Baby steps for crowdfunding: ToGather.Asia raises US$2,555 for Indonesian band The Tree & The Wild
August 8, 2012 by Terence LEE
The money helps fund a mini-European tour in Finland and Estonia, which they will embark on after performing at the Reeperbahn Festival in Germany.
The amount isn’t much — especially when compared to American sites like Kickstarter, which can sometimes raise millions in a campaign. But for a region that remains largely unaware about the possibilities of crowdfunding, a minor success is a giant leap.
To grease the wheels a bit, ToGather.Asia has adopted a “keep-what-you raise” fundraising model as opposed to the “all-or-nothing” approach used by Kickstarter. The reason for this less punishing approach is because the company wants to lower the learning barrier for individuals who are trying out crowdfunding for the first time.
“We have been actively advising our project creators to set realistic funding goals. We feel that until the scene is ready for the ‘all-or-nothing’ funding model, we will be sticking with the ‘keep-what-you-raise’ funding model for now,” said Bryan Ong, founder of the crowdfunding site.
The platform has several other projects that are raising funds concurrently, although a lot of them haven’t received a single cent. For Bryan, hopefully, the publicity generated through the TTATW campaign will raise more awareness about crowdfunding, leading to bigger and more successful projects.
Crowdfunding is a new concept in Asia. What are the challenges faced in educating the market, and what strategies did you employ?
Bryan: Much effort and time is needed to reach out to the different communities in the region, such as design, technology, music and films and so on. It is only until a certain juncture where a critical mass of projects getting funded is reached that the mass media’s attention will be raised.
Until then, we will have to educate our project creators and backers in industry-specific communities. However, despite his challenge, we are heartened to know that news of our platform had came full circle back to us and we are currently the preferred crowdfunding platform in Singapore.
The second most major challenge in educating the market is in active campaigning. Most of our project creators are unsure of how to campaign after their crowdfunding campaigns have started. This is a challenge for us because while we are able to help campaign and market their campaigns for the project creators, much of the campaigning is still required from themselves as they are the ones who require the funding.
For projects based in Singapore, we will meet up with the project creators to understand about their projects and brief them about active campaigning. We will then follow up with emails to guide them on the process. For projects abroad, we will usually brief through Skype calls and email.
We have prepared a crowdfunding guide on “what works” and “what doesn’t” as well as an infographics to ease the process.
Explainer video of ToGather.Asia:
In short, a successful crowdfunding campaign on ToGather.Asia should have: Campaign duration between 35 – 40 days, funding goals that are realistic, preferably below US$5,000 and exclusive rewards that engages your pledgers (experiential rewards work well).
It should also have:
A video (I can’t emphasize this enough) of you explaining about:
2) your campaign
3) cost breakdown/ what will funding be used for
Photos of your:
3) rewards your pledgers are in for
1) Use twitter and facebook regularly to update your potential pledgers of your funding progress.
2) Update your project progress with more images and videos
3) Send out personalized emails to your targeted pledgers
4) Take your campaigning offline, don’t hesitate to meet up with your pledgers who have expressed their interests and explain to them about your campaign.
As a project’s funding increases, it will also get closer to a “tipping point” where more pledges come in at an increasing rate. The most difficult part in crowdfunding is perhaps overcoming the initial stage, in creating a transparent and convincing campaign and to campaign actively.
How did the campaign with TTATW (the band) come about? What was their reaction to the idea, and how did they come to embrace it?
The crowdfunding campaign with renowned Indonesian band, The Trees & The Wild came about from one of our partners, Figure8 Agency, a Singapore-based company whose mission is to bring quality South-East Asian music to the international spotlight.
We found out from Figure8 that they have always wanted a crowdfunding platform based in Singapore and especially one that they could work with closely, so ToGather.Asia came just in time. We had a few meetings with Figure8 about how we should carry out the crowdfunding campaign most effectively, before launching the campaign on the same day as The Trees & The Wild’s performance at Baybeats 2012 at the Esplanade. The band even did a shout-out to pledge for their campaign on ToGather.Asia during their performance.
I had the privilege to meet up with the band after their performance that night and they are very receptive to the idea of crowdfunding. We all agreed on the rewards, promotional efforts and doing active campaigning on our parts.
Is Indonesia the most receptive nation in Asia-Pac when it comes to crowdfunding?
Indonesia has very huge potential for crowdfunding and is definitely a country we are seeking to explore. Currently for us, it is one of the most receptive nations in Asia so far, largely in part due to their high Internet penetration rate and very high usage of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook.
We have seen incredible numbers for the campaign alone, mostly from Indonesia, such as 60 tweets in just 12 hours and more than 880 Likes for the campaign page. However, we have to admit that while Paypal is very convenient, it might not be as useful for everyone in Indonesia. This is because throughout our campaign, there have been numerous requests for other options of payment besides Paypal.
As a result, Figure8 and us have came up with a bank transfer system as an alternative payment option for them.
We think that apart from Indonesia, there are also immense potential for crowdfunding in countries in our region such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
It is really hard to say which is the most receptive nation for now, as the potential of crowdfunding has yet to be realized in Asia.
If you have a creative and interesting project that needs funding, Bryan would love to hear more about your project at Bryan (at) ToGather.Asia.
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE