Flickr CC Davidzof

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Swedish startup FundedByMe, “Fund your project through social networks” has seen a daylight, having been in closed beta since last fall. It’s a straight forward clone of Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects counting for over 5 000 successfully funded projects, and raising $1M a week in pledges. The latest fun fact for geeks on Kickstarter projects is a documentary film Minecraft – The Story of Mojang to be made of Minecraft, the Swedish indie game studio. Go and donate!

Look after the penniesFlicr cc Mark J P

Funded By Me team started by eating its own dog food to prove the model. The development of service was partly financed with the help of the closed beta service, serving now as a use case for first successfully funded project. The initial amount was set low, approx $4K, finally reaching approx $16,5K by 65 funders consisting of 7% strangers, i.e. not family, friends and contacts. The team has its background within creative industries, arts, and web design, giving them a slight head start to fund a project to help creative industries, but also having knowledge of its main target group.

The site is available both in English and Swedish, has the same rules, project guidelines, and is aimed for creative arts projects just as Kickstarter, only FundedByMe charges 6% administration fee instead of Kickstarter’s 5%. Basically, the only thing that differs is that no US bank account is required to start a project at FundedByMe, which is due a restriction by Amazon Payments used by Kickstarter. FundedByMe has chosen PayPal as its payment service, making it a global service from day one.

In other words, good news for crowdfunded projects worldwide!

Launch Strategies Matter. Always!

Ok, so not every startup can launch at conferences such as Launch with personal help from Jason Calacanis. Nonetheless, how you launch your service should be of high priority, whether you are a clone or building never before seen magic. Having launched dozens of services and now working with startups I have both written and talked about successful launch strategies, and why fans are important when launching your service.

Unless you’re launching an existing business idea with a distinct twist in functionality and/or business model, with significant competitors in your backyard, there is absolutely NO reason to hide in a cave. If you’re building a straight up consumer web clone, meaning you’re copying an existing business idea including the business model, you should get out there as soon as possible and ride on the wave of the ones you copy. You need to start building the buzz and Google juice as soon as possible. You do want people to know about your service? You want to get them engaged, get excited and ready to use and share your wonderful service before you’re open for business. You want, and need them to create new waves.

Even more so, if your service and business model also relies on the power of crowd, i.e. enabling and engaging individuals to take action as a group. Any consumer web service is truly brought to life by managing to engage people, and embracing all the possibilities of the social web, both regarding marketing, branding and customer acquisition. Naturally, you have to have a kick ass service including great value proposition, which you should have if you copy a successful one 😉

1377322504_670f8dcb78_bFlickr cc Hinkeb

This is what stunned me with FundedByMe’s launch. I received a nice email from them offering access to its closed beta a week before launch, also wondering if they could publish my post “The Economy Of Free, Or How To Get People Help Your Starving Startup” on its blog. Good start, I thought, and curious as I am, I hit over to check out the service and the blog my post was to be featured.

The positive feeling having received a nice email with a link and no PDFs, was sadly lost when I hit the URL. I was being greeted by a HTTPS login request. For non geeks this means there was no site available for me to see, no front door, no window shopping, no nothing. Just a login page to a server. Even the blog was behind the bars. WOW. The only results Google had on the service was a Facebook Page with less than 100 fans and a screen dump, together with a press release in Swedish(?), dated Feb 21st to announce a launch on March 1st. C’mon.

I never signed up. Why? I could wait a week. There was nothing to engage me with the service, since it also was described by the team itself as a Kickstarter clone, thus adding no special twist. They delivered zero excitement.

How FundedByMe Could Have Added Value To Both Product And Launch

To get your project or startup off the ground, in this case a consumer web startup to get others’ projects off the ground with help of social media, you do need to embrace all the means available to reach out. Because that’s what your users are expected to do, too. It all comes down to execution.

So, what FundedByMe got right was to engage and test the service with a group of users during the development phase, but missing to grasp the opportunity to spread the word. And that’s what the service is basically about, engaging people to take action. Get through the noise. Make sure the service gets populated quickly once launched. Who wants to go to an empty store? Obviously I’m writing about them now, but only because I just hate to see product launches with clear opportunities missed. Here’s what they could’ve added additional value:

  • Engage and seek advice from successful early adopters in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. Morris Motorcycles has demonstrated the power of the crowd, engaging fans to help out and spread the word like a fire.
  • There is also Crowdsortium, a great group of crowdsourcing industry practitioners, who have self-organized to advance the crowdsourcing industry through best practices, education, data collection and public dialog.
  • Participate and have a voice in a crowdsourcing community: Stockholm is hosting a conference on crowdsourcing March 17th, Truly Yours – Methods for participation, with international guests such as Ville Miettinen of Microtask and Rachel Botsman. Splendid opportunity and the spot to fight for to get the word out and launch to wider crowdsourcing community. I don’t see FundedByMe on the menu, nor do I find a word on participating.
Celebrate Your Service And All Your Hard Work With A Great Launch!

More recommended reading on Go-To-Market Strategy and

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. Rated as one of the very best startup mentors in Europe, she has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies on product, marketing and growth. Pick My Brain! is her fixed price service tailored to early stage startups, gender wage gap adjusted for female founders. Contact Paula for digital strategy work or book her as keynote speaker about #Startups #WomenInTech #GenderEquality #Entrepreneurship. Read more about her work and connect @Twitter, @LinkedIn. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen”Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital

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