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yes these “undesirable” characteristics may not work in the “real world”, but maybe that is because the real world is out of date to some degree and potentially that is what needs to be rectified.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.
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)
TF: How was the crowdfunding experience for you?
Ginny Stone: It was brilliant – I really enjoyed it – despite the fact I made mistakes and could have done better.
TF: Do you feel that through your campaign you have managed to crowdsource for Sibo more?
Ginny Stone: Yes definitely – through the incredible generosity of Nash Nissan we’ve got enough funding to have “Sibo Looks Right” illustrated and print 750 copies of the book – plus have the e-book to freely distribute. Without the campaign we would still not have this book – we had been trying to find funding for 2 years before this.
TF: Please note some of the challenges you had with your campaign?
Ginny Stone: I should have built up to the launch more. To be honest I started the campaign at the wrong time (was in the end stages of organising a conference and I was multi-tasking like crazy). I also did not dedicate enough time to a twitter campaign (except for the last few weeks). I somehow imagined that more of the people I know would have kicked in R50 just because it’s a good cause – that was a learning curve – people have other priorities! I also thought the marketing opportunities would be wildly attractive – but clearly I missed the boat somehow. All good – more learning curves! I also missed opportunities of have radio interviews purely because I was too busy. Silly me!
Probably the most challenging was that some people are just not very online literate and they had huge problems trying to register and deposit funds (and yet others had no problems at all). I overcame this by having them deposit money into my account and then I would create TF accounts for them using Sibo’s emails and deposit the money into the TF campaign account. It was a tad laborious at times.
TF: Do you have any advice for other campaign creators?
Ginny Stone: Don’t assume all your friends will support you. Do your build up to your launch properly. I think the biggest thing when asking for money is that your product or end result is something that is useful to other people – not just something you fancy doing and don’t have the money for.
TF: What, in your experience, are some of the benefits of crowdfunding?
Ginny Stone: Apart from the fact that we raised enough money to make our book happen… Marketing. Getting your product – my “Sibo” books – better known. Plus, in our case, I approached a potential funder for R300 and instead they have commissioned their own “Sibo” title and have ordered 10,000 copies (this is a real deal – done and dusted). It will be launched in October – transport month. This was a fabulous spin-off.
The contributions from Department of Arts and Culture were also unexpected and very much appreciated.
Also, I am quite sure that people will be happy to download the free “Sibo Looks Right” e-book and so my ultimate goal – of getting people and kids to be more road safety conscious will be realised even if we did not raise enough money to freely distribute real books around the country.
TF: Where to from here? Now that your campaign has closed, what happens now or what are your future plans?
Ginny Stone: “Sibo Looks Right” is currently being illustrated – it should be printed and will be launched mid-March. As I mentioned above – I am currently working on a new title on etiquette when using public transport (a “Sibo” book on manners – fabulous!). Also as a result of the campaign I have had chats with a guy who is considering having me write a “Sibo” book on saving – another great topic. I do also have many other “Sibo” titles brewing in my head – plus I write a weekly “Sibo” column in the African Reporter and it runs as a blog.
Check out the “Sibo Looks Right” campaign here
You can listen to an interview with Ginny Stone with Cape Talk’s Pippa Hudson here: