.
Crowdfunding Soft Launch
Why gamble on your time and money by going straight to full launch. A soft launch can help you prove viability and iterate changes.
21 Tips for Sharing Your Project
21 quick and easy tips from the Kickstarter blog. Some of these will be obvious but others you would have never considered.
Consolidate all your social media under one roof to manage your accounts efficiently.
Monitor your online mentions in real-time to gauge how word is spreading.
Build up a database of interested followers and then engage them with newsletter updates.
Create more effective newsletter journeys to track and nurture your followers.
An incredibly valuable resource, listing the bloggers, press and crowdfunding communities that you can notify about your project with a press release.
A 3rd party watchdog that helps backers determine campaigns that are badly run our outright scams. For creators it allows for the chance to prove your campaign is the real deal and stay in contact with backers.
Need some professional help? These crowdfunding experts will guide your entire campaign.
Planning, Management and Collaboration
Now that you have a team in place, it’s time to work together towards reaching your crowdfunding goal. No doubt you have the passion but it also requires planning and cohesion in order to successfully execute your strategy.
There have never been as many quality project management options as there are today and we have highlighted a few of our favorites below. They are user-friendly, productive and won’t leave a dent in your budget. Try them out, see what works for you and your team, and then start using these tools to plan and run an efficient crowdfunding campaign.
Trello is a great tool for collaborating and keeping track of all your tasks. The platform, which includes mobile apps, is able to clearly visualize your progress.
The leading web-based project management tool handles everything from file sharing to scheduling. Incredibly powerful and easy to use.
Team messaging has never been easier. This is the perfect tool to keep your team on the same page and communicating well.
Evernote is now more than just an app to create notes. It has functionality to track tasks and collaborate, although is probably best suited as a supplement to other programs.
Never lose your files again. Create a shared folder and your team will always have access to the files, wherever they are and whatever device they are using.
Keep track of your teams’ work hours with this online time tracking software.
Create a Campaign Page That Converts to Funds
While you should already have web presence that has helped build up a list of followers prior to launch, you still need to produce an effective campaign page to convert those followers as well as the people who know are finding out about your product for the first time.
There are a number of elements that combine to make a successful campaign page. You need strong visuals, you need a story that engages and compels, and you need to clearly explain your product and get people excited about it.
In a way it is a combination between personal and professional. The personal story will pull on the emotions of the visitor while the professionalism will reassure them that you will be able to deliver on your campaign promises.
Look below for more campaign page advice as well as some tools to help you realize the page of your dreams.
Anatomy of a Greater Project Page
Great insight and examples to help you construct a killer campaign page.
Top 10 Tips For Campaign Page Success
Crowdfunding experts weigh in on the key tips for successful campaign pages.
Optimizing Your Campaign Page
Shopify have sourced data from the big crowdfunding platforms to bring you some crucial best practices to follow.
Need to make your product photos even more stylish? This is an easy to use photo editor that works on MAC, PC and mobile.
Work with a talented copywriter, preferably one with crowdfunding experience, to make your written content persuasive and compelling.
Make A Campaign Video to Create Buzz
Are videos really that important to the success of a campaign?
According to every study, yes, they really are. Kickstarter revealed that projects with a video are successful 50% of the time, compared to 30% for projects without a video. Indiegogo has a similarly eye-opening stat—projects with a pitch video earn 115% more than projects without.
All indications point to the fact that even a very average pitch video is going to have a positive impact on your campaign, so get out of your comfort zone and make that personal connection with your audience. It doesn’t have to be slick or incredibly creative although that’s what you should aim for as long as you get your story across in a way that is passionate and optimistic. Oh, and don’t forget to leave the desperation at the door.
10 Amazing Crowdfunding Pitch Videos
Before you think about your own video, take a look at some of the best crowdfunding videos from 2015.
3 tutorials to help you shoot your own campaign video.
How to Make a Great Crowdfunding Video For Beginners
A really handy guide that takes you from pre-production through to post-production.
10 Best Kickstarter Video Productions
Since your video is so important, you may want to get some professional help. This link has some of the best production companies around.
Get royalty free music and sound effects to bring your video alive.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for at Premium Beat, Audio Jungle has a massive library to browse.
Best Practices for Your Campaign Launch
Putting together months of planning and work will put you on the road to success, but this doesn’t mean you can now kick up your feet and wait for the funding to roll in. Even if you have one of the rare campaigns that reaches its goals within the first few days, you should be using your campaign time to maximize your take from the experience.
