My recent interview with Michael Ibberson of Crowdclan covering my time in crowdfunding, lessons learned and advice for startups.
Michael Ibberson – You’ve been involved in crowdfunding since 2007. Kickstarter was founded in 2009. Over that time, via FundRazr and CrowdfundSuite, you’ve made significant grounds not just by helping projects raise money, but also by assisting platforms and brokers devise and implement strategies. What inspired you to apply technology to fundraising and venture capital?
Bret Conkin – CrowdfundSuite was launched in 2014 but I’ve been involved in crowdfunding since my first start-up Fundfindr launched in 2008. Fundfindr was a network for thousands of investors and entrepreneurs featuring pitches and expert content that pivoted to provide educational and content services for leading business orgs like Angel Forum, New Ventures BC, Community Futures and many others. We were too early for equity crowdfunding but we created a strong network and validation of the coming market.
As an executive with FundRazr, I helped raise over $40M for projects in 20 countries mostly for personal and charitable causes. I left to return to my business financing roots and launched CrowdfundSuite as a hub that provides one-stop platform access across crowdfunding models and expert consulting geared to helping intermediaries – platforms, dealers, financial advisors – navigate and profit from the crowd economy. Our clients include innovators like US peer-to-business lending platform InvestNextDoor.
Michael Ibberson – As a founder and collaborator of numerous startups, do you have a formula for a venture’s first few years or is every situation different? Are there strategies universal to business that crowdfunding projects should be aware of?
Bret Conkin – a) A formula for start-up?
1. Build a Team – If you don’t have the capital for employees then make sure you have a tested pitch that will attract collaborators, mentors and connectors. Create advocates that can help build the team because they embrace your vision, passion and work ethic.
2. Apply Lean startup principles – The methodology of MVP (minimum viable product), Experiments, Customer Interviews and 1 page business plan is a great way for startups to gain real world feedback until their business model can work. I personally like this resource best ~ Lean Launch Lab.
3. Utilize available resources both offline and online. In BC, we have amazing support programs and orgs like BCTIA, BCIC, VEF, New Ventures BC, Small Business BC and others. You can network, participate in start-up programming and take advantage of a wealth of events and online resources. What are you waiting for?
Beyond formal groups, you have the wealth of resources within the industry via websites like CrowdClan, Crowdsourcing.org and others and via the top platforms like FundRazr, Kickstarter and Indiegogo or emerging equity players like SeedUps Canada. Educate yourself and especially spend time on reference campaigns in a similar sector that have raised money. What can you detect from their campaigns that you can apply to your venture?
See the rest of the interview on Crowclan here