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Joel Hughes from Indiegogo on global crowdfunding and fundraising

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 02 December 2016

Indiegogoís UK design, technology and hardware manager on the future for entrepreneurs and crowdsourcing

Indiegogo logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for Indiegogo?

Joel Hughes (JH): Iím Joel Hughes. Iím the UK design, technology and hardware manager at Indiegogo. I work closely with entrepreneurs and makers at Indiegogo to bring their products to market and seamlessly transition from crowdfunding to e-commerce.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Indiegogo

JH: Indiegogo is the worldís first global crowdfunding platform for budding entrepreneurs to transition their ideas from concept to market, amplified by a community of backers who believe that the world benefits when every idea gets an equal shot at success.  Indiegogo empowers people around the world to fund ideas, concepts and products that matter to them. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles and New York.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

JH: Anyone who is interested in supporting new and innovative ideas.

SMP: When was it founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?

JH: Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin and Eric Schell founded Indiegogo back in 2008. There are currently 100 employees who work at the company. Investors include Kleiner Perkins, Richard Branson and Khosla Ventures.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?

Indiegogo's core platform has supported more than 600,000 campaigns, and has gathered more than 11.5M contributions since its inception, so entrepreneurs who are looking to fund their ideas know that they have more of a chance of seeing results once they sign up on Indiegogo.

Photograph of Joel Hughes the UK design, technology and hardware manager at Indiegogo Indiegogo logo 300x300

SMP: What are the challenges that youíve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Indiegogo?

Understanding how complex it can be to take a product to market has been a real eye-opener. This is why we provide our entrepreneurs with support and access to resources so they are in a stronger position to launch their business.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

JH: Itís really great to hear so many new and innovative ideas every day and, of course, itís even better when those ideas become a reality with my support.  

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

JH: The Indiegogo team is constantly finding new ways of supporting entrepreneurs, which can be a challenge. For instance, we launched Indiegogo InDemand so our campaigners can continue accepting contributions after they finish the campaign, which is of great added value.

Itís a really exciting time to be involved in crowdfunding and it also keeps our competition on their toes.

SMP: Why is crowdsourcing important for businesses and which ones are likely to be successful?

JH: Any business can use crowdfunding as a tool to validate the market, capture data, interact with customers, identify influences and of course raise funds.  
The main difference between those that are successful and those that arenít is usually lack of campaign planning.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect crowdsourcing for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

JH: The ways in which established brands are finding innovative ways to use crowdfunding is really interesting to me. Iím confident weíll see more of these partnerships developing over the next 12-18 months.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for crowdsourcing the next 12 to 18-months and why?

JH replies with:
  • More collaboration. Weíre already seeing it, but I expect to see a rise in the number of big businesses working in partnership with true innovators.

  • Rise in equity crowdfunding. Having launched our first equity campaigns in November, Iím confident weíll see our most successful rewards campaigns enjoying similar success with investors.

  • Increase in support for entrepreneurs - agencies, platforms and government could be doing much more to ensure entrepreneurs have the tools to be successful.
  • Rise in specialist crowdfunding agencies - Iíve seen it already this year, agencies who have typically worked in the digital media space are now supporting high impact crowdfunding campaigns with a media budget.

  • Buyouts - When will we see the next Oculus Rift? Facebook came knocking, and are a perfect example of a crowdsourced business attracting the attention of one of the largest companies in the world.

SMP: What are your top overall five crowdsourcing tips and why?

JH replies with:

  • Plan everything and be sure to say something different every day for the duration of your campaign.

  • Surround yourself with amazing people with the right skills to collectively achieve your goals.

  • Be open to feedback, good and bad. Your potential customers are a valuable resource. Use them and keep them engaged.

  • Set a realistic goal and have 30% lined up to help build early momentum.

  • Be visible and be personal. Personal emails always work better than group messages, and if you ask in the right way, people are always happy to help you.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that youíd like to share?

JH: We are currently running a pilot program to let entrepreneurs sell products directly on Indiegogo. In this new pilot, entrepreneurs with products that are currently shipping can tap into Indiegogoís community of innovation seekers without running a crowdfunding campaign. They donít have to raise a certain amount of money, and their page can be live as long as theyíd like.

SMP: Best way to contact you and Indiegogo (please include the hashtag and relevant social accounts)?

JH replies with:

Facebook, Twitter @Indiegogo and @iggjoel.

Indiegogo webiste image 600x402

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

JH: Avocado and smoked salmon - which was delicious!

SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?

JH: I recently did something good (but also stupid). The traffic lights werenít working near where I live and a very old lady was waiting to cross the road. I decided to stop some traffic and help her across.

SMP: Whatís the best crowdsourcing project youíve seen over the last six-months and why?

I think the campaign to keep the London nightclub, Fabric, open was pretty cool. Itís totally power to the people and ended up in a compromise being found.

SMP: If you werenít working at Indiegogo what would you be doing?

JH: Running my own business for sure. I donít know what that would be but Iíve been doing entrepreneurial things since I was 14.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

JH: I travelled to Cuba in March (before all the restrictions were lifted on US-Cuba travel). Itís a beautiful place, but very polluted with the old cars and lack of investment in the last few years. I would get stopped regularly by people wanting to know where I was from and as soon as I said the UK or London, theyíd shout ďAli G!!Ē I think they must have just started showing that over there.

SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

JH: With our main office in San Francisco my morning starts with emails Iíve received overnight, followed by calls with campaigners in the UK and Europe who Iím working with.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Iíve always wanted to be able to fly. Thereís something that grips you as a kid when you see Superman just launching into the sky.

Indiegogo's 10 Myths of Crowdfunding

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