Correction: This story has been edited since publication to reflect that a four per cent fee is collected from successful fixed funding campaigns, not those that fall short.
Entrepreneurial projects in Victoria are building awareness through the crowdfunding community provided by Indiegogo. In partnership with the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC), they hosted their first meet-up in the city on Jan. 20, sharing success stories in order to inspire the community to get involved.
Launched in 2008, Indiegogo was one of the first open-concept crowdfunding platforms. It promotes its hosted campaigns to a global audience of nearly 190 countries. There are approximately 7 000 of these campaigns running at any given time, including a mix of businesses and community-based projects, such as films, music, and games.
Ayah Norris, Indiegogo’s Canadian marketing and community manager, has been well placed to witness crowdfunding’s success in the community over the last six months. “I always tell people to look at crowdfunding as it being more than just the money.”
“It can be tough to knock on doors and have people tell you ‘oh no, we don’t want to help you, you aren’t ready,’” she reflects. “Crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity to find a group that cares, create something, and validate what you’re doing.”
Indiegogo offers users two funding options for their projects. With “fixed” funding, if users reach their self-designated goals, they receive the funding for their project, less a four per cent fee. Falling short from the goal results in all money being returned to the contributors. On the other hand, “flexible” funding offers users the opportunity to cash in the funding they raise, regardless of reaching their goal. The catch: a nine per cent fee, “as incentive to set a reasonable goal and work hard to achieve it,” according to Norris. In either case, contributors to a project are often rewarded with various perks at the end of the campaign, depending on how much they donate.
With this merit-based system, it is up to the user to gain the initial propelling burst of publicity and support for their independent projects. As a campaign gains traction, Indiegogo’s “gogofactor” algorithm provides an easy way of gauging its progress, and rewards users who have built themselves a strong start with additional exposure on the site.
The Victoria business Burnt Sunglasses is one campaign that has earned a spot on the homepage through a high “gogofactor” score. Inspired by the surfing beaches in Tofino, three UVic friends in the Royal Roads MBA program created sustainable bamboo sunglasses. Their start-up more than tripled its funding goal on Indiegogo, with 20 days left in their campaign.
The projects from Victoria receiving the most funding also include films, which showcase our immense potential for cultural exports on the cutting edge of art and social commentary. Hattie’s Heist and Us and Them both surpassed $20 000 USD, as did Two 4 One, a romantic comedy, notable for its transgender protagonist, by acclaimed local writer/director Maureen Bradley.
“There is such an incredible community spirit here, and everyone has been so supportive,” says Norris. “It’s the right environment for crowdfunding.”