Slava Rubin of Indiegogo talks ICO expansion and supporting entrepreneurs

5 Apr 2018

Slava Rubin, co-founder and chief business officer of Indiegogo. Image: Goldin Solutions

Co-founder and chief business officer of Indiegogo, Slava Rubin, discusses how to modernise access to capital.

Indiegogo is one of the world’s most popular crowdfunding platforms and has successfully helped thousands of people realise their ideas.

In the decade since Indiegogo was founded, crowdfunding has become a ubiquitous element of the online and funding landscape.

Last December, Indiegogo announced it would be entering the initial coin offering (ICO) fundraising space.

A natural next step for Indiegogo

The global platform has more than 15m monthly visitors and is now the first crowdfunding platform to expand the opportunity for participation in token offerings to anyone, including both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Rubin told that the move into the cryptocurrency arena was a natural evolution of the organisation’s initial aim “to democratise access to capital for people to build their ideas”.

He continued: “From the beginning, we always thought, ‘Why is the internet democratising access to all kinds of things, like YouTube with content and eBay with auctions, but access to capital was always about the gatekeepers?’”

In terms of the benefits ICOs can bring, Rubin likened it to providing another item in the tool belt for raising capital. “Cash, credit cards and loans are all great options and now you have equity crowdfunding, ICOs – all these new options – so, the more options you have, the more you can inspire entrepreneurship.”

This doesn’t just benefit entrepreneurs, he explained. In terms of backers, it offers a new way to feel connected to their investments. “It’s always good to give them different ways to be involved.”

Indiegogo is casting a curatorial eye over all token sales on the platform, with a view to ensuring that only high-quality and strictly vetted tokens and other unique digital assets are available to investors.

Navigating investor concerns

While there is a lot of excitement around the burgeoning ICO space, there is also a fair amount of confusion and hesitance among regulators and potential investors.

According to Rubin, this sense of nervousness is precisely the reason Indiegogo has entered the fray. “Due to all the discussions around scams, Indiegogo wanted to step forward as we have been navigating concerns like this for a decade, since back when people weren’t sure if a platform like ours could work. We are applying all of our vetting and integrity processes to the table.”

The platform’s new ICO service also helps entrepreneurs to ensure they are compliant with US securities laws. All ICOs on Indiegogo will be listed as part of the company’s equity crowdfunding service, First Democracy VC – a FINRA-registered funding portal that launched last year in partnership with MicroVentures – and comply with the SEC’s equity crowdfunding regulations, which were passed as part of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

From football to Fortune 500

The first ICO being offered consists of rights to purchase tokens issued by the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL), a crowdsourced football experience where fans will choose the team names, uniforms and players, and even call the plays in real time from their smartphones.

The FCFL team includes notable executives from the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers and cryptocurrency experts from such projects as Ethereum and Bancor.

Rubin said the demand has been very exciting, with start-ups and Fortune 500 firms alike taking an interest.

In terms of where Indiegogo intends to take this new venture, Rubin said: “We are continuing to execute one day at a time, one customer at a time.” This will help the company achieve its ultimate goal of “democratising access to capital and letting people invest in ideas they believe in”.

Rubin concluded: “We think that blockchain and ICOs are a great layer to stack on top of our existing marketplace.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects