Saturday, April 26, 2014

My experiences of running a crowdfunding campaign for entrepreneurship in India

In March 2014, I decided to request for people to support StartupYatra - an effort to help Indian startup entrepreneurs connect with successful ones, visit their workplace and learn from them. It was a crowd-funding campaign that I decided to host online and here are my few learnings that I wish to share with my blog readers:
1. Platform selection - I decided to host the campaign and collect payments on Indiegogo, and the only reason was that it was international and much talked about already. I think it was a mistake - it did not do anything to promote my campaign, it does not allow paypal payments (thats a regulatory issue for Indian companies), and the % they keep as commission is very high. On the positive side, its a technically stable platform but the negatives are bigger. Next time, if I run a crowdfunding campaign, I will use my own website for donations or use Wishberry (I think it has a scaringly lengthy form) or Catapooolt (who promise marketing support).

2. Marketing your campaign - Almost 100% donations I received were from people who know me offline and online. I used email marketing, and social media extensively. I hosted the campaign on Indiegogo website on 15th March, and deliberately waited till 22nd to see if someone will donate or not - it did not happen. So it was clear that I had to do all the work to let people know about the campaign, cause, whys and hows! There is hardly a chance that your campaign will go viral and even if it does, you have to depend on your sources and contacts for final action.

3. Few statistics - Getting the first 5 people to donate was the toughest part, which was mostly due to inertia. Almost 0 people questioned the intentions or doubted the cause or the person behind it (myself). We received nearly 1500 $ (~80000 Rs) in a 15 days time from around 100 donors. I got a few requests after the campaign ended on 31st March, but I decided to deny them and move on to execution/operations part rather than continue with the campaign. Next time, I will chose a higher time frame and not close the crowdfunding campaign so fast. About 50 of these came through my FB contacts and another 50 via email - these included my batchmates from IIT Delhi, IIM Indore and many customers who have been a part of Nurture Talent or StartupYatra earlier.

4. Donation amounts - I had kept amounts as 5$, 10$, 100$ and 1000$ - of these 80% donors selected 10$ amount. Next time I will keep that as the starting point and limit it to 100$. The big ones who want to contribute 1000$ can anyways call me and discuss it, while those who can do 5$ can also do 10$!

5. Perks - It took me about 1 week to courier the t-shirts, startup study kits and other rewards to the donors. The bigger perks of 2-3 people are yet to be settled but that is more of a scheduling issue. Next time, I will try to keep these perks as virtual gifts like movie vouchers, or phone recharges - easier to manage and less chances of mistakes in address, pin code!

Just a couple of days back, I received the donation amount from Indiegogo and the money shall be put to use shortly for organizing StartupYatra. For those who wish to know more and be a part of these awesome events, do join on www.meetup.com/startup-yatra.

Till then, just be awesome.