Before we started Indiegogo in early 2008, a select group of elite gatekeepers were responsible for determining which ideas were “good” and thus deserved funding. In our personal and professional lives, my co-founders and I saw again and again that only people who had connections to venture capitalists, or easy access to lines of credit could bring their ideas to life. Countless ideas were left unfunded for all the wrong reasons. We believed that all ideas deserve a shot at success, so we created an open platform where the crowd gets to decide which ideas get funding. Through our rewards-based model, backers receive perks when they contribute to a campaign. Perks offer tangible proof to backers that their contributions were essential to a campaign’s success, which reinforces the spirit of partnership that makes Indiegogo special.
Our mission to even the playing field has had a tremendous impact over the past 8 years. For example, less than 10% of VC funds are invested in female-led companies, while at Indiegogo almost 50% of contributions go to teams led by women. And it’s certainly not just female-led companies that benefit from Indiegogo. Misfit was able to validate the market for their discreet wearable fitness tracker which is now available through major retail outlets, and Canarywas able to disprove the VCs who initially doubted them by raising almost $2M on Indiegogo instead.
Misfit and Canary are just two of many that have collectively gone on to raise over $500M in institutional investments after the success of their Indiegogo campaign. Most recently Yota Devices (the makers of YotaPhone) raised a whopping $100M from Chinese investors. Indiegogo is increasingly proving itself as an incubation platform, and the demand for the ideas funded on our platform is clear. We want to continue to support our campaigns beyond crowdfunding, as they continue to grow and scale, and one of the options we are considering is an equity-based model.
Although we currently use a perks-based model, when we initially began thinking of ways to bypass the gatekeepers to capital we wanted to give funders the opportunity to invest in startups by purchasing equity stakes. Much like the traditional VC model, it would allow backers to share in the profits of the young companies they were most excited about, but our model had a unique twist. It would enable the crowd to decide which ideas were worth funding, and partake in both the risks and rewards. Unfortunately, because of the Securities Act of 1933 “regular” people, or unaccredited investors, could not play a direct role in investing in and building companies. Instead, we came up with a solution that has since become the industry standard.
But recently the SEC, with input from Indiegogo and other companies like us, has been creating a series of guidelines to expand investment opportunities to the people. We were honored to be invited to the White House when President Obama signed the JOBS act in 2012. We invited Samantha Abrams from Emmy’s Organics to join us, because it’s businesses like hers that equity crowdfunding will benefit the most. Emmy’s was denied traditional bank credit, to redesign their packaging, but thanks to their existing community of supporters and a successful Indiegogo campaign, their products are now sold in grocery stores around the country.
As Title III evolves, we are actively collecting feedback from both campaigners and contributors on how equity crowdfunding can help them reach their goals, and we’re exploring whether this model can fit into our platform. We want to keep supporting our campaigns as they transition into new phases, and we are always looking for new ways to democratize finance for everyone – whether they be entrepreneurial creators, or just people looking to back the next big idea.
To learn more about equity crowdfunding, visit:https://learn.indiegogo.com/equity-crowdfunding/