What is Crowdfunding, Exactly?
Crowdfunding is a phenomenon that has taken root in most major industries worldwide as a way to source funding from a large number of people through the internet.

It has, without a doubt, changed the way companies and individuals are able to fundraise for a given product, service, or project, and has proven to be a valuable way to introduce customers to potential ventures that are of direct interest to them. Although crowdfunding began with just a few key platforms, there are now over 1,250 websites around the world which serve the purpose of raising money in 5 ways: by donation, with a reward, through debt, offering up equity, or with a royalty percentage on your revenue. Some key players include Indiegogo, GoFundMe, Razoo, as well as American giant Kickstarter, and Montreal-based Haricot.

How to Successfully Crowdfund
Choosing the right crowdfunding site is essential for your product’s success in reaching your fundraising goal. You want to ensure your project aligns with the vision of the website you choose; although some are general purpose, many crowdfunding platforms are geared towards a specific niche or industry, such as non-profit campaigns. Once you’ve chosen the crowdfunding site that fits your brand best, it’s important to create a campaign that is unique, realistic, and attractive for your potential consumers. You want it to tell the story of your product and why others would want to invest in your idea. By really capturing your audience’s attention, you increase your chance of developing a loyal consumer when your product/service officially launches. Once you’ve launched successfully, marketing your campaign is an integral part in ensuring you’re able to raise money. Your marketing strategy must be well thought out and cover e-mail, social media, as well as using friends and family for word-of-mouth and online sharing. You can even use your campaign as a way to develop early feedback about your product, which can later turn into testimonials for your website.

More than Just Funding
Developing a crowdfunding campaign is a great way to evaluate market demand for your proposed product or service. Before you launch, take some time to research your competitors and study how your project can differ from theirs to gain significant interest. The uniqueness of your offering is what will garner positive visibility, establish presales (if you’re offering them as part of your campaign) and will help you find the support you need to succeed. You can also choose to crowdfund for only one specific aspect of your new business before the full launch, supporting a lean start-up approach and being certain that you are giving your customer what they actually want. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to simultaneously build your brand image and develop your consumer base; the clients that will be your brand ambassadors, and your key to future growth.

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