Added-Value Services Offered by Crowdfunding Platforms
Whereas crowdfunding platforms have focused until today mainly on their online operations, we are observing an increase in the number of pilot programs and projects aimed at providing complementary services to creators, often on a one-on-one basis. This way platforms can set themselves apart from the competition, but also propose a more complete offer either before, during or after a campaign.
An additional tool to obtain crowdfunding
The new loft-type offices occupied by the Ulule platform in Montréal house three different types of spaces: a space for the staff members of the company founded in France in 2010, an open space to greet guests and hold evening events, and closed offices reserved for those who manage crowdfunding campaigns on site.
“Our goal is to propose an offer that is as best aligned as possible on the needs of project proponents, and this space meets a need,” explains Alexandre Boucherot, founder and CEO of Ulule. A physical space enables creators to work in groups on the campaign in a setting that fosters productivity, to organize events and to have a direct access to the Ulule team.
“When you need help to adapt the tone of a text or manage a campaign, they’re there, just a few feet away. You get your answers immediately,” points out Sébastien Hotte, production manager for the Dossier magazine, whose five team members met on a weekly basis in Ulule’s offices during the spring to conduct their campaign.
This opinion is echoed by Julien Brault, founder of Hardbacon, a startup that raised close to $70,000 earlier this year. “If you have a technical problem, you get to solve it right away. And the CEO is there right next to you,” he provides as an example.
For Alexandre Boucherot, this new workspace offers another advantage: “The fact of working directly with the creators also allows us to learn how campaigns unfold,” explains the CEO.
Only company’s Montréal offices are currently available to project proponents, but the experience could very well be proposed elsewhere, maybe in Paris or Toronto once the platform expands to English Canada.
Crowdfunding platforms are also implementing more and more projects that aim to provide post-campaign assistance to companies. It’s the case of Kickstarter.
“Last fall, a creator asked us if we had space in our offices that he could use to package and deliver his products. Our head office in Brooklyn is very spacious, and we therefore replied positively to his request. It was great for him, so we decided to open our doors to other creators as part of a pilot project,” explains Carol Benovic-Bradley, who heads Kickstarter’s Creators-in-Residence program.
Three funded companies that operate in the documentary and video game sectors use the U.S. giant’s office space to organize viewings, use the platform’s IT components and manage their press relations.
Here also, both parties learn from one another seeing as the creators benefit from Kickstarter’s experience, whereas the platform can further its knowledge of the difficulties experienced by projects once their funding has run out.
“It’s only the first iteration of the program. We are learning more as we go along as to what we can do to help creators successfully complete their projects and we are going to adjust ourselves according to what we are able to offer the next cohort,” adds Benovic-Bradley.
As for Indiegogo, the other major American platform, it focuses mainly on partnerships with other businesses to provide assistance to creators. Thus, Indiegogo helps funded businesses take advantage of the services of Arrow Electronics to produce electronic devices and the services of Brookstone to sell their products in the retailer’s boutiques.
Ulule also developed a retail sales program for its creators. “We operate a small boutique in Paris,” confirms CEO Alexandre Boucherot. “It’s a test. It enables us to validate if we can play a useful role with project proponents and also showcases crowdfunding to the public.”
Whether they provide assistance to creators before or after their campaigns, added-value services represent a logic continuation of the work undertaken by crowdfunding platforms a few years ago. “They are different ways of meeting the extremely numerous and wide needs of creators and entrepreneurs,” sums up Boucherot.