To produce a highly attractive and strong crowdfunding campaign, you need to brainstorm. After all, the aim of a startup is to identify some important and unmet need that its customers possess, and then take an initiative on it. In India, startups are built based on this premise. That is why crowdfunding sites in India are so popular.
Here are three ways in which new businesses and ventures can create better brand value through crowdfunding:
Engage Your Customers
It is important to grab any opportunity for feedback from your customers and incorporate it within the plans for your startup. Crowdfunding sites in India also enable you to get closer to your customers, giving you a chance to field questions and answer feedback, complaints, and ideas. Who knows? Your next idea could be generated from someone who is not on your staff.
Early Adopters and Possible Brand Advocates
In crowdfunding, the people that stand behind your concept’s social proof are the early adopters and possible brand advocates. They are the people who believe in your service or product enough to put in their money for its long-term success. The early adopters are the key to eventual success of a crowdfunding campaign. They give you the momentum needed to share your business vision with family and colleagues, which includes promoting your business through social media.
You also want to consider press coverage, which creates lasting brand awareness for any startup business. This awareness can be translated into a feature story on a blog or a report on a well-known news station. It is a great way to attract backers outside your business network. A good feature story can create a snowball effect, one that will put you in contact with major investors.
Needless to say, press coverage, when combined with crowdsourcing, enables to you to generate social proof and validation for your start-up company. Brainstorming enables you to refine your idea as well. It also gains you loyal advocates and early adopters, all which creates opportunities in the social media field.
India is home to many religions, some old and some very old. As we all know, each religious community marks its presence in an area by building brick and mortar structures with an idol representing its source of divine power. These structures also serve as centres of community service, where people living in impoverished conditions come for food, shelter, emergency relief or any kind of economic support.
There’s no denying that the power of religion is irreplaceable. However, the integration of technology and the internet has given rise to new avenues for charity.
The popularity of the concept of online crowdfunding has opened up gateways for anyone, anywhere to give and receive help.
For instance, earlier people who turned to temples, churches, mosques or gurdwaras to seek monetary support in case of an ailing family member or a broken house, now have the option of turning to each other through online crowdfunding. People in need can gather the same support online from family, friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers.
On Ketto, at this very moment, anybody who wishes to help the society will be able to make a difference to any cause they believe in, by donating to the fundraisers on Ketto.
While charities at temples are largely run by donations from affluent people, online crowdfunding has created room for anyone, from anywhere to donate any amount they feel they can afford to. The gap between the rich and the poor has also reduced as even the poorest communities living in the most marginalised spaces are able to get support from people across religions and geographies. And all this through the power of online crowdfunding.
In reality, the underlying principle of religious centres and online crowdfunding is the same – to unite helpers and seekers so that the society can become a better place – a place of equality.
So the next time you find yourself or someone you know in a situation where there’s an urgent need for funds, don’t forget to turn to the new age temple for charity – online crowdfunding.
As much as the term crowdfunding might sound complex, the entire concept behind it is quite simple and easy to understand. While some of us know crowdfunding and have used it in the past, here is a simple analogy for the uninitiated. Trust us, it doesn’t get easier than this.
Let’s go back to pre-school; remember the story of the thirsty crow?
Once upon a time, there was a crow. He was very thirsty. After having struggled for a while, he found a large pot with some water in it. But the water was too shallow, so he could not drink from it. Then he got a brilliant idea.
Little by little, he trotted around, picking each scattered pebble. He collected each pebble and put it inside the pot. After a while, the water finally came up to the surface. The thirsty crow drank his fill and happily flew away.
Now imagine the story a bit differently.
Imagine you are the crow, while your thirst is your need. You could be in need of anything – higher education, disaster relief, medical or health support, or even the means to move ahead with a creative idea that you have. The gap between your thirst (need) and water (what fulfils your need) are the funds that you are falling short of. Each pebble that you pick and drop in the pot is a donation from someone who wants to, and can support your cause. The pot that contains water is the fundraiser page that you can create on a crowdfunding platform.
While the crow in the story had to fly to each pebble, you can find your pebbles using modern day tools like social media, SMS, e-mails or calls. With crowdfunding, everyone who is online adds to the possibility of adding another pebble in the pot. Little by little, each pebble can bring the needed resource to the surface, bringing you closer to your goal. Once the pebbles are enough, you will be able to quench your thirst. Or in terms of crowdfunding, your fundraiser would have been successful.
