As we’ve discussed before, thanks to a handful of names, including Kickstarter and Indiegogo and the gaggle of startups that have emerged in their wake, crowdfunding is on the “Big screen.” Yet, the team behind Crowdtilt — also known as the Y Combinator-backed startup building a “group fundraising” platform for projects that don’t work on Kickstarter — believe that this is just the beginning.
The Kickstarters and Indiegogos have owned most of the headlines about crowdfunding, but there’s more and more spillover from projects that don’t fit, with many bypassing platforms altogether. That’s why Crowdtilt launched Crowdhoster last month — an open-source, customizable crowdfunding platform to let anyone and everyone launch their own campaign without having to touch a line of code. Called the “WordPress for Crowdfunding” and using Crowdtilt’s API, Crowdhoster allows you alone or groups of friends to build and launch their own crowdfunding pages all on their own.
Today, the startup is taking Crowdhoster and Crowdtilt into phase two, with the long-awaited mobile piece of their platform, designed to continue following through with the company’s mission to build the most open and accessible crowdfunding tool out there. It’s an ambitious mission, and Crowdtilt is beginning with an iPhone app that puts Crowdtilt on your phone, and slowly see Crowdhoster woven into the feed after launch. Yes, the app itself isn’t live yet, but it is coming to the App Store next week and to Android (and Google Play) in the near future.
Well, for starters, it’s one of the only apps out there that lets you launch your own crowdfunding campaign from your phone. Kickstarter’s app, in comparison, offers more of a gallery view of existing campaigns, allowing users to view and contribute from the app — but not start a new campaign. So that’s where Crowdtilt really wants to differentiate from other mobile crowdfunding options and “be a viking,” as Ralph Wiggum would say.
At launch, another potentially appealing feature for crowdfunders is that, once you open the app, you’ll be able to view a visual list of (public) campaigns, which can then be browsed (and swiped) through, vertical stream-style. Users can make contributions to existing campaigns as they go, or hit the “add” button in the center of the bottom toolbar to launch their own campaign.
Rather than requiring one to fill out a bunch of forms, Crowdtilt has gone with a UX that is reminiscent of those mad libs, in that you can quickly fill in the price or total you want to donate, who it’s for, within the text of the “setup” screens. Users can authenticate through Facebook and Twitter to bring their friends with them, following them within the app. So, on top of the main public stream of campaigns on crowdtilt, there will be a separate feed for your friends.
As with Crowdhoster, people will be able to set their campaigns to be either public or private, and only public campaigns will show up in the main feed, and private campaigns will only show up in the feeds of friends and those who’ve contributed to campaigns or are following the fundraiser. The cool thing is that Crowdhoster has data on all those who build crowdfunding campaigns using the DIY builder and can serve those in its public feed — as long as the campaign hasn’t been set to private, of course.
As of today, it seems that most people prefer to set their campaigns to private and while the team wouldn’t share the exact statistic, we’ve heard that the ratio is more or less in the 70 to 30 range. But it still makes Crowdtilt one of the only mobile apps out there that allows users to view crowdfunding campaigns in the style of an aggregated feed, while launching campaigns as they go.
As to integrations and brands that will be using Crowdhoster at launch, Crowdtilt co-founder and CEO James Beshara said on stage today that companies like Microsoft and Soylent have already built campaigns using Crowdhoster Web, but they’re looking for the kind of friend-to-friend fundraising campaigns that have become popular on Crowdtilt to explode once the app launches next week.
As to integrations that will differentiate the mobile experience, Beshara says that the app will include integration with Bing to let users quickly pull images from the engine’s image search, which will go right on the campaign page. Users can also snap photos themselves to use on the campaign page so that friends can see the pothole they want to fill on their street, or the boat they want to reserve for that big party.
Long term, Crowdtilt’s new app will come with the traditional 2.5 percent fees that one finds for any Crowdtilt campaign, however for the first few weeks (to encourage people to sign up), the startup will be waiving its fees. And with support for non-profits and the ability to offer tax-deductible donations, Crowdtilt is making it easy to start a fundraising campaign for a non-profit organization — something that typically requires a ton of paperwork to make happen.
The app is scheduled to go live next week. Stay tuned for more. (More on Crowdhoster here.)