Kickstart your ideas before you indiegogo
From ethical chocolate to golf clubs with removable heads, Ian Morris looks at projects that are using the web to raise funding
Have you ever had a great idea that you just didn't know what to do with? Maybe you had an idea for a clever new invention that you wanted to develop or a dream business you wanted to open, whether it was in fashion, crafts or hospitality; or maybe you wanted to stage a play or make a movie or record an album, or a million other ideas that could have happened but didn't.
The idea was good, maybe even great, but you were never able to get it in front of someone who could make it happen. For most people, the options have always been to apply for a bank loan, which can be next to impossible to get when you're pitching an idea, or to fund it themselves, which is just not practical for most people.
The show Dragon's Den, which began in Japan with tigers as opposed to dragons, has spent the best part of the last 15 years demonstrating to the public of 24 countries that there is an endless supply of innovative, energetic people who are out there dreaming up whole new ways of being, seeing and doing. Every new idea seems to breed a hundred more. Just look at mobile phones. I remember seeing people stood in disbelief, when they first saw the Nokia 5110. Flash forward a decade, and we use phones for everything.
There is no shortage of new ideas, quite the contrary, in fact. Today's world is full of people with visions of tomorrow. Enter indiegogo.com and kickstarter.com, two websites with the sole purpose of providing a platform for entrepreneurs all over the world to showcase their ideas and to raise the money they need.
With indiegogo.com, which calls itself "the world's funding engine", you start what they call a "campaign page" on which you lay out your idea along with any relevant materials, media etc, along with the amount you want to raise and a deadline for when you need the money. This is all free to set up and indiegogo.com makes its money by taking a cut of the money you raise. It takes 9pc of all contributions until you reach your goal, at which point it returns 5pc for an overall fee of 4pc. To encourage contributors you offer perks, which are non-monetary gifts varying based on donation size.
Allison Roberts of Clonakilty has begun a campaign which, as I write, has raised over €5,000 of her €15,000 goal. Allison has been mad about chocolate her whole life and began her first chocolate making business at 12. Since 2007, her business, Clonakilty Chocolate, has been producing a variety of Fairtrade bars and supplying them to local shops and some small independent shops around Ireland. Allison is raising money so she can expand her business and focus on making her products health conscious and straight from the bean, with the philosophy that "chocolate and sugar don't need to be synonymous". In exchange for contributions, Allison is offering perks in the form of chocolate.
Meanwhile, in Nashville, Tennessee, Jessica and Adam Harthcock are looking for $60,000 (€44,000) to expand and roll out their web application, Utilize Health, which matches patients with neurological disabilities to the treatments and treatment facilities that would be most beneficial to them as well as providing a contact and booking service to these facilities. Jessica, who was paralysed in a gymnastics accident at the age of 17 knows how difficult it can be to find the right treatment for these sorts of disabilities and spent years travelling in search of a cure. Finally, she found a treatment that worked for her and gave her back her legs. Since then she has made it her life's ambition to shorten that journey for others. In just two days, via indiegogo.com, Jessica and Adam have raised $17,165 (€12,600) to that end.
Kickstarter.com is very similar but with one big difference; you must raise all the funds you have requested in the time set or you get nothing at all. Which makes sense if you imagine being a contributor to an idea that doesn't get half the funding it needs to get started. Otherwise, the format is almost identical. You start a project, which includes all your information, etc, and just like on indiegogo.com you offer varying rewards to contributors.
Dublin games company bitSmith Games are looking for £30,000 (€37,450) to produce their new computer game, FranknJohn. They describe their game as "a rogue-like smash 'em up in a fun house full of B-movie horrors". So far they've raised £9,000 (€11,200).
London entrepreneur and philanthropist Sudha Kheterpal, who has been the percussionist for the band Faithless for 15 years, has raised £20,000 (€25,000) of the £50,000 (€62,400) she needs for her product, Spark, which is a type of musical instrument - a percussion shaker that converts the energy being used to shake it into electricity. "In places like Kenya," she says, "75pc of the population live without access to electricity".
So, if you do have an idea, at the front (or back) of your mind, there has never been a better time to let people know. Websites like kickstarter.com and indiegogo.com have created a forum for people and their ideas to get noticed.