Business to Arts’ crowdfunding platform Fund It, which has to date raised €3.5m in funding for artists and creatives, is planning to expand its focus to include creators of software and video games.
Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Business to Arts CEO Andrew Hetherington explained that, to date, some 1,100 projects have been funded via Fund It, with amounts raised for projects ranging between €500 and €50,000.
Hetherington is about to embark on a series of 12 crowdfunding lectures with Bank of Ireland, starting tomorrow (27 January) at the Bank of Ireland Workbench at Grand Canal Dock at 5pm. He said the lectures that will take place each month somewhere around the country for the next year are aimed at demystifying what crowdfunding is all about.
In September, Bank of Ireland established a three-year partnership with Fund It to support Irish entrepreneurs in the creative sector.
The crowdfunding site began operations in 2011 in response to services like Kickstarter at that time not serving Ireland, with a specific focus on the creative arts.
Since then, 1,100 projects ranging from music to art and photography have been supported.
‘People are critical to lending weight to an idea’
– ANDREW HETHERINGTON, FUND IT
“The main strength is the cultural industries and we have had high TV and film success rates, as well as theatre, dance, etc. Music would be our No 1 category, followed by art.”
Hetherington said that because the artistic community is supportive of its members projects that get funded on Fund It, projects enjoy success rates of 70pc, a statistic not likely on bigger international players like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Crowdfunding the design revolution
“By mid-year, we are going to broaden Fund It to support creators in other spheres, particularly in the start-up phase in design areas that include software and video games, and even food.
“We have projects on our site that have raised between €500 and €50,000 through one or two campaigns. That’s the market we see and there is the potential for those levels to increase.
“We believe there is a gap in the market for funding in terms of a well-rehearsed model to get people ready for fundraising, especially in the design and creative spaces.”
Hetherington explains that it is an interesting time for funding platforms as crowdfunding becomes a mainstream route to raise money and validate products.
Not only that, but other platforms are emerging, including peer-to-peer lending where companies like Australia’s SocietyOne and the UK’s Zopa allow savvy investors to connect with credit-worthy borrowers. Zopa, for example, has so far issued some £500m of loans to 500,000 borrowers. The largest peer-to-peer loan in the UK so far has been a £1.5m loan available for the development of student accommodation in Nottingham
Asked why banks like Bank of Ireland are interested in explaining the crowdfunding model, Hetherington said: “There are multiple reasons. Access to finance for start-ups can be difficult and proving your model is something that is needed. Crowdfunding can be a way of proving an idea or showing traction and it is one of the best ways to engage with your audience early in the venture. This is no different to 20 years ago when entrepreneurs involved friends and family in investing in and proving their product.
“What crowdfunding has done is it has brought technology and global audiences together and presented opportunities to identify new sources of finance.
“Banks are interested in getting involved in new trends where entrepreneurs and people with good ideas can show initiative and ways of proving demand, as well as early investors.
“Our interest is mainly about product testing and bringing products to market and being integral to the creation of a physical and tangible thing that people are interested in.
“People are critical to lending weight to an idea,” Hetherington added.