Crowdfunding has hit its peak these days. You got a film you want to produce? Make a Kickstarter. You have a new hardware idea? Start an Indiegogo campaign. Hell, do you have a ton of extra Keurig cups lying around, yet refuse to buy a Keurig machine? Why don’t you build your own K-cup apparatus and then try and get it funded on Kickstarter.
But now we’ve reached the point where crowdfunding has become self-reflexive. Crowdfunding about crowdfunding? Go on.
That is what one company is doing. Sort of. The project is called Velocity Kick and it’s made a piece of software that systematizes and streamlines outreach for crowdfunding campaigns. It’s taken to the new crowdfunding platform Ramen to give it a leg up, attempting to raise $15,000.
Josh Baylin, the project’s founder, explained that Velocity Kick is doing the tedious work every crowdfunder must do to garner support. “We’re aggregating people’s social networking accounts and address books,” he said, to show who are “the most influential people in your network.” It’s pretty much a series of algorithms showing who someone should target in email blasts and all the other nitty gritty things that many people spend hours doing in preparation for their project’s launch.
Baylin says that they chose Ramen — a new platform that won the LAUNCH hackathon a few months back — for very specific reasons. For one, Ramen is tailored for software campaigns. Two, he wanted to showcase the possibilities of platforms other than Kickstarter, especially the new ones which have less name recognition.
As much as this is about raising funds, Baylin views this as a marketing campaign and customer litmus test. “We are using the campaign the generate interest,” he told me. “We have the software up and running.” So the Ramen launch is more to see who’s interested and if such a platform has real demand.
In this vein, the campaign has been a success, says Baylin. He’s been able to sell Velocity to a few big platforms hoping to spearhead their own campaigns, as well as some accelerators. These customers will be the real tests on how successful velocity is, because as of yet it’s only been used on a “fairly preliminary basis.”
What’s perhaps most amusing is that Baylin himself has never run a crowdfunding campaign. He’s quick to add that he has supported many. Yet I’m not sure how much that lends itself to actual campaign organizing.
Either way, the tool Velocity touts is useful, and I can see it helping preliminary campaigns out. Knowing who to send mass messages to, and how best to garner attention, is a difficult task best suited for algorithmically-run software. Velocity is like LinkedIn Plus but for a much more tailored use case. That’s precisely what Baylin is hoping for. “We didn’t see anything that was the Google Analytics for [crowdfunding], he said.
The company will have to get successful campaigns under its belt to truly prove its worth. And the first hurdle will be reaching its own $15,000 goal.
Of course, in the true nature of 21st Century Alanis Morissette problems, wouldn’t it be ironic if this campaign didn’t reach its goal? Might as well be rain on a wedding day.
[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]