This week our community ambassador Katherine Field interviews Anna Guenther, the founder New Zealand’s crowdfunding startup, PledgeMe. Follow Anna and the PledgeMe team on Twitter via @pledgeme.
As the driving force behind PledgeMe, New Zealand’s crowdfunding platform for creative projects, Anna Guenther is one of Wellington’s golden girls. Passionate about building resilient creative communities – online and offline – she’s found herself as somewhat of a beacon of hope for creatives at that awkward junction where art meets financial reality.
Since their inception in 2011, PledgeMe has helped to raise over one million dollars in pledges – recently celebrating this success with three consecutive parties on one street in Wellington, complete with puppets re-enacting Pulp Fiction, fairy bread and a complimentary walking-bus to ferry guests.
Anna joined me to chat about all things crowdfunding, the end of bootstrapping and her potential career as a rock-star.
Congratulations on reaching a major milestone of raising $1,000,000 in pledges. What is the next big goal on the horizon?
One billion dollars? But, no, honestly – we’re aiming for one hundred million in the first five years. So, one million is great – but now we need to multiply that by a hundred!
You’ve recently jumped ship to work on PledgeMe full-time. How big a decision was this and what were the major considerations for you and the business before taking this step?
It was a massive decision, but one a long time coming. I’ve had some really smart people telling me that you can’t be half committed…. and, that’s right.
If you’re in start up world there really comes a time when you just have to jump.
For us, it was realising that there really was a huge market in New Zealand – hitting the one-million-dollar mark proved this to us – and that it was time to focus.
How does PledgeMe set itself apart from similar models such as Kickstarter and the new local addition to the scene, Boosted?
We see ourselves as a local version of the mighty Kickstarter. Having a New Zealand focus means that we’re not just an online platform, but also an offline community. People see that what they’re giving is making a difference locally -and that’s important.
We also see the rewards side of what we do as enabling creatives to be entrepreneurial. It’s a new model, not reinventing the patron model of old, and we think that’s pretty powerful.
It’s insider tips time! What are your top three nuggets of advice for prospective crowdfunding campaigns?
I think the three golden nuggets would be:
– Pitch your project (and you) well. People need to see you in it, and understand why the funds are going to help make it happen.
– Have a video. Really. Videos make you at least 117% more likely to get funded.
– Rewards are rewarding. People don’t want begging, they want value. So show them what you’ll give in return – and make it a mix of physical and experiential.
What does the future of crowdfunding look like in New Zealand?
I think crowdfunding is the next BIG thing. It’s a tool to give the crowd the power to decide what’s cool and what isn’t, what deserves to be funded to happen (and what doesn’t). The power of distributed decision-making is so 2013.
At PledgeMe’s ‘Thanks-a-Million’ celebration, you partook in some impressive crowd surfing! Are you a closet rock-star? Or is there another creative outlet up your sleeve?
More like a reluctant rock-star! I thought I was a bit of a fashionista back in the day, but now I’m just a massive supporter of the creative critters out there trying to do their thing. I’m really just a geeky fan of everyone!
About our Ambassador // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly