May 5 2011
Starting a website is like embarking on an adventure. It begins with visions of grandeur and aspirations for success. In some cases perhaps a little too much thought goes into the finish line, while the details of the journey are left for later. Not too long ago I met someone who was embarking on their first start-up. I heard less about the site they were building and more about the millions that would follow. Despite all the ups and downs of the economy, there has never been a shortage of people banding together to build the next big thing. It’s like a cross between seeking freedom from the every day work force, and a lottery. These two driving forces will always provide a continuum of pioneers looking to strike gold.
There are a few details about web development that go unnoticed more often than others. The first of these is marketing. Far too many people put a lot of money into their product without a clear plan of how to get the word out. Although it’s true that many top web sites seem as if the masses magically came right after launch, I’m sure there were a few marketing wizards pulling strings in the background.
Another aspect of web development that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is funding. Finding the money to pay for your endeavor doesn’t always cross a new entrepreneur’s mind, in particular software developers. Oftentimes they think in terms of cheap servers and doing all the work themselves. But funding is important, since well, it pays for stuff. As an old friend once told me, “Businesses eat money.” And they do. (See marketing budget inferred above!)
Sometimes though, when someone has a passion for something you need to get out of their way. Starting a company may be a bit fool hearty, but it’s an itch some of us need to scratch. The best you can do is provide them the tools to succeed. One such tool is Startup Addict. It’s a website that helps those launching a company to generate initial seed money. It’s kind of like venture capital funding for the rest of us- for those who don’t know their way around Sand Hill Road, so to speak.
Startup Addict, whose name gives full recognition to the compulsive drive many have toward launching new companies, is a crowdfunding service. Users are divided into two groups- funders and fundees. The funders are those than have cash in hand ready to invest into new project. The fundees are the mishmash gang of developers, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are embarking on a new project. It’s not limited to web related projects but it’s likely to be popular in those circles. Their platform caters to gathering large numbers of investors each contributing smaller amounts of money. Combined it adds up and you can secure the finances for your project.
The way it works from the entrepreneur side is you create a new project. Here you write your best pitch of your idea and set a timeline. The timeline is anywhere from 1-3 months. The pitch is, of course, a delicate piece of writing since you want to divulge enough details to garner investor interest but not so much that you’ll hand the idea to someone else. If you’d like to give your ideas away you can just as easily take a drive down to Menlo Park and look for old guys with golf clubs. (See Sand Hill Road reference above…) To help you prepare, Startup Addict provides tips on how best to write your pitch.
The hook for investors comes in the form of enticing them with rewards. Here you can offer them 3 months free service once the site launches or give them some other kind of benefit. This is best illustrated by checking out a project or two. One example is Senia Photography, pictured below. The rewards are tiered, with $10 getting their sincere thanks, a mention on their blog, and one digital photo of your choice. If you invest $50 you get five different digital photos that are exclusive to Startup Addict funders. In between are intermediary offers.
The rewards are great, but the real hook is for people to become a part of something bigger. Some of the projects will be for causes that people would like to support, or sites they’ve always wanted to see built. Once an entrepreneur creates their project page, they are encouraged to run their own promotion events to generate interest. Having a Startup Addict page can go a long way in getting a potential benefactor to contribute to your cause.
Launching a start-up takes a lot of work. Startup Addict is a great way to raise funding so that teams can get on with creating the next big company.