I grew up in a world far removed from the one known by my parents, a world where instant gratification and self validation through my peers are at the core of my being. As a millennial there is a difficult balance between what I am told by my elders and what I know to be true, where previous generations have grown up understanding that all things come in good time, I see the world through a screen and gratification comes through the push of a “button” so to speak. Everywhere I look I see how millennials are going to struggle in adapting to the “real” world, how the need for instant gratification will be our greatest weakness. For a while I accepted this to be true, as I could see their point and see how this could all be the start to a downward spiral for my generation. However, after several weeks of contemplation, it became quite clear that yes these “undesirable” characteristics may not work in the “real world”, but maybe that is because the real world is out of date to some degree and potentially that is what needs to be rectified.
Life is not the same as when my parents started out, the world has changed and continues to do so. Everything that was once easy to achieve (University acceptance, bank loans, etc…) have only become more challenging, so I am proposing that it is time to start looking at alternatives to what we view as traditional/conventional methods of achieving goals, ways that introduce the norms of impatience and instant gratification into this system we call life. I think if you ask most millennials what they want to do with their lives they will tell you that they want to make a difference, effect change, be an entrepreneur, but the big question is always how. Now I may not have all the answers, few do, but I have some thoughts.
I truly think that we millennials will be just fine, there really is no other alternative if the world is to continue spinning. Though to be fine we are going to have to embrace our so called flaws and channel them into making this “change” we want to affect a reality. How great would it be to gain that bliss of instant gratification from something positive/productive instead of through a new follower on Instagram or another like on a photo of your morning latte.
We live in the 21st century where almost anything is possible, where innovation is part of everyday life, and where we don’t need to ask what if but rather when will. As a species we have never had the luxury of taking such immediate action until now, in almost every aspect of our lives we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. Why should the world of business and innovation be any different? It is no secret that starting a business or creating new and innovative ideas has become increasingly expensive, we also know that the traditional means of obtaining finance have become virtually impossible, and even if you obtain this finance it’s just riddled with debt, basically setting you up to fail from day one. Now what if we look at a way to take this new and innovative world that we live in and merge it with the art of obtaining a debt free version of traditional finance.
Crowdfunding – A viable solution to our future.
Crowdfunding is a term that most people would have heard of, but might not always grasp what it is at its core. I stumbled upon crowdfunding by accident one day when I was partaking in every millennials worst nightmare, the job hunt. I decided to learn a bit more about this job I was applying for, and realized that it was actually a game changing industry for many people just like me, who are not necessarily lazy or unmotivated but unable to fake enthusiasm over something that we have no passion for. It sparked my interest, which few things do, so I applied and to my surprise I got the job. I began to learn the ins and outs of this industry and realized that as an industry it evolved so quickly, with new projects coming in and out, the joy of seeing them succeed, and the motivation and learning that I got out of watching them fail.
It is a shame to see potential go to waste, but it is a great comfort to know that there is some hope at the end of the tunnel, that all of the misunderstood talent of this generation does not have to go to waste due to obstacles like money. Which is the reason I am writing this, to hopefully inspire some of my peers to do what they are passionate about, to prove the world wrong, and to show everyone a new way of doing things in a headstrong world stuck on old traditions.
Crowdfunding offers a combination of obtaining finance, gaining media exposure, and testing new ideas in a real market. In any new business one of the first thing that come to mind are the costs associated with getting it off the ground, not to mention the hassle and stress involved in obtaining a loan. Other concerns that are inherently involved with getting traditional forms of finance include debt repayment, which creates the pressure caused by the potential for failure, and the stresses of implementation. Crowdfunding is a solution to these problems, crowdfunding provides the opportunity to be proactive in avoiding these issues.
Crowdfunding is a means of obtaining finance for your idea without the pressure of debt, but rather the responsibility of delivering on your promises within a predetermined time frame that you have set.
Gaining Media Exposure
One of the many benefits of crowdfunding is that it offers the key principles of e-commerce with the added benefit of a unique story attached to it. Making use of crowdfunding means that you are not completely on your own, and are working with an established brand to build the credibility of your own. Crowdfunding platforms will also have various media contacts that can be leveraged to help give exposure to your project, of course there is never a 100% guarantee.
Testing The Market
When it comes to launching a new product or service there is not always a sure way of knowing if it is needed in the market enough to be feasible. On the other hand there may very well be a profitable market out there that you have yet to identify, and may waste all your efforts in the wrong place, costing you time and valuable resources.
