The days of relying on the generosity of well-to-do acquaintances and persuading angel investors to back your ideas are gone. Crowdfunding has opened the flood gates for good ideas to become real businesses and unlike traditional sponsorship models, everyone can get involved and the general public is choosing the products and services that they want to see in practice and on the shelves.
Business is inherently risky but funding an idea, sometimes on the basis of a short explanation and little else is even more so. Despite this, crowdfunding is now a legitimate part of the business landscape having reached these heights thanks to recession and the resultant investment-phobia that came with it. Not only allowing individuals and start-ups to ‘pre-sell’ their product, crowdfunding has allowed charities, sports teams and local councils to reach their investment goals, putting choice into the consumers hands in a way that it has never been before.
Entrepreneurship is no longer a gilded fortress that only the wealthy and their offspring could ever hope to inhabit but a part of everyday life where anyone with internet access can back an idea (their own or someone else’s) with hardcore cash – sometimes as little as $1. Pennies have the potential to swell into millions and although there’s little to no insurance on your money and a return on investment is not guaranteed, we can all participate in the business space as we like, even if it’s just for a ‘”Thank you” or a mention in the credits.
In the case of the community of Colorado Springs in the U.S, spending cuts saw the residents crowdfund local projects that their constituency could no longer afford. Street lamps, recreation areas and local renovations were funded in this way, giving the community the ability to choose what they thought were valuable services by deciding what to maintain. Stories like this prove that this method of pooling resources creates ownership and ultimately transforms capitalism.
Of course there are sad stories too, many funded projects don’t turn out the way they were supposed to, either not delivering the product they were supposed to for whatever reason or not staying true to the proposal – with no legally-binding documentation that forces them to return investor’s money. It is a bit of a monetary Wild Wild West and a gamble for everyone involved but after big business has proven not to be so secure itself, bankrolling a dream, yours or someone else’s, feels a whole lot better than sitting on the sidelines of the economy, watching a few monopolise the commerce arena. Crowdunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have birthed a new age of inventors and you could be next.