Successful campaigns are updated frequently. New content. New rewards. New marketing strategies.
With this collection of resources, you will learn how to navigate your campaign, from launch through to the campaign end.
The Perfect Crowdfunding Rewards Strategy
Come up with a smart rewards strategy that will work for your budget and your backers.
Four Ways to Make Crowdfunding Fulfillment Easy
Indiegogo looks over four fundamental components to setting up an efficient rewards strategy.
96 Reward Ideas
Need some inspiration for your reward offerings? The Kickstarter Blog has 96 examples to get you started.
10 Ways to Address The Mid-Campaign Slump
Campaigns typically start and end strong, but the middle of the campaign often sees a slump. Here are some tips to help your campaign from stalling mid-stream.
How to Run a Successful Time-Based Crowdfunding Campaign
Tons of great insight and strategies here, giving you clear scheduling goals to work towards.
When Is the Best Time to Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign
Timing is everything. Some simple tips to help you launch at the right time to maximize your chances.
Analyze and track your Kickstarter project.
Release The Rewards
Congratulations, your project has reached its goal. If you’ve embarked on a rewards campaign platform, now you need to deliver on your promises, starting with the sending out of their rewards. Depending on the size of the campaign, this can be a massive logistical project.
Fulfillment can be a challenge if you haven’t planned carefully, and even if you have there can be surprises like an unforeseen manufacturing problem. 1 out of 10 successful Kickstarter projects do not fulfill their rewards. To avoid joining this frowned upon group, use the resources we have found for you below to help efficiently manage the fulfillment of your rewards.
One final word—during this process, if there are any delays, make sure you communicate the problems them to your backers. They will show patience and forgiveness if you can just be honest with them about your struggles.
How to Provide Free Shipping Worldwide on Kickstarter
While he doesn’t mean literally free, this is great advice on how to set up a fulfillment plan that works for backers, wherever they are in the world.
Import your list of backers and schedule all your shipments via your carrier of choice.
Shipwire offer warehouse space and have a software platform that chooses the best routes to get your products in the hands of your backers as soon as possible.
This is a lifesaving resource to efficiently manage everything that happens after a successful campaign.
When it comes to fulfillment of rewards, Floship are tried and trusted.
Print quality t-shirts and have Teelaunch automatically send them to your backers.
Need an extra hand? Get a virtual assistant to take some of the time-consuming tasks off your plate.
Post Campaign Strategy
It may be the end of your crowdfunding campaign, but it is certainly not the end of your journey. If you had a successful campaign, it’s time to move your followers from the crowdfunding platform to your own site.
If you have a product, set up a store to keep selling. If not, find out other ways to keep engaging with your audience and keep the brand growing. Below we have several links that will help you accomplish exactly that.
We even have a resource specifically focused on helping you decide what to do in the eventuality of a failed campaign.
Indiegogo breaks down the key steps to follow after your campaign has concluded.
Crowdfunding can be used as a platform to accelerate venture capital funding. Here is a list of Indiegogo campaigns that did just that.
A marketplace specifically geared towards selling products from successful crowdfunding campaigns.
Set up your own store to keep selling. They even have a theme designed just for crowdfunding campaigns.
Easily add an online store to the places where you’ve diverted your followers, such as your website and Facebook page.
If your campaign is not a success, it isn’t necessarily the end of the dream. This guide will help you navigate the worst case scenario.
Below we have extra special crowdfunding resources that were too broad to fit into any one of the categories above. The advice collected within these links is just as essential and should be a must read for anyone looking to undertake a crowdfunding campaign.
The Crowdfunding Bible
Possibly the best guide to take you through the entire campaign process, including key insights from experienced campaigners.
Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook
The premier crowdfunding platform has a handy guide that covers everything from funding to rewards.
19 Psychological Tricks for Crowdfunding Success
An incredibly valuable resource providing practical advice, based on proven psychology, for all the key elements of your campaign.
As complete a guide to Kickstarter campaigns as you can get. It is focused on gaming but most of the lessons will be applicable for any kind of project.
Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding Linkedin Group
With 40, 000 users, this group is a great place to connect, share and discuss.
The hub of news allows you to stay connected to what’s going on in the wide world of crowdfunding
Crowdfunding advice, education and consultation.
Time to Put Your Crowdfunding Knowledge into Action
There you have it, 78 links that will empower you with the knowledge and tools to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. It may not be a walk in the park, but now you know what needs to be done.
If you plan smart and work hard, you will give your project every chance of success.
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