There are various forms of crowdfunding available to entrepreneurs from the more traditional rewards-based to the newer asset-based crowdfunding. While both of these can work in unison during the same campaign, sometimes one is more than enough to provide you with what you need to launch your brand and idea.
The best way to look at rewards-based crowdfunding in terms of a concept that South Africans are familiar with is e-commerce. Rewards-based crowdfunding allows the project creators/entrepreneurs to pre-sell their products/services to their potential/ideal market. How this differs from doing this on your own stand alone website is that doing it through crowdfunding provides an indication to the buyer that the product is not yet ready, it also provides much needed trust, and transparency. Unlike a normal e-commerce site, crowdfunding give the buyer a detailed look at who you are and what you are doing. The project page allows them to connect with you on a personal level, as well as understand and connect with your brand and products. If they can buy into your story they will be more than happy to buy what you are selling, and be loyal customers long after your campaign has ended.
South African rock band Fokofpolisiekar launched a campaign Fokof Crowdfunding at the beginning of 2017 to record and independently release their third studio album Selfmedikasie. This album caused a lot of excitement as it was their first album to be released in 11 years, since their sophomore album was released back in 2006. This campaign was an instant hit amongst fans, as could be seen when they reached their dream goal of R500 000.00 in only a week. This campaign was the first of the year to break South African rewards-based crowdfunding records, raising R1 081 010.00 through the campaign.
The overwhelming success that this campaign had was a result of three main factors; the band’s network, their project and their rewards, but most importantly how these three factors all worked together. In crowdfunding these are known as the three pillars of success, and by tapping into even one of these can make a campaign successful. Fokofpolisiekar hit a sweet spot, with a network of fans longing for a new album, and excited about any merchandise that they could purchase as rewards through the campaign. Throughout this project the rewards were constantly updated, bringing new life into the campaign and reigniting excitement. Here we can see how the story added to the value of the rewards, as Fokof merchandise had been available before, but the key reason to buy was due to the demand for the project. A win for both the band and the backers of the campaign, great rewards contributing to a common goal.
Asset-Based crowdfunding is in essence a short term investment in a particular product, which can run hand in hand with a rewards-based campaign. This type of crowdfunding is best utilized with a product that is made using mass production. This works where an investor will front you the finance to produce a large volume of your product in exchange for their investment back and return on their investment through a percentage of the profits made. A riskier reward to add to a campaign for both project creator and investor, but with the potential to show massive profits when done correctly.
Sugarbird Gin is a new craft gin brand on the market in South Africa, it was founded out of a love for just good gin. This is their mantra, not to be the best but the favourite, to be top of mind among South Africans. Craft gin is a fast emerging market in South Africa, and there is an ever growing array of options to choose from. Sugarbird saw this barrier to entry as an opportunity to stand out amongst the clutter in the category. It was this that led them to their record breaking crowdfunding campaign. Raising an astonishing R1 086 973.00 during their campaign they proved that crowdfunding is more than just a method of obtaining capital for a new business, but can be a great method of introducing yourself to the market.
Creating a campaign as a new brand that breaks records is no easy task, Sugarbird proved that it takes hard work, innovative thinking and a strong team to accomplish such feats. Throughout the campaign this brand continued to create exciting and relevant content to update people on the progress of their campaign, they took risks and broke down barriers by offering rewards never before seen on Thundafund. Their most innovative offering utilized asset-based crowdfunding by allowing people to get in on the action and buy a batch for which they would receive a 25% return on investment within 6 months. This proved to be a huge success and ultimately set them over the top, sealing their spot in the crowdfunding hall of fame.
Now obviously there are many different options when selecting a crowdfunding platform, but as a South African I like to keep it local, so I’m going to talk about the leading South African crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs and innovative individuals.
Now that you have an understanding of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs and how it could be the answer to your innovative prayers, it is time to answer the question of where to do it. Thundafund is one of South Africa’s oldest crowdfunding platforms and the largest rewards-based and asset-based crowdfunding platforms in South Africa. What really makes Thundafund stand out to me from other rewards-based crowdfunding platforms is the knowledge and commitment of the team. While the brand awareness and success rates are amazing, I feel that the passion shown by each individual there really does make all the difference.
Understandably whenever money is involved people are skeptical, it seems that someone is always trying to take advantage of someone else when finance is involved. Banks and other credit provider promise the world to you and always leave out the fine print, effectively bleeding your wallet dry. This shouldn’t ever be the case with crowdfunding, crowdfunding is a powerful method of uniting people together to support a common goal, which is why trust plays such a huge part in it. This is why Thundafund has implemented an “all or nothing” system, that means that should you not make enough money to actually do what your project says, the money is given back, and neither party makes a cent. Personally I find this honesty in business rather refreshing, especially when living in a world that is so full of hypocrites and fake social media lives, which only create more anxiety and depression among today’s youth.
