How I launched my search for business funding

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Ferry Hunt, pictured above,  is looking to raise funding for his business through crowdfunding. In this column, he looks at the various options in the marketplace.

If you’re looking for funding for a new business venture there are a number options, there always has been. You can reach out to the bank, your friends and family, or simply invest in yourself. With the proliferation of the internet however, online services are increasingly sought for investment. Crowdfunding exploded in popularity back in 2000 with DonorChoose.org, and more recently Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but it has been around since the dawn of the modern economy, with military bonds, and publishers raising funds for authors. We found that the best way to check a product’s popularity is by making the idea available, and seeing if people will pay for its success. If you’re purely checking for popularity Kickstarter is the best route, and the route we took too.

We have developed a Mystery UK that organises secret events for budding London explorers. We’ve found that ticket prices in London are often too high, last-minute bookings are difficult, and it’s tricky to find new things to do too. After doing some hefty market research we found that most people don’t feel they try new things often enough, and wanted to do something about it. So we’ve made that easy by organising a secret event once a month, and telling the subscriber only where and when, and they’re rewarded for trying something new.

Despite this revealing market research, we wanted to post our project on a crowdfunding platform to test its true appeal. Kickstarter made the most sense, as in return for pledges, customers receive rewards rather than any form of financial ROI or equity. So if we didn’t trigger enough interest, we’d be no worse off and move onto a different project. If you don’t make your funding goal, then no one is charged, and no one is any the poorer.

When Kickstarter launched in 2009 it gathered a tremendous community of people wanting to assist new projects, and campaign for their own. But over the last eight years its community has spread to other platforms that are becoming increasingly prolific. Not only has internet usage sky rocketed since then, internet behaviours have changed too; back in 2009 almost 100% of internet usage was from desktops, but today they’re used equally. With that, the social media influence has bred a number of online communities and alternatives to Kickstarter. This means that rather than being able to rely on the Kickstarter community to raise your funds, you have to set yourself aside from the masses of campaigns by funding your own PR.

When you first launch your campaign it’s super easy, you need minimal details and have to pass minimal checks, you’re online within a few days. As soon as you’re online, you’re bombarded with companies reaching out to assist with your campaign. Companies offer far reaching social media campaigns, digital advertising, brand management and general PR assistance all at varying fees. You will likely ignore the dozens of emails you receive a day, thinking they’re surplus to requirements, but you will, like we did, soon realise they’re essential for a functioning campaign.

We’re still really excited about our campaign, and are awaiting the implementation of some of the PR measures we’ve put in place to go live. We’re going to be trying out a number of different options, and letting you know how well they do.