Crowdfunding is on Fire from Halifax to Vancouver



On Tuesday, October 1st, the statue of ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton and all its surroundings is being pelted with autumn rain. The third floor of an old brick building tucked away at the corner of Water and Alexander is home to both Invoke Labs and Invoke Media. Inside, the entrance of their suite is unmanned. Thirty people mill around the desks, eating area, and the stairwell. The ages of attendees vary, as do their genders and styles. Some stay at the edges with their drinks, while others find themselves in the throng of the group. Some wear suits, while others wear sweatshirts. Some enterprising attendees wear t-shirts of their projects.

To the side of the room, past the food, sits a small stuffed moose, folded on a stool. His name is Pomp le Moose, and this isn’t his first event.

A petite young woman steps up to the microphone, and her grin looks as large as she is.

She is Ayah Norris, the woman who has travelled the whole country to get to the evening’s event. Vancouver is the terminal city of the Indiegogo gogoCA Tour. The hopeful, faithful, and nervous entrepreneurs in the room all look to her for the inspiration to get past their crowdfunding hangups.

The inspiration, as it turns out, has gone both ways.

Ayah Norris has been a crowdfunding believer for nearly a year now. Her initial crowdfunding campaign for The Insight Project, a digital media platform meant to provide inspiration and workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs, was a successful one. Her campaign earned the necessary $20,000 in twenty days, with an extra $1,000 a few days later. In this process, she found herself wearing what she refers to as ‘crowdfunding goggles’ — a perspective on life where anything is possible if people come together. When Indiegogo searched for someone to handle their Canadian marketing ventures, the search ended with Ayah.

It’s unsurprising that it did. Ayah’s a clear believer in the value of crowdfunding, beyond the capital raised. While the exact formula of the gogofactor, which is the algorithm that measures campaign activity to determine which campaigns are highlighted and featured above others, remains a mystery, Ayah’s nationwide tour sought to dispel the myths and celebrate the truths about crowdfunding.

Ayah presents the most important takeaways from her cross-Canada tour:

Crowdfunding is not the easiest way to raise capital, but it may be the best.

“Crowdfunding is a lot of work,” admits Ayah. “However, it comes with a host of benefits. People want to be part of crowdfunding campaigns because they want to participate in the creation of an idea.” Contributors get perks in return for contributing to an idea they are passionate about happening. “You get an appreciation of what your audience looks like, its size, what works in your pitch, and what doesn’t,” continues Ayah.

You don’t need the biggest reward or a $5,000 video to make your campaign worthwhile.

“Some people think that if they have no perks to offer, they have no campaign,” says Ayah. “Not true! People love to have their names in lights. Put their names on websites and on walls!” Ayah gives the example of a Toronto campaign for Moss Grafitti, a live moss graffiti contributor wall. “No matter what your category, you can give people ownership by displaying their name. Work with other people to be creative,” advises Ayah. “That advice goes beyond perk-creation. Technophobes can always ask for a little help from their friends for advice on setting up and social media pointers. On average, people earn 25-30% of their funding through people they already know.”

There is no such thing as an ‘ultimate product’.

In conversation, Ayah discusses all sorts of campaigns with equal reverence. From Vancouver’s Decentralized Dance Party to Montreal’s Notman House to Winnipeg’s ‘If I Could Only Leave Here’, a documentary about the city’s bursting music scene. Not all campaigns will be successful. However, any kind of campaign can become successful. There’s no sense in not trying simply because you believe Indiegogo or other crowdfunding sites won’t host it. They will, and they do.

The message is the medium.

“It’s all about how you communicate your story,” says Ayah. “Tell us what’s broken with the world and how you’re going to fix it. Tell people how they can help and share your message. If you tell contributors a compelling story, you are on your way to a successful campaign. Make use of mediums. You can even videos on your phone.”

There’s no time like the present to start a crowdfunding campaign! Ayah continues to travel the country with Indiegogo for local events. She is also available through Twitter at @IndiegogoCA. Those want to learn more about the gogoCA tour and her experience can check out the Indiegogo blog, or wait for the next campaign.