The truth is we all know that life in unfair, some are blessed with gifts and opportunities that fit right into society as is, while for others have to fight just to be heard. That is what crowdfunding is to me, it’s a voice for those who are unheard and an opportunity to excel beyond what is currently possible. To live your best life and celebrate the brilliance of each individual.
In 2017, my first year at Thundafund I saw many amazing projects come onto the platform, and got to become a part of each project creators story. I was fortunate enough to see two record breaking campaigns that went further than anyone would have thought possible. I will always be grateful for this, partially because of how much I learned, but mostly because I got to see first hand that anything is possible when hard work meets passion. In 2018 I hope to see many more people take over the world and prove the naysayers wrong. I truly believe that together we can make this world a better and more fair place, one dreamer at a time.
“2018 is here and our aim? To double up again. We’re part of the entrepreneurial movement in South Africa that is re-writing people’s futures and dreams. Every business going live, every creative project realised, every new product launched is an opportunity for us to build a prosperous nation of people doing it for themselves. That’s the expanding culture we’re part of, ‘don’t wait on others, make it happen yourself’. “ Patrick Schofield CEO Thundafund.com
As told by Nicholas Dilley
Supporting articles on Millennials.
An Intro To Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. Crowdfunding is an online method of fundraising that allows people all over the world to put their ideas or pitches onto a digital platform. These pitches are then available for people worldwide to see, and to decide whether or not they would like to support the campaign. There are 4 main types of crowdfunding methods available, rewards-based, donation-based (Backabuddy), and equity-based (Uprise.Africa), and debt based, each with its own unique purpose.
In South Africa, crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and with many South Africans skeptical about making online transactions, it is very much a rising industry. Rewards-based crowdfunding has become a growing force within South Africa, with Thundafund at the forefront. Thundafund is the brainchild of entrepreneur Patrick Schofield, who founded the company in 2013.
The way that rewards-based crowdfunding differs from any other form, is that in exchange for the money raised, the project creator is expected to give something back to the backer in the form of a reward. These rewards can vary, anything from a thank you card to a tangible product will suffice. However, when selecting rewards for your campaign, it is important that you keep both your project and your potential backer (audience) in mind.
Crowdfunding In 2017
South African crowdfunding has come a long way in the past year, and 2018 is shaping up to be even better. Thundafund is proud to be the leading platform of South African rewards-based crowdfunding for 2017. Having been able to watch and be a part of more dreams coming true than ever before in our history is a honor we could not have dreamed of in previous years. 2017 has seen the major development of categories such as the arts, and food and beverage, both exciting and important segments of South African culture.
This year alone Thundafund has raised over R8 million which is almost equivalent to the previous four years combined. This is incredible for a multitude of reasons. First of which being that the benefits and knowledge of crowdfunding have started to sink into the minds of South Africans, making it a viable funding option for entrepreneurs and artists alike. What this means is we have been a part of breaking down a major barrier to entry for a lot of entrepreneurs and artists, who previously were unable to follow their dreams and reach their full potential in their respective fields. A wonderful ripple effect can be seen in the projects and project creators we see and engage with on a daily basis. There has been a change in their way of thinking, they now are able to show true innovation with a mindset that ‘anything is possible’. This is something we are extremely excited to see progress going into the new year.
One of the most astounding things to occur this year in South African rewards-based crowdfunding was when SA rock band Fokofpolisiekar broke the record for the highest amount raised through a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign, which was later topped in November by a newcomer to the market Sugarbird Gin. Both campaigns raised over R1 million, and set the benchmark for what is possible in the year to come. What makes these record breaking campaigns so unique is how equally they reflect our views on how to succeed with crowdfunding.
Fokofpolisiekar, a well established rock band, with years of experience and a vast network of loyal supporters, proved the power in effectively tapping into your network and identifying what they want. While Sugarbird Gin, a total newbie to the market was able to use their rewards and strong brand mission to not only raise the money they needed but build up a loyal database of customers. In addition to this, both brands were able to use crowdfunding as a form of market research, to test if the market was ready and excited for what they were offering it.
“Breaking records, realising dreams. Thundafund went ‘next level’ in 2017. Raising more funds for entrepreneurs and creatives in 1 year than in our previous 3 years put together, we’ve seen South Africans embrace the power of crowdfunding.” Patrick Schofield CEO
Thundafund operates in 13 main categories which campaigns can crowdfund in; art and photography, community, craft, design, events, fashion, film and video, food and beverage, music, performance, publishing, sports, as well as tech and games. However, even though some of these categories have yet to reach their full potential,, others have shown wild growth and success.
