One of the biggest challenges in businesses is determining whether your new product or service actually fills a need. It maybe a cool product, you may like it yourself but if no one will pay money for it, its just a hobby.
There are some really interesting emerging online businesses designed to help entrepreneurs with just this problem.
Kickstarter is one site that has received significant exposure thanks to the incredible success of the Pebble Watch project. Essentially a smart watch that connects to your iPhone apps so you can control music, view text message, get news feeds right on your wrist.
The project raised almost $3 million in 3 days from its “backers”, essentially its future customers and supporters. When the project finally closed it had over $10 million in pledges that was used to get the business off the ground and get production going. In return for the pledges the backers will receive the first editions of the final product.
What’s great about this approach is how it leverages social media and the online world to get projects in front of supporters and early adopters and asks them to commit funds upfront.
We know from working in market research that a lot of potential customers say they like a new product idea but when it comes to actually purchasing they don’t follow through. This is a great way to get commitments to a project before invest time and money.
Another cool success story comes from Scott Wilson a designer of the Apple Nano wrist band. Experts told him it would never work, no one would pay a high price for a premium wrist band for the Nano.
Within a month Scott raised more than $1 million dollars to fund production and a large number of the wristbands sold at twice the price predicted by experts, $79. In fact 76% of customers said they purchased the Nano because of the wrist band, now that got Apple’s attention!
Kickstarter is only available to entrepreneurs in the US at this stage so some other alternatives are listed here ( I found this list on Quora):
“FundedByMe.com is a successful Nordic platform for crowdfunding that will soon add the element of equity crowdfunding
StartSomeGood.com – a kickstarter-like platform for social good initiatives globally.
PleaseFund.Us – pretty similar to Kickstarter but in the UK, using paypal
IgnitionDeck.com – A crowdfunding plugin for WordPress.
Indiegogo.com – Just like Kickstarter, but with more options.
Crowdfunding-Website-Reviews.com – A site devoted to reviewing kickstarter alternatives
http://haricot.ca (English and French, open to all)
Fundly.com – “Crowdfunding Platform for Social Good” ”