Finance | BCBusinessJames Hanson (left), Krystal Hanson and Mike Munro of Burnt show off the sunglasses they’re raising money to produce.
It was a standing-room-only crowd. Artists, entrepreneurs, and the curious crammed into the Techtoria Accelerator space in Victoria Monday night to hear how crowdfunding giant Indiegogo could help them fund projects ranging from tech ventures to films to business improvements.
This was Indiegogo’s first Victoria event. Canada is Indiegogo’s second-largest market, and it’s had a Victoria connection since its inception: Boris Wertz, former co-founder and COO of Victoria-based Abe Books (sold to Amazon in 2008), was a early angel investor. In 2013 Indiegogo launched a Canadian presence in Toronto. Last summer Indiegogo Canada marketing rep Ayah Norris toured communities from Halifax to Vancouver.
Norris touted several B.C. projects, including Sechelt’s year-round mountain bike facility at Coast Gravity Park, which raised $94,476 and plans to open this spring. She also referred to Karrie Hill of Victoria who beat her goal and raised $7,225 to launch DeadBeetz, a food truck project. Norris emphasized Indiegogo’s “no gatekeepers—as long as it’s legal” approach. She also offered some tips: set attainable goals, expect to raise 20-30 per cent of funds from family and friends, and your hard work will help you beat your goals. (According to Norris , 87 per cent of campaigns exceed goals by average of 32 per cent).
The highlight of the event was the panel of people behind recent and current Victoria projects. Christina Chan is a registered acupuncturist with a community acupuncture business at Heart and Hands Health Collective. Her campaign raised $6,000 for business development costs related to buying the building for her clinic. Maureen Bradley is a filmmaker working on a transgender romantic comedy. Her made-in-Victoria film, Two 4 One, beat its goal of $20,000 and she expects it to go into production later this winter. The eco/surfer team behind Burnt dreamed up wooden sunglasses with an ’80s aura over a few beers. Their still-active campaign set a modest goal of $2,000, and as of January 22 has raised $8,471 and has attracted customers beyond North American shores.
The panel was moderated by Ian Mackenzie, a filmmaker and veteran of several successful crowdfunding campaigns. Summing up the panel’s comments and his own experiences, Mackenzie underlined that while many come into crowdfunding for money, in the end, “money is a secondary outcome.” All panellists commented on how much work a campaign entails, and how intangible the benefits are. As Mackenzie put it, “Crowdfunding is not ‘free money.’ Campaigners have to work hard, and the relationship between funders and campaigners is more like a gift exchange.”
Norris said there are multiple values in crowdfunding for anyone developing a product or service. “It allows you to validate your idea, to gain visibility, to gauge demand and mitigate risk. You connect with your community and marketplace. Finally, you raise money.”
“It’s about building a community of support,” said Burnt’s James Hanson. “Crowdfunding is hard work—and fun.”