Art and Photography
Art and photography has been a successful category on Thundafund for many years now, one of the main reasons for this is partially due to the strong artistic culture in South Africa. The arts have always been a method of self expression and different art and photography pieces have the ability to to stir up emotions in anyone.
This year Thundafund had the honor of working with an incredible initiative called Mutts. Mutts is a coffee table book filled with photographs and stories of various mixed breed dogs that have been given a fresh start with a loving family after a hard life. This book is not only about telling stories, but bringing to light the beauty inside each one of these animals. Emma O’Brien, a Johannesburg based photographer, created this visionary idea to give a voice to those without, but as with anything she needed funding to make it a reality. The goal was R155 000, which would go towards to costs of publishing the book, however with the strong emotive appeal of this campaign she was able to raise R166 040 exceeding her goal.
The Mutts campaign was successful due to its’ innovative nature and powerful message. The goal behind it wall was a combination of giving these mutts a voice, creating beautiful work, changing the stigma of mixed breed dogs, and to give back. All proceeds from the book sales go directly to the SPCA and CLAW foundation in Johannesburg, to help them care for the dogs who are still in need of a family and a home.
Food and Beverage
Thundafund has seen many exciting food and beverage campaigns over the years, but none have been as exciting or a profitable as the record breaking campaign done by Sugarbird Gin at the end of 2017.
Sugarbird Gin is a new craft gin brand on the market in South Africa, it was founded out of a love for just good gin. This is their montra, not to be the best but the favourite, to be top of mind among South Africans. Craft gin is a fast emerging market in South Africa, and there is an ever growing array of options to choose from. Sugarbird saw this barrier to entry as an opportunity to stand out amongst the clutter in the category. It was this that led them to their record breaking crowdfunding campaign. Raising an astonishing R1 086 973.00 during their campaign they proved that crowdfunding is more than just a method of obtaining capital for a new business, but can be a great method of introducing yourself to the market.
Creating a campaign as a new brand that breaks records is no easy task, Sugarbird proved that it takes hard work, innovative thinking and a strong team to accomplish such feats. Throughout the campaign this brand continued to create exciting and relevant content to update people on the progress of their campaign, they took risks and broke down barriers by offering rewards never before seen on Thundafund. Their most innovative offering was allowing people to get in on the action and buy a batch for which they would receive a 25% return within 6 months. This proved to be a huge success and ultimately set them over the top, sealing their spot in the crowdfunding hall of fame.
Music as a category on Thundafund has seen many successes such as Saarkie, Shut Up! It’s Sunday, and Kahn Morbee. These campaigns have all shown the power in a loyal network of fans, and how they can rally together to support a crowdfunding campaign. The most successful campaign in this category was Fokofpolisiekar, which started in March of this year.
Fokofpolisiekar launched a campaign Fokof Crowdfunding at the beginning of 2017 to record and independently release their third studio album Selfmedikasie. This album caused a lot of excitement as it was their first album to be released in 11 years, since their sophomore album was released back in 2006. This campaign was an instant hit amongst fans, as could be seen when they reached their dream goal of R500 000.00 in only a week. This campaign was the first of the year to break South African rewards-based crowdfunding records, raising R1 081 010.00 from the campaign.
The overwhelming success that this campaign was caused by three main factors; the band’s network, their project and their rewards, but most importantly how these three factors all worked together. In crowdfunding these are known as the three pillars of success, and by tapping into even one of these can make a successful campaign. Fokofpolisiekar hit a sweet spot, with a network of fans longing for a new album, and excited about any merchandise that they could find. Throughout this project the rewards were changed out of necessity as there was not enough for all of the demand.
Publishing has proven to be one of the most successful categories on the platform. With humans each having a story to tell there is no end to the exciting novels that have yet to be written and that need to be published. One such campaign told the stories of amazing South African women, women who had an impact on our history and made change for the better.
A to Z Amazing South African Women
In 2017 Modjia Books set up a crowdfunding campaign to publish their latest book A to Z Amazing South African Women. This book was created to celebrate South African women, the rebels, artists, troublemakers, athletes, dancing queens and freedom fighters that shaped our past and the amazing accomplishments that they have been a part of that shaped our future.
The success of this campaign was due to hard work, and how the project played on honoring the past and the people that helped shape the world we all live in. This project was one that could resonate with people in a way that was more than just great reading material. In a similar manner to what made Mutts a success, this campaign was rooted in emotion, but also in culture and South African pride.
