We humans are victims of desire. There are several things we wish to do. Be it travelling the world on a motorcycle or cycling through Europe. While for some, having a business that they can call their own is all they can dream of, for a few others it is believing in the simple philosophy of philanthropy. And the myriad shades of these dreams are built on an important factor-the little pieces of printed paper that we call ‘money’-that either deter the dreams of some or encourage them.
And, the fundamental way of addressing the issue of raising money has upped the concept of what we call ‘crowdfunding’. Although not a new one, this idea of pooling money to materialise the dreams of the common man is now finding global acceptance.
When one of the world’s worst earthquakes rocked Nepal and shattered the country’s economy, several celebrities set up an account on Ketto which is one of the market leaders in India in the world to crowdfund the Himalayan nation.
Hunter Lee Soik, a US based scientist, who along with his colleagues formed a company called Shadow raised $60,000 last year through its crowdfunding campaign which it had hosted on the American website Kickstarter. “Shadow is developing a mobile application which will help its users download their dreams and save them which will be saved onto a server along with the dreams of others. These saved dreams will then be analyzed to find patterns,” says Soik.
“We used crowd funding for it not only helps generate the desired capital but also helps in creating awareness about the project you are working on,” adds Soik.
In Hyderabad, India Narayana Peesapaty used crowdfunding to raise money for his business that makes edible spoons. “I got the idea when I used a Jowahar roti as a spatula to eat daal and sabji. The basic idea is to help in environmental sustainability for these spoons don’t need to be thrown away after use. Hence no question of pollution which is not the case with regards to spoons made of plastic,” says Narayana.
Narayana managed to get around 20 lakhs from his campaign on Ketto and another $140,000 from his campaign on Kickstarter. “Crowdfunding proved to be faster and convenient. Also, it helped me secure a lot of clients, as it helps in creating awareness about one’s project,” adds Narayana.
Business is just one aspect for which people use this method to generate funds. For many others, this is a way of meeting their medical or educational expenses. Like, Jayanth Reddy, who has started his campaign on Ketto to raise money for his higher education. “I wish to pursue Human Resource Leadership Program (HRLP) at the School of Inspired Leadership, Gurgaon. While education loans seem only a corridor away, the interest rates are highly demanding and given that I have already availed loans to take care of my brother’s regular medication only makes my case even worse,” writes Jayanth on his Ketto profile.
As per Jayanth’s explanation, “The tution cost for the program is 11,50,000. Owing to my financial situation, the Institute had granted a scolarship of 4,00,000. The funds received through the campaign will hence be utilised towards tution expenses of the program. It will serve me a great deal in acquiring skills and securing a reasonable job.”
Jayanth has managed to raise around three lakh twenty eight thousand of the desired five lakh he had set his eyes upon. Similarly, Cachar Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Silchar, Assam is trying to raise six lakhs for its patients who don’t have adequate funds to undergo proper cancer treatment.
Here is the story of Siddharth Agarwal who plans to walk along the banks of the river Ganga for four months is trying to raise ten lakhs. “This year (starting in June), I am going to walk along the Ganga for four months, almost 3000kms from the ocean to the glaciers at 14000 feet, accompanied by a team from Digital Nerve who will be filming a documentary on the river, presenting a very personal narrative of the Ganga and stories of the people who affect and are affected by it. Our past explorations have brought us to the understanding that there’s a need to bring important conversations into the mainstream. This campaign will help us learn and share with you stories of the people of the basin who depend on the river and what urban, industrial activities are doing to the river,” writes Siddharth on his campaign profile.
He adds further: “We also have a huge set of rewards, letters and post cards from the field, environment friendly merchandise, posters to adorn your rooms, access to the documentary before its public release, and even an opportunity to be on the field with the crew for a while! So go ahead, take a look and contribute.”
As per Wikipedia, crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. One early-stage equity expert describes it as “the practice of raising funds from two or more people over the Internet towards a common Service, Project, Product, Investment, Cause, and Experience (SPPICE)”.
It explains the crowdfunding model by saying that it is fueled by three types of actors or aspects—the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organisation (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea.
India currently has seven websites working in the world of crowdfunding like Ketto, Wishberry, LetsVenture and PikAVenture, which act as agents to host people’s ideas and help them connect with the masses who in turn will act as their investors.
While explaining how crowfunding websites help, Varun Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Ketto says, “One first needs to create a profile or as we call it, start a campaign on a website like ours. This campaign needs to give people an idea as to why one needs money and how it will be used. Once this is done, we that is the website, push your idea forward to potential investors (speaking in terms of finance). And for this, we charge a certain amount of fee from the amount raised by the campaign. Mostly, all websites work on similar manner with a slight alteration only in terms of the payment models, i.e they charge a campaign hosting fee or a membership fee which we don’t. Else it’s all the same.”