Crowdfunding platform Crowdtilt wasn’t looking to raise another round, but when their Series A lead investor Andreessen Horowitz offered to lead their B round, the team decided it would make sense given their plans. Today, the company is announcing $23 million in new funding, which also includes participation from SV Angel, Sean Parker, Matt Mullenweg, Oliver Jung, DCM, Felicis Ventures, Naval Ravikant, Alexis Ohanian, Elad Gil, and others.
Founded in early 2012, Crowdtilt has already raised $14 million through its seed and Series A rounds. The company, to some extent, competes with sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, for example, but found a niche for itself in helping everyday users crowdfund smaller projects, often with a more community-oriented nature.
For example, CEO James Beshara says some of his favorites include the one where Rockridge city residents self-funded their own private security in the wake of police force cuts; or another where people raised money for Boston resident David Henneberry, whose boat was damaged in the manhunt for the Boston Bombing suspects; and then there’s the one where a Dallas resident raised over $50,000 to throw a private Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan party. (Yeah, okay…).
“There’s 85% of the population that won’t have a documentary, an artistic project or a hardware project to crowdfund, but they’re going to have an objective that they do want to send around to their friends and their network,” says Beshara. “That’s where Crowdtilt was born.”
Here at TechCrunch, we’ve used the service amongst ourselves, too, once to raise money when co-editor Alexia Tsotsis’ headphones were stolen, another when medical expenses added up (for me – thanks guys!), and recently I raised money on Crowdtilt for some friends of mine who lost everything in house fire just before the holidays. The Crowdtilt service is really straightforward and simple to use even for first-timers, and when you get stuck or have a question, the company offers personal support.
Beshara says the average successful Crowdtilt campaign raises $1,320, on average. He won’t disclose how many are successful – or “tilt,” in Crowdtilt lingo – but notes that it’s “really high.” Higher, in fact, than the success rate for Indiegogo, which TechCrunch reported this August to be around 34%.
Crowdtilt also offers a mobile app, a developer API that lets you build a full crowdfunding app or integrate a crowdfunding option in an app of your own, and it also recently launched Crowdhoster.com, a white-labeled, enterprise tool which companies can use to run their own campaigns.
On Crowdhoster, which is built with the Crowdtilt API, businesses can completely customize the experience, including adding their own branding, logo, and even modifying the code base, which is open sourced. Beshara sees similarities between it and WordPress, or, as he puts it, Crowdhoster is the “WordPress of crowdfunding.” (Meaning that Crowdhoster is open source and customizable, like WordPress. But it doesn’t hurt that Matt Mullenweg is also an investor.)
“These enterprise tools started to take off and they really need extra investment,” explains Beshara, citing another reason why the company decided to raise the additional round.
Though only two and a half months old, the Crowdhoster service has already run 100 different campaigns, raising over $3 million. Its first customer was the Andreessen Horowitz-backed superfood Soylent, which sold $1.81 million of their project on Crowdhoster, which is more than they’ve raised from VC funding.
Crowdtilt generates revenue by charging fees on the campaigns run through its platform (1% via the API, 2.5% elsewhere), not for using the services itself. The Crowdhoster platform is also free, but in time the plan is to add professional services, including payment support, credit card processing, fraud protection, analytics, customer reporting, and more, which the company could charge for.
To date, the company has run over 100,000 campaigns across all its products, and while Beshara declines to saying how much it has seen in transactions, he says that the average campaign raises 192% of its target.
Going forward, Crowdtilt plans to expand internationally. There’s already been demand for the service in other English-speaking markets like Canada, the U.K. and Australia, but the company won’t confirm which countries it will reach next until Q1 2014.
Already, they’ve grabbed a few notable hires, including Brian Birtwistle, formerly at marketing at Zynga, as head of operations and to lead Crowdtilt’s international push; and former director of product at Yelp, Bryan Byrne, as Crowdtilt head of product. Now the plan is to hire within their forthcoming international markets, as well as bring in additional execs.