As a human race we are all social beings, and what better way to interact with each other than at events designed to celebrate a shared interest. This year Thundafund has seen several events come onto the platform, either directly occuring or indirectly as a result of a great campaign.
Harare International Festival of the Arts 2017
#HIFAMustHappen was a campaign earlier this year that was setup by ‘The Friends of HIFA’ who had a goal of keeping this incredible festival going. HIFA, which has been around since 1999 as a small arts and culture festival in Harare, has grown drastically in the last 18 years and transformed into more than just a festival. HIFA is a sliver of joy for the people of Harare, a time of year where they can celebrate and show true self expression through the arts. However, due to the political and economic conditions in Zimbabwe, it was uncertain that the festival would be able to fund this monumental event. The campaign was aimed at aiding HIFA in the extreme costs associated with putting on a festival of that magnitude and was successful in raising R292 039.00.
This campaign was an important one as it spoke to a passionate group of individuals who truly believe in the hope that HIFA provides to a nation in crisis. The support from the artistic community was overwhelming, as big acts such as Freshlyground were eager to aid the organisation in any way they could. The campaign received many praises from airists and festival enthusiasts alike, as they all knew it was an important cause that needed to supported.
Film and Video
Film and video is an art that has only become more and more accessible to people all around the world. It is an art and therefore a form of self expression. It is because of this that there is an underlying layer of passion and fire for this medium and why we experience a number of great campaigns in this category. One such project that has dominated this category in last few months of 2017 is The Bull.
The Bull is a short film by a passionate and enthusiastic team of individuals. This film follows a young woman through the last days of her pregnancy and discovers the strange magic that burdens her reality. This film is a fairytale about new life in a world where creatures have more in common than the shapes that separate them. This campaign was started as a method of obtaining the funding needed to bring their vision to an international audience. The costs of submitting a film to international film festivals are high and relatively unachievable to the unknown filmmaker, which is why crowdfunding seemed like the best way to seize this opportunity. To date The Bull has raised over R60 000.00 which will go a long way towards helping them achieve this dream.
While The Bull is still live on Thundafund they have shown great success for an unknown film with limited resources. It is truly passion and determination that drives this project, without having a wealth of resources at their disposal, The Bull team have managed to gather an immense support. This project is trusted as it is clear that the whole team is behind this project and that they have truly poured their heart and soul into making it a success.
The community category on Thundafund has continuously shown great success, as it allows people to fuel positive change in the world. On top of this, it allows people to be champions for change, and it gives non profit organisations a centralized place to find funding for different objectives.
#35SmilesIn35Days was a campaign set up by the global organisation called Operation Smile whose main objective is to repair cleft palates in children. Operation Smile ran their campaign and hit their goal of raising the money to repair 35 smiles in 35 days. However, Operation Smile exceeded their goal by R11 110.00 making it possible for them to repair 2 extra smiles. The total amount raised by this campaign was R203 110.00 over a 45 day period.
One of the key factors that drove this campaign to success was definitely a strong network of loyal supporters. With 35 years of experience, Operation Smile has built up a vast international network of loyal supporters. This is their network, and to take it a step further than just reaching their own network, Operation Smile enlisted the help of celebrity brand ambassadors, who helped them launch the campaign on the Expresso Breakfast Show, and continued to push throughout the campaign. With a clear campaign objective of ‘35 smiles in 35 days’ along with a vast reach among various networks, this campaign was always destined for big things.
Streetscapes City Gardens
Streetscapes is a visionary initiative created to turn people from being homeless and hopeless into happy and productive members of society. Streetscapes was started out of a passion for helping those who have been abandoned by society, and left to fend for themselves due to a series of unfortunate circumstances. The goal of this project is to create city gardens that turn the unemployed into entrepreneurs, who learn to grow their own produce that they can then sell. The project raised R37 833.00 to help them fund their third city garden in Cape Town.
This was a great project as it dealt with an issue that every South African is faced with on a daily if not hourly basis, homelessness. We come into contact with them everyday, and all have our own views and opinions on the matter with one general consensus that something must be done. This campaign gave the people of South Africa the opportunity to take action and be a part of the change we would all like to see coming in the future.
2017 has been one incredible adventure, and Thundafund and the team have enjoyed every second of it. There have been more successful campaigns than ever before, and serious growth in almost every category. From this, easily the best year in SA crowdfunding history we are able to better understand the nature of crowdfunding in South Africa, and therefore can better help our campaign creators to succeed with their campaigns.
