Taking time away from her duties as Indiegogo’s Director of European Technology & Design, Anastasia Emmanuel sat down with Shiny Shiny to share details about her career and how popular crowdfunding has become.
During her interview, Emmanuel discussed her passion for technology:
“I totally fell into tech. I went to university and studied for a degree in American Studies – I know, not at all related to what I do now! After graduating, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I went travelling for a year. When I came back, I decided I wanted to get into presenting.
“I ended up doing tech presenting at NewsPepper (a video based startup) for a variety of clients, and after the founder moved to Silicon Valley, it was me and two other women running the show – three women taking on the world of online video! I was interviewing a lot of tech people and I just fell in love with it, with how fast-moving it was. They were so motivated to get out of bed in the morning and risk it all for an idea, and that felt inspiring.
“I realized I really loved it, and wanted to stay in that industry. I co-founded my own start-up, Publicate, as well as doing a weekly chat show at Tech City News. After doing that for a couple of years I was recommended by someone for a role at Indiegogo. I had a glass of wine with the then VP of International and that was that, really – I’ve been there two years now!”
While revealing how Indiegogo is different from other crowdfunding platforms, Anastasia commented:
“Indiegogo has been open to everyone from the start. [The site launched in 2008.] What I always say to people is, Indiegogo is here to help you. We’re quite different to other platforms in that way – we really want to help people to succeed. We help campaigns prepare in advance, so that when they’re ready to press ‘go’ they’re as good as they can possibly be.
“We also offer flexible funding, meaning you can take home whatever money gets donated, rather than having to reach a set target, like on Kickstarter (the ‘all or nothing’ approach). That’s less daunting for people, I think.
“Indiegogo is strategic, too. We’re not just a platform for projects – we’re actually workingwith these companies. I have a 96% success rate with the companies I work with [meaning they successfully raised their target amount]. That’s because it’s my job to help them; it’s the Indiegogo structure.
“We’re committed to creating sustainable businesses and linking people up, so we create partnerships with designers and manufacturers and PR companies – we really want the projects to work.”
Opening up about her love for crowdfunding, Emmanuel explained:
“It’s open to anyone and reaches to all corners of the world. If your idea is good, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, and Indiegogo proves this – we have been global from day one, and have had over 400,000 campaigns from 224 countries. If enough people love it and you’ve prepared well, a campaign will succeed.
“Crowdfunding has a democratic angle, much more so than the tech industry at large. For example, 47% of our successful campaigns are female-led, compared to just 15% of VC [venture capitalist] funded companies. That’s because teams and products speak for themselves in crowdfunding – it levels the playing field.
“The crowdfunding customer base is also much more representative of the real world. The 60 million people who visit Indiegogo every day are going to look very different to the male-dominated tech industry.
“Anyone can browse the site and choose to invest in their own small way – you don’t need to be wealthy and powerful. And the motivations people have for crowdfunding are totally varied, from paying to be an extra in a movie to wanting to own the latest innovative gadget.”
Also noting the advantages of crowdfunding, Anastasia stated:
“What’s nice about crowdfunding is that there is a risk attached – that the product might be imperfect – but people are willing to accept that. Crowdfunding isn’t like ordering a product off Amazon – but that’s precisely what makes it exciting, too.
“It’s also worth remembering that crowdfunding isn’t just about raising capital – you can use it to test a price point and learn more about your customer base. Misfit Shine is a great example of how even if you already have lots of money, you can still utilise crowdfunding to find out what customers want.”
In regards to any advice she would give to campaign organizers, Emmanuel added:
“Prepare! Research similar campaigns and products, gauge interest, spread the word, and perfect your marketing message before you launch. All the best campaigns have a really tight promotional schedule and know exactly what they’re doing from day to day. Crowdfunding success stories are no accident – they’re spending so much behind the scenes that people don’t see.
“I’d also say to avoid launching a product at a big tech conference. There are too many other products flying around at the same time, and any media coverage will be swallowed up by the rest. It’s worth taking note of seasonality, too – don’t launch around Thanksgiving, or in the middle of summer, or very close to Christmas.
“With mass consumer-type products, I tend to recommend they run the campaign in dollars. Asian markets are more familiar with dollars, and obviously the US is the biggest target market.
“Often the hardest thing in crowdfunding is actually fulfilling the rewards you promised, which is why so many fall short of estimated delivery times. If there’s a much larger response than anticipated, and suddenly you’ve got to manufacture and ship thousands of units, that can lead to problems.
“People have lost faith in crowdfunding in the past few years – we do a lot of work to improve trust in the platform, which is why it’s so important to be honest. I say be transparent from the start – tell people where you’re at, how you’re going to use their money, why you are asking for investment.
“As long as campaigners are totally open with their supporters, generally 90% of people don’t mind waiting an extra few months if something doesn’t go quite according to plan.”