Ask the Experts – Danae Ringelmann – Founder and COO of Indiegogo

As one of the most well known crowdfunding platforms available, Indiegogo has been helping people successfully raise funds for their ideas for quite some time. Danae Ringelmann, Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Indiegogo, took some time to give Crowdfunding Campuses her thoughts on crowdfunding and how important it is to higher education.

CrowdCampuses: If you look at the crowdfunding portals today, you have the “catch-all platforms” and the “niche-platforms” that focus on a specific target audience. Are you more of a niche player or more of a catch-all platform?

Danae Ringelmann: Indiegogo is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, empowering anyone, anywhere, anytime, to raise funds for any idea. We’re completely open and we don’t require submitting an application to start a campaign. Our goal is to democratize fundraising, which means we’re open to any and all projects. Some of our top areas of fundraising include technology/gadget, gaming, cause, film, music, small business, sports, community, health and education.

CrowdCampuses: Will the JOBS Act & the pending legislation that’s anticipated on the equity-side of the industry change Indiegogo’s approach at all, and if so, how will your business model be different a year from now when the regulations are anticipated to be concrete?

Danae Ringelmann: At Indiegogo, we pride ourselves on being an open and flexible platform. The pending change in regulations will certainly expand opportunities for people in the United States.  We have been consistently taking feedback from our customers and the general public about how we can improve Indiegogo, as it relates to investing and other forms of fundraising, and we will continue to optimize and modify the product accordingly. We’re also in constant talks with the SEC, helping them navigate through the waters of equity crowdfunding.

CrowdCampuses: If you could speak to students about crowdfunding and the potential that the industry has in it’s ability to influence their lives, what would the overall value-added proposition be for the average student to encourage him/her to get involved immediately?

Danae Ringelmann: Crowdfunding is a new way of getting funding for ideas.  Instead of being limited by maxing out credit cards, waiting for banks loans, or filling out grant applications, crowdfunding is a fast and engaging way to raise money. The benefits of crowdfunding also go way beyond just raising funds, but also gaining validation for your idea, marketing and promotion, and all the email address and data you can get from the process.

CrowdCampuses: Given the declining rate in which college graduates are able to land a job that is commiserate with their education, do you think educators should begin teaching students about crowdfunding? If so, what can Indiegogo offer educators to help them update their curriculum?

Danae Ringelmann: With the rising popularity of crowdfunding, it is important for people to be educated in the industry and its platforms. Indiegogo’s Insights blog is a great resource for those interested in learning about crowdfunding.

CrowdCampuses: Colleges are facing tough times now.  Increasing tuition costs, reduced availability of grant money, decreasing alumni donor pools, outdated technology, and under-resourced classrooms are among the many hurdles faced by institutions.  How can Indiegogo help institutions lighten the financial burden?

Danae Ringelmann: Crowdfunding allows people and organizations to easily reach those outside their networks that may want to contribute to their cause, business or project. It is an excellent resource for organizations that want to build awareness for their projects and efforts. It can be incredibly useful to empower people to raise funds on their own, gain validation and feedback from the crowds, and build closer more innovative relationships with people with similar interests. We’ve had several campaigns where college students are raising money for tuition or a new laptop for school, etc. We feel that universities should get involved and educate their students on the power of crowdfunding to lighten their student’s financial burden because with a lot of hard work and passion, any student can raise funds for anything. On the other side, colleges should embrace crowdfunding as a tool to generate funds—with huge alumni networks and current student bodies, we would love to see a collegiate crowdfunding campaign that was able to offset costs, whether it be for a sports program, Greek life, or even to renovate the student union.

CrowdCampuses: Has Indiegogo had any successful funding raises to date that are specific to collegian institutions, alumni groups, fraternities/sororities, or other student-groups?

Danae Ringelmann: With Indiegogo being completely open to everyone, it has had campaigns created by all types of groups and organizations. Below are a few campaigns that I thought might be of interest to you:

About Kevin Provost

Founder and CEO of coPhilly and CrowdCampuses. Developer and supporter of open source business and technology models that improve Career, Education, and Capital Formation opportunities for Creatives, Students, Startups, and Small-Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

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