Browsing campaigns on Indiegogo can sometimes feel like shopping on other ecommerce sites. You can search for products across dozens of categories, score amazing discounts on items you’ll love, and get gifts for yourself and your loved ones.
But crowdfunding is not shopping — it’s better. With crowdfunding, you’re not simply exchanging money for a product. Crowdfunding is a way to make a bigger impact in the world with how your money gets spent. When you back a campaign, you’re helping to foster innovation and allowing a more diverse set of companies to thrive.
Here are some important differences between crowdfunding and shopping that you should be aware of before you back your next project.
You’re a backer, not a buyer.
The difference between backing a campaign and buying a product is subtle but important. Crowdfunding campaigns offer perks in exchange for backing their campaign which can, in essence, function just like buying something. But because their product is not usually ready to ship when they launch a campaign, there is often a delay between when you back a project and when you receive your perk. You’re giving a small company the funds they need to put a product into production, which makes you part of their journey.
You’re supporting a small business.
Crowdfunding is about finding an idea in its earlier stages and helping it become a reality. It’s an opportunity to nurture a fledgling idea into a fully-formed product that you and other people can later enjoy. While well-known brands occasionally use Indiegogo to raise awareness about a new launch, the vast majority of campaigns are from small companies that are only a few years old.
You’re essential to bringing a product to life.
Often, an entrepreneur starts a crowdfunding project to raise funding to put their product into production. They’ll usually have a tested, working prototype, but not the means to produce their product on a massive scale. They need funding to make it happen. Because the products on Indiegogo would never become real without you, you’re playing an integral part in the story of how that product gets made.
You can get an amazing deal.
Crowdfunded products are often significantly cheaper during their campaigns. When a product becomes available through traditional ecommerce sites, it will often cost three or four times as much as it did during its crowdfunding campaign. The discount is your reward for showing early support and getting in on the ground floor.
You’re bringing more diversity to entrepreneurship.
Companies with female founders receive less than 15% of all VC capital. Crowdfunding has historically been a way for women-owned businesses to find funding outside of VC firms — female crowdfunders have been shown to outperform men by 32%. By backing a female-founded crowdfunding campaign, you’re helping to bring more diverse perspectives to traditional entrepreneurship.
You might have to be patient.
Making a brand-new product takes time. Crowdfunding campaigners have to source parts, find factories, figure out shipping, and more. Because a smaller business doesn’t have the same resources as a larger company, it can often take months (or years!) for a crowdfunding campaigner to make their product. As a backer, you’ll get monthly updates on how production is progressing, which will let you follow along and stay connected to your product’s story. And if you don’t want to wait, there are plenty of campaigns that have already mass produced their projects and will ship your perks immediately.
You can shape how a product gets made.
Many campaigners run crowdfunding campaigns to get early feedback on their products. They’ll ask you what features they want to see, whether they should produce certain color variations, and what problems you hope to solve. When the product ships, crowdfunding campaigners take your feedback to improve their product and make adjustments.
You’re supporting innovation that can change the world.
Truly amazing products get made because of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding projects have championed solar power, promoted bicycle use, boosted brain focus, and much, much more. But none of these projects would have gotten anywhere if it weren’t for people like you who believed in an idea and wanted to help make it real. Crowdfunding creates an avenue for the world’s innovators and dreamers to find the people that will help them make the world a better place.
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