It's shaping up to be a banner year for Slava Rubin, the co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo, one of the most popular crowdfunding sites on the web. One statistic backing up this claim: $3 million in funds crowdsourced through Indiegogo helped bring startups, films and bands to this year's South by Southwest Festival in Austin.
This isn't theoretical funding, but real people with real products who are presenting their unique visions to the SXSW masses.
Empowerment is a philosophy for Rubin and Indiegogo. In his view, anyone can be an entrepreneur, and no project is too small. At SXSW Interactive, Rubin offered his top 10 list of entrepreneurship myths, based on data from thousands of the site's successful (and unsuccessful) projects.
1. There is a "right time" to start a business.
The reality is there is no "right time," except when you're ready to. Indiegogo was founded in 2008, during the biggest economic crisis in recent memory, but has hosted more than 100,000 funded campaigns.
2. You need lots of money.
There's a difference between how much money you want, and how much money you need. Campaigns on Indiegogo that have a more modest goal get funded. What's more, 87% of projects that reached their goal ultimately exceeded it by 32% because people wanted to contribute to projects that were already embraced by the community at large.
3. You need to stick to your research and business plan
Rather than getting bogged down by pages and pages of theoretical research and statistics, Rubin encourages entrepreneurs to go out and prove instead that "five people will buy what you want to make."
4. Values and culture don't matter.
Your company culture is not something that you can simply figure out later, but instead should be just as important as the product you want to create.
5. It's all about the marketing.
Many startups make the mistake of putting marketing first. If you focus on the product and the happiness of customers, they in turn can become your biggest advocates and marketers.
6. It's all about the idea.
"There's not that many new ideas in the world," Rubin says, just new twists on categories and products that have come before. Start with the idea, but put your heart and soul into the execution.
7. Go after only the biggest market.
Rather than try to be something for everybody, choose your own specific market. Then get 100% of it, regardless of how small it may be. In Rubin's view, 100% of Luxembourg is better than 1% of China.
8. It's obvious when you have something good.
The value and potential of an idea isn't always easy to see. Rubin says he likes to ask: "Is the wind blowing in your face or behind you?" Whether to stay the course often comes down to a gut feeling. If there's infighting on your team, or your customers are saying your product is bad, then that's a red flag. But resistance itself isn't a roadblock, just an indicator that you haven't found the exact path yet.
9. Campaign success is a myth.
To Rubin, there's a real methodology behind a successful crowdfunded campaign. The biggest tips are including an engaging personal video and offering a variety of unique perks that range from low to high end. A video can establish trust and personality, and unique perks can entice people to want to pay more.
10. Mom will never understand what you do.
"Mom" can be anyone: a parent, or close friend or even a former employer who won't understand why you've decided to become an entrepreneur. Launching a company requires optimistic viewpoint, to be sure. But with the smaller focus and narrower market a crowdfunded project provides, it's absolutely possible to find success and, ultimately, acceptance from those you care about.
What has been your experience with crowdfunding, either successful or not?