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Bootstrapping with crowd-funding...have you tried it?


#1

Has anyone tried kickstarters or something similar to bootstrap a web/mobile app?

I’m thinking it may work if the idea is great, a nice detailed landing page linked to the crowdfunding page.
Wouldn’t this be a good way for validating the idea and also get some bootstraping cash?


#2

Hi Virgil,

I think bootstrapping a small software company doesn’t need kickstarter, because you can do it on such little money. Almost all the initial expense is in the founder’s time.


#3

I haven’t tried it, but I thought about it.

I think it is a very interesting approach. If you do meet your funding goal you get:

  • money
  • exposure
  • validation
  • a list of people who love your idea

What’s not to love? This solves so many of the initial hurdles of bootstrapping.

I think the downside is that not all products will be a good fit for crowdfunding. Also, from what I’m reading it’s actually quite hard to succeed unless you have a killer idea and you know how to present it. In that sense you’re back to square one.

Nonetheless it might still be easier to do a successful crowdfunding campaign than to build an MVP and start selling. And at least the work you do to create your campaign (developing your message, getting the word out, etc…) is directly helpful to your business later if you get that far (unlike blogging or ebooking which are more tangentially helpful).

Then there is the question of what do you do if your campaign didn’t succeed? Is that a clear indication that the idea won’t fly? Seems like a harsh test. Or do you take what you learned and build an MVP anyways? Great, now you’re back to square one again.


#4

Yea, that’s my view on this as well. Instead using just an email on the landing page, maybe a widget to a crowdfunding campaign with a message like: If we get 100 bakers we’re going to launch this product and the bakers will get it free.

I know there are startups who charge in private beta (like trak.io did and others) and if the product looks good enough people will pay. On crowdfunding they have the assurance if the product won’t launch in the specified time period they will get the money back…so the risks are lower.


#5

By the way an outstanding example of a crowdfunded bootstrapped software product is Macaw (full disclosure: I am a backer).

Note that by the time they started their kickstarter they had the product partially built. They needed the money to finish it off.

I wonder if your odds of getting funded go up dramatically if you have a prototype to show.


#6

You say that as if time is easy to come by! :wink:

Speaking as a father of a young child, I can assure you that (for some people), extra time is scarce. I’m not sure I think Kickstarter et al. are great platforms for bootstrapping a software business (they might be), but I certainly see how crowd funding could literally buy you time to work on a product.