“Indiegogo is the world’s funding platform, where anybody can raise money for absolutely any idea,” says Co-Founder and CEO, Slava Rubin. This vision of democratizing the fundraising process is what drives indiegogo, one of the earliest and most well known leaders in what has become a very active field of crowd sourced funders on the internet.
From its completely bootstrapped beginnings in 2008, launched entirely on the savings of founders Rubin, Danae Ringelmann and Eric Schell, the company recently announced they’d received $15 million in funding from Insight Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Clearly they are onto something! With this infusion of capital, they are currently in the process of significantly expanding their worldwide operations.
Rubin’s entry into this world has its roots in his personal experience. Born in Belarus, he moved to the US as a kid and was raised first in Brooklyn, then later in the fair city of Scranton, PA. At the age of 15, he lost his father to cancer. Ten years later, with a degree in finance and entrepreneurial management from U. Penn/Wharton under his belt, he formed Music Against Myeloma, an annual charity event, in his Dad’s honor.
Hooking up with Ringelmann and Schell in 2006 was a major turning point. Danae had come out of the indie film and finance world, and was ready to explore alternatives to traditional funding methods. She and Slava shared a mutual frustration with the current state of fundraising on the internet. Eric, the group’s self-termed “born again enginerd” had previous experience raising money for theater projects. With his technical expertise to complete the picture, the trio had everything they needed to create what would soon become indiegogo.
Although there are currently hundreds of similar sites around the world, in 2008 indiegogo came into a fairly wide open field. Their concept of combining crowdfunding with social media in one templated platform was a game changer. And their commitment to making their platform completely accessible to any and all types of projects is one that distinguishes them from other leaders in the space.
Initially, their greatest challenge was in figuring out the exact nature of the problem they were trying to solve, and then creating the right product and marketing it correctly – getting people to use it! Next came the critical step of hiring the right people. They remain vigilant on this important piece as they continue to grow their team.
For Slava, the greatest reward has been to be able to put the power of funding directly into people’s hands – literally empowering anyone to be an entrepreneur! Currently, Indiegogo hosts over 6000 active campaigns every month, distributing millions of dollars every week globally, for projects ranging from films and bands to cheese shops and support for legislation. They even recently funded their first baby…
His advice to entrepreneurs launching new startups is, “Think really big, start really small and iterate very quickly. Constantly look for feedback as opposed to your own opinion. Really focus on the product before you start thinking about the marketing plan and the promotion and all the customer support.” In other words, start with a good idea, make a great product, and move forward one step at a time. He makes it sound so simple, doesn’t he? It’s just what you’d expect from someone who tells you, “Go fund yourself.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Deborah Oster Pannell is a writer who specializes in the arts, culture, special events and creative projects of all kinds. As Director of Communications for the tech start-up eventwist, she also manages their blog. Some of her favorite work is featured on modernlifeblogs.com, lizkingevents.com, and her own blog, shesaysyes.wordpress.com. Currently she is launching Project Mavens, a literary, editorial design collective, with partner & writer Lillian Ann Slugocki. On Twitter @projectmaven.