To have a successful crowdfunding platform you need to have a large, loyal and active community. And this is not going to happen automatically as soon as your website goes live. You need to generate a buzz around it and this is something that requires to be proactive. You should start defining what is your target audience. A good value proposition will help you to do that. Once the target community is set, it has to be reached. How? There is no best way to do that, but you can consider both online and offline marketing strategies. For example, try to think where your target community would hang out or what events it would attend and try to be present at those venues. A personal approach is a good way to start to get known. Make sure you already put up a landing page, where interested parties can leave their emails. Then you could leverage on your personal networks to get introduced to multipliers. These are influencers, with huge networks, that can help you increase exponentially your users base. Media can also be a valid option, but if your business model is not innovative enough to arouse the attention of mainstream local magazines, you should try to come up with something worthy of notice. It could be a launch party or a pitch competition, for instance. Once you managed to form a community, it is crucial to keep the dialogue going, if you want to foster loyalty.
Get Projects on Board.
Being in a two sided market, you also need to put effort in growing the project initiators base. At the beginning, it is a good strategy to list only a couple of interesting projects on your website. In this way you can focus on them and help them to reach their funding goals. In fact, from a press perspective, it is far more newsworthy a project that was successfully funded than one that wasn’t . And since, during the early stage, you are still working on building a large enough community, it is for you desirable to start in the right way, with the first projects successfully closing their campaigns and the journalists happy to write a story about it. You can consider a “call for ideas” to attract projects, just like we see with startup incubators. Once you have an established audience, you probably won’t need anymore to put so much effort in helping the projects to reach their goals.
Start With a Process You're Comfortable With.
There's nothing worse than pushing investments through a new system quickly and then discovering that you don't have the right documentation or a robust enough back office process to handle the demand. Start with just one part of the investment process online - whichever you feel most comfortable with - and then as you build up then you can gradually move more and more of your operations online.
Get your Entrepreneurs / Investors to Promote the Platform.
If you really curate both sides of your initial community so that both groups feel like they've been selected to be part of something new, they will most likely act as promoters and advocates of your website, bringing in new community members. Ideally you would be able to create a self-reinforcing community.
Time to Market.
All the above mentioned activities require quite some of your precious time. Not to mention the legal compliance you need to take care of and the product development to push ahead. With more and more platforms populating the market every day, time to market becomes a crucial factor to determine the success of your crowdfunding website. As the management guru, Peter Drucker, once said, the window of an opportunity stays open for a limited period of time and when it closes, those that are in are in; and those that are out stay out. So, when starting a crowdfunding platform, you probably will find yourself thinking that unfortunately clonation is restricted to sheeps. Do not get desperate! You can always outsource some tasks.
Crowd Valley can take care of the development of your website, of the back office issues and of the maintenance of the platform. In this way you can save time and spend it on important activities, such as community building and marketing, and make sure your platform enters the market on time.
Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Irene is an International Business graduate, with a strong interest for innovative ideas that can simplify our lives.
During her studies, she co-founded an online community for sportspeople and worked in marketing positions at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising and at the European Business Angel Network, in Brussels. She is a passionate blogger about crowdfunding and the startup ecosystem.