One founder on the terrors -- and joys -- of launching a crowdfunding campaign.
By Neetal Parekh (Founder, Innov8Social)
We have just a few days left on the clock for our Indiegogo campaign to fund our upcoming book on social innovation. The journey has been incredibly revealing in ways expected and unexpected. Crowdfunding has been a humbling way to tempt fate and meet truth---all in the same handshake.
Prior to launching, co-author Shivani Khanna and I interviewed a few individuals who have written books and/or conducted crowdfunding campaigns.
They reiterated that managing a crowdfunding campaign is nearly a full-time job. There is choosing a platform, no easy task considering the wealth of options available. There is writing copy for the crowdfunding page, which is essentially like forming the backbone of the book, i.e. the book proposal. There is creating rewards that make sense and are compelling. There is spreading the word about the campaign---casting a wide net, without annoying those you want to inspire. There is following up, to express gratitude for each show of support. There is planning updates, so your supporters feel included in the progress of the campaign.
I became mentally ready for all of those things, and budgeted time and mind space to stay on top of our grand crowdfunding undertaking.
What I wasn't completely prepared for was how vulnerable the experience is. And, how incredibly igniting and motivating that can be.
Releasing a Dream
Take a dream that you hold close for a long time, quietly tucked away between your outward persona and your inward self. And then imagine releasing it for everyone to see, judge, and participate in. That has been a version of this experience. The dream of writing a book for me was seeded a long time ago---and to make the bold decision, that yes, now is the time to act on it and this is the topic to address---is like standing in front of a crowd of people who can read your thoughts. Exposed in the most personal way.
It can't be denied that when you visit a crowdfunding page, there is a certain tendency to view it with a fair dose of skepticism. Like when your friend, the one who is always dreaming up increasingly far-fetched startup ideas, paints you the picture of another questionable endeavor. You sometimes inadvertently want her to fail so that she gets a dose of reality. 'Stop living in the clouds,' you want to yell, 'try walking on the ground like the rest of us.' When you launch a crowdfunding campaign, that is a reaction that might ensue---though you quickly learn that anticipating that type of reaction is not your burden to carry.
You need to focus on those who will pick up a pen and write alongside you. And, you will find them---the people who believe, who encourage, and support in whatever way they can. They may be your friends or perfect strangers. And they may contribute funds or words of support and encouragement. With their contributions, shares, and encouragement, you are refueled and shielded again. And, then the focus shifts.
As I write this, we have raised over two-thirds of our goal of $7,100. In more telling terms, over 90 funders have joined our efforts. They have picked up their proverbial pens, ready to join us on this journey. And, from someone who grew up playing team sports, this simple fact has literally changed the game. There is motivation to not let the team down.
Shivani and I feel a new drive beyond the campaign. There is an urgency to create something useful and relevant. The campaign shows us that we aren't the only ones who are deeply interested in the nuanced intersections of value and impact---we are joined by dozens of others---and our message has been amplified beyond our immediate circles. Our focus now is not only to craft and deliver the book to our supporters, but also to validate their support.
Would we do this again? Ask us again at the end of the week, and then again in six months. Right now, I can say that the dream that lived silently is now set free to fly. And it was crowdfunding that both pushed it off the ledge and gave it wings.
About the guest blogger: Neetal Parekh is a lawyer by education, a digital content strategist by training, and a social innovator at heart. She is the founder of Innov8Social which explores social innovation, with special interest in law and policy supporting the field. She is co-authoring a book on the subject, and admittedly finds a certain thrill composing in one hundred and forty characters.