So we thought it may be a good idea to interview some of our most active funders on StartMe and ask why they do or do not contribute to projects on our platform. The answers was shed some real light on the issue of funding goals, rewards, presentation of projects and a few other issues.
In the end we convinced 7 serial funders to give us the low down on their decision process. The answers varied quite a bit as you can imagine but there were a few very interesting common ideas.
These are some representative answers that some of the interviewees gave:
1) Don't ask for too much, tell us what you need the money for
The number one reason I'd say projects fail is that they ask for too much money. I know product design and manufacturing doesn't come cheap but if you have a small little item you want to produce that will have a final price of maybe R2000 or less, don't be surprised when you have trouble raising many tens of thousands of Rands for it.
Whatever you need in terms of money, be sure to explain in as much detail possible how the money will be used and what it will be used for. Sometimes I've seen too-high R projects get more funding when the creators came back to explain how much equipment was really necessary and what the going rates were.
This applies equally to products as it does to things like film or music production. If you asked a random person on the street if R5,000 was enough to record and produce an album in this day and age, I think you'd get agreement. If you said you needed R100,000 to make a record, I think most people would say that is too much. I've seen a lot of film projects ask for upwards of R300,000 for paying a team of editors, but very few of those projects get funded and I think that's because people are used to seeing smaller films done in something like Final Cut or even iMovie and would prefer to see them done for much cheaper.
2) Project need to be creative and unique:
There just seems to be too may generic projects. People on the site really seems to think that us visitors have money to give to anyone. Consulting firms, web developers, magazines, you name it I’ve seen it. If you want your project funded you better be unique. Look at the Trevz Eco friendly watch project, or the wind turbine project, these are unique ideas that we can excited about. Something I'm proud to put my name next to. A great idea is unique, it addresses a need that nothing else does, and it helps if it does so in a clever way. Now that can be a new iphone app, a great new SA band or whatever else, but it helps if it adds to the world as being a new form of creativity.
3) Why does no one tell us who is in their team. Do people really expect me to contribute to someone who I can’t see and don’t know who it is at all. Tell me who you are. Why do they not use the My Team section at the bottom of project to tell us more about the team behind the idea. I want to know who I'm supporting.
4) Structure your rewards carefully
Why do project not think about their rewards a bit more? I’ve seen quite a few of these projects, so lest for instance they have a great idea for a cool thing that I want to help fund (mostly because I want one of the things they will produce), and they are asking for a significant amount of money, but their rewards are structured in such a way that you get one of the things they are producing for a small amount of money.
So imagine you were making a thing and you needed R150,000 for it, but if you gave just R20, you got one of the things. You could offer more copies for R100,R250, and R1000 contributions, but imagine that a normal person only has use for one of these things. Chances are, you're going to have trouble finding 1,500 people on the internet that want your thing in the month or so you run your StartMe campaign. If instead you were giving away the thing at R300, you'd need just 500 people to get you to your goal.
5) So many project get posted and then just raise nothing at all. It seems to me that those projects which does get funded and certainly the ones I always contribute to are the projects that have a chance of making it. I have not posted a project yet as I'm still trying to come up with the right idea but if I was going to post a project I will make sure that a get a few people to contribute t it just to show everyone that, hey this project is going somewhere, lets also support it.
I'd say if you had a project fail on StartMe, the best thing you can do is to try and cut your costs and scope of the project accordingly, and re-launch it. I've seen several projects fail at R100,000+ and come back in a slightly more limited form for less than R50,000 and get funded fully.
Personally I'll far rather post a smaller project of say R30 000 and get it fully funded and come again with the second part of the project. Much rather this than not get funded at all.
So to those of you creating projects, we hope this helps and is a bot more of an eye opener as to what funders look for before supporting project here.
All the best with it!!