You have a good idea for your small business but don’t have the money to make it happen? Crowdfund it.
Thanks to Title II of the JOBS Act enacted in 2013, online crowdfunding has taken off now that private investment projects can receive help from donors and lenders through popular sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Kiva Zip. If you’re planning to join the ring and create a crowdfunding project for your small business, though, you will want to know the differences between them.
- Crowdfund type: donation only
- 5% of total funding if goal completed + 3% to 5% Stripe processing fee
- 0% if goal incomplete
- Amounts raised: $1.4 billion pledged
- Success rate: 61%; 77,459 successfully funded projects
- Biggest user base: 25- to 34-year-old college graduates
- Payment system: Stripe
- Founded: 2009
- Upsides: wider audience; higher success rate
- Downsides: no funds given if goal fails; stricter campaign guidelines; no teams
As one of the biggest players in the donation-only crowdfunding industry, Kickstarter leads the pack with the highest success rate, but this comes at a cost: The campaigns are all or nothing, meaning that if you don’t make your goal, you don’t receive any funding. This can motivate supporters to pledge promptly, and even if you fail, you have the option of retrying. Still, this can be a deal breaker for some, especially if your idea is not in the artistic realm. In 2014, the top Kickstarter categories for successful campaigns occurred in film and video, publishing, games, art and design.
- Crowdfund type: donation only
- Amounts raised: N/A
- Success rate: N/A
- Biggest user base: 18- to 34-year-olds with graduate degrees
- Payment system: PayPal, Apple Pay, credit cards
- Founded: 2007
- Upsides: flexible funding option; loose campaign rules; team option
- Downsides: more fees; smaller audience; lower success rate
Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows you to keep the funds you do raise even if you don’t reach your goal. To do so, you must select the “flexible funding” option while your campaign is still a draft. Otherwise the default is fixed funding. Another feature is the ability to join a campaign as a team member, provided you receive a campaign invitation. Although Indiegogo is smaller than Kickstarter, the campaign requirements are easier to fulfill and more welcoming of non-artistic projects, according to Quantcast.
- Crowdfund type: microloan only
- Cost: 0% interest on loans
- Loan amounts raised: $5.2 million (in U.S.)
- Success/repayment rate: 88.1% (in U.S.)
- User base: Kenyan and American borrowers
- Payment system: PayPal
- Founded: 2011
- Upsides: good for low-income and other microloan borrowers; no interest
- Downsides: long follow-up for application review
Unlike the first two, the nonprofit Kiva Zip serves entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Kenya who are looking for microfinance loans. As a branch of the Kiva.org team, Kiva Zip allows more risky and low-income borrowers since neither credit scores nor collateral need to be verified. Instead, people or organizations, known as “trustees,” vouch for the borrowers. Since Kiva Zip has a small team with a large number of applications, there is a notice on its website that application reviews may be delayed.
Although these projects tend to be smaller, borrowers have much more to gain than to lose from applying. After the private loan period of 15 days, the borrower has 45 days of public fundraising, and even if the project fails, all money is refunded to the lenders, according to Kiva Zip. If successful, the loan terms are reasonable with the maximum of $20,000 with a repayment plan of 24 to 60 months.
In terms of crowdfunding, the best option for you depends on both the potential popularity of your idea and the amount you’re seeking for your small business. In general, only 3.1%, or 20,000 small-business campaigns, found successful funding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo combined, according to Shopify. But that shouldn’t stop your pursuit of a good idea.
Kickstarter is the riskiest platform, but it can have the most rewards as well. Indiegogo has lower success rates but less pressure to fulfill the complete goal. And in a league of its own, the nonprofit Kiva Zip offers microloans with 0% interest to those it approves.
Image via iStock.