While every project is different and can not all hold the same amount of interest, we have found that one of the most common factors with successful campaigns is the project itself. From the idea, to the layout of your project page, the whole concept must say the right thing to the right audience. Transparency breeds trust, and this is often a key factor in whether or not the backer will help fund you.
One thing that project creators are always encouraged to do before their campaign goes live is to build up a network of supporters who believe in their campaign/idea. This is crucial for the early stages of funding, and will ultimately help build the trust between the project creator and a backer who is having their first interaction with the campaign page. A common misconception to many is that the platform’s network on it’s own will be strong enough to carry the campaign, and in some instances this can happen. However, usually this will not be the case, as people use the project creators direct crowd to refer the quality of the project. The wider crowd need to see ‘your’ crowd supporting before they jump in.
Thundafund is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform, so as to be expected the rewards play a fairly large role in the campaigns success or failure. While the rewards may not be the icing on the cake in every campaign, they can make a small donation turn into a large one in some cases. Certain rewards can help build the credibility of a new brand, or even to test the market to see which of your products will be most successful in the future of your business. Rewards can also play another role and become the driving force behind a campaign, leading it to victory. In these cases the project and network may not be the strongest assets of the campaign creator, but people love to buy unique and innovative products and services that they could not get elsewhere.
Thundafund is a trusted platform, our role is to facilitate that trust and help businesses establish themselves. Through our diverse network we are a well connected company with ties to media across our various categories. This allows us to help our project creators extend their reach and build up a solid network for the future of their business/project, beyond just the campaign.
Predictions for 2018
Crowdfunding is a powerful tool that can be a great source of raising capital, marketing your brand, and testing your idea in the market. At Thundafund we have high hopes for 2018, and with high hopes come equally high plans, goals and expectations. We expect rapid growth in all sectors, with crowdfunding becoming a mainstream channel for entrepreneurs in South Africa to raise capital and launch. It is our belief that South Africans are the innovators of tomorrow, and it is our ‘new year’s resolution’ to bring those innovations to the world, to see South African entrepreneurs, artists and inventors succeed in ways that have yet to be possible until now.
“2018 beckons and our aim? To double up again. We’re part of the entrepreneurial movement in South Africa that is re-writing people’s futures and dreams. Every business going live, every creative project realised, every new product launched is an opportunity for us to build a prosperous nation of people doing it for themselves. That’s the expanding culture we’re part of, ‘don’t wait on others, make it happen yourself’. “ Patrick Schofield CEO
Crowdfunding: The Hope A Crowd Can Bring
Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. Crowdfunding is an online method of fundraising that allows people all over the world to put their ideas or pitches onto a digital platform. These pitches are then available for people worldwide to see, and to decide whether or not they would like to support the campaign. There are 4 main types of crowdfunding methods available, rewards-based, donation-based (backabuddy), and equity-based (Uprise.Africa), and debt based, each with its own unique purpose.
In South Africa, crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and with many South Africans still skeptical about making online transactions, it is very much a rising industry. Rewards-based crowdfunding has become a growing force within South Africa, with Thundafund at the forefront. Thundafund is the brainchild of entrepreneur Patrick Schofield, who founded the company in 2014.
The way that rewards-based crowdfunding differs from any other form, is that in exchange for the money raised, the project creator is expected to give something back to the backer in the form of a reward. These rewards can vary, anything from a thank you card to a tangible product will suffice. However, when selecting rewards for your Thundafund campaign, it is important that you keep both your project and your potential backer (audience) in mind.
What makes Thundafund different from other rewards-based crowdfunding platforms is that it has been designed for Africa. As a South African based company, Thundafund has a patriotic commitment to Africa and strongly believe that by activating their own communities that they can build prosperity. Thundafund prides itself on the extensive levels of support that they offer , whether this be in the form of workshops, private marketing consultations or assisting project creators in setting up their campaign, as it is important to them that each campaign reaches some sort of victory.
Thundafund strives to show full transparency, which is why they have a tipping point system. The tipping point is the first goal that a project must reach in terms of fundraising in order to be funded. This tipping point is selected by the project creator and is the minimum amount that the project creator needs to get their project off the ground. Thereafter, there is a dream goal, which is the ideal amount that the project creator would like to raise. Should the tipping point not be reached, neither Thundafund nor the campaign creator will receive any money, and the backer is refunded.
Milestones are another key part of the Thundafund philosophy, these milestones are there to clearly outline how the money raised through the campaign will be spent. This adds to the transparency aspect, which is important to the brand as it links so closely to the trust of their backers. As crowdfunding is a new idea in South Africa, trust is key in building an innovative future.
