Fundrazr Rides the Crowdfunding Wave

Fundrazer campaigns include memorial funds and animal care projects

The Vancouver crowdfunding platform sticks close to its community roots as CEO Daryl Hatton describes taking the phenomenon to the next level

Daryl Hatton was a children’s lacrosse coach when he first drew the inspiration for what is now the crowdfunding platform, Fundrazr. His futile attempts at collecting team fees led him to try the task where all attention seemed to be spent, Facebook. His resulting success at rounding up everyone’s dues led him to one conclusion: social media held tremendous potential for fundraising.
The Vancouver-based crowdfunding site has grown on a global scale since its conception in 2008. What started out as a Facebook app became the company that won thge B.C. Technology Industry Association’s Most Promising Start-Up award in 2013 and today has helped more than 40,000 people raise more than $40 million.
The crowdfunding model is by no means new: popular sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo were already well established around the time of Fundrazr’s origin. Today Kickstarter has surpassed $1 billion in pledges from more than five million people, funding approximately 60,000 campaigns.
Even in a market of crowdfunding giants, Fundrazr is standing out. Hatton’s simple idea that succeeded with his lacrosse team is working well outside of the startup Petri dish. Fundrazr users can embed their campaign wherever their potential contributors’ attention is, from their personal websites to Facebook pages. In addition to publishing a destination website, Fundrazr offers widgets that can be joined directly to whatever platform will best connect the user’s immediate online community to the campaign.
Whether fundraisers are looking for $500 or $100,000, Hatton offers his perspective on how to succeed with crowdfunding: “You first need the full support of your family, friends, and inner circle. That’s how you get to the friends and friends of friends and so on.”
Crowdfunding has become more than just an online fundraiser; it has evolved into a platform for engaging the public, market testing, and promoting a community spirit in a vast online world. “Crowdfunding is at an explosive level of life. It’s funding weddings, education, political groups, medical expenses, etc.,” says Hatton.
The hot topic today in the world of crowdfunding is the potential for small companies to raise money by selling shares in the company directly to the public. Equity crowdfunding is currently allowed in the U.K. and was recently approved in the U.S. In Canada Saskatchewan approved equity crowdfunding last December and B.C. joinde five other provinces in publishing proposals that could come into effect as soon as the end of this year.
Hatton has long been an advocate for equity crowdfunding and says that Fundrazr will apply to become an equity fundraising portal when it is approved in B.C.
Hatton sees Fundrazr serving a distinct niche within equity crowdfunding. He says he’s seen probably a thousand companies enter the crowdfunding space in the last couple of years, many with the express intent of staking their claim in an anticipated land-grab for online equity platforms. But he insists there’s still a place for the kind of grassroots funding that Fundrazr champions.
“It’s about building a community of people that are interested in your product or service or company,” Hatton says, and the motive for investors doesn’t have to be making a killing on speculative stocks. Crowdfunding could be a platform to tap traditional startup funding sources such as friends and family, and it could also help fund community projects.