Many of you may be aware of my interviews with ZineMonth creators that I conducted last month. One of the trends that I noticed was the number of creators moving away from Kickstarter to other platforms. The one that really caught my eye is called Crowdfundr, and a surprising number of creators used it as a Kickstarter alternative [Full disclosure, I have used it for a couple of smaller projects]. David Barach, the president of Crowdfundr, was kind enough to answer my questions.
Question. To start off, can you give us the elevator pitch of Crowdfundr?
Answer. Happy to! We like to think of Crowdfundr as the creator friendly crowdfunding platform. We offer a lot more flexibility in how a creator can run their campaign, because we think they should be doing what’s best for their business model, not ours. We offer all the functionality you would expect from a mature crowdfunding platform - our company, ConnectionPoint has been doing crowdfunding since 2009 - with several extras that won’t find in the better known platforms.
For example, we support PayPal which means that creators all over the world can use our platform and supporters who don’t want to enter their credit card info or create an account with us don’t have to. We also don’t require supporters to commit to a single tier, instead supporters can choose as many of each individual item as the creator makes available to them.
Q. I first came across mentions of Crowdfundr on the ZiMo Discord, where you very kindly offered advice and support to creators. I'm not sure if you're aware, but that Discord channel was started as a reaction to Kickstarter's re-arranging of the ZineQuest schedule in 2022, so I think a lot of people there were looking for alternative means of support. What does Crowdfundr do really well, in your opinion, especially for smaller indie creators?
A. The most distinctive difference between Crowdfundr and other platforms is that we offer our platform for free to creators. We have a couple of models that allow us to get paid, but at very little cost to the creators. In one model we ask the supporters to leave us a little extra to keep the platform free for creators and we charge creators nothing. In another, we ask the supporters to cover the platform and payment processing fees for the creator, which on average 90% of them do. This brings the cost of crowdfunding down from the industry standard of 9-10%, down to 1-2%. This is a huge savings for indie creators.
Yet, with all that, Crowdfundr is an extremely powerful crowdfunding platform. You’re not getting a bargain basement product, you’re getting one of the most powerful platforms available that’s raised over $275M from over 225,000 campaigns in 100+ countries. Which is another advantage for indie creators. We operate in more countries than any other platform, so there is a good chance we operate in yours.
We can do all of this because we are a fundamentally different business than Kickstarter. They are essentially a drop ship retailer for products that are still in production. I say this because they handle all the funds, meaning the backers are the ones who are paying them - the backers are their customers and the creators are their suppliers. Their interest is in serving their customers first, not their suppliers. Crowdfundr isn’t a retailer, we’re a software platform that facilitates the direct relationship between the creator and their supporters. We never touch the funds. With Crowdfundr, supporters pay the creator directly and the creator owns the relationship with the customer, not us. So all that hard work creators put into marketing their campaigns isn’t driving more customers for us (like it does with Kickstarter) it’s driving customer relationships that then creator owns.
In fact, we are so committed to putting creators first, creators or publishers who choose to use Crowdfundr Professional (which doesn’t cost anything more) can take over the branding on the page and replace our logo, colours, and fonts - and use their own instead. Again, this is because we want them to grow their audience, not ours, therefore we are willing to give up our brand presence to support theirs.
Q. What has been your impression of this year's ZineMonth, as seen through the lens of Crowdfundr? Do you have any recommendations for the community as a whole to better leverage the platform?
A. It was amazing to see how the community came together to support each other with sessions, tips, guidance and just good-old-kindness. It was such a privilege to be welcomed into the community and get to experience that.
I feel pretty strongly that each creator should choose the tools of their commerce the way they choose the tools of their art. Find the one that works best for you for that particular project and go for it. Sometimes that will be us, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes that tool will work, and sometimes it won’t. That said, whatever that tool is, it’s only a tool and how you use it matters. The thing that is most important about crowdfunding is the crowd. Some platforms say that they bring you the crowd and maybe for some campaigns they do if it serves their retail needs, but the bottom line is that crowdfunding is hard, stressful and requires a lot of marketing effort. My recommendation is to be prepared to market your ass off from the few weeks leading up to your campaign and until it’s over. Leon Barillion did a session that talks about what to do during a campaign that helps with the stress of it and I suggest you watch it on our Creator Hub.
Q. I'm intrigued by the funding options you offer, as well as the ability to convert a campaign into a storefront once the campaign is over. Can you explain how the different options work?
A. We offer two funding models: All-or-Nothing (AoN) or Keep-it-All (KiA). AoN is what you would be familiar with if you’ve used Kickstarter. This means that you set a goal and if you reach it the project will fund and you can move to fulfillment. KiA is useful when you know that you’re going to produce your work whether you reach your goal or not, and want to use the excitement of a time-limited event to drive as many pre-sales as you can.
With both models we never touch or hold the funds. All the money goes directly into the creator’s Stripe or PayPal accounts. With KiA the creator receives the funds the moment the contribution is made, while with AoN creators can charge supporters as soon as they reach their goal. No need to wait until the end of the campaign plus 2-3 weeks like you do with the other platforms until they release your funds. If you hit your goal on day one, you can get the funds that day. We can do these things because the sooner the creator gets their funds, the sooner they can get to work on fulfillment, and the happier the creator can make their supporters.
Related to your previous question about Zine Month creators leveraging the platform more, rolling a campaign over into a store is one of those great things that we offer to support creators. Rather than losing out on all of the persistent links that creators have worked so hard to generate through their marketing efforts, they can continue using their page after the campaign is over to process new sales. Creators can leave it open for as long as they want, and it benefits from our great low costs. Both AoN and KiA campaigns automatically roll over into a store and stay open until you close them.