Over the years, Thundafund has had many success stories in both the entrepreneurial space and various other sectors. The Honest Chocolate Cafe started a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, and through their efforts raised R66 000.00 to help them start their cafe. Another thriving business that made its debut through crowdfunding, Proof Wine Bar in Somerset West, raised over R200 000.00 to start their venture. Thundafund has an ever growing captive audience that reaches people on an international scale and with start up capital becoming harder to obtain every year, crowdfunding is the light to guide entrepreneurs into the future.
I decided to crowd fund in order to produce Mutts the Book, a collection of mixed breed rescue dog portraits and their inspirational stories, after several unsuccessful attempts to attract a book publisher. I was told that the project was too niche and not commercially viable for them to take a chance on, so either sponsorship or crowd funding were the options to bring the project to life. Corporate sponsorship was a dead end, so I crowd funded. I chose Thundafund because it’s a South African platform with proven successful campaigns. I almost didn’t launch the campaign in fear of it not working (if only I knew) but I planned as best as I could so that as soon as it launched it got traction with an online audience. I decided to make the book a charity project with sales proceeds being donated to Sandton SPCA and CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare), I figured that the giving back aspect of the project would encourage people to invest. My minimum target goal was R125,000 and the dream goal was R155,000, in fact the project ended with just over R166,000 raised! I have spent the money on the design, layout and printing of 1000 books with cash to spare for a launch event which will be in Joburg on 19th November. We’re on track to donate R150,000 to the two charities once all the books are sold.
I terms of advice, planning is key. I had geared my online community up to expect the campaign and started to generate interest with the Mutts topic by sharing photos and blogs about the book’s backstory etc several weeks before the launch. I posted on social media twice a day, every day with photos, blogs, links and encouragement to donate. I chose a 45 day campaign and I didn’t stop until it finished. I incentivised people to give by offering additional rewards for taking the campaign over the R100,000 mark and the R125,000 mark which helped to generate interest. I made sure I gave shout outs when they were due and I sent out weekly newsletters to my database with campaign updates and enthusiastic encouragement to donate. Whilst we had rewards available, the majority of my money came from ad hoc donations, so I guess people felt like they were part of a community by giving. It was really hard work to keep up the momentum, but I think the Mutts campaign was successful because I didn’t stop promoting and sharing until we got to the dream goal. Persistence and perseverance are key.
By Emma O’Brien
Here is the first of many Thundafund.com Throwback success stories for A to Z AmaZing South African Women – Modjaji Books crowdfunded to generate capital to publish A to Z of Amazing South African Women in 2017.
“Our Thundafund.com campaign for the A to Z of Amazing South African women has been a huge success. We raised the tipping point money in a few days and broke through our dream goal a few days before the end. We were fortunate in that our team brought different skills and we were all equally committed to making the campaign work.
The video that we put together was simple and direct and strong, and addressed the reasons that we saw for encouraging people to join the campaign. We were lucky we had the skills in our team to make the video.
Raising funds to publish the book has helped us not only with funds for the book, but created a community of people who care about the book. Lots of people shared pictures on social media of their rewards when they got them, and we were able to re-share these. The Thundafund.comcampaign has been a continued marketing resource even weeks after our campaign closed.
The book itself was suited to a crowdfunding campaign as it features and celebrates a wide range of women. The book is beautiful, the images are gorgeous and in it we recognise women who have been ground breaking, bad-ass and have made waves in their field of endeavour. A book such as this is necessary in a country where we have high rates of rape and domestic violence. The book offers a counter-narrative to the one of being a victim and encourages women and girls to view themselves as having agency.
I think we got our rewards right, there were possibilities for support along a scale from very small – postcards (R100), a book (R250), buying one for yourself and one for someone else less fortunate (R500), as well as some bigger rewards. We had over 150 backers and we were fortunate that the campaign was widely shared. I think that people felt it was something that they could get behind, we offered them something that they wanted (the book) and we offered them an opportunity to be generous – buying a book for someone else. We received media attention for the campaign from the social media shares. And Exclusive Books promoted the book for Women’s Day, it is a best seller at the Book Lounge in Cape Town, and we heard this week that Exclusive Books has selected it for their Christmas List promotion. All in all we are grateful to Thundafund, to our supporters and readers. We are delighted to have been able to bring this book into the world.” (Colleen Higgs. 2017)
You have a brilliant idea you feel will change the world, or at least change the way people experience it. The only problem is no one else feels the same about it and the banks aren’t willing to put the money up so you can take your dream forward.
The solution can be as easy as asking strangers for money – South Africans are increasingly turning to crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending methods to raise capital for their business ventures.
