Cash-starved developers, take heart. A new site has launched that claims to be the first of its kind dedicated to helping you find project funding. It’s called FundaGeek and you can use it to post a crowdfunding campaign for all areas of software development.
Crowdfunding is the process of aggregating small online contributions from donors who believe in the idea behind a project and want to support it. FundaGeek isn’t just a platform for software projects; it also promotes crowdfunding for everything from research projects to building a ball field.
“We’re a funding clearing house where a project is offered with methods for contribution, along with a back end facility for charging credit cards and distributing funds,” says Daniel Gutierrez, founder and CEO.
Kickstarter started the crowdfunding trend, but the majority of its projects are centered on art, music, and film. FundaGeek is more about innovative technology, science, inventions, and education, explains Gutierrez. Another well-known site, Gofundme.com, is a leader in “fund raising” rather than crowdfunding, although, he says, “With their new crowdfunding.com landing page, they're trying to move into crowdfunding too.” Fund raising is more about raising charitable donations for events and causes, Gutierrez says. FundaGeek has a category for that as well, “but that's just one segment of what we do.”
The biggest difference between FundaGeek and its competitors, according to Gutierrez, is that they do not follow the "all or nothing" funding model. With FundaGeek, he explains, you don't have to reach your goal amount to get and keep funding. If the goal amount is $10,000 and you attract $9,500 at the end of the period with Kickstarter or Crowdfunding.com, then you get nothing for your effort.
Listing a project doesn’t mean you can dump your project on the site and expect others to do all the magic. “The primary responsibility for the project owner is to promote their project through social media,” says Gutierrez. “Once you’ve launched a project on our site you’re expected to go out and find first supporters; enough people in your social networks who pledge 5-10% of your goal amount, because that shows the ball is rolling and there’s interest in what you’re doing.”
The idea is that as time goes on with the campaign, people you don’t know become aware of the project through various types of promotion and then contribute simply because they believe in the concept and want a piece of the pie. Developers can set whatever amount they wish to raise in a defined number of days. “You can test market your software and get a crowd funding project going on FundaGeek. See how many people recognize the value of this project and in return, they may get a copy of the software for a reduced fee,’’ Gutierrez says. “So crowdfunding is all about pledging in return for simple rewards.”
Since the site launched in November 2012, close to 100 developers have promoted projects on the site from around the world, Gutierrez says. The projects include mobile apps, games, web development, and open source projects. He says nearly 1,000 have expressed interest, but “opted out … after learning there was work involved.”
The funds can be used for various purposes. A startup might use the money raised to build prototypes. A game company could fund the release of a new title. Open source participants can seek monetary support for an important new software feature, or a commercial developer can market test a new product idea and then fund its development.
Guidelines for posting crowdfunding projects on FundaGeek include creating a PayPal account to receive funding; the project owner’s name (a real name or the name of a start-up venture); an e-mail address; a project category; a project description; goal amount; goal days; whether the project should be seen by all users or only registered FundaGeek members and a description of pledge rewards.
FundaGeek takes 5% of whatever money is collected by project owner - no money or upfront fee is required to post a project. Developers can sign up for a free account and start building their profile immediately.
Getting Investors On Board
Gutierrez suggests that projects include a “video ad” of the leaders explaining their idea and why they think people should contribute. In addition to free copies of the software, other proffered items might include a t-shirt or coffee mug with a company logo, an invitation to a launch party, a link to the backer’s website, etc.
Gutierrez also thinks users should consider a Skype call for project backers, with an opportunity to hear from the developers how you’re doing and how the project is progressing, and pointing them to a beta site, if they have one.
“One reward I saw from a game developer was, ‘For a $1,000 pledge I’ll name one of the game levels in my game after you.’ It doesn’t cost him anything, but he’s getting $1,000 in return. You’ve got to be creative in your selection of rewards.”
One software development project on FundaGeek, “The Mommy Cycle,” is a website for people with children who want to get rid of used and unused items. The developer, who did not list any information about herself, wanted to raise $5,450. She raised $5,805 by attracting 65 backers.
Another recent mobile app project was posted by a University of Wisconsin-Madison student seeking pledges for “Letzgo,” a free Android smartphone app that lets users “find and form pickup games.” According to Gutierrez, the project owner did no promotion of his project in social media, and “just expected strangers to shower him with money … Across all crowdfunding platforms, 80% of all funding directly comes from the promotional activities of the project owner.” As of late November 2012, the student had raised one pledge of $5 toward a $2,000 goal.