We know you hate it when the adrenaline rush from stumbling upon the best idea ever dies off with the realization that you’ll need funding to execute it. Luckily, the Internet has made it easier than ever before to find the money your idea needs in the amount of time you need it. Gone are the days of running from Tucson to Paradise Valley to pitch inventions, non-profit plans, and business ideas to wary investors – now, crowdfunding sites and online angel investing sources are here to help.
Fundable is a crowdsourcing platform designed specifically for entrepreneurs: basically, the Kickstarter for business. Entrepreneurs using Fundable create a profile for their business idea that includes photos, 3D renderings, graphs, demonstration videos, and more – anything to convince investors their idea is a great one. Then, the user has the choice to make their campaign rewards-based (in which case investors are given pre-orders or samples of the product or service) or equity-based (in which case investors are provided a share of the company); rewards-based campaigns can collect contributions as little as $100, while equity-based campaigns require a minimum contribution of $1,000. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to link their campaigns to their business’s website, their social media pages, and more to reach the largest amount of potential contributors possible. Fundable charges users a flat rate of $179 per month instead of a percentage of funds raised. Like most crowdsourcing websites, Fundable requires that entrepreneurs meet 100% of their fundraising goals in order to receive what they’ve collected.
The world’s “largest collaboration SaaS funding platform for entrepreneurs and accredited investors,” Gust is a community that unites eager and experienced investors with brilliant business owners. The website, which partners with hundreds of worldwide angel investment organizations, offers entrepreneurs a place to neatly outline their business concept, their qualifications, and their financial needs. After that outline is published, tens of thousands of verified investors can view it, then communicate with the entrepreneur on investment terms that satisfy both parties. By eliminating the need for entrepreneurs to gradually build a network or snag an appearance on Shark Tank, Gust makes it faster and easier for business startups to receive the funding they need on the right terms.
With Fundable, the money is free; with Gust, it’s provided in turn for a reasonable chunk of your company. Prosper, the market leader in peer-to-peer lending, helps connect inventors and business owners with people searching for a more short-term investment. When a user applies for a loan through Prosper, their credit score is assessed to determine annual percentage rate (APR); then their profile is made available for viewing by a pool of investors. After an investor lends to a user, the user makes scheduled payments (with interest) back to the investor, who then makes money from loaning out the money. Because the loans provided by Prosper are technically “personal” loans, they’re perfect for new entrepreneurs who haven’t built a business track record or who don’t have the documents required to receive loans from the bank.
Indiegogo is an all-inclusive crowdsourcing platform that welcomes artists, inventors, tech geeks, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and everyone else with open arms. Its three-step funding program allows users to build up a following with a “Coming Soon” beta page, raise funds with a community crowdfunding campaign, (which, like Fundable campaigns, can be linked to websites, social media pages, and more), and “keep up momentum” with early sales after the end of a campaign in the Indiegogo Marketplace. Unlike most crowdsourcing platforms, Indiegogo lets users build Flexible Funding campaigns over traditional Fixed Funding ones, so any and all contributions can be collected, even if the campaign didn’t meet its goal. The site charges 5% of funding in platform fees and 3% (plus thirty cents) of every third-party credit card transaction. For those who are looking to start non-profit organizations, Indiegogo offers Generosity, a similar crowdsourcing website for “human goodness.”
AngelList’s Syndicates provides entrepreneurs in need of funding with two separate investments: one from the syndicate that leads directly into the new business, and another from an LLC specifically created by AngelList to invest in the business. The LLC then “pools funds from the syndicate lead’s backers, who then become indirect investors in the startup.” Entrepreneurs don’t just sit back and receive cash after that point, however: they’re fully responsible for disclosing information about past investors and rounds, social media traction, customers, and more. They also have to keep an eye on tax obligations and pro rata agreements. After launch, entrepreneurs are welcome to invite more investors to their projects to gain extra funding. On average, entrepreneurs are wired their funding less than thirty days after the close of a deal.
More of a way of bringing ideas to life than a way of collecting cash, Quirky helps bright-minded people introduce their inventions to the world. Say, for example, you aren’t quite an aspiring entrepreneur – you have no desire to run a business, and don’t want to handle the hassle that comes with marketing and sales – but you have a great product idea that you think a lot of people could benefit from. You, as an inventor, can share your idea with Quirky. There, graphic artists can create sketches of your products, 3D designers can make multi-dimensional renderings, and writers can create the perfect product description – suddenly, what was once an idea is reality! After there’s something to look at, the product idea goes to Quirky’s Eval, a weekly live product evaluation panel, where voters choose which products to pursue and which ones to dump. If your product idea is chosen for development, Quirky turns the product into a real, tangible item and puts it up for sale through partner brands like GE, Mattel, and more. Because you’re the one who started it all, you get a percentage of every sale as your product flies off the shelves.