There are few people better suited to talk about crowd funding than entrepreneurs whose businesses are founded on its success. We asked founder of The Bicycle Academy Andrew Denham – a man who raised over £40,000 in just 6 days, the fastest, and most funded, reward based crowd funding campaign ever in the UK – to give us his top 5 tips on successful ways to raise money through people power.
1. Keep it real
Before you try and use crowd funding, you need to understand how it actually works. Most crowd funding platforms use an all or nothing model, meaning that money is only taken from backers if the project reaches its funding goal before the end of the campaign.
So, either the project achieves its goal and backers get their rewards or backers keep their money and the project has to try another way to reach its goal. So it’s vital to set a realistic funding goal, because you don’t want to over reach, but you also don’t want to set it so low that it gets no buzz at all.
2. Be in the right place
When you’re building up the buzz, make sure you get yourself in the right sort of publications. National press is great, but websites and magazines that are much more specific to your product or service are even better – because people who are likely to read them are more likely to be willing to fund you.
I made sure The Bicycle Academy project was featured on the main cycling websites and magazines in the UK. So if you’re funding a film, research film fan sites. If you’re funding a niche product, have a look at where you’ve seen your closest competitors featured – and then get on the phone!
3. Talk the talk
Unless you are already a well known entrepreneur, and people are happy to give you their money based on a well-deserved reputation form previous projects, you will have to give them something for their money – and by something, I mean, your story.
People will want to know a lot about you and your business before they fork cash over, so ask yourself, are you prepared to talk about things that you would normally keep to yourself? Because that’s what is involved with crowd funding – and it doesn’t suit everyone.
If this sounds like you, be prepared to tell people what scares you, what excites you, why you’re doing what you’re doing and how they can help. Because it’s not just money people are offering – it’s expertise as well.
4. Build that buzz
You can’t use crowd funding until you’ve done the legwork – why would people give money to a project that has no buzz, that they’ve heard nothing about? Before you ask for money, you need to get your message out there – build up to the first time you ask for money with a blog, a Twitter and FB campaign and teaser videos.
Keep updating people on the project so that they actually want to be a part of it by the time you ask for money.
5. Don’t forget the hard work
It might seem like asking for money from people who want to give you money is a really easy way to raise funds.
But it’s not. Crowd funding is not an easy ride – its really hard work. While you’re campaigning, you will need to answer every email, direct message, phone call, comment and tweet and you must take every phone call. Why? Because every single person’s contribution counts towards your final goal.
You also need to tirelessly keep up the promotion of you project, pretty much 24/7. So be prepared to put in the time – or you simply will not get the results.
Andrew Denham is the founder of The Bicycle Academy, a frame building school that combines the lost art of bicycle making with philanthropy.
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