“The vast majority of the South African market activity – $13,8m – came from peer-to-peer consumer and business lending, with the remaining $1.2 million spread across microfinance, donation-based and reward-based crowdfunding,” according to a report published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Funding.
The report also noted that compared to other African countries, South Africans have the most platforms on which people can solicit money for their ventures.
In order to reap the benefits of crowdfunding, it’s important to launch a great campaign. Patrick Schofield, CEO and founder of Thundafund, a crowdfunding platform that has helped several companies start or expand, says there are several things you can do to increase the chances of success for your business.
Start planning ahead of time
“Spend as much time on pre-campaigning planning as you would on your actual campaign. If you’re thinking of [running a campaign] for up to 45 days spend, 45 five days getting your ducks in a row,” he says.
This means you need to make sure you have all the necessary campaign material, such as a promo video, and distilling your message into something that’s punchy and relatable.
Ensure that you have a social media following
“Crowdfunding is social financing, so if you don’t have a strong social following, it’s going to be very difficult to crowdfund,” Schofield explains.
If you don’t like social media or don’t have enough followers, linking up with someone with a strong following will help you get your message across.
Build a team
If you have a great idea, you might be tempted to do everything on your own. But a team will make your campaign more effective
“Identify a couple of friends who will be keen to promote your campaign. Select three people who really believe in your campaign and who will spend time getting your message out there,” he advises.
The secret is to keep the team tight so it does not get out of hand, Schofield says.
Leverage your networks.
Leveraging the skills of different people within your circle can help you improve your campaign’s success.
“Let’s say you want to start a new range of T-shirts – identify people within your network who are powerful within the fashion and social standing space,” he says.
Approaching journalists and key influencers will get you enough people who can make noise about what you’re doing.
Keep things personal
When your campaign goes live, Schofield says it can be tempting to rely entirely on social media. But more personal messaging can also work wonders.
He says that while you’re tweeting and putting up Facebook posts for the general crowd, you should also send out individual emails or start WhatsApp conversations with specific people. This allows you to engage with them and get them hooked on your idea.
Our biggest success to date, we are proud to have run this exciting campaign on Thundafund.com.
It’s been a week and no one has backed my campaign, what do I do?
Giving up is not the right answer. You’ve put a lot of effort into setting up your campaign, you can’t give up yet!
This is where grit comes in. The American Psychologist, Angela Duckworth, who is the leading authority on Grit describes the term as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.‘
Crowdfunding success is having grit, following through with your campaign, not giving up after a bad first week.
So what can I do about my funding problems? How can I show my grit?
Well you can start by answering these questions:
A great start to getting funding is to read our blog post on creating a Funding Strategy. Read it here.
If you feel you need to restrategise your campaign send us an email or give us call. We’re here to help you achieve the funding you need.
At the end of the day it’s important to realise that it’s up to you to get the funding you need. Having grit throughout the journey will help in achieving your funding goals
Your Thundafund Campaign is just the start of your project’s journey. Grit will play a serious role in the success or failure of your venture. To learn more about the power of Grit and how it can be learnt check out the Freakonomics podcast on Grit here. Angela Duckworth has a great TED talk, watch it here
A funding strategy helps you identify possible backers and how to get through to them. Crowdfunding starts with your crowd, it’s these people that will comprise of your core funding. Here is the outline for constructing your own funding strategy, this is purely a template so customise it to your own situation. Crowdfunding is hard work, it requires persistence and perseverance. A funding strategy can help you stay focused and directed so you don’t end up wasting your time trying to reach the wrong people.
Here you list all of your potential backers from your third cousin Nelson to your oldest friend Justene. This helps you identify and prioritise who you need to target for your campaign. Here are some examples:
Working out how much you will be able to raise helps prioritise how much time and effort needs to be expended on certain potential backers. It also reduces the risk of setting your tipping point too high.
A call provides a direct communication with the potential backer, increasing the chance of them funding you. A phone call is personal and shows initiative on your behalf. It is also important when contacting someone that doesn’t have a strong online presence such as Great Aunt who hardly uses her computer.
This is a great way to reach out to a large amount of your potential backers. An email allows you to communicate why their support is needed. This is a quick way of spreading the word about your campaign and is more direct than posting on your social media feeds. Make sure to always include the link to your project page to ensure it’s easy for the recipient to support you.
This is an easy way to spread awareness around your campaign to your friends and followers. It’s a powerful tool in keeping everyone updated as well as reminding them of your campaign.
Here’s to a successfully funded campaign,
The Thundafund Team