We love demystifying crowdfunding, so if you have any questions, leave a comment or you can even tweet to us using #SchoolOfCrowdfunding.
If you want to give explaining crowdfunding a shot, go ahead and share your ideas in comments.
[Want more inside stories on independent filmmakers and their trysts with crowdfunding? Check out Part I exploring Proposition for a Revolution’s journey & Part II, which follows Anamitra Roy’s experience crowdfunding for his One Rupee Film Project.]
After digging deeper into the history of crowdfunding in film with Shyam Benegal, and exploring director Navneet Prakash’s journey working on his racing documentary ‘Sons of Speed’, we decided to cut to the chase. As we continue exploring the relationship between crowdfunding and films, we go straight to the sources — collecting opinions from filmmakers who have crowdfunded for their films and had their audiovisual dreams see the light of day because of it.
In Part III of this series, we look at the journey of the Kannada thriller film Lucia, by Pawan Kumar, to distil the essence of what it is about independent filmmaking and crowdfunding that make it such a natural fit.
Lucia is a bit of a crowdfunding institution in Kannada cinema, having been the first film to be produced by the audience. Straddling the line between fantasy and reality, the story follows a man suffering from insomnia who is desperate for some sleep. He’s tricked into taking a drug, Lucia, that induce dreams in which all his desires come true. While we weren’t able to contact filmmaker Pawan Kumar for an interview, his blog gives us much insight into the process.
Funnily enough, it all started with a lot of frustration on Pawan’s part, about being unable to fund his film. After months of chasing producers and sponsors, the director of 2011 film ‘Lifeu Ishtene‘ was at the end of his wits and uploaded an outraged blogpost titled ‘Making Enemies’, that interestingly describes his ‘gut feeling’ about how Lucia could become ‘a cult film for the Kannada industry’. It also expressed his grievances with the difficulty of funding the film, and the audience’s obsession with watching films starring celebrities and ‘big names’.
The response to this blogpost was overwhelming, and this was when the concept of crowdfunding first entered the picture. “Around 10 days after I put up the post, a lady from the UK transferred 200,000 rupees (around $3,200) to my account. Soon, I had around 800,000 to 900,000 rupees in my account. That is when I realized I was on to something,” the filmmaker told Reuters.
“They never looked at me as a guy from the industry who might be trying to loot them in the name of entertainment. They looked at me as a guy next door, who was aspiring to do something new,” Pawan explains in his blogpost. “And that is why they supported me unconditionally. So, when I told these people, that I will make an honest attempt to make a feature film in Kannada and to put this film on a global platform, they just supported the vision of the project: to take Kannada cinema to a global audience.”
Filmmaker Pawan Kumar, who wrote and directed Lucia, the first crowdfunded Kannada film. Source: bangalore.citizenmatters.in
Lucia’s goal was to raise INR 6 million in 100 days, which they ended up meeting in just 27 days. As the film gained popularity, he realised that there were enough people who wanted to watch it on the big screen, which — again — was an expensive process. At this point, Pawan decided to give the audience a chance to become an online distributor by pre-ordering the film — they just have to share the film with someone, from which they would get a commission. The digital distribution experiment was a roaring success, and the film earned INR 10.6 million in ticket sales in the first week alone.
“The film is a genuinely good indie, which doesn’t always happen. It’s an out-of-the-box film that can continue on in screens outside Karnataka,” said Shiladitya Bora, who heads PVR Director’s Rare, the indie arm of the multiplex chain.
Pawan has spoken at length about how the whole team made a conscious effort to never waste money on set, and maintained that his first priority was to give back to his backers, who had invested an admirable amount of trust in him. “The fact that we can today make such stories in Kannada is a success,” he says, dismissing the commercial profits the film ended up making. “Finally, it made many people take pride in saying that the Kannada audience made Lucia, and I am so happy that it will be remembered that way..Forever, Lucia will be known as the first Kannada film produced by the audience, and that’s a title the community has earned for itself.
“Lets stop treating ourselves as creators and the audience as consumers. A filmmaker and the audience are participating together in the success or the failure of a film. As soon as we give our audience the same importance, there will be magic.. I hope, that in the future there will be many more such examples, where the community gets the due credit it deserves.”
The film went on to premiere at the London Indian Film Festival 2013, where it won ‘Audience Choice Award’ and it has also been remade in Tamil. Pawan Kumar is currently working on his second film C10H14N2, which he is crowdfunding as well.
