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From energy-saving cookware and smart bicycles to home energy storage systems and efficient composting, many green startups are increasingly looking for capital to launch their businesses.
But with the outlook for global venture capital funding continuing look gloomy for early to mid 2023, green entrepreneurs may need to turn to alternative sources to score the cash they need to go to market.
For many startups, crowdfunding platforms have become a popular, more democratic way to raise funding. Rather than leaving a company’s fate to venture capitalists, crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to pitch directly to consumers, including family, friends, and a built-in base of early adopters and sustainability champions who want to be part of a company’s growth from the ground floor.
The expansion of crowdfunding platforms in recent years comes at an ideal time as the job market continues to feel the impact of the Great Resignation, with as many as four million people quitting in the month of October, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Program for job vacancies and labor market research. Dissatisfied with their jobs during and after the pandemic, thousands of people have taken on new jobs, left the job market or started their own businesses.
How to choose the right crowdfunding platform
Known for its selection of technology, hardware and innovative products, Indiegogo’s crowdfunding platform has a community of 950,000 founders who can tap into more than 13.5 million backers. The platform has raised more than $78 million for sustainable products and continues to rank green tech as one of the most popular fundraising categories over the past two years.
StartEngine has a community of over 900,000 founders. Launched in 2015, StartEngine is an equity crowdfunding platform that allows lenders to take over a portion of a company’s ownership in exchange for financial investments. The company recently reached a sizeable investor community totaling one million.
Like Indiegogo, StartEngine doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the types of companies the platform can use for fundraising and welcomes companies in a variety of industries.
One of the more widely known crowdfunding platforms, GoFundMe touts a global community of over 100 million people with over $17 billion raised for various community causes, including environmental charities.
Whichever platform you choose, here are three essential tips you can follow to generate interest in a valuable campaign:
Tell a compelling story
Entrepreneurs can’t sell units or build a community of backers unless they have a meaningful way to talk about their product or service. It is essential to develop a compelling mission statement and message that explains what a product is, how it works and why people should care. Be sure to include rich content, including professional photography and video, that will give donors confidence that the product will perform as expected.
Take advantage of services that help build a fan base
Many crowdfunding platforms offer services and advice that help entrepreneurs set up strong campaigns. For example, Indiegogo has a resource center where entrepreneurs can access videos and other rich content on topics such as converting followers into donors, testing posts, providing customer support, and marketing best practices. For additional advice, entrepreneurs can visit StartEngine’s blog, one of which encourages startups to market the raise through incentives, perks, and advertising.
Listen, learn, adapt
Browse other crowdfunding campaigns in similar and disparate industries to understand which campaigns are doing best. Pay attention to how companies position their product or services, whether the company used a video or not, and what kind of messages were shared in the video to understand what and how the product resonates with an audience. Incorporate those insights into the materials developed for your campaign to attract a large community. When the campaign is ready to launch, you need to be prepared to listen to customer feedback, make adjustments as needed, and come back with a product ready for prime time.
A success story
BLUETTI AC500 & B300S, a backup powerhouse for the home, was originally set up to raise $1,000,000 on Indiegogo and raised more than $11.5 million through 4,507 backers in its crowdfunding campaign. BLUETTI has since increased its revenue to more than $12 million by leveraging the platform’s InDemand tool, which helps businesses expand their campaign to support e-commerce operations. Launch Boom helped GoSun, a company that promotes solar tech products, launch four different products, including GoSun Chill, the company’s original solar cooler, in 2019 raising more than $700,000.
Now is the time for green entrepreneurs to capitalize on the green market momentum for what could be the difference between a lucrative launch or mere utopia.