I'm researching crowdfunding at the moment, so I thought it would be useful to share a few ideas to help developers (and investors) exploit the huge innovation opportunities Apple is revealing at WWDC.
A really big deal
I'm convinced there's going to be a lot of people with a lot of great ideas, particularly if Apple introduces its platforms for connected health, the connected home and wearable devices. This is fresh opportunity.
Three types of crowdfunding:
- Supporters invest in exchange for rewards.
- Services include: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Buzzbnk, RocketHub
- Investors lend you the money, but expect it to be paid back with interest at better than bank rates.
- Services include: Abundance Generation, Buzzbnk, FundingCircle
- Investors loan you the cash in exchange for shares.
- Services include: Crowdbnk, CrowdCube, Seedrs, CircleUp, Microventures
Most services don't charge investors, but take a 3-5% slice of money raised (some also take fees).
Most sites vet your credit and criminal records and your idea before they list you. Helpful services may assign a mentor to develop your idea with you.
Money, money, money
However you choose to raise cash don't forget your investors are in it for the money. They already have money and want more. Some will see investment in you as a form of "sport." Governments are trying to encourage investment with attractive tax breaks, so investors profit from taking a risk on you. Equity investors may bring valuable experience to your firm.
Investors will expect:
- A developed business plan.
- A built-in (profitable) exit point for their investment within that plan.
- An existing team -- they won't need the team to be in place (they know you haven't got the money), but they won't invest in a one-man army, no matter how good the idea (though they may help you sell the idea).
- Good research: Investors will ask you who else is doing it, what technology changes you expect, who competitors (and potential competitors) will be. They will check.
- What experience do you bring: "Why you?"
- They look for the commitment to launch a business. They've launched businesses already. They know it takes 80-hour weeks with little money to make things happen.
- If you can't meet these expectations, they won't invest.
Getting funded using donation-based crowdfunding services may seem less rigorous, but in practice most of the cash raised comes from family, friends and colleagues. These valuable people want you to succeed, but they are unlikely to invest more than once -- and you don't want to let them down. You should make the same demands of yourself as an equity investor (above). Making great ideas happen takes commitment.
On Kickstarter, the biggest initial test of commitment is the quality of your video presentation. Even if you do get funded, making your idea happen will be challenging, so if you can't get it together to make a good video for your pitch, then you (and those who may invest in you) will ask if you can make your idea happen at all -- but don't give up.
The opportunity is here. Crowdfunding means WWDC developers can access the cash they need to make great ideas happen using platforms that already set the bar for security, stability, user satisfaction and trust. This is the main chance.
There's never been a better time to be a developer -- or an investor. Have a great show -- and look forward to a surge of Apple-related products ahead.
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Apple at WWDC: ‘Seoul, start your photocopiers’ (photo by: Tamir C.) pic.twitter.com/Q7ef6USX1V— Felipe Fermin (@felipefermin) May 30, 2014