“I think there are many filmmakers who are turning to crowdfunding today, with good reason,” Mr. Benegal remarks. “It’s a question of whether people feel the film is worthwhile. Opportunities are much greater today, and there are many avenues today for filmmakers, especially because of the reach of the internet.”
His own 1976 film ‘Manthan’, on the White Revolution of India, was made thanks to the contribution of over half a million milk farmers in Gujarat in the mid-1970’s, a staggering show of solidarity that told the tale of their movement on the big screen.
Director of Manthan, 1976, Shyam Benegal. [Image: Wikiwand]
The filmmaker is full of praises for Dr Kurien, the man behind Amul, and the pioneer of the movement which transformed India into the largest milk-producing country in the world.
“I had made a couple of documentaries for Dr Verghese Kurien, who redefined the story of milk production in the country,” he shares. “His intervention was incredible; he pioneered the milk producers’ co-operative movement, the first time something like this was being done on such a large scale.”
Dr. Kurien, Mr. Benegal relates, wanted very much for the story of how the milk co-operatives began, to be documented. “I knew Dr Kurien well, he was the boss of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. or GCMMF, and I had made two documentaries for him in the late 60’s, while I was still working for an advertising agency,” he explains. “He said he was very happy with them, but I realised that I was not. I felt that they were really preaching to the converted, they were being shown to people who already had co-operatives. We needed to reach out to the public at large, so that they could come to know about the largest, most successful co-operative movement in the world.”
“I was travelling all over Gujarat to capture the movement when I was working on the ‘Operation Flood’ documentaries,” he recalls. “I told Dr Kurien that I wanted to make a feature on the movement, based on what I’d witnessed over the course of my travels. He was all for it, and when it came to the matter of money to produce the film, he came up with a suggestion that was so simple and marvellous, it was perfect.”
Dr. Kurien asked him how much money he would need, and when Mr. Benegal answered with a quote of Rs 10-12 lakhs (“Of course, it’s impossible to do that in today’s day and age,” he chuckles.), Dr Kurien reportedly said, “I have, at the moment, more than half a million farmers in Gujarat alone who are members of Amul Co-operative Societies.
“The milk farmers gather every morning and evening to sell their milk, and they are paid for the morning’s sales in the evening, and the evening’s sales, the next morning. Let me send a message to all the co-operative unions of Gujarat and ask them if the milk farmers would be willing, for just one morning, to accept Rs 2 less. They can then become producers of a feature film which tells their story. Why would they say no?”
Dr. Kurien’s proposal got a vote of approval from each and every one of those farmers, thanks to which the production of Manthan was made possible. Mr. Benegal pauses at this point to remark that while it’s all very well to make the film, there were a lot of other elements that required money as well – to make several prints, for distribution, publicity and for a theatrical release. There also needed to be an audience willing to pay money to see the film, in order to recover expenses.
“Dr Kurien made a call to a distributor and assured him that if he would release the film in theatres, he would personally see to it that he would have a full house at most shows,” Mr Benegal shares. “All the farmers came from their villages to see their own story on the big screen. It was incredible, the Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, carried a whole story on this unique phenomenon – trucks and trucks of farmers with their families coming into cities such as Baroda, Ahmedabad, Mehsana… they were the first audiences of the film they’d helped produce.”
The film successfully covered its costs and made a small profit as well, telling their story far beyond their time. ‘Manthan’ was one of the few Indian films made which got distribution in different countries in South Africa, South America, Central America, as well as in China. Former PM Morarji Desai presented a copy of the film to the Soviet Union President at the time, and it was shown all over their country too. “These were the regions of the world which were curious about, and would benefit from, the creation of co-operatives,” Mr. Benegal explains.
To cap it all, Dr Kurien was asked to present this film at the United Nations in New York at the General Assembly. “He took me along, and I introduced the film and screened it in New York,” Mr Benegal smiles. “That’s the story of Manthan.”
It isn’t his only tryst with crowdfunding though. His second crowdfunding venture, Susman, was about handloom weavers. Funds were gathered for this, too, in a similar manner, by the different handloom co-operative unions all over the country. “Finally, in 1991, I made a film called Antarnaad, based on the Swadhyay movement, spearheaded by Pandurang Shastri Athavale,” Mr. Bengal explains.
“Crowdfunding is a very important means for Independent filmmakers, but a film cannot be self-indulgent,” he concludes. “There must be artistic work, or an attempt to create this, at any rate… and some social work, as well. Why else would people put money into it? Filmmakers have an obligation to return the money that they have been given, one way or another.”