2,528 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Freeman White and Spencer Taylor wanted to help socially responsible businesses and individuals. They set up a crowdfunding platform, Launcht.org, and invited social entrepreneurs to raise money for their projects. Soon, however, the pair found out that entrepreneurs wanted more than just a place to fundraise.
So, Taylor and White decided to go a step further. They gave entrepreneurs the tools necessary to create their own platforms to raise money from the crowd.
“Our mission is really to increase the flow of capital to social entrepreneurs,” White told Crowdsourcing.org. “We started out doing that, but we also realized that our technology was also very valuable in its own right, and a lot of people wanted their own niche crowdfunding sites.”
The Launcht white label crowdfunding and crowdvoting platform offers its customers social media integration, team management tools, an ability to customize their crowdfunding platform, and more.
“We license our technology, take our label off of it, and allow anyone to have their own crowdfunding platform,” White said. “It gives you pretty much everything you get on a site like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.”
To date, Launcht has hosted 16 platforms. Generally, clients have fallen into one of four categories: entrepreneurs, universities, non-profits, and business plan competitions. The organizations and individuals who turn to Launcht want their own platforms “but do not want go through the time or expense of building their own platform from scratch,” White said. “We can get people turned on to their own crowdfunding platform in a week, which is pretty exciting to a lot of people.”
If an entrepreneur wishes to run a single campaign on the Launcht.org platform, which was revamped and re-released to the public last week, White and his team conduct a long screening process to confirm that the individual's project is socially responsible. To use the white label technology, however, the screening process is not as thorough, though the team still does the necessary due diligence to ensure that the Launcht technology is not used in an improper way.
“Our main interest is in appropriate use that we don’t think will make a negative impact on the Launcht brand,” White explained. “Somewhat surprisingly, we had three different requests from the adult film industry, all of which we turned down.”
Still, the number of platforms using Launcht technology is likely to rise. White said his team gets 15 – 20 “credible” leads on a weekly basis. With a plethora of new platforms emerging each week, and more likely to follow once the SEC hammers out crowdfunding rules, it may seem that offering white label technology will only saturate the crowdfunding marketplace. White, however, believes that smaller, niche platforms can lead the way for the industry.
“I don’t think it takes away from the movement or power of crowdfunding,” he explained. “I think it reinforces what is necessary in crowdfunding -- a level of trust, a level of understanding, and the ability of someone to tap into his or her community. Even on the general, larger crowdfunding sites, the first 30 or 40 percent [of the money] is still coming from the friends and family, and people within one degree of separation from the entrepreneur.
White believes part of the appeal is in going back to the community aspect of crowdfunding, which can sometimes get lost on larger portals that get thousands of people to fund million-dollar projects.
“We’re bringing the platform directly into the community, as opposed to making it something distant that people don’t really understand,” White said. “If people know that the money if going to stay in their community, I think that’s a lot more of interest to them, and that’s why people want to start crowdfunding platforms.”